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Update: Long Division, Vineyard Scholars Conference

Since my last post was almost two months ago, I thought I’d check in with an update:

First, presales for Long Division ended on June 23rd. If you didn’t get a copy but would still like one, you’ll be able to order directly from me or via Amazon and other book retailers when the book is released; the current release date is August 18th. I’ll keep you all posted. Thank you to everyone who helped Long Division meet its goal!

design by Dusty O’Connor

Second, I had an excellent time presenting at the Vineyard Scholars Conference, hosted by Yale in New Haven, CT. The trip was logistically ridiculous – three cities in five days, two of which were us carrying around everything we brought to the East Coast with us around New York in a backpacking backpack, several Airbnbs, Greyhound buses and Subways to get from NYC to New Haven to Boston and back to see family and friends – but it was perhaps my favorite trip that I’ve taken as an adult.

At the conference, there were so many stimulating papers and presentations, it was hard to choose just one per time slot to attend (there were three panels of two or three related presentations each, occurring at the same time, except for the reception the first night, where everyone could go: Miroslav Wolf spoke and then I and another poet got to read). For my seminar, I read from my manuscript, Church in the Decaying Shipyard,which I wrote during my first (and only) year of seminary a few years ago, about the loss of our church community, primarily, but also about other churchy/God/Christian stuff. Each poem was a question and many of them had footnotes; someone who attended my seminar, which also included an amazing dance performance, asked if I’d heard of David Foster Wallace (he’s my favorite writer!) and two of my favorite presenters (one on Christian anarchism and one whose paper was called “Dear God: Will I be Black in Heaven?” chose to attend my seminar!). This is Mark and I exploring Brooklyn the day we flew back to Seattle last Sunday.

Mark and I in Brooklyn last week

We clearly don’t take selfies very often…

We have recordings of my presentation and the feedback portion afterward with the dancer who was paired with me so I’ll update again with where you might be able to see those.

 

 

Long Division: Presales Have Begun

My chapbook Long Division is available for preorders until June 23rd. I get reports from the press about how many orders and from whom my book has gotten – so far, I’m about halfway to the required minimum for the book to go to print. If you requested an announcement postcard, they should be arriving this week (if you’ve not gotten one already); you can also place a preorder here. Thank you to those who’ve done so already!

If you want to hear me read a sample poem (my favorite in the collection) and see me stand on a table in a bar, this is the video for you!

Culture is like Traffic

I haven’t had a car for over ten years – I gave up my 1986 Volvo when I moved to Seattle and have been reliant on public transit ever since – but even I know how bad traffic has gotten in my city in the last few years. I mostly know because everyone is constantly complaining about it. Public transit is subject to traffic, too, though, so I also experience the rush-hour-levels at 1:30 on Sunday afternoons or at 8 o’clock on a Monday night. I was thinking about this on the ride home recently; it’s actually not that we “experience” traffic, we are traffic. And the same is true for culture.  Continue reading Culture is like Traffic

Easter

Mark Wildhood took this on Good Friday, 2017

Risen Lord,

The reality of your resurrection does not seem as relevant as rising rent and cost of living. The power of your eternal life does not blot out the fear of poverty, homelessness; for those who have consistently painful and isolated lives, the only thing scarier than dying is not dying. Your promise of purpose and not letting anything go to waste is both so hard to wait for and terrifying to believe in at all. That you are truer than hunger, anxiety, loneliness – oh, I want to know you better than I know my experience!

I listened to a sermon yesterday on how your resurrection means we are not alone. But I can’t count on both hands anymore the people who have not followed up, who have made promises and broken them (the exception is when someone keeps their word). I reach out, like our culture demands that people who are already suffering do if they want any help, and my efforts largely come back void. None of the empty tombs scattered around my life feel like precursors to resurrection; it feels more like I don’t even have evidence for why I grieve and should therefore be expected to be farther along, use my “resources,” carry on as if nothing is wrong.

I know the names of my roadblocks, the rocks that cry out to you – one of them is my heart. Am I useful? Do I matter? Will I go to hell if I do what I love? Am I loved? Will I survive? These heartweights persist, Brother, Father, Friend. Would you turn these vipers into fish? I cannot find an easter in any of my thoughts, no rise above my queasy fear.

How long, O Lord, those three days must have felt to those who loved you in your first flesh. What were they like for you? Did you know of your indestructibility? What would I do if I knew I would rise again? How far would I risk going if I knew I could always find Easter again?

How to Be Healthy: The New Uncertainty Principle

plastic-spoons-and-forksI’ve been doing a fiendish amount of research into health lately. Many of the people I’ve encountered in the irksomely named health and wellness “space” got there because of a personal health crisis. They had a crash-and-burn-level health problem that forced them to quit their sugar-laden, sleep-deprived ways and start respecting their bodies. I started this journey (another irksome word, sorry!) because I was freaked about getting sick after the second of my two parents was diagnosed with a serious cancer before age 60. And, in the process of discovering some pretty great resources that have been able to answer some of my questions, instead of getting well – or, better than I was, which wasn’t catastrophically ill – I got sick.

Continue reading How to Be Healthy: The New Uncertainty Principle

A Good Memory is the Key to the Present

Lotus positionA couple times a week, I start the morning with a whole-body-work-out yoga routine. At the end of the video, the instructor introduces the “rest and receive” time, where you lie on the floor in what’s called “corpse pose,” with a quote from Sylvia Plath. “Remember, remember that this is now. And now. And now. Live it. Feel it. Cling to it. I want to become acutely aware of alI I take for granted.” I could remember this quote, much like every song I’ve ever heard, after the first time I heard it; I have the auditory equivalent of a photographic memory. A therapist once made the incredibly validating comment that it is really important to have a specific memory; to cultivate remembering details. I don’t have to cultivate it; it just happens. This sounds like a neat party trick, but it’s actually super annoying to a) remember everything you ever hear, including horrible songs and really mean things people say to you and b) be the only one who remembers things like conversations, agreements, etc. Turns out, though, that this kind of memory that I’m good at, is about the past. Continue reading A Good Memory is the Key to the Present

Anyone Can Be President

sealRecently, a Facebook post has been making the rounds listing some good things that have come out of the Trump administration so far. Things like people getting more involved, people knowing more about Hitler, the Constitution, people different from them, etc., than ever before…Trump’s election proving that “anyone can be president.” I appreciate the attempt here but to me, it feels like meager anesthetization. For one, democracy requires constant, committed work so it’s a little bittersweet for me that people are just now becoming more involved…maybe if they had been all along, we wouldn’t have gotten to this point of utter disaster. Two, I don’t think ignorance of the Holocaust or of the Constitution caused the mess America and consequently the world are in. I think Trump and his appointees are the cause, honestly. And I don’t believe they have no idea what they’re doing. But, the point on this list that worried me the most was that “anyone can be president” was being said as a good thing. Continue reading Anyone Can Be President

Trump Called Fake News an Enemy of the People

enemy of the people
Trump’s use of the phrase may be unoriginal, but it’s pretty strategic

Trump called fake news “an enemy of the people.” (He said it in a tweet, of course, and the obnoxiousness of his childish and gaslighting tweets is a post for another day.) As a Washington Post article explains, this phrase actually started out being used by oppressed people to refer to the extremely evil emperor Nero. Incidentally, the article also demonstrates Trump’s pathetic but not surprising lack of originality in his use of the phrase. The phrase was, of course, co-opted eventually by Hitler to refer to the Jews and Stalin (in Russia, being accused of being an enemy of the people under Stalin was a death sentence). I say it was co-opted ‘of course’ because that’s all evil can do. It cannot create anything of its own; it can only pervert the good.  Continue reading Trump Called Fake News an Enemy of the People

“I Love Jesus But I Hate the Church”

handI’m avoiding writing about politics. I’m trying to limit my intake of the news, too, because there’s really no use in “staying informed” if it makes you sick and paralyzed with anxiety. I’m also just tired of the constant shock and awe. Maybe people keep being surprised because the media reported 45 as a serial liar and they’re learning that he intends to keep every one of his planet-ruining, livelihood-decimating campaign promises. Or maybe it’s because we were all taught in school that corruption in government is always “there” (Africa, Asia, Russia), that it could never be here. 45 always acts in character, though, and the never-ending “did you see what he did NOW?!” is exhausting and, quite frankly, naive.

Continue reading “I Love Jesus But I Hate the Church”