Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Checkin' in

Well, the Gangneung experience is proving to be somewhat emotionally taxing, especially with my wife's birthday just passed, and my girls flying back to the US tomorrow, perhaps in preparation for a move back there on a more permanent basis. We're still awaiting word re: my wife's proposal in Australia, and while I know that those who do not receive notification until near deadline at Triplopia can pretty much rest assured they're in the running (an early rejection means you didn't even come close), I'm not entirely sure that's the way it works when it comes to research proposals. Still, we hold out hope, because the fact is, I always kinda liked the idea of being based in Perth. It's just far out enough to appeal to me, but still wildly connected, and I've heard a couple of Perth bands I thought rocked. Plus we've already made some quiet connections with some of the lit-minded folks there, and it'd be great to solidify those and maybe even establish a quiet nest perched at what seems, from here, to be the end of the world. Korea, so far, provides an enormous challenge for anyone who likes to get away from humans every now and again, and while I had hopes to chronicle the goings on here a bit better than I have so far, pressures have been such that I've not been able to even check in on this poor, neglected blog, and don't look to particularly ease up in the near future. That's because there is a lot of work to be done at Trip: we are, I think, in the process of taking the project to the next level, and it means I need to get my head around a whole new set of considerations. Right now, I'm looking at a backlist of about 6 interviews, due to the fact that we went through 3 before we finally landed one for our latest issue, which, yes, went up on time on October 15th, and in the scurry to land said interview asked about 5 poets if they'd be willing to be interviewed. Four said yes, and we already had two others in the works. Good news is, if I tend to business as I ought, I will finally have the backlog I've been working for over the last 2 years, which will make the Spotlight section a bit less hair-raising overall. The last issue, we began the interview process about 9 days before press time, and the final went in about 2 days before--a much more truncated process than I'd ever before experienced, and kudos to our spotlight poet, Lillian Baker Kennedy, for being a sport through that process. More than a sport, actually. She's also a lawyer, and she surprised me with a list of 5 questions once I'd finished giving her the third degree (no doubt due to her sense of a right to cross-examine...), good, thought-provoking questions that few think to ask me. And the interview is quite interesting, I think.

In fact, Lillian's questions were very much appreciated, because aside from editorial duties, I'd also promised another editor, Marie Lecrivain, over at Poetic Diversity, an article on the craft of writing by the 20th, a mere 5 days after launch date. When, on the morning of the 19th, I found myself with plenty of ideas, but nothing solid to center them around, I turned back to my answers to Lillian's questions, and the central metaphor was right there for me to pick up and use. I banged the piece in question out in about 4 hours, found a couple of typos and inconsistencies (thanks, partially, to my co-editor, Tara A. Elliott, who spotted a couple of small details I completely missed) over the next 24 hours, and bang, Rules of Engagement: What the Chinese Shuffle Teaches us about Poetry was born. There's another, older, more creatively focused prose piece entitled Lash in the current issue as well, but that's been on hold for about 6 months now.

On a less positive note, I didn't make the cut for Steve Mueske's Digerati anthology, and I'd really hoped to do that. But of course, the odds have to be taken into consideration, and I now have about 15 poems that are once again free to be submitted. And again, on the plus side, Volume 6 of A Generation Defining Ourselves: In Our Own Words is just about due to be released, and it will include a prose piece by myself, entitled "Rage Within the Machine". This one I've been waiting about 1 year over, but I do suspect, when I receive that contributor's copy, and see my words not only published in print, but published in book form (a first for me, so exciting), I'm gonna be one happy man.

So I started thinking about some of this late last night as I lie in bed, trying not to think too hard on my girls' upcoming plane trip, and, no doubt, attendant reverse culture shock, and started distracting myself with an assessment of it all. I remember that on Jaunary 1, 2004, I received two e-mails, one of which was a request that I be a judge for a poetry contest (I eventually declined, citing concerns re: appearances of propriety), and one of which informed me that I was a prose contest winner. There is, of course, that old New Year's Day superstition that whatever that day finds you doing, you'll be doing for the rest of the year, so I entered that year with a real sense of optimism. I did not end that year with the same sense of optimism, as a brief review of the chronicle provided by this blog will attest, though it was certainly a year of much writing, and not a little progress into the world I've always seen as central to my sense of being. Well, 2005 had no such portents to draw from: I disagreed with my nation, my wife had just taken a severe cut in pay at her job, and I was deeply involved in a restaurant project that never really had the necessary resources to do what it aimed to do. From there, surgery, and eventually the need to go, on my own, to South Korea in an attempt to keep my family at least somewhat financially solvent (& that's a relative term for us at all times...). But there have been many, many high points this year in the writing, and a vast enough network being cultivated to rather boggle my mind. I don't know that any of these undertakings will ever provide anything approaching 'a living'--and highly suspect they won't--but, truth be told, that's absolutely not what this gig is about. It just helps. In the meantime, I do get the occasional (and increasingly less occasional) free book/CD of poetry, and am even due a 10 USD stipend for some work I did on an anthology recently. Not much, but as big a paycheck as I've received in some years doing this work.

Rather than dwindle off into nothingness, as this is primarily a post to update folks on my recent state of mind, I'll just relate this, and close: My wife has, of course, over the last 2 months, been faced with the enormous chore of packing up and securing storage for what has become, between the two of us, a rather vast set of files. I am a total packrat when it comes to words--I do not discard letters, and still have some from at least 18 years back. These, along with undergraduate philosophy and political science papers, my wife regards as superfluous, and has said as much, on multiple occasions, over the course of the last couple of months. She's promised me a scanner on the condition that I take all of this paper and convert it to computer files for ease of transport in the future. I'm game, though it's a rather daunting task. In any case, my wife also informed me that my daughter absolutely forbade her to throw any of my writing away, and apparently my daughter worded same with enough force for it to save many files from being tossed in the recycle bin. Upon receiving this news, I had only one real observation to offer: "Smart girl. She knows that if there is ever anything in the way of financial remuneration on that front, it's quite likely to come her direction, rather than ours."

Well, one can dream. Happy reading, y'all. I'm likely to be quite busy over the next month, which is, after all, NaNoWriMo, so it may be a while before I update again, but I will, when there is both time and inclination available to do so.

Until then, as the locals say, annyeonghi gaseyo. Tchitch

Glad to hear things are still chugging along for you (which is really the best any of us can say in this sort of age, I think.)

I'll cross some virtual fingers for you on Perth - isn't that were my writing idol Greg Egan hails from? Clearly a good place to cultivate the highest quality of books!
Robin--yes it is, and don't think I don't know it. My wife'd probably swoon if I landed an interview with that fellow...and unless he's a total recluse, I'd think it doable. Here's hoping.
He is apparently relatively reclusive, but the fella's got a website, so it isn't as if he doesn't have some public face! I'd swoon, too!
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