more break than spring

The past few weeks have been insanely busy with the end of the grading period plus stomach virus misery in the McClurg-Vineyard camp. I’ve had several projects cooking at once, and several of them I just can’t talk about yet. For one of them, a friend of mine is going to be knocking out some high profile and exciting stuff and I may be involved–or not. Either way, an incredible artist I know is about to be making some waves and that’s really cool.

I got to crank up some Napalm Death, etc. for inspiration for some recordings that may or may not see the light of day. If anything, I may be helping another good friend develop his blast beat chops. This has allowed me to check out some music that I haven’t listened to since I was thirteen. Blast beat etudes.

I’ll be reading at the Slash Pine Poetry Festival and I’ll have a poem in the commemorative anthology! The poem I turned in to the anthology is an important one for me. In some ways, I feel like it’s the best thing I’ve written, but, boy oh boy, has it racked up a lot of rejections. That’s just how it goes. I’m really excited about this especially since I gave my first poetry readings in Tuscaloosa at what was once the oldest bar in Alabama (The Chukker, R.I.P). Actually, I helped present a weekly reading series there, but I haven’t read there in about fourteen years and I haven’t done a poetry reading in about four years.

I have a new piece of flash fiction over at The 500.

My visiting writer series ended yesterday with Emma Bolden. Wow. She’s developed a great strategy for combining various inputs, including TV, into versions of found poetry. She’s fiercely intelligent and wonderfully down-to-earth. She’s also a great teacher!

I hope my students have gained something from this reading series. Every writer so far has taught me something.

One of the projects I worked on desperately needed some Anthrax. I went with Fistful of Metal:

And I’ve listened to lots of Swans lately:


Several interesting possibilities may be coming up, but for now they are all potential energy. It’s been a busy few weeks and I hope that some of the work pays off, but I also know that sometimes it just doesn’t.

One of the projects that I know will pay off is getting ready for our second visiting writer TJ Beitelman, who just birthed a novel into the world. Good stuff! Has a mood not unlike Lynch directing some O’Connor or McCarthy. He’s going to be great with my students and I’m excited to hear the conversation.

I unfortunately abandoned the first title in our Great Books of the 21st Century reading list. American Gods just wasn’t for me and felt like a total chore reading. I’ve only read some of Neil Gaiman’s short fiction and have liked it and I find him inspiring as an artist and fellow human being, but I just couldn’t manage Gods.

I think the group is set to discuss my failure and to start The Book Thief.

I’ve written a little about this elsewhere, but I was totally flattered to have my project Little Billboards get a nice mention from the Found Poetry Review.

I think I’m still working in the spirit that I started the project. While I haven’t abandoned “traditional” haiku formats, I’ve been having a lot of fun working in found poetry/humument territory. I wish I had time to do more sound poems (or whatever they are). Regardless, I’m trying to update two to four times a week. I was a bad art student once, but this project has been a great excuse to play again. My two-year-old daughter often helps or works alongside me. The good stuff’s probably hers.

One of the more interesting titles I wrote and worked to this past week:



a new denomination ain’t a thing but a name

A highlight of my week was having Abraham Smith jump-start the visiting writers series I’m developing for my school. On the day he spoke his new book came out and we got to hear him read from his own work and from greats like Dylan Thomas. I hope my students enjoyed interacting with him as much as I enjoyed their interactions. A great day at work.

There’s so much in the hopper right now. I’ll elaborate as I can.

The Five Hundred is a cool website that I’m currently using to work some fiction muscles. The way it works: Every month you get a prompt for a five hundred word flash fiction piece. Contributors are kindly workshopping each other’s pieces. And that’s it. This month there was a bonus one hundred word prompt, so I wrote a ghazal. I’m pretty happy with it. You can read it here. I still consider much of my fiction apprentice work and some of it makes me cringe. But, what the heck, you can read my response here. Check out some other work on there, too. As someone without access to or time for MFA courses, this site came to me at the right time.

I’m still writing with music. More inspiration in sound from this week:

The Sadies:

Lots of John Fahey:

And Abe Smith himself turned me onto Washington Phillips:






you’re never too old to apprentice and 7+ pieces of audio inspiration

In order to hone my fiction chops, I decided to join The Five Hundred, a site that presents a prompt every month with the outcome being some form of flash fiction between 400-600 words. Next week, I’ll have a ghazal (based on a “bonus” 100 word prompt) and flash fiction piece called, “In the Cup of the Beholder.” Once the pieces go live, the writers treat the site as a workshop. I may not be able to submit each month, but I think I’ll enjoy the challenge.

Jeff McLeod suggested The Five Hundred. Thanks, Jeff!

With a two-year-old and a week-old newborn in the house, my writing time and process changed a little over the past few weeks. One, I’ve been mostly writing on a computer rather than in the notebooks I’ve kept for twenty years. It feels faster and time is something I’m short on. I don’t know if the quantity improves the quality of the writing, but I always write a lot and throw a lot away. The process feels more streamlined now.

And two, I wrote with music. In the past, it was pure distraction from writing. Maybe it’s all the life changes, but composing with music felt right, but I could only listen to certain pieces. With that in mind, I thought I’d share those here.

The prompt for the fiction piece was “Tear it down and try again.” One of the things I like about writing is research. This can send me into a spiral that I have to get out of quickly or else I won’t write anything. Initially, the prompt pushed me into writing an essay about the self and zen and I eagerly pulled book after book from my shelves until I realized that the topic was interesting, but not something I was prepared to turn into fiction. I abandoned that and looked at the Book of Revelations instead, which made me think of this classic by Son House:

Even though I mostly listen to instrumental music, Clarence Ashley’s version of “Coo Coo Bird” was on repeat. Maybe the droning effect of old time banjo kept this track from being distracting:

Erik Satie’s Gymnopedies:

Frescobaldi’s Fantasies: Book 1:

Vandermark 5: “New Acrylic”

Secret Chiefs 3: “Balance of the 19”

Also SC3: “Tistrya”

These artists share no blame in what they inspired.