Wednesday, October 25, 2006


As Always

There are about three hundred things I probably ought to be doing at precisely this moment, but of course, one of the great thing about blogs is that one is able to type up a little summary for anyone who does want regular news from you--my e-mail is in its usual perilous state, and I get the sense that if, by some miracle, I were able to sit down and do nothing but write for the next four years, I might catch up with most of what I really need to get done. This is all complicated at present by semi-limited internet access (I do have it in my "home," but the computer is shared by--potentially--5 other people, although one of those is not at all into the computer, and two others are limited to 30 minutes a day. That leaves myself, my wife, and my father, who spends far too long doing nothing better with the computer than playing Free Cell. Mind you, I like Free Cell a lot, and I've been known to while away the spare 2 or 3 hours playing it, but we're talking epic proportions here. We're talking the makings of Greek Tragedy here. And this isn't just my own selfish desire to get on and write speaking--we are talking hours and hours on end. It's scary.

As many of my friends know, this last week was a busy one for me--we--meaning my wife, my daughter, my half-sister Angel and her daughter, Aria (who spends a fair amount of time at my father's home--enough so that she's the sixth potential user, limted, as is my daughter, to 30 minutes a day on the machine), and my father and step-mother--took the journey from Oklahoma to Lacon, Illinois to attend my littlest sis's wedding. Lacon is close to Peoria, and the drive is doable in a day, though a day is not my preference for that amount of mileage (I prefer the highways to the interstates, and friends' homes--or, when possible, a tent--to hotels), now was it at all feasible with two pre-teenage children and two adults above fifty who do not have full health points to their advantage. My family, like many others, is dysfunctional, sometimes extremely so, and there were indeed some stressful moments on the road, though as I understand it, it was all relatively smooth. And once we got to my little sis's--and got my dad parked in front of a computer to spend the good majority of his visit playing Free Cell--things got more pleasant, because my little sis and my littlest brother--who currently lives with her--are the two siblings I have historically gotten along best with, and this trip was no exception. It doesn't hurt at all that they're quite aware and honest about some of the screwed-uppedness of our family. That said...

Smack in the middle of the trip, I was due to be at a writer's conference--Binghamton University's "Writing by Degrees" graduate conference, where, due to an invitation extended by Deborah Poe, I was to speak as a member of a panel of online journal editors, including one representative from Blackbird, Ravi Shankar of Drunken Boat, Nate Pritts of H_NGM_N, and George Wallace of Poetry Bay. Unfortunately, due to my faulty memory and her absence on the Editorial Staff page, I don't know the name of the representative of Blackbird, though I have very much admired that journal for some time. I hear they're about to publish a previously unpublished poem by Sylvia Plath, which is pretty exciting news for an online journal. And I did go, and I did speak, and it probably couldn't have been a better choice for my first go at a conference: friendly, not too big, very forgiving of my sometimes fumbling way of making a point, and all in all a very hospitable bunch. Especially appreciated was J.J. Schutz (I think that's how her name is spelled), who provided me with space on her couch and a curling iron--in lieu of a clothing iron--to press my shirt with, but also gave me a little peek into how the slam community is making use of YouTube and MySpace--among other tools--to share and coordinate work. It very much reminded me of that sense of potential that I entered Triplopia with, and it spoke directly to one of the questions the online editor panel fielded the next day: one of those in attendance asked if we were concerned that things like YouTube might supplant what we're doing, and to my mind, the point is that it doesn't supplant anything--it augments it. It gives us one more tool to work through. The point isn't to take it over--the point is to use what's there to create a space that's suitable for those who wish to take in what we have to offer.

On arrival, however, I was also treated to a panel of poets that included Paul Nelson, of Global Voices Radio, who was, in the past, kind enough to allow Triplopia to publish his essay on American Sentences. My favorite of his: "Three days after the split I revert to a diet of cake & meat." Also realized that my favorite graffito--and the most sincere prayer I've ever heard in my life--takes the same form: "Oh Lord, please let me be the kind of person that my dog thinks I am." In any case, we had occasion to get acquainted, drank a couple of Magic Hat Beers (my first exposure to same), sought out a Starbucks that was "just" down the road --just meaning, apparently, some five or six miles--a bit more arduous on foot, especially when it's raining, hard--and hung out in the service department of a car dealership for about 20 minutes waiting for a cab to take us back to civilization. My last hour at the conference was spent participating in a spontaneous open mic--badly, I'm afraid: like a dork, I brought NO poetry with me and tried to read "Abbie Hoffman" from memory--and while I did manage to get through it, I dropped a LOT of the words. But it was a grand way to spend the waning moments of my stay there, because I had to leave the conference early, and thus was unable to attend the official open mic. In any case, it was a pick-up, and many thanks to the organizers for inviting us.

My flight back was a bit dodgy, though not terribly--halfway down the runway, a ice warning sensor was acting up, and the pilot, erring on the side of caution, aborted the takeoff, which lead to a nearly two hour delay--not a fuss, except that my connecting flight, in Detroit, was the last flight to Chicago until morning, at which point my brother would have been picking me up from the airport on the morning of the wedding. Fortunately, the Chicago flight was also delayed, and, though late, I managed to get back to my sister's house late Friday night. The wedding--and especially the reception--were of course grand, even though my wife and I did find ourselves in the role of designated driver--returning my little sister's car to her house--and thus drank nothing. We did dance a lot, though, and I got to unveil the Willie Wonka suit my wife made for me. Don't worry. There will be pictures soon. Probably shortly after Halloween.

There's lots afoot, as always, and I'll try to drop by this space a bit more often with updates...though I really want to get back to the Anthemic Reflection piece, because there's still a lot being thought about on that subject. And, as life calms down a little--it's been over a month since I got back, so things are starting to smooth out toward something approaching normalcy--I can stop with the mass e-mails and maybe get something a bit more of substance up in this top entry. In the meantime, the new Triplopia is up, and that means a new Spotlight (not entirely unconnected to the subject of anthems, as it happens) and a new Yawp. Enjoy, y'all, and I'll be back soon--and with any luck, I'll be bringing some yummy pictures.


It was my pleasure to host ya for a night at Writing By Degrees. I learned so much that weekend, thank you as well.
J.J. Schutz
glad you liked the magic hat: a local favorite of mine! although it's too bad you didn't make it to the cyber cafe. it was agreed by all (including paul) that the food was better than the lost dog. also, better coffee than starbucks...and closer ;-)

if you're ever in the binghamton area again and jj's out of town you can always crash on my couch. gene tanta already broke it in for you.

(by the way, i really enjoyed the poetry you read during the impromptu poetry round)
Hey, JJ and Otto--thanks for the notes, and hope all's well in Binghamton. The only thing I didn't like about my stay there was that it had to be so short. Otto--I screwed the poem in question up during the open mic--the full text is in the MAG, which is on the sidebar, but can also be accessed by following this link. It's the last poem on there, so you'll have to scroll by the other four--or, heck, even read them.

Thanks again to both of you for your hospitality during my stay in Binghamton.
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