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My Poetry Picks for 2013 December 9, 2013: My top five poetry books of 2013 (In no particular order, really. These books are all worth your time.) 1. The Year of What Now, Brian Russell, Graywolf It's happened before that someone I know is grieving with or for a very sick or passed-away person, and they ask me what books they should read. Now I can tell them to read this book, [...] by

Why I Write About Animals, or, My Body Is the Animal I Write About April 24, 2013: When I was 8 years old I took a shit on my carpeted bedroom floor because my younger brother made me angry. I did this while glaring at him, just so he would be sure I was doing it on purpose. 30 year old me regards this incident like "How could 8 year old me not know that you shouldn't do things like that?" but then 30 year old me has to [...] by

‘We’re Not Here to Describe Things to People, We’re Here to Produce Things in Them’: An Interview with Donald Dunbar April 16, 2013: Donald Dunbar (sometimes referred to as "Little Donnie Dunbar" by people just outside of my direct line of vision at AWP Boston 2013) holds an MFA from the University of Arizona, where he met many of his best friends and also his wife. Of Donald's book Eyelid Lick (2012 Fence Modern Poets Series), Huffington Post's Seth Abramson writes [...] by

To Anyone Who’s Ever Written a Poem or Even Is Just Thinking about Trying It Soon: A list of DOs and DON’Ts April 4, 2013: 1. DO keep in mind that these things have already been done a lot in contemporary poetry: titillated use of unusual-ish and admittedly sonically pleasing words like cochlea, rivulet, and sluice; desire or need expressed by someone’s open mouth; Russian nesting dolls; making the primary offering of the poem the fact that it is about a mythic/ [...] by

How to Write a Good Rape/ Suicide/ Break-Up/ Genocide Poem, or Lightness as the Necessary Companion to All That’s Sad and Disturbing April 2, 2013: People have been asking me what I’ve been writing lately. That’s more or less like asking “What have you been thinking about lately,” to which I could reply “appropriating men’s fashion for the thoroughly feminine body” or “Please enjoy my twitter feed” or “Rape, suicide, old people dying unhappily after living unhappy [...] by

Shop Talk: Bly, Levis, and Edson on Poetry and Poetics March 19, 2013: I like to talk shop. I also like to listen to other people talking shop, even if their shop is not my shop (poetry, pedagogy, responsible agnostic living). Being stimulated, educated, and comforted in the presence of shop talk is one reason that I like listening to comedy podcasts such as You Made It Weird, WTF with Marc Maron, and How Was [...] by

Notes from the Fence Family Brunch, Part 2 (AWP 2013, Boston) March 14, 2013: Earlier this week I posted Notes from the Fence Family Brunch, Part 1, wherein I covered topics such as: Fence managing editor Rob Arnold's possible contribution to statewide gun violence in the pacific northwest, how the first piece of literature I ever inspired told the story of a watermelon filled with human flesh, what author Jacob Wren [...] by

Notes from the Fence Family Brunch, Part 1 (AWP 2013, Boston) March 12, 2013: Each year the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) holds a conference in a different US city that, for about 4 days, will swarm with (among others) poets, novelists, essayists, graduate students, and college professors, as well as people hoping to one day be counted among those previously listed. Also in attendance are editors [...] by

The Average Fourth Grader Is a Better Poet Than You (and Me Too) March 5, 2013: While in graduate school at the University of Houston, I supplemented my income by working as a writer in residence for Writers in the Schools (WITS). I was with WITS for three years, during which I visited third, fourth, and fifth grade classrooms, and worked with groups of students visiting the Menil museum of art, the Houston Historical [...] by