One of my favorite online literary journals, Lonesome October Lit, has published my poem "Long Before Twilight," which contains all sorta of fun nostalgic references to my grade school library, books about werewolves, and childhood daydreaming. The poem also appears in my narrative poetry collection We Are All Terminal But This Exit Is Mine, which is available at Amazon. Be sure to read the other eerie, spooky poems and stories over at Lonesome October Lit too, and let me know what you think! Thanks for reading.
News & Updates
It's always a good feeling to find yourself in one of your hometown lit magazines, and Up The River: A Journal of Poetry, Art, & Photography is a gorgeous literary web-zine hosted by Albany Poets, an organization promoting events and writers in the Albany, NY area. My poem "Spiders at Night" appears in Up The River, Issue Six, alongside the work of other poets I really enjoy, like Kevin Ridgeway, Alan Catlin, and others. Check out the poem and scroll the through the other issues for a lot of excellent poetry. Thanks!
Hobo Camp Review is hosting a contest with a $25 prize (no fee) for the upcoming autumn issue! The HCR Flash Around the Campfire Competition is open to any flash fiction (we'll even consider long-ish narrative poetry) under 1,000 words, and the shorter the better. All the usual guidelines apply, and again, there's NO fee. There will be a special judge (TBA) who will award $25 and a free book or two from our knapsack to the lucky scribe. The submission window closes on Labor Day, 9/3/2018. For info about the kind of work that moves us, or give any of our issues a look online. Thanks!
Two of my poems recently appeared at Winedrunk Sidewalk, an online daily poetry journal that also subtitles itself "Shipwrecked in Trumpland," and focuses on anti-authority, political, and working class poems. These two, "Lo Cool, 69 Degrees" and "Soft White Infinity" certainly fall along those lines. I hope you enjoy.
The editors at Misfit Magazine included a brief write-up of We Are All Terminal But This Exit Is Mine in their lengthy "Books Received, Reviewed, Acknowledged" section. They point out one particular poem, "Ghost Train," as being a standout, and it's always interesting to me which poems make a mark with people. It's always a different one, for different reasons, and this poem and I go way back so I'm glad it stood out. Take a look at the write-up and scan the section to see who else they've been reading! They also publish a lot of great poets and writers, including Kevin Ridgeway, Megan Jessop, and Holly Day in their current issue, so check that out as well.
BONED Every Which Way 2017 is an anthology of the poems that appeared at the BONED online magazine over the course of the year, and the new paperback edition includes two of my poems, "Dry Tide" and "Going Ghost." The first poem, "Dry Tide," first appeared in my mini-chapbook The Darkest Bomb from the Lantern Lit, Vol. 1 collection, which is also available online. The second, "Going Ghost," takes me back to my days in Berlin, Germany almost eight years ago. Feels like yesterday. Anyway, the collection is full of great poets, including Mikey Sivak, Wanda Marrow Clevenger, Susie Sweetland Garay, RM Engelhardt, Matthew Borczon, Mat Gould, and others. The anthology is also edited by Nate Ragolia, who is a fine poet himself. I hope you are able to pick up a copy, it's pretty darn affordable at just under $12. Enjoy!
I've been seeking out bookshops and reviewing them at my other blog, The Bookshop Hunter, for a few months now. It has been a blast, and now I have a column over at FIVE:2:ONE Magazine about my bookshop hunting trips around upstate New York, NYC, and beyond. In this first column, "The Bookshop Hunter: Electric City and Beyond," I explore Schenectady, NY and other nearby towns. FIVE:2:ONE is an weird-baby consortium of awesome writers, reviewers, poets, columnists, artists, and plenty more. They always have something new going on and I highly recommend you check them out!
My new poem, "The Guest Room Closet," now appears at Lonesome October Lit, one of my favorite online publications. As they say at their website, Lonesome October Lit "is a horror webzine for poetry as well as short fiction. The founding editor felt there was a lack of space out there for horror poems in a market flooded with mainstream literary venues and homes for genre prose fiction." If you love spooky, scary, atmospheric poetry and short fiction, this is the place for you. My poem is about an eerie childhood visit to a small village in the Hudson Valley, where something dark waits for a wayward guest. I hope you enjoy!
Over the next handful of months I’ll be reading my poetry at a few events in upstate New York, although I may be able to attend some others in NYC and areas beyond if the timing works out. I’m also hoping to set up a few readings on the west coast later this year, so watch this space for more announcements!
March 28, Wednesday - Noir at Troy Poetry Mission: Co-host R.m. Engelhardt had the genius thought to hold a themed reading for noir pieces, something we both love, and we’re hoping you will too. Sign-up starts at 7:30 pm at O’Brien’s Public House in Troy, NY, and the reading starts at 8 pm. Have a drink, a mean, sit back, and enjoy the noir poems and stories from local writers, including yours truly.
April 20, Friday - Readings Against the End of the World: In mid-April, Albany, NY will celebrate a week of readings and events as part of the annual Word Fest. I will be giving a 10-minute reading as part of the Readings Against the End of the World, a 24-hour read-a-thon to benefit the South End Children’s Cafe. The event will kick off Friday, April 20 at the Husted Hall Café on the UAlbany Downtown campus, and will continue until Saturday, April 21. As always, I’ll have copies of my book We Are All Terminal But This Exit Is Mine on hand.
May 6, Sunday - DiBiase Poetry Prize Reading: My poem "Strawberry Fields Forever" placed as an Honorable mention in the 2018 Stephen A DiBiase Poetry Contest. So many great writers appeared among the winners that it's an honor to even be mentioned, not to mention the $70 check that helped pay off some medical bills (and maybe bought a whisky or two). Winners and finalists will be giving a reading of their work in a special afternoon event. This will take place on Sunday, May 6 between 1:30 and 3:30 pm at the main branch of the Albany Public Library which is located at 161 Washington Ave. in downtown Albany NY. Again, I’ll have books on hand for anyone interested.
July 19, Thursday – Albany Social Justice Center Reading: On what I can only suspect will be a hot Thursday night in upstate New York, I’ll be reading as the feature poet at Albany’s Social Justice Center at 33 Central Ave. There will be an open mic before I get up there, and I’m looking forward to seeing who shows up to read their own work. And again, I’ll have plenty of books on hand.
More to come!
It’s a huge honor to announce that my poem “Strawberry Fields Forever” has placed as an honorable mention in the 2018 Stephen A DiBiase Poetry contest, and I’m joined by a bunch of excellent poets including Martin Willitts Jr. (1st place), Richard Foerster (2nd), Rebecca Schumejda (3rd), Olivia McKee, Mary Panza, Dan Wilcox (all honorable mentions), and others. There will be a reading in May in Albany, NY for winners and finalists and it’ll be open to the public. I’ll post more details soon and I'll be there. My poem, “Strawberry Fields Forever,” is from my book We Are All Terminal But This Exit Is Mine and looks back on a childhood memory of picking strawberries with my mother at a farm that no longer exists, or at least it doesn’t exist the way it did way back when. I miss simpler times like those, and this poem is a nostalgic one for sure. My deepest thanks too the judges and those who organized the contest. You certainly made my day much brighter.
Two new pieces that relate to driving along the more remote and nostalgic stretches of highway are now posted at the Punch Drunk Press website. My narrative poem "West Texas Skyway" concerns a memory of driving out to Ft. Davis and Alpine with my father and sister, and my poem "We'll Take a Trip to See" concerns memories of returning to a small town long after leaving a life and relationship behind, many years prior. I hope you enjoy, and many thanks to the editors at Punch Drunk Press for including my work at their website!
My new flash fiction story "Two Kings" now appears at Indigent Press, which you can read online alongside a slew of other great poets and writers, including Heather Minette, Jason Ryberg, Kat Giordino, Paul Corman-Roberts, and a bunch of others. This quick little story of mine takes place just before Christmas as I scrounge for extra cash to get by and visit the quarreling "two kings" to trade gold for cash. I hope you enjoy. My deepest thanks goes to the Indigent Press editors for including my work!
The Tom Petty poetry tribute is now live at Hobo Camp Review, and features poetry inspired by Tom's work and lyrics by such poets as Ally Malinenko, Jonathan Dowdle, Jake St. John, Bridget Clawson, Annmarie Lockhart, and even one by myself titled after his non-album track, "Surrender." I couldn't resist adding a poem too, as Tom was such a big influence and a constant musical companion throughout my life. The issue also features four book reviews, inclduing one by our new associate editor Rachel Nix, and two interviews with Ben Sobieck and Destini Vaile. Plus we have some non-Petty poetry too, including three poems by one of my favorites, Orooj-e-Zafar. It's one of our biggest and best issues yet and I'm really proud of how it turned out. Check it out if you have the time!
My short essay, "I Saw It On The Radio," now appears in the massive new anthology, From Somewhere to Nowhere: The End of The American Dream. This anthology is huge, and filled with fiction, essays, art, and more from artists all over the world, but was organized by a loose yet long-standing poetic collective called The Unbearables, who are based out of NYC. This book was in the works for years and I'm impressed by just how much they fit between the covers. The pieces focus on the experiences and observations on American life during and since 9/11, and its publication was delayed in order to include work that looks at our American life under Donald Trump's administration, capping the collection with a rather intense and anxiety-filled finale. My own piece is simply about my experiences on the morning of 9/11, and how I witnessed the towers fall while listening to live radio and watching it on TV at the same time. I was alone, but in a sense, I was with everyone listening in too, all watching the possibilities of a rather mundane Bush presidency crumble into eternal war and strife. The complexities of our world are not easily laid bare, but this anthology tries its best. Check it out if you can! It's a little on the pricey side, but you really get your bang for your buck. Seriously, it's hefty, you could knock out a burglar with this thing if you needed to. Enjoy!
One of my favorite literary and cultural magazines online, Drunk Monkeys, just named my latest collection We Are All Terminal But This Exit Is Mine as their pick for the Best Book of 2017. It's a massive honor and I'm blown away by the response, especially from a group of editors and writers I already deeply respected. In their post, they said, "It’s a powerful, transformative, and funny work - and our choice for Best Book of 2017. ...no book moved us, challenged us, and inspired us like James Duncan’s poetry collection We Are All Terminal But This Exit is Mine." Check out their website for the entire review. As always, I owe a lot to Bud Smith at Unknown Press for working with me on the book and for pushing me in new directions. And thank all of you for reading the book (signed copies are still available!) and for supporting me over the years.
The new issue of The Blue Mountain Review is now live, and includes my latest column for the BMR gang, this one titled "StoryHarvest: Write for Yourself, Write for Us All." Its about first time poems, how we decide what to write about, and my experience at the StoryHarvest event at The Sanctuary for Independent Media, an incredible education and social service organization located in Troy, NY. Their StoryHarvest event brought community members, children, teens, and artists together for an event celebrating local culture, food, art, music, and more. I brought along my typewriter and sat with people who never used one (or haven't in years) and encouraged them to write some poetry. It was a great time and I learned a lot about where inspiration for poetry comes from, which I discuss in the column. The issue is packed with great writers too, such as AnnMarie Lockhart, John Dorsey, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Clifford Brooks, and many others. Take a look!
Kleft Jaw #11 just blew a hole in the internet with their 11th issue, and I'm grateful to have two pieces within, a poem titled "Lo Cool, 69 Degrees" and a flash fiction story called "$10,000" which used to be a poem I originally wrote in Colorado but I fleshed it out to an actual story because it needed more room to detail the weird encounter I had with a man in a coffee shop out in Ft. Collins a few years back. You can read these pieces in the online magazine, and please check out the other work and art in the issue. It's a wild collective over there and I'm always pumped to be included in some Kleft Jaw chaos.
My 2017 writing life started by trying to revise a novel I had worked on for almost a decade, before deciding around March that it just wasn’t working. Plot holes kept shifting, twists I added to make the story unique only made other part of the story implausible, and I kept blending too many genres to the point where I didn’t know if the story was taking place in the past, present, or future, if it was a dystopian story or a noir or both or neither. I admit, I was making it too hard on myself, too complex, but I had lost the clear vision needed to simplify that story. I was in too deep and it just wasn’t working out. I love the characters so damn much, but I decided to stop for good (or...for now?) and pursue other projects I wanted to work on.Read More
I don’t remember exactly when Bud Smith and I began following each other online, but I loved his work and I thought his blog was chock full of hilarious and whip-smart posts. Even better, when I began crossing paths with him In New York City at various readings, I found out that not only is he a talented guy, but he’s a really GOOD guy, generous, helpful, and he wants to see the writers around him succeed and be happy almost more than he wants that for himself, it seems. So when we talked about doing a book together, which turned into We Are All Terminal But This Exit Is Mine, I knew I wasn’t just in good hands, I was in the best hands.
Unknown Press, as far as my book is concerned, consisted of Bud and his friend and editor Devin Kelly, who also happens to be another astoundingly talented writer Bud has published, and both of them offered helpful suggestions and insight about how to reshape and improve my poems. I loved some advice and took it, and I wasn’t sure about some and passed on it every so often, which Bud was absolutely happy to allow me to do. There was give and take, communication, lots of passes and questions and updates and trial and error, a real collaborative open effort. All heart. All joy. Did we miss some little things? Maybe. We’re human. Would I have done it any differently? Not on your life. Unknown Press was the way to go with this book, and they gave 100% of the profits directly to the author. No fees, no cut, no charge for layout, editing, anything. It’s all about the work, making it awesome, putting it out into the world, high five, grab a beer, and life keeps moving.
I am deeply appreciative of Bud’s work on my book, and Devin’s too, and I hope you’ll seek out their own books. I’m reading Bud’s Dust Bunny City right now, a book of poetry and fiction he collaborated on with his talented and always delightful wife Rae Buleri. I highly recommend it, as well as his novels F-250 and Tollbooth. I’ve read both, and loved both. I'm also dying to read his new memoir, Work. And Devin’s book Blood on Blood is on my “Must Read in 2018” list, and I hope it’s on yours too. Please check them out and support their work. They’re writers who work hard to make other writers better, and I think that’s a great example of how we should all be in this community of ours.
Earlier this year, the editors over at Cahoodaloodaling asked if I would join them as a guest editor for one of their issues, and I jumped at the chance. They also allowed me to suggest a theme. It was a huge honor being asked, and right away I knew I wanted to edit an issue based on the idea of solitude. Solitude is a major theme in my life, both as a comforting thing and as the sometimes lonely side effect of being a writer in need of quiet time in order to work. It can be good and bad, and for others, it can be a relief or a tragedy, something to embrace or to fear. It means so much to so many, and in this issue we capture a lot of that, covering an array of feelings about solitude and what it means, in an issue we titled Solitude's Spectrum.
Though we read blind submissions, there are a lot of writers I know and respect in this issue, including Megan Merchant (who wrote our spotlight piece "of use," Rebecca Schumejda, Bridget Clawson, Shanti Weiland, and many more, as well as an interview with another favorite poet/editor, April Michelle Bratten. My deepest thanks goes out to Raquel, Rachel, Hannah, and all the other editors and readers at Cahoodaloodaling for letting me join the team, if only for a little while. And thank you as well for taking a look at the issue, my interview within with Rachel Nix, and at everything else Cahoodaloodaling offers at their site. Enjoy!