27 June 2011

I'll Be Back Real Soon!

This blog is officially on Summer Vacation!  Check back after the 4th of July for more musings on the news, reviews and interviews!

16 June 2011

James Franco, Assaracus and New Poems in Print!

Do you know about Assaracus yet?  If not, let me tell you a little story.  Once upon a time there was a gay men's poetry magazine from New York City called Ganymede that printed some very good poetry by well known and unknown gay male poets.  It's editor and sustainer, John Stahl passed away in April of 2010, leaving the magazine unfinished.

Bryan Borland, a gay poet from Little Rock, Arkansas decided to pick up the cause.  He founded Sibling Rivalry Press, whose mission is to "to be a bad influence on otherwise good kids."  Sibling Rivalry press publishes LGBTQ poets and also produces the quarterly Assaracus, which takes it's name from the sibling of Ganymede. 

Why did I bring up James Franco?

Well, Issue 3 of Assaracus features a special section of poems by gay men inspired by James Franco.  If you don't think that Mr. Franco has much crossover to queer culture, you haven't been paying attention.  He played the lover of Sean Penn in the movie "Milk."  He played a young Allen Ginsburg in "Howl."  Mr. Franco also appeared, in drag, on the cover of Candy, the world's first trans fashion magazine.  Also, at this very moment (as you read these words) he is making and starring in a film about the life of the queer poet Hart Crane.

I want to let you know about Assaracus, because it is a great print journal that deserves more attention.  I also am telling you all of this because I have a poem about James Franco in the issue.

My poem "Learning Through Osmosis: Asleep at Columbia University" is a pecha kucha, a form championed by the fantastic poet Terrance Hayes in his book Lighthead.  This form is taken from a Japanese style of presentation where a person speaks on twenty different images for twenty seconds each.  My poem focuses on twenty things that Mr. Franco has done.  Needless to say probably spent as much time researching the poem as I did writing it.  My title come from a famous photo of Mr. Franco asleep in a class at Columbia University in NYC.

Go ahead and buy yourself a copy of Assaracus #3 and take a look at my poem.  You will be supporting a great press, an emerging magazine and (of course) my poetry.


06 June 2011

On Making Lists

There is a statistic going around that the “average” American has read one or fewer books in the past year.  Although I find this terrifying, I know there are a lot of us reading fanatics picking up the slack.

Near the first of January, instead of making a New Year’s resolution, my good friend posts a list of all the books she has read for the year.  She makes note of books that she reread and a total page count for the year.  I felt inspired by her reading list.

I tried to think back over the month of December about all the books I had read.  I was certain I could recall each book.  I then tried to think back a month further.  That’s when I ran into trouble.  I couldn’t remember every book I had read and I wasn’t keeping track.  Perhaps it is part of entering into middle age and that my memory is no longer as good as it was.  Maybe it is the fact that I am in an MFA program and I sometimes find myself reading more than a book a week.  Whatever the reason, I thought it would be valuable to keep track of my reading habits.

From January until May, I have been careful to keep a list of the books I am reading.  I started noting the genre to remind myself, because even after a month I found myself wondering if some were poetry or short stories or something else.  This can be tricky as I tend to read a good deal of hybrid work or “compressed genres.”

What did I find out?

First, I found the majority of the books I read were poetry.  This makes sense because I am an MFA candidate for poetry at the University of Idaho.  I was surprised though, because I read 35 books of poems in five months.  Since I love statistics, let me break it down further.  This means I read 6 books a poems a month or 1.5 poetry books a week.

I also found I read on average 12 books or about 1,250 pages a month excluding magazines, single essays and the like.

One other trend was that I found I decompressed by reading genre fiction and so far, almost entirely by a single author.  Tanya Huff was my go-to author for reading where I just wanted to “have fun.”   (I read five of her books over five months.)

I don’t know if you want to start a reading list or journal of your own, but I find it very useful.  And of course, I know that some of you are curious to see exactly what I have been reading.  Here is one month from my own list:

April               (total page count  1,194)

1.      Versed by Rae Armantrout (poetry) 121 pages.
2.      Letters to Wendy’s by Joe Wenderoth (prose poems) 300 pages.
3.      Mortal Geography by Alexandra Teague (poetry) 88 pages.
4.      Montana Tall Tales compiled by Georgia Nation Carter (fiction) 50 pages.
5.      Reading & Writing with a Cat Called Sidney by Carol Stem (essays) 34 pages.
6.      Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open by Diane Seuss (poetry) 66 pages.
7.      Butcher Bird by Richard Kadrey (fiction) 257 pages.
8.      Men in Groups by Aaron Smith (poetry) 23 pages.
9.      We know what we are by Mary Hamilton (short shorts) 36 pages.
10.  Fair Play by Tove Jansson (Fiction) 120 pages.
11.  Dark Rides by Derek McCormack (Fiction) 99 pages.


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