Microtones review at Sabotage by Ian Chung

truth: it rocked! Our facilitators were amazing: Ellen Bass, Dorianne Laux and Joe Millar. We had daily motivational craft sessions, and prompts. We also were in captivating surroundings at this sensational dwelling, Esalen, which made it all the more sensory heightened. And as far as what I know- there is so much more to learn! I got a great start on three new poems, tentatively called “The Patio,” “Hummingbirds,” and “Passages.” While I was away, a new review of Microtones appeared, magically, by the gracious Ian Chung, who also edits Eunoia Review: Microtones’ by Robert Vaughan | Sabotage I am ever so grateful to Ian for these kind and insightful words. Also to Meg Tuite, my partner in crime, who loves poetry as much as I and wrote some fierce work this week. Great to see you Jeffrey and Pam (also some incredible poems!) and our wonderful neighbor, Dana! And to Joe, Dorianne and Ellen: eternal reverence and love to you all!  ]]>

Interview on WUWM, Lake Effect in Milwaukee

Middle Coast Poets reading series, and we had our inaugural event on April 29th at Riverwest Public House. From the success of that reading, we decided to continue the Middle Coast Poets readings quarterly, hosting from Milwaukee neighborhoods Riverwest and Bay View with each event. And so, our next Middle Coast Poets event is on Monday, July 29th, at 6:00 p.m. at Burnheart’s in Bay View. All the information, address and readers is located on my Events page. And here is the interview on WUWM: New Poetry Reading Series Wants to Rock You | WUWM. Thanks Paul, for all the fun and inspiration, and Stephanie for this, and more. You’re the best!]]>

Two poems and a nod

amphibi.us. Shannon published some uniquely experimental and strange poetry at his site. Recently I went online looking for it, and discovered it no longer existed. I was really bummed! I’d often include amphibi.us in my quest for some reading inspiration. One of my poems Shannon published, “Semaphones,” I also selected for Microtones: Semaphores I come from steel, bolt, twine, bales of indifference, swells of turpentine. Broken bells, misfires at semaphores. Shrieking hearts grind open moors. Twisting tides train moon in motion. Scurrying sideways, crabs flee ocean. You find me flinging misshapen flocks as you bridge closer filming shocks And here is another poem of mine that Shannon published at amphibi.us: Still, the Clouds Kelly tells me tonight Erik leaves for Minnesota this Sunday. Immediate relief, exuberance. Later deep pain registers regrets. What have I done? His wavering like weather. Inconsistent. A rare shimmer. Still, the clouds; still, the rain. Thanks so much Shannon, for always supporting my work. I hope you are still writing, and crafting your poems and I want you to know I wish you all the best!    ]]>

Full of Crow Summer issue 2013: Fiction

The Hazards of Moving in with a Couple » Fiction This piece is one from my forthcoming full collection, Addicts and Basements, from the great folks at Civil Coping Mechanisms! And while you’re here at Full of Crow, lying back in your hammock sipping margaritas, check out the other great fiction, and poetry, too. It’s an amazing issue, every single time. Thanks editor, Paul Corman-Roberts for the support!]]>

Oh Omega, What a Week

A Celebration of Poetry with Billy Collins, Mark Doty, Marie Howe, and Patricia Smith And here are a few things I learned, of the multitude of information, inspiration, and hope I consistently feel about this experience: Monday morning began with a room re-set. Marie Howe, who was our den mother, our morning star, our assimilator, and watchdog. Marie guided us, ever so wisely and gently to consider the negative, contradiction and surprises in poems. We also spoke about rapture, and read D. H. Lawrence’s “Song of a Man Who Has Come Through,” and John Berger, Rilke’s “Archaic Torso of Apollo,” and “A Green Crab’s Shell” by Mark Doty. Tuesday arrived, rainy and dark. Patricia Smith was late, driving up from New York City in the rain, so Marie read several of her amazing poems, including The Boy, The Gate, After the Movie, Practicing and Sixth Grade. I was stunned, riveted, still am! Patricia Smith – Wordwoman – Teacher, Poet, Writer, Performer extra-ordinaire, was a persona, writer to behold. She read a poem about her son, and another about her mother called “An All Purpose Product,” and a baking poem, memorized, about her father (I’ll never forget), and she spoke of writing as “process,” while she guided us, first in writing a limerick, and then through an exercise called PUSHING THROUGH THE WALL…this was one of the most terrifying, and difficult I have ever taken on in writing. They say poetry is about that which we cannot speak in words. Truly. Tuesday afternoon, Marie led us through a non-dominant hand exercise, and a new way of accessing our work. That evening, I devoured her collection, What the Living Do, as thunder crashed outdoors. Her presence in the poems is, like the storm, electrically infused. Mark Doty, one of my mentors, arrived Wednesday as the foul weather broke. His blue eyes acknowledged newness of work, as he read from a forthcoming collection, “Deep Lane.” He also read some poems from Fire to Fire like his “Theory of Marriage,” which I love. He spoke of the “Foray into the Unsayable!” Then encouraged us to create a list of word associations, and from this, craft a present tense poem, then when we’d completed a draft, to change the point of view in the poem (from first person to third, for example). Mark believes that poets quit too soon. Urged us to continue to walk around our material. We read a poem by Lynda Hull called “Shore Leave” that was an amazing example of musicality and diction, as well as polarities in writing. Lynda Hull On Thursday morning, we had the honor of being lead by billy collins, poet celeb and gentle soul. We read Ruth L. Schwartz’s “Swan at Edgewater Park,” (a great poem about two topics simultaneously) and Michael Donaghy’s “The Break,” (a poem in which the author takes a simile and goes inside it). We spoke about the beginnings of poems and their importance to a reader, and also poems that have, in Billy’s words, a “visible game.” (an example, Robert Frost’s “The Woods”). We read poems by Richard Jones, Bukowski and George Bilgere. Billy says “The Flea” by John Donne was the first poem he was jealous of and wanted us to consider what poems made us jealous that we were not the ones who crafted them. We spoke about how poetry has to orient us first, then disorient- transport, as well as transform. Billy lead us through a stimulation exercise, in which we all created our own lists of “Twenty things I did yesterday” in random order. From my list: I swam in Long Pond Lake (my blog header photo), skipped lunch, wanted to touch your face, had a conversation with Mark about breaking decorum in the Omega Cafe. On Thursday afternoon, Marie Howe helped us all create a list of Political writers, as this topic had prefaced in questions. We spoke about how “political” has multiple meanings. Some of the writers mentioned were: Adrian Rich, Sharon Olds, Elizabeth Bishop, Lucille Clifton, Grace Paley, Martin Espade, CD Wright, Gary Snyder, Jack Hirschman, Ken Prufer, Carolyn Forche, Brenda Hillman, and Kamiko Hahn, and Eve Ensler. We then chose a thread of a story/image that we personally carry in our heart. Throw one and then one more ball into the story: juggling! Let myself become enchanted!!! The last exercise of the day was 5 line stanzas in which we did the same thing in small groups of four. Then we passed our notebooks and the person on our right continued the story. This was an exercise I was familiar with, having done something similar with our summer kids writing camps. Thursday evening was a poetry reading in which James Navé, fellow writer and traveller, hosted. Allotted 4 minutes, I managed to fit in Bed, Cucumber and Miniature Golf (Blue Lotus Review), Cowboys & Indians at Clutching at Straws, and amphibi.us » Shades of Gray. Friday morning arrived and everyone was exhausted! Marie read her latest poem, “Magdalene and the Seven Devils,” published in July/Aug American Poetry Review. We spoke of negation in poetry, it’s not this! We cannot know this…let the NOT be a pivot! We spoke of the investigative role, there are not any answers, no corrections, no erasing. The going is the poem, looking for the poem is the poem. We spoke about Rilke’s “The Annunciation” (from The Unknown Rilke, trans. by Franz Wright, one of Marie’s most important books). We spoke of the notion of delay, in poetry. We read Alan Dugan’s “Closing Time at the 2nd Avenue Deli.” (The last poem in his last book). About it’s refusal to be romantic, and the gorgeous syntax. The use of repetition in ‘Shall I? no! Shall I? No!’ “This” opens and closes the poem. We read W.S. Merwin’s “For The Anniversary of My Death.” Also Tony Hoagland’s “Disappointment.” and Jack Gilberg’s “Falling and Flying.” Our last writing exercise, Marie suggested we begin a 14 line poem with I don’t know, It isn’t just that, Everyone forgets, or Shall I say this? No!  We then got into groups of four, and read them aloud to one another. In the words of the illustrious Marie Howe: “Creativity is when I don’t know what I’m doing!” Here is the work I’ve published since my last blog: The Message from Ruben | The Whistling Fire 50 to 1: The Wife by Robert Vaughan “Bacon and Eggs, 1977” by Robert Vaughan → Fictionaut Midwestern Gothic – A Literary Journal » Blog Archive » Contributor Spotlight: Robert Vaughan HOUSEFIRE | Robert Vaughan | HOUSEFIRE WUWM: Lake Effect – Flash Fiction Friday: Strangers with local author Mary Jo Thome and national author, Susan Tepper’s piece, “Tool.” Temporary | | The Brooklyner Web and Literary You can also hear me read this story at their amazing site…thanks for listening! Gratitude again, master teachers and poets: Howe, Smith, Doty and Collins. Oh what a lucky man I am. Marie HowePatricia SmithMark DotyBilly Collins]]>



Leaving: a cadence, a beat. A repetition in our minds, lost and forgotten. A shoe box empty and discarded. Painful, stumbling through, not around, this hurdle. And still, caresses linger at the bottom of your bag of memories like a heavy rock. Leaving: a door closes on your feelings, it is scarier out there. Darker, but somehow enables you to shine. From this dark hallway you see roses in the moonlight. The soft streetlight against the stars. They have not forgotten you. Upon leaving, a self-conscious, thwarted, last attempt to grasp a passing wave. Ride it to the shore: A failed attempt. A deep sense of false pride. An aching troubled fit creeps along the path to the street The front yard screams at you. And the car. And the buttons on your shirt. Yes, you are leaving. Still, I might have the chance to get there before you.]]>