New Review of Dead City Jazz at Albany Poets

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.   

My Short Story "I'm Not Doing Coke Off That Dog's Back" Now Appears in Drunk Monkeys #5

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!

My Interview in Issue 5 of The Blue Mountain Review

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!  

An October Update on Writing, Publishing, and an Abysmal Lack of Cider Donuts

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.     

My Top 3: Worst Halloween Candies

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 & the Punk Chapbook Series

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

 

New Poetry in Bare Hands Issue 23

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.  

6 Ways Stranger Things Reminds Me of Twin Peaks

(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…

Dead City Jazz Gets a Cover and Release Date!

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.  

My Top 3: Ryan Adams Songs

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!

Dead City Jazz coming soon to Epic Rites Press

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.    

The Review Review's Review of Drunk Monkeys Gives My Short Story "The Philanthropist" a Nod

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!  

Interviewed by The Blue Mountain Review

Southern poet, rogue, and Pulitzer nominee Charles Clifford Brooks III interviewed me for the third issue of The Blue Mountain Review, and we discuss my thoughts on the literary community, where quality writing comes from, and of course, fight clubs...which don't exist, I promise, so please stop asking...ahem, anyway. The issue also includes three of my poems, "dawn and the empty bottle of wine," "Having Come Down the Mountain," and "How to Read the Braille of Your Heartstrings." You can read the entire issue online (I'm on page 89), and it includes a ton of other spectacular writers and poets, including Dr. John Ratledge, Regina Walker, Rowan Johnson, and others. Thank you for taking a look!  

"The Philanthropist," a short story

My short story "The Philanthropist" now appears at Drunk Monkeys, a fantastic literature and cultural website offering fiction, essays, poetry, reviews of books, movies, and more. This story is my second with them, and it mixes elements of noir and crime with a sobering look at life on the streets and what we value most when there's nothing left of value. I hope you enjoy the story, and if you do, consider picking up one of my short story collections, What Lies In Wait or The Cards We Keep, each full of similar tales. Thanks!  

The Girl in the Mountain, New Interviews, and More

It has been quite a while since my last post, and my absence stems from a plethora of creative and non-creative brush-fires that kept me busy for weeks upon months, but I thought a little update post would do me some good, so here we are.

For starters, I finished the first draft of yet another novel, this one a 1940s-era noir/mystery titled The Girl in the Mountain. It is a fictional account of an actual crime from Vermont in the 1940s that went unsolved…or did it? My take offers a few more conventional and very unconventional possibilities to the real-life missing person case, and I have been calling it a “Humphrey Bogart meets The X-Files, with just a dash of Twin Peaks” type of story. I’m looking forward to starting the second draft before it goes out to a few choice agents. My deepest thanks to my test readers currently reading away!

Also in publishing news, my ninth collection of poetry is slated to appear this summer. Dark Heart Press is hoping to release my book, We Are All Terminal But This Exit is Mine this June. It’s a poetic examination of the hopeful expectations we place on adulthood as a child and the yearning nostalgia we have once he find adulthood isn’t all its cracked up to be, in all its painful and deadly ways.

Atop that I’ll have an interview in the next issue of The Blue Mountain Review, a short story appearing in the next issue of Drunk Monkeys, and a few pieces showing up in anthologies later in the year. So yes, things have been busy, but I hope to make more appearances here at this blog more often now that spring is here. Stay tuned!   

New Poetry in February - Pine Hills Review & San Pedro River Review

Two new poems of mine are now walking around out in the world for all to see. My poem "East Cevallos Street" now appears in the San Pedro River Review, a massive edition focusing on the American Southwest. My poem takes place in San Antonio, TX, and brings a glimmering colorful nighttime cantina into view, where drinks are cheap and so are the prayers to a saintly boxcar train rumbling through the downtown streets heading into the night, into the west. Copies are available for purchase online.

My poem "How to Watch John Ashbery Read Poetry" now appears at Pine Hills Review, the online literary journal for St. Rose, a college in my hoemtown of Albany, NY. This one is about going to see John Ashbery read poetry in NYC, and how these little gatherings are always more uncomfortable than you'd think. 

There are a lot of other poems and stories set for release this year, a few appearing in large anthologies, a story set for release over at Drunk Monkeys, and a new poetry collection due later this year from Dark Heart Press. There's a lot going on, and I'll keep you posted as we get further down the road. Thanks for reading!

  

Yellow Chair Review 2015 Anthology Now Available!

My poem "Slaves of Some Strange God" now appears in Yellow Chair Review's Anthology, a print edition that looks back on some of their favorite pieces they published in digital editions in 2015. My poem previously appeared in their September 2015 issue. The print edition also contains notable work from the likes of Rachel Nix, Kevin Ridgeway, Thomas R. Thomas, Allie Marini, Alison Ross, Scott Thomas Outlar, and many others. My thanks goes to Yellow Chair Review Editor-in-Chief Sarah Frances Moran and the rest of the YCR staff for including my work. "I never would have thought we’d be putting together an anthology when we started back in May," Sarah says. "I’m so very proud of what we’ve accomplished and I’m honored to showcase the work included here." The anthology is available for $15. Thanks for reading! 

Wait, I Haven't Posted in 2016 Yet?

Time flies when your head is spinning because of how busy you are. Yeah, it’s been quite a while since my last post, but thankfully it’s because I've had too much to do rather than not having anything to post about. It’s been a busy winter so far, with multiple and exciting (to me) projects happening all at once, including:

  • I have a new poetry chapbook in the works with Dark Heart Press, titled We Are All Terminal but This Exit is Mine. There is a tentative release date for this spring that may be pushed back, but I’m excited to work with editor Kevin Ridgeway on this release with his new press based out of Los Angeles. More news on that coming soon.
  • I’m in preliminary talks with a fellow writer to co-edit a new print anthology we want to create collecting personal essays about the daydreams we had while listening to music as kids in the 1980s. It’s early yet to post any more details than that, but it’s going to be a lot of fun.
  • I’m in the home stretch for the first draft of the mystery novel I’m working on, with a working title The Girl in the Mountain, my fifth novel overall, although at least one or two of those will never see the light of day, and for good reason - woof, that was some rough writing in my early 20s. Anyway, I’m about 15K words away from the end, and once it’s done I’ll have a few beta readers give it a go before moving on to the revision stage.
  • I also have a novel waiting for revision that I’m excited to jump back into and get out to agents later this summer. This one is based in Beacon, NY and is about the intersecting lives of five people who moved to town to hide from something, to start over, to figure out what comes next, and then one unsolved murder changes them all.
  • Freelance has been keeping me on my toes, with projects due for Pearson (writing ELL essays and questions for overseas students) and ECS Learning (creating end-of-book tests for classic and award-winning novels taught in grades 4-8), so the next few months will be extra busy, but as every writer working today knows, every penny counts while you’re chasing down an agent for your work, right?

As I attend to all that and more, I’ll try to keep a better variety of weird, fun, informative, and literary posts flowing here in 2016, okay? See you down the road…     

 

My Top 10 Books of 2015

It’s time once again to tally up the books I read over the last year and see which ones held up. As usual, I only include books I read for the first time in 2015, but they can have been published anytime. Oddly, it seems I read fewer books in 2015 than in most recent years, by almost double digits, probably because I moved away from NYC and lost all that subway reading time. Oh well, so it goes. Here’s my top 10. Enjoy!  

"No Harvest" Appears in Red Fez #84

My poem "No Harvest" now appears in Issue 84 of Red Fez, a madhouse of a publication that has accepted a great deal of my work over the years and I am always grateful to have another piece in the fold. More of my older poems accepted by Red Fez can be read HERE. In other writing news, I have taken a step away from a lot of social media outlets to focus on the latest mystery novel (as I said in a previous post) and it's going a little slower than I hoped, but I'm getting closer to the end. Details on that will follow, as well as on a few other poetry and fiction publications I have in the works with presses and magazines in 2016. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!