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!
Alan Furst and his series of “Night Soldiers” novels focus the European underground résistance against the Nazis between the years of (give or take) 1932 and 1945, and they have been an absolute pleasure to read and re-read since I discovered him back in 2012. One aspect I appreciate most about the series is that the main characters are not your typical British or American WWII hero archetypes—spies, soldiers, or otherwise. Furst gives us more of a grassroots perspective of Europe’s turmoil in that time. Some main characters are Polish army officers, newspaper reporters, Russian spies, Greek detectives, French film producers, etc. They’re people from all walks of life, and they all start out fearful of the Nazi regime and are unsure of what they can do against Hitler’s minions, but each finds a way to help, somehow. My rankings tend to shift depending on which one I’ve read last, but there’s really only one I disliked. The rest range from solid to incredible, and I hope this list inspires you to give the series a chance!Read More
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!
Turning words into comfort, weapons, and the most widely embraced artform of our time
During many of the most recent political shifts toward conservative nationalism, be it in Europe or in America, I have heard the call that artists must take up the mantle and create, that this must become a period of renewed drive, and that poetry, among the many arts we need now more than ever, will lead the way back to brighter times.
I have my doubts. Certainly not about the power of poetry to provide solace in trying times or to lift the veil on hypocrites and racists. Instead I worry about poetry’s ability to do so in an effective manner. I should add that my doubts do not stand in defiance of trying, but if we’re going to turn our art into tools of comfort for allies and into useful weapons against oppressors, we’d better make damn sure we’re not working inside an echo chamber.Read More
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.
It happens to all of us at different points in our writing lives: we hit a stretch where we can’t seem to finish anything, or the ideas have dried up faster than morning rain on an Arizona highway. It happened to me this last year when I finished one novel and was excited to start a fresh project, except each novel idea I started fizzled out. They weren’t right. Same went for a few short stories I had rattling around in my head. I’d make it halfway through before casting each aside. Even poems felt forced. I felt stuck. I WAS stuck. And I was breaking Neil Gaiman’s wise and important rule: “Whatever it takes to finish things, finish.” It was a hollow, scary feeling.
But instead of sitting back and waiting for inspiration to strike, I tried a few of the methods below to jumpstart that old excited feeling, to help me start something I could finish. I picked these up from other writers, so it's not like these are fresh, original ideas, but they helped me out, bit by bit. I’m hoping that if they worked for me, they’ll work for you.Read More
Watching a twelve-year-old child working a typewriter is a special kind of magic in our modern era, magic enough all on its own, but when he finishes and says he wrote about his feelings on police brutality and runs off to give it to a friend, that’s not magic, that a game changer.Read More
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!
I recently had the privilege to be part of Up The Staircase Quarterly's 10th Anniversary celebration, in which April Michelle Bratten, longtime editor of the incredible magazine, asked me to help select one of the best pieces over the last 10 years. Since one of my own poems appeared in UTSQ in 2011, she asked that I scour that year for a choice poem, and I selected "waking//daydream//or I MAY JUST CEASE TO EXIST:" by Faith Mingus. It's an excellent poem about her truest self, an existence of choice, a reality running counter to her day-to-day life. I highly recommend not just this piece, but the entire issue, which is full of other great selections, poets, and reviews! And keep submitting your own work to UTSQ, which I hope will be going strong for another ten years and far beyond!
About twelve years ago I received a poetry rejection from a magazine editor who shall remain nameless (because I can’t remember who it was for the life of me). This editor told me he rejected my work because the poems were all about myself, the poet, writing poetry, and nobody cares about “I” poems anymore. While this was (and remains) untrue in the wider sense, it took me years to understand what this editor meant by his rejection.Read More
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!
One of my favorite televisions shows of all time is Peep Show, easily one of the most unique comedies ever filmed, in that the show is shot entirely from the perspectives of either Mark or Jeremy (Jez), two "odd couple" roommates who are both social misfits in their own spectacularly bizarre ways. I have to thank my former roommate Liz for bringing this gem into my life. I had given it a shot years prior and hated the only half-episode I watched, but then I gave it a second chance when she raved about it, and it quickly became our most quotable show. The five episodes I chose as my favorites, to my surprise, are almost all from seventh series (for those unaware, in the UK shows come out in a series, not a season), but just because 4/5 occur in that one series, I assure you that each year's offerings have stunningly hilarious moments, arcs, and characters that make every series worth watching. But these five are my absolute favorites and perhaps you'll like them as well.Read More
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.
No writer is done learning, and some methods and "tips" we learn evolve over time and take on new dimensions. I did a lot of writing in 2017, not all of it as successfully as I wanted, but throughout the ups and downs I learned a few things (and re-learned even more) that might also help you too. Good luck in 2018!Read More