Monthly Archives: May 2009

I’m in OCHO #24: The Twitter Poets Finale

OCHO Twitter

Really, I promise that this will be the last twitter-related post (for a while), but I just wanted to let you know that I have a poem in the current issue of OCHO, edited by Collin Kelley and Didi Menendez.

Also, since my poem is about Icarus and Daedalus (his father), I think it’s pretty cool that Icarus is on the cover. Well, I’m assuming it’s him. I mean, how many boys do you know have fallen out of the sky?

Go here to read it. I’m on page 21. Also, check out the poems by Marie-Elizabeth Mali, Cole Krawitz, and Alex Dimitrov.


MFA Profile: Poet Brandon Mazur

brandon eats-1

If your bio were to appear in the New Yorker, what would it say?

I guess it would say that I was born in New Jersey and have lived here my whole life – all over the state – and that’s what I write about. It might also say that besides trying to be a poet I’ve had some diverse jobs in the past, a few being gravedigger, bartender, auto parts courier, and ice cream truck driver, and that finds its way into my work too. But I don’t expect to be in the New Yorker anytime soon. They pay you for poems, though, don’t they?

What’s your first move now that you’re graduating?

I’m going to keep working on my manuscript/book while avoiding employment. Maybe travel around the States a bit.

Of all the books you’ve read in the last two years, what are some that “knocked your head off”?

Two books that I keep recommending to other writers are “The Boilerplate Rhino” by David Quammen and “A Natural History of North American Trees” by Donald Peattie. They’re both collections of nature essays. I think its important whether you write poetry or fiction to read as much non-fiction as possible. In both of these books the prose is absolutely lyrical. Peattie actually studied French poetry at the U of Chicago before transferring to Harvard to study Botany, and I think he retained that lyrical ear. Quammen wrote a column in Outside for fifteen years, and takes the reader to Texas to hunt rattlesnakes or Bali for fresh durian. One essay, called “Impersonating Henry Thoreau,” is about how Thoreau created a character of himself in Walden. He wasn’t secluded at all. He walked into Concord every day to have lunch with his mother.

Has your perspective on the MFA degree changed at all?

It has. When I first started the program two years ago, I assumed I’d be leaving with a finished book in my hands. This turned out to not be the case. I’ve got something down on paper that I’m really proud of, but it needs more work before its a “book” to me. But that was the only big surprise, everything else was exactly what I imagined an MFA program to be. I loved it.

Do you have any advice for incoming students?

I’d say don’t waste the opportunity to take electives. I took a class called The City and Suburb in American History and it totally informed and changed the direction of my thesis. It made me look at the environment I grew up in – the suburbs – with a more critical eye, which led to new poems.

* * *

Also, check out Brandon’s poem “Forty Roman Soldiers in 262” which appeared in Failbetter last Fall.

2 poems, a story, and a great article.

Occasionally, I am going to post links to poems (and maybe a poetic story)  that have been published in online lit mags. I think the best way to evaluate the future of literary magazines and the internet (my obsession, lately) is to see what’s actually being published.

And here we go:

2 Poems

Neighbor Curse by Carrie Oeding appears in the current issue of StorySouth. The poem is delicious and southern as all get out. Go here to read it and find out about the curse.

Shadow Weight by Jonathan Rice appears in the current issue of The Big Ugly Review (what a great name). The issue’s theme is “Fight or Flight” and Rice uses it to powerful effect. Go here to learn what it’s like to grow up with guns, lots of guns.

A Story

I read “13 Crimes Against Love, or, the Crow’s Confession” a few years back in the (now defunct) Lodestar Quarterly. Lodestar was an online lit mag that featured gay writing of the highest order so it’s really a shame to have lost it. Fortunately, you can still read through all of its archives, which is totally awesome. Chee’s story is well.. scandalous and more poetic than a lot of poems I’ve been reading lately. Go here to learn why the Crow is black.

And finally, a Great Article.

The NYTimes has an article and slideshow (don’t you just love slideshows?) about artists who are not only dealing with the recession, but doing better because of it. It’s a great read and goodness knows we could use the optimism. Go here to get you some inspiration.

Replies to @Those of Us Who Tweet

Immediately after I put up the post @Those of Us Who Tweet, it occurred that I hadn’t actually asked twitter poets themselves for their thoughts on twitter and poetry. So, I asked them to respond to the following question (in 140 characters or less, of course): Why are you a poet who tweets?

@AnnMarieEldon: I love edge-forms of communication right now tweeting is that and until it is supplanted by holograms in my house it’ll suffice.

@alexdimitrov: I tweet because I believe Twitter is the new American haiku. And who can say so little, yet so much, but a poet?

@ckrawitz: i’m still thinking on it for you, although i was tempted to just reply “a tweet is a tweet is a tweet”

@CollinKelly: Because I’m looking to connect with other poets & this is a handy, simple way to stay in touch and exchange links & ideas

@memali:It’s a fun way to connect with others and I enjoy reading the lines of poetry poets post as well as seeing what they’re up to.

@ckrawitz: b/c i get streams of proclamations, edited & unedited news, pop culture ~ immediacy & release that is ugly & ravishing & witty

A Poem to Wake Up Next To

Christopher over at Outside the Lines just blogged about this poem. It’s so delicious. I thought I’d pass it along.

The Hug by Thom Gunn

It was your birthday, we had drunk and dined
   Half of the night with our old friend
       Who's showed us in the end
   To a bed I reached in one drunk stride.
       Already, I lay snug,
And drowsy with the wine dozed on one side.

I dozed, I slept. My sleep broke on a hug,
       Suddenly, from behind,
In which the full lengths of our bodies pressed:
       Your instep to my heel,
   My shoulder-blades against your chest.
   It was not sex, but I could feel
   The whole strength of your body set,
          Or braced, to mine,
       And locking me to you
   As if we were still twenty-two
   When our grand passion had not yet
       Become familial.
   My quick sleep had deleted all
   Of intervening time and place.
       I only knew
The stay of your secure firm dry embrace

@Those of Us Who Tweet

Now that Twitter has become the next “It” thing, I feel the need to profess that I joined in July 2008, way before it was cute. Lately though, all kinds of people have been making twitter useful (and not just Oprah and Ashton Kutcher).

In particular, writers and poets have really developed a knack for twitter. I argue it’s because 140 characters means you have to be concise and clever. Recently, Mashable posted a list of the 100 “Best” Authors on Twitter. The problem is that they left out poets entirely. Fortunately,  Collin Kelley posted a list of poets who tweet. It’s been quite a hit. All kinds of poets have been coming out of the woodwork and getting in touch with one another.

With that being said, I wanted to mention that Collin Kelley and Didi Menendez are co-editing a special issue of OCHO that features work by poets from his list. (I’m on there!) If you are on the list as well, go here for more info.

Needless to say, this is just another example of how the internet is changing what it means to be a published poet in 2009. Crazy, huh?



Post-MFA Profile: Chidi Asoluka


If your bio were to appear in the New York, what would it say?

Of course, it would include my name: Chidi Asoluka. It would say that I am from Irvington, NJ, a small town outside of Newark. I’m the only son of Nigerian immigrants. My fiction usually deals with this fact, consciously or not. And for humor’s sake, my bio would definitely have to include that I’ve been emailing their publication my stories once a month since 2007 and am always impressed that I get an (rejection) email back each time. The little things make me happy.

What’s your first move now that you’re graduating?

This summer, I will continue to work on my collection of short stories, To The Dark Place. In July, I will be traveling to Port Townsend, WA to take part in their annual writers’ conference. I will be working with Peter Orner, author of The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo, a book I loved. My goals there are to spend more quality time with my project and get some more feedback. In August, I will begin teaching 9th and 10th grade English Literature at North Star Academy in Newark. There has also been some talk of teaching creative writing which would be awesome. I’m looking forward to what’s ahead.

Of all the books you’ve read in the last two years, what are some that “knocked your head off”?

Hmm. I’ve read so many books in the past two years that were so entertaining and lovely. Chris Abani’s “Becoming Abigail” comes to mind immediately. He handles great tragedy in such a delicate, beautiful fashion. It’s like the literary Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind but much darker. To keep the Nigerian theme going, Chiamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Half of Yellow Sun” was another book that blew me away. It actually helped me talk to my father about the Biafra civil war in a way I couldn’t before. It’s cool when literature can create a dialogue where there once was silence. Lastly, Tobias Wolff’s Our Story Begins is like a textbook that I open time and time again. It’s that good!

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