And now, the project is changing hands, complete with a new editor in Kwame Dawes, and a whole new look and website design. It will be interesting to see this new chapter of the project, after a decade and a half in Kooser’s hands.
The nonfiction piece was an older one I wrote a long while ago, a short essay called Felix + Dzintra + Queensrÿche. It was written for an anthology, reflecting on love in the era of the mix tape, called Cassette From My Ex: Stories and Soundtracks of Lost Loves.
This felt like cheating, but at the least it was sincere and heartfelt (and better than what I had previously). On paper, it’s kind of a lame proposal. But I feel like it went better in actual execution:
On the plus side, being asked to participate in a reading definitely prompted me to write again. And some of the newer poems I’ve done lately, I’ve been really pleased with.
Last year, I finished a poem about Heavy Metal drummers that I’ve carried around, half-finished, for years. And for this latest reading, I wrote a poem about the Winchester Mansion that I’ve had bubbling around in my head, also for many years.
For two years, filmmaker Jennifer Crandall has crisscrossed this deep Southern state, inviting people to look into a camera and share a part of themselves through the words of Walt Whitman. The 19th century poet’s “Song of Myself” is a quintessential reflection of our American identities.
I ended up wandering the store for a bit, after the event ended and everyone shuffled out. I happened across a collection of Ted Kooser’s poems, and it felt like the proper thing to purchase, to wash away all the terribleness that had preceeded.
There’s at least one poem that’s something I outright plagiarized. William Blake’s “A Poison Tree” is in there. As is a handwritten copy of the lyrics to “Love Kills” by the Vinnie Vincent Invasion (which appeared on the soundtrack to Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master).
This thing is a god damn gold mine.
Oh green Queensrÿche poetry notebook. It’s been so long since we’ve seen one another. I have gotten older, and you still… remain full of terrible, terrible poems.
Super excited to announce that I’ll be participating again in the next
20×2 Chicago, where 20 creatives are given the same question… and only 2 minutes to answer. The prompt this time is Why Did You Stop? and looks to be a fun one.
It’s hard to pin down specific topics, as the poems are pretty varied and jump around in terms of subject matter. I talk a bit about astronomy, Axl Rose, God and religion, Mary Poppins, and how I imagine heavy metal drummers meet their ends. It’s all a rich tapestry.
Being asked “Hey, will you read some of your poems?” is a bit like someone asking “Hey, can I see your travel photos?” There’s an initial few seconds of disbelief, and then you scream out “YES” before that person can change their mind. Totally excited about tomorrow – it’s gonna be great.
I’m excited to share that I’ll be reading my poems next week (March 1st) at Tuesday Funk – “Chicago’s eclectic monthly reading series.” Hosted by Andrew Huff and Eden Robins, the event takes place at Hopleaf Bar in Andersonville.
The villanelle is a really great poetic form, and has a really interesting structure. In the first stanza, the first and third lines rhyme… and are repeated throughout the poem. They alternate, and server as the final lines for the subsequent stanzas. At the very end of the poem, they come back together and finish the poem as a couplet.
A package arrived in the mail this weekend, from my friend Melissa. On opening it up, I was surprised to find a super old audio CD (remember those, kids?) of a reading that Billy Collins gave at the Wexner Center in Columbus, OH – back when I was a grad student, and he was a visiting professor for a week.
“Maybe you wonder how a Jewish girl from Des Moines got Jesus Christ tattooed on her three times: ascending on one thigh, crucified on the other, and conducting a miniature apocalypse beneath the right shoulder.”