Issue 14 of The Blue Mountain Review is now posted online and it looks pretty amazing. The new issue includes work and words by Jericho Brown, Robert Pinsky, Melissa Studdard, Elizabeth Beck, Meagan Lucas, Lane Young, and a whole swath of other writers. There’s also a bunch of interviews, art, and essays, including one by me called “Everyone Has a Story to Tell,” in which I thumb back through the years to the time I was talking to a bunch of construction workers about writing and where stories come from while we drank happy hour beer in Jimmy’s Corner in NYC. They didn’t think much of my ideas, except one guy, and I hope that guy eventually told his own story, somehow. My thanks to the editors and Clifford Brooks as always for including my little piece. If you want to take a look you’ll find it on page 100. Thanks for reading!
It had been a while since I submitted anything to The Blue Mountain Review, and when editor Clifford Brooks asked if I had anything up my sleeve that he could include, I was going through the process of prepping my handful of novels for the arduous lit agent submission process, which involves not just researching literary agencies but also competitive titles already on the market. I decided to write about that in my latest column over at BMR (on page 102). Not so much how researching other titles at Barnes & Noble can help you decide what to write, but how it might help you decide how to go about writing the story you want to write, how you can position it, and hopefully, fingers crossed, sell it. Now I’m no pro at the latter, since I’m still trying to hook an agent myself, but you never know what little hint we might pick up from one another that might get us closer to our goal, right? Anyway, I hope you enjoy the piece, and there are plenty of other excellent essays, stories, poetry, and more in the new issue to keep you otherwise occupied. Thanks to Cliff and the editors for creating another spiffy issue!
The new issue of The Blue Mountain Review is now up, and it includes an essay of mine titled “Stepping Back / Stepping Forward” (on page 26) which discusses my month-long experience of stepping away from social media this summer to focus on writing. The break was a great way to re-focus, but I also found that stepping away from a few other things like Netflix, poetry readings, and even magazine submissions (yes, you read that right) also helped be move forward with the writing goals I set out for myself this year. You can read the essay, along with a ton of great poems, columns, and interviews, inside the new issue of The Blue Mountain Review, created by the folks over at the Southern Collective Experience. Thanks!
The third edition of my Bookshop Hunter column for the fantastic folks over at FIVE:2:ONE Magazine is now live over at their website. This one is has the headline "Don't Go back to Rockville," and concerns my REM-fueled road trip through upstate New York into the lovely towns and rolling hills of Saratoga and Washington counties. The trip includes a visit to a barn bookshop just outside of the town of Greenwich, NY, where I lived when I was a married young man years ago, and I hadn't been back in ages. The town holds both good memories and bad and I was somewhat apprehensive to return, for a number of reasons, but the lure of bookshops was too strong to hold me back. I hope you enjoy this third edition of the column, and feel free to check out the other editions or the more in-depth reviews of the specific shops mentioned in the column. Thanks for taking a look, and keep hunting those bookshops!
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!
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
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
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!
Every writer has been there. Whether it's burnout or writer's block, we all hit that wall where nothing seems to work, we can't finish anything, and great ideas die on the vine before they're ripe. I hit this wall a few times each year, but I've found little ways to work around (or through) that usually do the trick and get me back on track. I shared a few of these tips in my latest column, titled "Piece By Piece," for The Blue Mountain Review, Issue 8. Check out page 50 for my quarterly column. The issue is full of excellent poetry, prose, art, interviews, and a lot more, so it's definitely worth your time. My deepest thanks to Clifford Brooks and the staff at The Blue Mountain Review for including me yet again.