Sunday, July 27, 2008

Poem of the week, and reading plans

Quick note: Finishing Line Press has extended my pre-order period by a few days. If you haven't yet ordered a copy of Breach and would like to do so, you can still get free shipping if you order before August 1st. (Get the details here!) Sales have been strong so far; my fear that nobody would buy the thing seems to have been completely unfounded! I'm really very pleased, and very grateful to those of you who have ordered it.

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Finishing Line Press has been publishing excellent chapbooks left and right this year, and here comes another one: Bloomington resident (and librarian) Doris Lynch. I've admired Dory's poetry for a number of years, and I am delighted to announce that she and I will be doing a joint chapbook-release reading sometime in November -- watch this space for details! -- along with another terrific Bloomington poet, Shana Ritter.

Jenny Kander has this to say about Dory's chapbook, Praising Invisible Birds: "Writing with engaging clarity Doris Lynch is unafraid to experience, question, challenge. Her connectedness to the past and the now, her looking up and around sanctifies nature through recognition, singing for us our place within it. Surprising turns of phrase, word choices, present an untiring imagination, a discerning eye. Honouring events, yet claiming her own imaginative closure, Lynch has the power to open our eyes. Hers is a voice of wonder, celebration and, now and then, of anguish."

You can pre-order Praising Invisible Birds directly from Finishing Line Press for $14; orders placed before September 19 get free shipping & will be sent on the October 10 release date. (I'm going to go order mine right now!) I'll give you one poem to whet your appetite; you can read more on the poet's own website.

What the Dead Miss Most

What the dead miss most
is bird-song, that joy shaking down
from the trees, the way grass spreads
its green hair over the graves, and lightning
bugs rise in its shadowy furls switching
miniature yellow bulbs on and off
in the honeysuckle-scented air.

And the frogs, what other creature knows
so much about love madness? Hear them
thrumming so loudly in the bulrushes
next to the creek. Remember
how your flesh rose belly
to belly when greeting your love.

When a woman pauses to watch
a hummingbird drink from a flower,
the dead can only guess
what has caught her eye. For what
do the dead remember
but the world of the senses? The smell
of freshly mown grass, a mockingbird
mocking, crickets rustling their prayer
books, the fog horn
blasting its double note.

During moments such as these
the dead struggle to leash
in their bones, especially muzzling
that empty spot just above the jaw
where the mouth once lay, pink,
round, and perfect. How painful
to hold back those ah's which long
to escape each time a star
splinters its body across the sky.

-- Doris Lynch
from Praising Invisible Birds
(reproduced by permission of the poet)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Notes from the Hot Zone

10 pm and just dark, and it is still 85 degrees outside. Phew.

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Got my copy of Collin Kelley's chapbook, After the Poison, today. Yay! I look forward to sitting down with it this weekend. I like chapbooks because you can sit down and read the whole thing through in one sitting, if you're so inclined.

Speaking of chapbooks, you have one week left to pre-order Breach and get free shipping...

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Hooray for the Barn Owl Review blog! I really appreciate it, both as a reader & as a writer, when editors make the effort to continue supporting & promoting the writers they have published. Thanks, Mary & crew!

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Received word this week that And Know This Place, an anthology of Indiana poets edited by Jenny Kander and Charles Greer, will be published by the Indiana Historical Society Press in spring 2009. I have a little something included in it. You'd be surprised how many poets we have in Indiana. Or maybe you wouldn't. Anyway, I'm glad this anthology is finally going to see print!

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My sister sent me this one:
A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits.
- Robert Heinlein

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Magic Tour Highlights

Just downloaded the brand-new digital EP from Springsteen & co., "Magic Tour Highlights." This consists of 4 tracks (the iTunes package includes both audio & video for each, as well as a little pdf "digital booklet" with some photos and credits) from the spring 2008 leg of the tour. Each track is from a different show & features a special guest:

"Always a Friend" with Alejandro Escovedo. The song is Escovedo's, and it's a nice piece of pop. On the video you can tell Bruce is having a good ol' time singing this, and you can also tell Escovedo is just tickled as all heck to be on stage with the Boss and the band. Fun.

"The Ghost of Tom Joad" with Tom Morello. This is the highlight of the EP. The acoustic "Tom Joad" is completely reinvented as a hard-hitting rocker (the arrangement is a bit reminiscent of "Youngstown" on Live in NYC). Some great guitar-dueling between Springsteen and Morello, and a total rip-your-face-off solo from the latter. Amateur video of this performance is all over YouTube, but here it's been very nicely remixed so you can hear things like Roy Bittan's piano a lot better -- the sound is actually quite good. If Bruce does (as rumored) plan on at least taking some time off from E Street Band work, my vote for his next project is a whole album of Springsteen/Morello collaborations. Because this is just awesome stuff. If you're a Rage fan, even if you're not that big on Springsteen, go download this one track. Seriously.

"Turn, Turn, Turn" with Roger McGuinn. This is so, so nice. Just tasty stuff. Adding to the resonance of it is the knowledge that it was recorded only about a week after Danny Federici's untimely death, and it's clear that Bruce was singing with a lot of feeling behind this classic song. At the end Bruce gives a deep "I'm not worthy!" bow in McGuinn's direction. Too cute. :)

"4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" with Danny Federici. Danny (one of the original members of the E Street Band, going back to the early seventies) had been off the tour since October undergoing treatment for melanoma. On March 20, in Indianapolis, he joined the band one last time for several songs; this was one of them. "Sandy" was one of Danny's signature tunes, featuring his accordion work that gives the song its seaside boardwalk flavor. I don't know whether either Bruce or Danny realized this would be the last time they performed together or not; Danny died about a month after this show. I was at this show and I'm just so glad to have a little souvenir of what was a very special night.

Perhaps the coolest thing is that all of the songwriters, musicians, music publishers, & the record label are donating their profits from this EP to the Danny Federici Melanoma Fund, which supports research. iTunes is donating its profits for the first year, as well. It's available on iTunes, (though I don't think they have the videos), and elsewhere too I think. Well worth purchasing. Good music for a good cause -- what's not to love?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Chapbook Reminder

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming here at the Land Mammal blog for a bit of shameless self-promotion.

If you saw my earlier post about my chapbook Breach and thought to yourself "hmm, I should order one of those!" and then you procrastinated (join the club!), I'm here to remind you that you have only a couple more weeks to pre-order and get free shipping. (Also, if I can rustle up a few more pre-sales, the press run will be larger and I'll get extra author copies.) The deadline for free shipping is July 25.

You can read all about Breach on the web page I've made for it, which also has a few sample poems. There's a link on that page for ordering, or you can go directly to the Finishing Line Press site and order it there.

Many thanks to those who have already ordered! Your support truly means a lot to me.

This has been an Emergency Chapbook Broadcast. Had this been a real emergency, you would have been told where to go to find some chocolate. (Because chocolate makes any emergency better, of course!)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Champions Dinner, Wimbledon

Because I know at least one or two of you NEEDS to see this picture of Rafa in a suit and bow tie (looking, my sister says, very "junior prom"):

Venus, of course, looks classy as heck. She almost always does. (For more on Wimbledon, go here.)

ESPN Classic is replaying yesterday's championship match right now. I've been watching while getting some other things done. I think they skipped a chunk of the third set. It was funny that the commentators were already calling it a "classic match!" and falling all over themselves in the first set! But the quality of play was consistently astonishing, from the first set all the way through the end of the fifth. I think that neither Federer nor Nadal is actually the same species of animal that I am. Either that, or they made some kind of deal to temporarily waive the laws of physics for a few hours. Because some of those shots they hit -- both players -- were just not humanly possible.

As much tennis as I watch, I've never really written poems using the imagery or language of tennis. I'd have to figure out how to do it without resorting to cliché, but it might be worth a try. Heck, I'm already writing poems about aging rock stars ... how much worse can tennis be? *grin*

Tennis is like free verse -- there's definitely a rhythm to it, but it's the rhythm that the player (poet) finds necessary at that particular moment, for that particular shot (line). You improvise, but it's not like you just do any old thing. Sometimes an overhead smash is just what is needed, and sometimes it's just a foolish risk. And sneaky dropshots are great, but if you do it all the time it gets really old.

(I have not yet, however, figured out a way to work the old "between the legs" desperation shot into that tennis/poetry metaphor. I'll leave that for somebody else, hehe.)

Friday, July 04, 2008

4th of July

Happy Fourth to all! It's been a gray, dreary, cool day here, with rain in the morning -- which was fine with me, as I didn't have any plans outside the house anyway. The evening will be spent poking at my manuscript some more and getting it ready to go out to a couple more places (for me), napping (for the one cat), and hiding under the bed because of all the noisy noise outside (for the other cat).

Chewing on some final thoughts on the whole process of the grant I had this past year. All in all it was a good experience, and for anyone who's getting close to having a book manuscript completed, getting a grant that helps with those big old contest/reading fees is a wonderful thing -- investigate the possibilities in your own state if you can.

In honor of the holiday, and also in honor of Asbury Park fortuneteller Madam Marie, who died the other day at age 93 -- here is "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)," vintage 1978 edition from Passaic, NJ. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Drafty draft (with extra added wind)

This one's a little weird for me, but I'm curious to find out where it's headed.

As usual, I'll leave it up for a day or so before zapping it into the ether, or wherever drafts go when one disappears them...

[snippety snip]