Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fuel in Field

One more snippet from the Department of Shameless Self-Promotion (or is that the Shameless Department of Self-Promotion?): My poem "The Fuel" appears in the brand-new issue of FIELD, hot off the press -- I got my contributor's copies today. Check out the table of contents; I'm tickled to be in some pretty darn good company!

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Went to a very good concert the other night: Alejandro Escovedo and Los Lonely Boys. Escovedo is a terrific songwriter and impossible to pigeonhole; he's got punk, rock, alt-country, and various other influences in his sound. His set was intense and heartfelt, accompanied by a second guitarist and a terrific violinist (who grew up, as it turns out, here in Bloomington). Los Lonely Boys, doing an all-acoustic set, sounded about like I expected them to -- great harmonies, smokin' guitar work. My friend and I commented to one another that it was so obvious the band members are brothers; the way they interacted onstage, you can just imagine what it would be like to sit at the family dinner table with them (probably kicking each other under the table and flinging mashed potatoes) or to go on a road trip with them (eek).

The opening band, Hacienda, was relatively unmemorable -- four guys with two guitars, percussion, Hammond organ, and vocals. Sort of a Tex-Mex thing, I guess. I would rather have had their 30-40 minutes divided between Alejandro Escovedo and Los Lonely Boys; Escovedo's set in particular felt way too short. I really need to see him do a headlining set someday.

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Off to St. Louis tomorrow for what promises to be yet another fantastic Springsteen/E Street Band show. Yeah, I do expect it to be fantastic; would I drive 228 miles each way if I didn't? Here's a great clip from the last Springsteen show ever at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, a few nights ago. This is their cover of "Higher & Higher" and it kind of explains why I go so far to see these guys. How can you not want to be in the same room as this much joy? Check out the huge grin on Bruce's face. This is a cheesy thing to say, I guess, but in this video it's like he is a man possessed by radiance. I've heard from more than one person who was at this show & it sounds like this song was a truly transcendent moment.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Words fail me

After almost a year and a half of pretty intense productivity, it doesn’t surprise me that I’m not writing at all lately. I don’t really believe in “writer’s block” but at the same time it seems pretty normal to have periods when the writing just doesn’t happen. That’s happened before and it will happen again, and especially given that I’m in the very last stages of completing a big project, doesn’t freak me out at all.

What does freak me out, somewhat, is the fact that I don’t seem to be able to read poetry right now. I get to a page with a poem on it and my eyes just blip right over it, almost as if it’s in a language I don’t read. It is the damnedest thing, and I don’t remember it ever happening before. Maybe for a day or a few days, but not as an ongoing thing like this.

Maybe this is my reflexive way of ensuring that I don’t go back to my new manuscript until I’ve gotten some serious distance from it and can be somewhat objective. Maybe I’m spending too much time on Facebook and Twitter and just don’t have the attention span (or the depth of focus) necessary for poetry. Maybe zombies ate my brain. I have no clue.

Has this ever happened to anyone else?

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Also, there’s one thing that is annoying me right now about aforementioned Facebook and Twitter, and that is how the real-time nature of it gives me all kinds of reasons for envy (a feeling I do not like having). It is easy to become painfully aware of other people who have time in the middle of the day to write a poem, go for a walk, curl up with a book, send out manuscripts, take a nap – while I’m sitting in my cubicle or working with students at the reference desk. I like my job. I like it quite a bit. But man, I don’t really need to be reminded of how nice it would be to have more time for writing, and of how much better a writer I think I’d be if I had more time to give to it.

Assuming, of course, I would actually write if I had time. Which, right now, who knows.

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On a happier note, this weekend I am off to St. Louis for one more Springsteen/E Street Band show. This will be my next to last show of this tour, which is to say, my next to last E Street Band show for the foreseeable future. After November the band is going on hiatus for at least a year and a half, possibly/probably longer, and there's no guarantee of another tour. At the very least, it seems unlikely that, two or three years down the road, these guys will be doing the three-hour-plus, full-throttle rock shows they've been doing. Not impossible, but ... unlikely.

I’m certainly going to savor every moment of what's left, every bit of thunder.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Still shameless

The new issue of Coal Hill Review is up, including poems by Chana Bloch, Maureen Seaton & Neil de la Flor, yours truly, and others. My contribution is "Blue Afternoon: The Middle Distance" which is about being a middle-aged, bifocals-wearing person. Hey, you take your material where you can get it, eh?