My flash fiction piece "Desperate Ain't Lonely" now appears in the Winter 2017 issue of Full of Crow. It's a brief story about a couple driving through the West Virginia mountains at night pondering what love and loneliness really mean. I'm planning to include the story in a collection of flash fiction perhaps later this year, tentatively titled Nights Without Rain. I'll post more about that as publication nears. And as always, thanks for reading!
I have friends who will kill me over these rankings, but I gave this a shot with Tom Petty’s albums so why not for another of my all-time favorites, Mr. Feelings himself, Ryan Adams. I’m loving his new album Prisoner, so I decided to test myself and see where it ranked on my own list of his albums. I should note this list does NOT include any of his compilations or live albums, none of his Whiskeytown stuff, or any of his many singles, bootlegs, unreleased tracks and albums, or side projects. Just Ryan Adams studio albums and his longer EPs.
I’d also like to say there’s only one album listed that I don’t like to some degree, so yeah, I’m pretty biased and this was ridiculously hard. Ok, let’s get in there.
I keep hearing fellow writers say we need art and poetry now more than ever in this era of rising nationalism and fear, but unless we make the effort to reach outside our artistic echo chamber, poetry may fail to provide comfort for our allies and weapons to use against our enemies in these trying times. I explain how I think we can all help make poetry the most embraced art form of our time in my new essay "The Closed Circuit of Poetry" in the new issue of The Blue Mountain Review. The issue appears online in PDF format and my essay is found on page 27, but there's a lot of great art, interviews, poetry, and prose throughout the issue, so take a look. Many thanks to the editors for allowing me to speak my mind in this essay, and thanks to you all for support.
It's been a busy winter so far, and it's only getting busier. Here's a rundown of what's out now and what's coming soon!
- My review of Nice Feelings by Iris Appelquist now appears at Up The Staircase Quarterly, which is a stellar publication you should be reading.
- My poem "Going Ghost" now appears at Boned, a journal of skeletal writings. I omitted this poem from my collection Berlin (Maverick Duck Press) so I'm happy it finally found a home.
- My poem "Nights Don't Die" should appear in the upcoming issue of Five:2:One this month.
- I have two flash fiction stories coming up in late winter: "Desperate Ain't Lonely" will appear in Full Of Crow, and "Thompson Hill" will appear in Ink In Thirds. I'll post links when they both hit!
- And finally, for now, I recently had a poem called "The Carson Effect" in Winedrunk Sidewalk: Shipwrecked in Trumpland, and I'll soon have another titled "The Young May Love Without Fear". They publish a new poem every day of Trump's presidency, and if you're not the biggest fan of the current admin, you'll want to take a look.
Thanks for reading and all of your support!
While we’ve all rolled around in the muck that became 2016 and mourned the loss of one personal hero or another, or fumed at the political atmosphere that continues to become more toxic with each passing month, I’ve experienced a number of personal ups and downs that made the year something more complex than “the worst year ever”.
While I read fewer books than usual in 2016, this annual edition of my Top 10 lists covers a fairly broad range of styles—a rock & roll bio, some YA classics, poetry, apocalypse lit, historical nonfiction, crime, noir, and more. Despite being a pretty miserable year, the good books kept me going. As usual for these lists, I only include books I’ve read for the first time in 2016, but the books can be from any year, brand new or decades old, so long as they’re new to me. I’d love to know what your favorites were this year as well, so feel free to add those in the comments section! Most of all, I hope you enjoy these if you haven’t yet tried them for yourself.
Picaroon Poetry has a new issue sailing the high seas of the internet and its crew is a fine one, full of poets and scribes with words galore. In their new issue, which they unofficially dub the "sex and death issue", you'll find my poem "The Old Note Book". I take notes when I travel and after finding an old clothbound note book I opened it to find so many memories I'd nearly forgotten, and some I most certainly don't recall. I hope you enjoy the poem, and please take a look at the rest of the issue!
A new review of my chapbook Dead City Jazz now appears at Albany Poets. In the reviewer's own words, the collection "explores the geography of human emotion, love, loneliness, desperation, fear and indifference using robust imagery while simultaneously intertwining narratives." All of the poems take place on or are inspired by alcohol-infused and neon-lit evenings in San Antonio, Texas, and while some are certainly bar poems, others hover in more remote corners of the night, on back streets and in quiet rooms in a suffocating silence. The review does a good job of getting to the heart of the poetry, especially the part where the reviewer recognized "how we improvise through our experiences like jazz music," through every conversation and relationship, every night and day. I'm proud to have my hometown poetry organization host this review on their site. Take a look, and thanks for all of the support! Single copies are still available through me, but the whole Punk Chapbook Series from Epic Rites Press is just that, epic, and is worth your time and money.
That title may give some of you pause, but I assure you, it's actually a fairly redeeming story! "I'm Not Doing Coke Off That Dog's Back" is my new short and appears in the Anniversary Issue of Drunk Monkeys magazine. It's about a man who attends a party against his will and discovers he should have trusted his gut, but he's not going to just bail, he's going to turn this into a rescue mission. I hope you check it out! The whole issue is stellar and I deeply appreciate the editors allowing me to tag along for such an incredible ride!
The anniversary issue of The Blue Mountain Review is now live and includes an interview in which Clifford Brooks asks me about how Hobo Camp Review (my online literary magazine) came about, what advice I have for writers submitting work to magazines, what concerns I have about bad publishing practices like reading fees, and what new books I'm working on right now. The issue also includes a bunch of great poetry, fiction, other interviews, and Robert Pinksy is the featured author. Thanks for taking a look!
This October hasn’t unfolded how I first envisioned when the leaves began to change colors and the cool air began to skirt through the woods and across the lakes of my small upstate New York town. I haven’t visited any haunted hayrides as I hoped, no haunted houses for that matter either, very little apple picking, and just a handful of cider donuts; a tame and rather muted season all in all. The reason for this is I’ve been busy working on some writing projects, locking myself away most nights to try to cross the last t and dot the last i.
Now that Epic Rites Press released Dead City Jazz for the world to read, my focus shifted to my other poetry collection, We Are All Terminal But This Exit Is Mine, something I’ve been waiting to release for a while. I’ve worked out a deal with a phenomenally talented artist for the cover art and I added a couple of new poems to the mix this month, but after some long and productive conversations with the original publisher, I decided to place the book elsewhere, with the hopes of working with Dark Heart Press again sometime in the future. Thankfully, Bud Smith over at Unknown Press has agreed to tackle the manuscript over the winter and we’ll be working together to put out the best book possible with the collection of poems I have gathered. I’m very excited about the new direction and I believe it’s the best move for all involved right now. More details on that soon.
I also finished work on another novel, one that I think is not just my best work but my best shot at finally acquiring representation with a literary agent. That’s my goal with this one, and I’ve started sending it to agents I’ve met over the last few years. Fingers crossed. This one is a 40s-era mystery, a bit of Humphrey Bogart meets X-Files with a dash of Twin Peaks. It is currently titled The Girl in the Mountain and is a fictional account of a very real and unusual case of a missing college student in Vermont in 1945. Months after she disappears without a trace, two new investigators try to pick up the cold trail, and with the help of local reporters they discover that the number of missing persons, as well as the strange manner in which they disappeared, goes far beyond what anyone expected. I’ll let you know how that goes.
I also updated two other novels this year, a dystopian hardboiled mystery and a more literary ensemble-cast novel in the vein of Cannery Row and The Heart if s Lonely Hunter. Yet another novel I have written but want to revise, a middle-reader for grades 4-6, is on my To Do list for November. My goal for the end of the year is to have all four novels ready to hand to anyone for publication, and I’m almost there.
After that, my writing slate for 2017 is blank. I have some ideas and outlines, but nothing firm. That’s both an exciting and scary feeling, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.
As adults, we have the luxury of dressing up as ghosts and hobos any old day of the week and going door to door in the neighborhood to ask for candy. This may be why I'm forced to move around so much, but the upside is that every now and then someone actually makes with the candy. But just because you return home with a pillowcase full of sweets doesn’t mean you’re in for a treat. Some of those saccharine delights are tricks of demonic proportions. Here are the three candies that deserve a serious egging should your neighbors have the gall to hand them out on Halloween, or whenever you show up dressed as Dracula’s shabby cousin.
Dead City Jazz, my chapbook about the neon and nightlife of San Antonio, TX is now available as part of the Epic Rites Press Punk Chapbook Series, in which you receive 12 books for $40 (plus shipping) all at once. I should have VERY limited signed copies available by early October, but there are so many talented writers in this series that your best best to to get them all before they're sold out. Below is a sample poem from Dead City Jazz called "Death of the Cool".
Death of the Cool
sewing through Alamo Heights
after midnight, headlights and red lights
and Chet Baker, Miles, news of
your suicide in that cracked little
bungalow further downtown, soft
highway sounds like the ocean
we loved so well
your records and books were gone
by the time we got there to pay respects
but that’s alright, we’ll always
have the night, and all the
pain in the world
My poem "The Ruby Hope of You" now appears in the gorgeous Bare Hands, Issue 23. Included in the issue are Eithne Lannon, Roisin Kelly, Trevaskis Hoskin, Tia Paul-Louis, Brian Kirk, Eoghan O'Sullivan, and Seth Jani, with some beautiful photography throughout. My poem is an older one, reshaped and reconstructed through the years but holding dear to a stoic moment in the southern grass at dusk, staring up through the trees with the last of the red wine and a fresh batch of wonderful, awful pain. I hope you enjoy.
(Just for fun, and with a few light spoilers, but not too much. You’ve been warned.)
This is not to say they were similar shows, or that Peaks played a heavy influence on the Duffer Brothers in the same way that E.T., The Goonies, Stephen King stories, and Alien (among others) clearly did. But I noticed a few things that hearken back to another show that dealt with a monstrous being from another dimension, a dark and strange place that is much closer than we realize…
Epic Rites Press will release my poetry chapbook Dead City Jazz as part of their Punk Chapbook Series 2, coming this October. Last night I added one more poem to the chap, "Death of the Cool," and and now the chap has a cover too, with artwork provided by Janne Karlsson. The book is available in bulk with all the others, 12 books in total that ship in one package. For details, check out Epic Rites Press, and I'm going to try to get my hands on a couple individual copies for future readings and such. Stay tuned for all that.
Ryan Adams has been a top three all-time favorite (alongside Tom Petty and The Replacements) since around 2006 when my friend Mike “Stray” Belardi gave me all of his albums up to that point in a zip file, and I was done. Slayed. Enthralled. Every album has a different tone, voice, story, and I’ve loved almost every track of his that I could hunt down, so putting together a top three list has been near impossible, and I’m sure there’s zero chance that anyone will see my selections and think, “Nailed it.” There’s just too much goodness to choose from. Do you go acoustic and mournful? Do you go bluesy and rocking? Do you go messy and thrashing? So much to sort through. Here’s mine. And you? Let me know!
Epic Rites Press has selected my poetry collection Dead City Jazz for inclusion in their Punk Chapbook Series. This is the second season of their series, which includes 12 chapbooks released over the course of a year to subscribers for just $40, a little over $3 per book. This is an exceptional deal considering the subscription includes work from Ally Malinenko, William F. Taylor, Karina Bush, and many other talented writers, with more to be announced.
Dead City Jazz is a collection of San Antonio poems, of late night breakdowns and smoky bar crawls, of darkened streets and glowing cantina lights, of fading love and frightening lust, of death wishes and jukebox laughter. I'll see about getting my hands on signed copies, but I don't have full details yet on how the series works as far as that goes. But at the price listed for all of the chaps in the series, it really is a good deal to go all in. Many thanks to Wolfgang Carstens for accepting my work! More details coming soon.
In a review of Drunk Moneys first full issue of poetry and prose, The Review Review mentioned my short story "The Philanthropist" as a notable story within the collection. In calling out the story, The Review Review says it is one of the many in the issue that blurs the line between coincidence and circumstance, responsibility and guilt. The main character in the story is torn about what to do with the last of his tainted money from a heist job in which he gets screwed over by a criminal higher up in the food chain. He needs the money, but it reminds him of his stupidity, his guilt, his shame. He tries various ways to excise this guilt and rid himself of his money, before finally doing so in a most unexpected way. And The Review Review said, "There is something visceral in the relief that the protagonist feels in Duncan’s “The Philanthropist,” after he rids himself of his burden, something animal in his desire for simplicity." Check out the story and all the other great pieces found at Drunk Monkeys. Many thanks to The Review Review for taking the time to read the issue!