We Bury the Landscape news
This weekend, if you buy my book from Queen's Ferry Press
, you will get a free ebook copy. Here
are all the fine places where you can purchase my book, but please consider buying it directly from the publisher. I posted all the reviews for We Bury the Landscape here
. There’s also a recent review and a giveaway of one copy of the book at Unabridged Chick
.Lake Effect reading
Robert Vaughan did an excellent reading of his story "The Upswing of Falling" and my story "Revenge of the Goldfish" (first published in The Brooklyner
and included in my book We Bury the Landscape
) for WUWM 89.7 FM - Milwaukee Public Radio's Lake Effect
segment hosted by Stephanie Lecci and Robert Vaughan. Carol Wobig also read her work.Other Publication News
- In Mixer, the early version of “The Village of the Mermaids” is published. This piece is collected in We Bury the Landscape.
- I have recent acceptances to Punchnel's (which pays a few minutes after acceptance!), ESC, and Painted Bride Quarterly.
- Meg Tuite, fiction editor of Connotation Press and über-talented writer, nominated my mini-tale, "City of the Dead," for the storySouth 2012 Million Writers Award.
- Dave Bonta said some kind words about Night Fish in Via Negativa. In the recent issues of JMWW and Press 1, Gretchen Hodgin and Valerie Fox wrote incredibly well-thought reviews of Night Fish.
- I also had a fun exchange here with Gretchen Hodgin about my chapbook, Insomnia.
- Rumjhum Biswas interviews me here. The behind-the-scene happenings of that interview involved recipes about curry. :D
- Two of my poems “The Invisible” (published in Unspoken Water) and “The Seventh Stranger” (published in Paper Crow) were listed in Ellen Datlow’s Honorable Mentions for The Best Horror of the Year Vol. 4. There were so many writers that were included, and only these venerable 18 made the cut. Kenneth Yu’s story was also listed among the HMs.
cover of Unspoken Water #1
As a final note, I leave you with a short block of powerful prose. This is an excerpt from Brendan Connell’s The Translation of Father Torturo
. This is why the written word will never lose its allure. As a child he had been brutal, a kicker of cats, a resolute swatter of flies -- one who delighted in passing gas against lighted candles. As a young man, under the auspices of the church, he had grown hard, educated and inverted. He had studied the lives of the Saints, from those of universal fame down to others, who had as little reknown as pismires. He savoured their histories, their sufferings, lapping them up as a poisoned man would drafts of emetic. He strove to lighten the darkness within him, and for every match he struck, a gust of cold, midnight wind responded, leaving him strolling sightless through bleak, empty space. As a man he was deliberate and blunt, a devotee of the Crucifixion.
Have a good night!
This is post #9. Every day for the entire duration of the National Poetry Month, I will try to post short write-ups about poetry books that I like.
Let's take a look at John Sibley Williams' mesmerizing From Colder Climates.
From Colder Climates
Publisher: Folded Word Press
To buy from Amazon
This is definitely a must-buy.
My initial reading of the powerful first poem “Confessional Hymns” reminded me of Frank Bidart’s “Curse
.” That magically acerbic “empathy-curse” of Bidart is a suitable complement to the equally magical serenity-invocation (curse?) in “Confessional Hymns.”
And “Confessional Hymns” is only the first piece.
All of the poems in this book revolve around desolation and the occasional stirrings of hope by a narrator in the arctic region (Iceland is specified in many of the poems). Where I live there are no seasonal changes, only alternating sun and rain, so poems that talk about the seasons rarely give me pause. Seasonal poems never deeply appealed to me until now. Williams makes me see winter beyond what I observe in movies, television, and books.
Winter, in Williams terms, is more than just ice, more than just the monotonous and endless white of snow and snow-blanketed ground. In poem after poem, Williams rouses with new ways of looking at icy landscapes.
Here’s a truncated section from “Winter.” Fish are captured by the inertia of ice. I watch in vain
for a glimpse of life, a flittering gill or darting eye.
I watch and find they even sleep like me,
under masses of covers, dreaming of movement.
And in the air I can only hear the birdless wind cry...
...By the time it finally reaches my ear,
I too feel birdless.
This passage from “Manners of Distortion” succinctly describes this lovely book. I’ve learned the instruments of winter
and that ice distorts reflection
while those elegant ripples signaling rebirth
distort in a different manner.
Imagine a man who is lost and allows himself to remain lost. Imagine a man who screams in the middle of an icy wasteland -- wailing not to be rescued but to point out the marvelous spectacle of what’s beneath the cold. From Colder Climates
seeks warmth, and how it finds it...
This is post #8. Every day for the entire duration of the National Poetry Month, I will try
to post short write-ups about poetry books that I like.
Here is Kurt Newton
's The Ultimate PerVERSEities
. This is my genre fare.
The Ultimate PerVERSEities
Publisher: Naked Snake Press
To buy from Smashwords
To buy from Amazon
Kurt Newton's The Ultimate perVERSEities
is a collection of short poems intended to tax our inhibitions and biases over which themes are supposed to be left unwritten and unsaid. The book lives up to its title. Ranging from toilet humor to overt body horror, the poems require a strong stomach. Tabloid eye-candy titles like "circus trainwreck massacre" and "slaughterhouse girls" (who were naturally "born the daughters of butcher men") hint on Newton's twisted black humor. There's a piece entitled "mad cow patty" which showcases Newton's playful and original reference to "cactus burgers" -- the thought of which is ridiculously perverse.
From the evocative and unsettling "The Birdcatcher" You don't know why the creature has
let you live while killing all the rest,
but it has made a bed of bones and
matted feathers. Now and then it
drops wet meat into your open mouth.
From my favorite piece, "Letterhead" The letters she sends are special, bound with
skin, a chip embedded in the folds, the latest
in bio-sensory pleasure-grams. Each word a
Another notable piece is the highly disturbing "the balloon clown."
Torture porn in "to the dogs" ...ignore the smell
it is just our skins
crumpled loose about our ankles...
Blasphemy, atrocity, and bestiality abound. Populated with freaks and brooding outcasts, the undead and the soon-to-be dead, The Ultimate PerVERSEities
gives so much in terms of imaginatively rehashing genre elements . Donna Taylor Burgess of Naked Snake Press is to be commended for taking a leap in publishing this tome.
Here’s another post for Upper Rubber Boot Books' Couplets: a multi-author poetry blog tour
from Lynn Domina, the author of two collections of poetry, Corporal Works
and Framed in Silence
, and the editor of a collection of essays, Poets on the Psalms
. She lives in the western Catskill region of New York.
I love making lists. Lists make me feel organized and accomplished—at least until they get so long that I’m overwhelmed. And I also like list poems—they’re so full, so abundant. Except when they’re not—there are times, after all, when a list is just a list no matter how dogmatically we insist it’s literature. The first poet who comes to my mind when I want to provide an example of an effective catalog is Walt Whitman (some of whose catalogs can also be, let’s face it, tedious).
I taught several poems by Whitman in my Introduction to Poetry course a couple of weeks ago. My students responded to his work with some enthusiasm and a whole lot of resistance. My own responses to his work are similar—the sections I love I really love, but there are other sections when I want to say, ok, got it. When I think of Whitman, the first line that comes to mind is “the beautiful uncut hair of graves.” Like many readers, I find section six of Song of Myself
Whitman puts the question that prompts the poem into the mouth of a child: “What is the grass?” Then he answers the question with progressively moving possibilities. Aside from “the beautiful uncut hair of graves,” my favorite lines are
I was supposed to write daily about poetry books. The soul is willing, but the flesh is lazy. I was swamped with dayjob things that I had allowed to accumulate due to procrastination.
In this blog post for early April, I will do a pictorial representation of what I can manage to remember that’s relevant to the writing experience. My writing experience... I cringe as I type “writing experience” -- it sounds tacky, like the dreaded high school writing composition entitled “My Ideal Vacation.” Speaking of high school, I remembered earning money -- it was lot of money for me back then -- selling book reports to my classmates. I even dumbed down some of them depending on the customer. We are once again off track...
This is our first picture for this itinerant blog post.
Upper Rubber Boot Books Couplets: a multi-author poetry blog tour
is still underway. I made a guest post on Peg Duthie's blog
. There, I blabbed about an Arlene Ang poem that I loved, loved, loved.
My stories and poems recently found home in these gorgeous publications.
Dadaoism (An Anthology)
edited by Justin Isis and Quentin S. Crisp Chômu Press
, May 2012
order from Amazon
story title: "Nowhere Room"
"Nowhere Room" is a short tale about a kid who grows up while being perpetually wedged in the floor of his room. Yup, he can't get out because his mother wants to keep him safe. "Nowhere Room" appears in ta da! We Bury the Landscape
This is post #7. Every day for the entire duration of the National Poetry Month, I will try to post short write-ups about poetry books that I like.
Pictured here are three of the early chapbooks by Bruce Boston
. I have most of his books, but these three are my old favorites.
Conditions of Sentient Life
Publisher: Gothic Press
To buy from Amazon
Conditions of Sentient Life
is a one-of-a-kind collection of 44 poems and flash fictions on dark red text against gorgeous cream-colored acid-free paper. The intricate illustrations are by Marge Simon
. I only wished that the stunning illustration on page 35 was selected as the cover art.
The first poem, “Stars May Rise to Hell and Back,” tells the reader again and again that: …hunger has no mouth to sing…
The piece’s musicality is a paean to the apocalypse which comes in various forms in the ensuing pages of the book. From the hopelessness of “Future Past: An Exercise in Horror” which starts off with: Assume tomorrow has already come and gone
and you now inhabit no more than a string of
to the emergence of technology in “Human/Technological Dimensions on the Eve of the Bimillennium,” which scars us to the point when we end up asking ourselves: When did we
become so small
we can no longer
touch the moon?
The flash fiction, “Dream of the Burmese Gardener,” is a surreal account of how galaxies are created. Mr. Saketa, one of the lascivious inhabitants of a certain manor house, carefully fashions “the first planet in the universe to be composed entirely of dead aphids.”
“Refugee” is a tight, meditative piece about the subjectivity of reality. Oh, and it doesn’t fail to entertain with juxtapositions like: “the mayor’s beautiful daughter…or is it the chimp?” Conditions of Sentient Life
is beautifully capped by “Gravity Drives the Blood and Bends the Light” which declares that …when we reach up it calls us down…
These lines ring in the mind, and they ring hard.
In the first issue of Kaleidotrope Magazine
in a review of a bizzaro book, the critic Martin Earl offered what for me was the best take on surrealism in literature: “surrealism is confusing but ultimately understandable.”
This is true for Bruce Boston’s Surrealities
, a 64-page book of poems and illustrations (Boston’s rendition of Rorschach inkblots) lending stunning insight on the human condition: the violence (Two Nightstands Attacking a Cello), the humdrum (A Life in the Day Of), the obsessive-compulsiveness (Surreal Wish List), and the exquisite madness (Before the Vilification of Hypnagogic Birth). Surrealities
is replete with ekphrastic references. In “Portrait of My Dead Brother with Burning Wing” An immature boy in a sailor suit
refuses to leave
the beaches of Port Ligat.
The great masturbator
considers the obscene history
of the Third Reich.
From “Revealing Their Eyes” reveal sunflower
Music -- possibly because its form is amorphous, its influence is intuitive, and thus the most powerful representation of the surreal -- is a common element in this collection. This music comes in many forms: from static to the cacophony of fear and panic.
The foreboding “Lizard and Wind,” the best piece in the book, tells of: The lizards were everywhere
and so was the wind.
There was no way you could
keep either of them out
that hard spring.
All in all, Surrealities
is a very important contribution to the literature of the surreal.
The Lesions of Genetic Sin
Publisher: Miniature Sun Press
An evocative broadside-length piece about mutation. Mutations of men, the dead, and probably the ones in between. “The Lesions of Genetic Sin” is a breathtaking long poem that has all the makings of a snow globe: deceptively lightweight, and once shaken violently, it reveals its beauty. Not to mention that it includes the most original of wordplays: “bodysalt,” “vile-urchin-argot graffiti,” and the sensual “corolla’s velvet violet insistence…”
This is post #6. Every day for the entire duration of the National Poetry Month, I will try to post short write-ups about poetry books that I like.
Today, let's take a look at two of Charles Freeland
EucalyptusPublisher: Otoliths Books
ISBN-13: 9780980878592Deviled Ham and a Picture of Jesus: Twenty Grubb TalesPublisher: Finishing Line Press
To buy from AmazonEros & (Fill in the Blank)Publisher: BlazeVOX [books]
To buy from AmazonThrough the Funeral Mountains on a BurroPublisher: Otoliths Books
To buy from Amazon
I am enamored of Charles Freeland's unique body of work. There's an air of erudition prevalent in his prose poems, most evident in Furiant, Not Polka (Moria Books, 2008). His chapbooks available online, Eulalie & Squid (Chippens), Chilean Sea Bass is Really Just Patagonian Toothfish (Differentia Press), and The Case of the Danish King Halfdene read as if he was talking about his own made-up world replete with characters which may or may not be misconstrued as metamorphic, and he does not care whether the reader gets it or not. Most days, I only NOT get it; I am also overwhelmed by his blatant disregard for his readers.
Charles Freeland has this uniquely irreverent voice, and he invents his own textures, hand-paints his own landscapes just to satisfy his craving (or curiosity or whatever it is that he writes for). I do not see any effort to entertain, to convince, or to horrify. And for that, he has my utmost respect and admiration.
Every book is always an experience. But Eucalyptus (a themed book-length prose-poem/flash-fiction collection forthcoming from Otoliths Books) is a different ballgame altogether. It is an immersion, like being indoctrinated into a weird mythology which surprisingly, amidst the chaotic and mostly absurd turn of events, makes sense.
I cannot even summarize it. I tried. I started off by breaking it down chronologically, but there’s no time element, no point of reference. Then I looked at the characters: the narrator, Immanuel (who is lost, in all sense of the word), Eulalie, etc., but I cannot quite flesh them out enough to say anything conclusive. The tragic ending does not make sense to me. Even the title of the book confuses me. There’s only one thing that keeps me reading: Eucalyptus is a strong narrative about loneliness. It tells the story of abandonment, of disenchantment, and it is told in a convoluted fashion which forces everything to shine right through. This is probably what Charles Baudelaire was referring to as "the miracle of poetic prose."
It says with certainty:
These original stories contained no moral. They simply revolved around a creature so loathsome, it decided finally to drown itself.
It is invasive:
For who wants a soul when the protection of it means you can not give pleasure to others? You can not find your way inside them, except with the hands which are clumsy and too public. They lack the intimacy of the hidden.
I do not pretend to understand Eucalytus. It’s not meant to be deciphered. I’m just here for the long haul, the unforgettable ride, the frequent rereading.
The Case of the Danish King Halfdene
The Case of the Danish King Halfdene is a journey to a magical nowhere, where the road signs, the danger, and the will to continue are all in the mind. The assertion that: "Navigational skills are not required. Where you are going is the least of your concerns..." sums up the theme of this amazing collection of prose poems. Like a dedication, Freeland writes at the end of the titular piece:
For those afraid they may have stumbled, by accident, into the wrong existence. And will have to stay here...
The tone of The Case of the Danish King Halfdene, like most of Freeland's work, contains an underlying assumption that the reader is familiar with the complex backdrop of the mythical elements he drops along the way.
In "Very Bad Poetry," one gets a glimpse of Freeland's writing ethos or lack thereof:
If we aren’t sure, though, why something behaves the way it does—why the garbage smells like pine trees in the morning, and vice versa, why the giraffe has to bend that way to drink—it’s proper policy to pretend like we understand anyway.
In "Not Yet the Sounds of Speech," dark humor shines through:
Sometimes it’s better to meditate in the afternoon than whisper to some deity you can’t even be sure wears any clothes...
The marvelous "A Disturbance in the Magnetic Field," which is the strongest piece in this collection, "infers" something which the author presupposes would have been obvious to everybody:
Every claustrophobic knows, for instance, that walls are, in fact, a wonderful invention. The kind of thing that keeps people from inferring your motives.
References to ekphrastic motives in "Twilight of the Big Finish." The piece entitled "Getting Through the Last Pages" is a treatise on hopelessness. "Spring Cleaning in the Labyrinth of the Continuum" is set in a Borges-like wasteland. The last piece, "Why Light Was Invented," questions our interpretations of reality.
This is post #5. Every day for the entire duration of the National Poetry Month, I will try to post short write-ups about poetry books that I like.
Today, let's take a look at Kristy Bowen
's gorgeous book, The Fever Almanac
. This is one of my longtime favorites.
The Fever Almanac
Publisher: Ghost Road Press
To buy from Amazon
The Fever Almanac is a book of wants hoarded during a period of bad weather and recklessness. In this volume, Kristy Bowen’s poems are like fairy tales that espouse no morals. They read like dark secrets. The pale girls end up in the backseats of the boys in brown trucks. They brush their hair “until it hurts.” The houses are never filled because they all burn down or drought
…settles in its bones,
rattles the windows.
There is a recurring theme of rural lives being ruined by lust and discontent.
From “scarlet fever,”
….The gas station,
Tucson, where you bent me
over the sink. Later told me
your mom never touched
you unless it was a beating.
All the roads have lost their signs.
The climactic second to the last poem, “a dialogue in blue,” is my favorite piece in this collection. The seasickness is palpable. The hopelessness is forever here:
The boats have failed us.
This is post #4. Every day for the entire duration of the National Poetry Month, I will try to post short write-ups about poetry books that I like.
Today, I talk briefly about James Valvis' How To Say Goodbye.
How To Say Goodbye
Publisher: Aortic Books
To buy from Amazon
How to Say Goodbye, James Valvis’ first collection of poetry, nourishes the reader without the use of stylized language calisthenics. These poems are told in a voice that’s sincere, darkly humorous, and graceful.
His poems will hit a nerve. Take for example this enchanting piece entitled “City Kid.” It is worth quoting in full:
Late one fall
as we pass
a small field
in the dirt
wants to know
outside to rot
What I love best about this book is not the recurring themes of alienation and hope, but the candor, the down-to-earth-yet-ethereal vibe. For me, the poems are refreshingly beautiful because I don’t feel that they have been tweaked to perfection to impress via wordplay. The poems are cut out, dried, and splayed with their muddied and muscular faces intact. I recoiled after reading “Revolution,” a bizarre case of domestic abuse. I smiled at the candid portrayal of a military funeral in “Burial Detachment.” The titular piece, “How to Say Goodbye,” introduces us to “a husband about to help his wife flee her lover.”
And here is my favorite which I bookmarked for rereading: from “Crossing the Street, My Daughter Reaches for My Hand”
The hand you now want, daughter,
the hand you reach for as we come
to the curbside is not clean.
It has stolen things, shoving want
deep into pockets so that later
all that could be withdrawn was shame.
This is post #3. Every day for the entire duration of the National Poetry Month, I will try to post short write-ups about poetry books that I like.
Today, I champion two books by Amy Newman.
On Amy Newman's "Fall"
Here are Amy Newman’s superb iterations of the word “fall.” I’ve never read anything like it. I’m a long-time fan of Newman’s poetry, and it’s difficult to condense into words how I sometimes flinch while I marvel at the beauty of her writing:
a shedding of the eye level of things --
tinny cascade of objects...
For me, this book defines how contemporary poetry must rear its rebellious, unkillable head -- with finesse, with daring in its exploitation of language, with unparalleled richness.
On Amy Newman's "Order, or Disorder"
Order, Or Disorder is replete with themes that touch on mortality and spirituality. What I love about Amy Newman’s brand of poetry is the earthy and impenetrable-but-there air. Even her dose of honesty is delivered in a devious way.
Excerpted from “Parallax,” the poem that contained the titular line:
.... Scrape off the shavings
like the allowance of sin.
This one is from “River,” my favorite piece in the book. It is the very antithesis of sappy and inspiring nature poetry.
Winter froze the first half-foot of river straight down
solid, gray-green, encasing
what rushed beneath it. There are underneaths, enclosures,
contents. Frames, windows, houses, channels,
conduits, arteries, riverbanks. I’m afraid the snow
will press on coming summer’s grasses.
The river hangs names like bodies in the cold trees.
Order, Or Disorder is an incredibly varied and complex masterpiece. Each poem is well-thought. Each line break is contrived to quicken the breathing a little. Each blow is delivered subtly, lovingly.