As you can tell from the accompanying picture, I’m still feelin the post-VONA glow.
I’m also feeling the “back in school” glow with some good feedback on my submitted work from both instructors and peers. To keep going with what works for me, I’m goin to start puttin the writing into one document and see if I can get another chapbook out of it. I say writing cuz I have the idea for at least one three-page play goin on in my head and I’m going to see if I add some fiction to the mix as well. Helping me through this is my course textbook: Heather Sellers’ The Practice of Creative Writing. I’m enjoying Sellers voice–she avoids being prescriptive with her exercises, leaving room for experimentation and fun.
A short but really eclectic list of readin this month with everything being a real joy. I know, that’s not too critical of me but I call em like I see em. All these books made me hungry to write something in their vein and to read more.
• Poems From Prison by Etherdige Knight
• Black Boy by Richard Wright
• Sula by Toni Morrison
• Vatos by Luis Alberto Urrea
• The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit by Seth Godin
• Winter Stars by Larry Levis
A lot of good reading going on this month with a highlight being the work of Al Robles. The real sadness is that this book has been on our collective bookshelf ever since I got to the Bay Area and only with Manong Al’s recent passing did I get around to really exploring his book.
On another note, I read the Wolverine comic right before I saw the movie and lemme tell ya: If Hugh Jackman has given at least a good 20 minutes to Logan’s backstory, it would’ve made for a better movie. As it was, the movie was a good romp around the Marvel mutant universe with Liev Schreiber almost stealing the show as Sabretooth but Ryan Reynold’s Deadpool was all looks and not enough mouth.
Last shout out: Sean Hill‘s poems are dope. A great mix of historical narrative, distinct voice and excellent use of forms. You can hear/read his work over at his Fishouse page.
• Superman for All Seasons by Jeph Loeb and art by Tim Sale
• Wolverine: Origin by Bill Jemas, Paul Jenkins, Joe Quesada and art by Andy Kubert, Richard Isanove
• This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley
• Rappin’ With Ten Thousand Carabaos in the Dark by Al Robles
• Looking for Ifugao Mountain: Paghahanap Sa Bundok Ng Ifugao by Al Robles
• Empty Mirror: Early Poems by Allen Ginsberg
• Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music by Greg Kot
• No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn: New and Selected Poems by Kevin Powell
• Blood Ties & Brown Liquor by Sean Hill
• American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry edited by Cole Swensen and David St. John
I picked up all those books in the pic to the right at SPD’d Open House a few weeks back. I’d love to say I read them all in the past month but April was all about new poems and very little reading. No worries, though, still got to go to some great readings and have been reading bits and pieces of two (so far) excellent books in Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds and Vegan Soul Kitchen.
• The Dead Emcee Scrolls: The Lost Teachings of Hip-Hop by Saul Williams
• Rattlesnake Grass: Selected Shorter Poems, 1956-1976 by John Oliver Simon
• The Book of Perceptions by Truong Tran
[I don’t know what happened this month but I didn’t read half as much stuff as I would have liked to. Still got go to plenty of dope readings and some good poetry media that I still haven’t gotten a chance to blog about yet. I don’t see it happenin any time soon with my decision to jump into the fray of NaPoWriMo and writing a poem a day for the month.
Last year I was able to generate about 20 and most of them made it into a chapbook. This year I’m going to try to spread that focus around a bit and see if I can
a) complete a poem or two for a chapbook I almost have done
b) start a new arc in the Anywhere Avenue series that will result in another chapbook
c) write a very specific poem for an open call to honor one of my favorite elder poets
d) try to write some Oakland poems
The last challenge may be the hardest since my poetic voice is deeply entrenched in the rhythms, landscapes and mood of the Bronx. But that’s why it’s called a challenge. Right?
So to each their own and I wish everybody who will be writing new poems the best of luck. For those celebrating National Poetry Month in different ways–sharing other poems, writing reviews, spray painting Nicanor Parra poems on bridges (I kid, I kid. Really, who’s down?)–have fun spreading the poetry love. Now let me find my can of Krylon and get to some poems.]
• Hip-Hop Poetry and The Classics by Michael Cirelli and Alan Lawrence Sitomer
• Ten Apples Up on Top by Dr. Seuss
• The Low East by David Henderson
• Swamp Thing Vol. 3: The Curse by Alan Moore
• Swamp Thing Vol. 4: A Murder of Crows by Alan Moore
• Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
• Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture edited by Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid
• The Date Fruit Elegies by John Olivares Espinoza
• With Walker in Nicaragua and Other Early Poems, 1949-1954 by Ernesto Cardenal. Selected and translated by Jonathan Cohen
[Being a short month and all, I’m really surprised how much reading I got done. A highlight was finding the audio of Nerdua delivering the Nobel Lecture and then getting a comment from the folks at redpoppy.net, an excellent Neruda resource.
Speaking of resources, I also got to check out the Allan Ginsberg, Anne Waldman and Joy Harjo recordings from the Lannan Video Series. Harjo was chill but understated in describing her process and in reading her work, definitely not the same vibrancy I experienced when hearing her live at the Bowery Poetry Club 13 months back. Waldman on the other hand was the same super animated, belting poems using her whole body as an instrument, cross collaborative, deeply introspective on poetics, fast speaking woman I’ve seen on stage. Ginsberg was reading poems he penned 20-30 years back from his “Best of/Collected” tome with so much joy, surprise, and vigor, you’d think that they were the newness from last week; and his talk on how sometimes his poems would start as melodic tunes he converted to vowel and consonant notes on page was one of the most succinct explanations on lyric poetry I’ve ever heard.
I can’t believe Barb and I also were able to hit up five literary events this month with Writers Remembered, the RE:DEFintion Hip-hop Conference, Poor Magazine’s Luchador Poetry Battle, the San Francisco Noir 2 reading, and The Wind Shifts Tour. Damn. Life in the Bay sure is good with that breadth and width of readings that really does give you so many perspectives on what great writing can be and, most importantly, is.
With so much happenin’ and so many influences on my writing, I’m thinking that from now on I’ll be keeping track of more items than just books on my monthly retrospectives.]
• From the Cables of Genocide: Poems on Love and Hunger by Lorna Dee Cervantes
• Letters to a Young Novelist by Mario Vargas-Llosa
• Bluestown Mockingbird Mambo by Sandra Maria Esteves
• Swamp Thing Vol. 1: Saga of the Swamp Thing by Alan Moore, art by Stephen Bissette, and John Totleben
• The Fate of the Artist by Eddie Campbell
• Toward the Splendid City by Pablo Neruda
• When Living Was a Labor Camp by Diana Garcia
• Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss
• Survival Supervivencia by Miguel Algarín
• Colors! ¡Colores! by Jorge Luján, illustrated by Piet Grobler, translated by John Oliver Simon and Rebecca Parfitt
• The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry edited by Francisco Aragón