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.

 

 

Sad Lady and the Halfway Point

 

wandering2016, the year I was warned would be the hardest year of my life, is half gone today.

Should I think of it as the top of this gnarly crag and it’s all downhill from here? It’s been harder for me to hike down a mountain than up it; I’m not only shaky-tired from the climb up, but my jello joints can’t withstand gravity’s suck nearly as easily as they brace for my muscles’ pull against it. Continue reading Sad Lady and the Halfway Point

Sad Lady, Sounding Mad in Mourning

cliffside pathUnless you are willing to take care of me for a while, or take something off my plate, or spend time with me to ease the burden of aloneness, stop telling me to practice “self-care.” That’s a nice-sounding excuse not to show up. Self-care? How about community care? As Bessel Van Der Kolk writes in The Body Keeps the Score, “We barely exist as individual organisms.” A genuine thank-you to friends who have made a consistent effort without making me feel guilty for “taking” their time. Continue reading Sad Lady, Sounding Mad in Mourning

Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace, A Review, Part 3

Every Love Story is a Ghost StoryI, for one, do need DFW’s stories and his story. If nothing else, Every Love Story is a Ghost Story is a book for writers…or, more accurately, for those who Want To Write. Or perhaps I can only speak personally: DFW’s struggles with writing – that is, struggles to write – scare and heal me, both because they are so familiar to me. There are many other ways I relate to DFW, though I fear how arrogant or off-base that looks in ‘print,’ and I don’t want to draw false parallels or claim for myself what is not the case or what DFW might have been referring to when he told David Lipsky who was interviewing him for The Rolling Stone in 1996, “I’m not so sure you want to be me.” The point is that I am trying to name where I feel seen, even if it is by a man who I will never meet because he died almost eight years ago. Continue reading Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace, A Review, Part 3

Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace, A Review, Part 2

Every Love Story is a Ghost StoryWe come to the end of Every Love Story is a Ghost Story knowing maybe more factoids and ‘things that make you go hm’ about DFW than we otherwise might have, but not enough more about the people in his life…the people Amy refers to when she devastates listeners of her interview by saying, “the hardest thing about this is fighting so hard for someone and still losing them.” And what is it that they – including DFW – fought so hard for/against?” The other main qualm I have with this rendering of DFW’s life is that D.T. Max did not challenge the narrative of mental illness – odd, since this is David Foster Wallace we’re talking about. But, to be fair, nothing else I’ve read on DFW challenges the narrative, either. Continue reading Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace, A Review, Part 2

Wishing Well

Wishing Well

First published in Ballard Street Poetry Journal in March 2012.

 

Wishing Well

Every morning, we all go to the office.

We pull up our roll-y chairs and wait.

We’re working, of course, but we’re waiting

More.

The e-news reports increased hunger in the Horn.

Also, they’ve shot another probe deep into space.

Deep. Do we really need to know just how small

We are?

We can feel it, here in our creaky chairs. At least

I can. It’s with me like a toothache. My smallness.

My weakness. That I have to practice how to feel loved.

Wait.

The last time I spent so much time waiting was for something

I’d whispered while flicking pennies I’d found on the sidewalk

Into a fountain at a park in the downtown of my childhood.

Hope

Was in the perfect ping of penny from the tip of my thumb.

In the arch of otherwise worthless copper toward a tiled

Floor. In the glint of many pennies who’d gone before.

Deep

To the bottom. Tiny round relics of wishers past – but they

Are only so small as their wish. I heard one girl at that fountain

Wish for world peace. Another for food for her family.

But me?

I wished to be at the bottom, with other things my size.

Maybe I could learn how to make a wish come true. Maybe

Just how to lie still. Or maybe, with enough waiting, how to

Shine.

The Herald


computer

Constant access to a screen

makes sure you don’t miss a thing: Continue reading The Herald

What I Want The World To Know About “Wanting The World To Know”, Part 1

hands-on-world1My compulsive and nervous-boredom-induced stroll down Facebook’s news feed every morning is revealing yet another up-the-wall-driving trend. It’s two-pronged and it’s going to make me look like either a Luddite or a very insensitive, butthurt jerk to point it out: a) celebrities “coming out” about their struggles with mental health and b) the glut of articles and blog posts, the volume of which is rapidly approaching the amount of memoirs (especially, horrifyingly, of people under 30) water-logging the creative nonfiction market, titled something like “What I Want The World To Know About Bi-Polar Disorder/Anxiety/Post-Partum Depression,” etc.”  Continue reading What I Want The World To Know About “Wanting The World To Know”, Part 1

The Life and Death Sentence of James Holmes, Part II

billboardClearly, this has taken longer than I expected to work out…and it may seem like an utter non sequitur to many so buckle up.

So James Holmes was not sentenced to death because of one juror holdout and people are up in arms about this “abortion of justice.” I won’t bother with all the caveats and excuses about not being an expert on any of this (expert worship in this culture is about as high as our thirst for blood, it would seem) and just offer some thoughts.

Continue reading The Life and Death Sentence of James Holmes, Part II

Dream Big…But Don’t Act On It


writer

Five weeks ago, I started taking myself seriously as a writer. I mean, not only did I start honoring, rather than trying to hide (from God and myself) or apologizing for, the one thing I’ve wanted since June of 1990 (I was born in the winter of ’86), but I took these terrifying concrete steps, like seeking mentoring and professional feedback also. This One Thing I’ve Always Wanted is to be a published writer creating things of significance. But I felt both that I was never good enough to do it and also, that it wouldn’t matter if I was. The world was falling to bits around me and I had the moral obligation (and the desire to actually continue living in it) to do something about it. Thus a gnashing internal struggle that has driven me nearly over the edge multiple times over the last quarter century. For those who don’t me well, it’s hard to convey how deep and injurious this war has been and so it will sound trite to say that it’s Finally Over. Continue reading Dream Big…But Don’t Act On It