Information about the Desert City Poetry Series, contemporary poetry & poetics, and poetry readings & events in central North Carolina.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Process Continued

One last thing to note to follow up my last post: my reading has a serious impact on my writing. My reading also has a huge impact on who I invite to read in the series, and often, my reading is determined by who I have coming in to read in the series. And vice versa in an endless cycle of interconnections.

So it would be no exaggeration to say that running the reading series is a fundamental part of my personal writing process.

Sometimes other things do sneak into my reading though like The Mind on Fire, an excellent biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson by Robert Richardson which I just finished reading after a year long stroll (the length of time is no comment on the quality of the book.) Sometimes it just takes a little while, you know?

Reading Review & Fascicle

Great reading on Saturday by Adam, Tom, Cathy, and Buck. That DC scene is smoking up there.

Marcus Slease wrote up a little review of the evening here -- gracias, Sr. Slease.

Also, to join the chorus of blogs announcing the release of the new journal Fascicle -- Fascicle is here!!

It's really just about as amazing as everyone says. T. Tost has done a pretty remarkable thing here. My name is on the masthead, but most of the work was Tony's.

I've got some poems in there myself -- some of which are a part of my most recent project called A Monologue for Voices & President Letters. I'm at the point where I'm excited about the project and have finished the bulk of the writing. I'm not going to add anything new at this point, just polish and rearrange.

This project has been a new direction for me -- plain spoken, direct, actively non-poetic in some ways. (Other pieces are at Free Verse, Coconut, and in the most recent Displayer.)

I find, though, that I work like that: do a project (which usually becomes a manuscript) for awhile in which the doing gives rise to a set of formal concerns that become the conceptual framework for the piece. I finish out the piece eventually (sometimes several years, sometimes six months) and then start a new project that usually begins as an attempt to get as far away from whatever I had been doing previously.

During this process I seem to go through several stages of emotional attachment to the project. First, I'm just writing and don't know what's going on. Then I start to see the underlying framework and get excited. Then -- usually about a third of the way in -- I start thinking: "what the hell am I doing? does this make any sense? is it any good? what is this???" I usually charge on despite these fears for better or ill. As I get close to the end and done, I start feeling excited about the project again, take some time off from writing so intensely, then find myself back at the beginning of the cycle -- sometimes on purpose, sometimes not.

One other part of this process is that often the projects will spin off very, very directly from what I'm reading at the time. Not everything that I'm reading, but often I'll read a book and just have to respond somehow either by imitation or conversation.

At any rate, all three of my most recent projects are represented on the Fascicle site -- take a look, let me know what you think.

And to bookend this post with more about Slease:

Brenda Coultas & Marcus Slease!
Desert City Season IV.1!
September 17th, Saturday!
8:00 pm!
Internationalist Books!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Pre-Season Treat: Buck Downs, Cathy Eisenhower, Tom Orange, & Adam Good

Though DC season IV is still a few weeks from inaugeration -- I am happy to say that we have set-up what will be a hott little pre-season reading with some friends from the other, Washington, DC area -- whoo-hoo! Details below:

Who: Buck Downs, author of Marijuana Softdrink and the largest poetry postcard project ever!

Who: Cathy Eisenhower, author of Language of the Dog-Heads and force behind the interrupting cow press!

Who: Tom Orange, author of 25 Poems, Seedsource, and Tethering and curator of the In Your Ear Reading Series!

Who: Adam Good, associate editor of Your Black Eye and co-curator of the In Your Ear Reading Series!

What: Reading poems and making 'em flo'em.

When: This Saturday, August 27th, 6:00pm, 2005.

Where: The Skylight Exchange, 405 1/2 Rosemary Street, Chapel Hill, NC, down the little alleyway next to Fuse.

Afterwards: Rocking with Randall at the Cabin!

Some links:

Adam Good: (coming soon)

Cathy Eisenhower:

Tom Orange:

Buck Downs:

Thursday, August 25, 2005

More Money, More Money, More Money

Yup, 'tis true. The lovely and delightful folks at the North Carolina Arts Council thought the Desert City was worth a little chingching. Hot Damn. I count myself very lucky to be in North Carolina for a variety of reasons and a really big one of those reasons is the NCAC and in particular Debbie McGill the literature director here. First off, the NCAC has a fairly good budget (that just got bigger even at a time when a lot of other states are tightening the belt.) The money the Council provides actually really makes a difference, allows folks to do more than they would rather than just letting organizations and artists survive. Plus, Debbie is a savvy arts advocate; she has the ability to recognize when something exciting is taking off and the resources to contribute to its rise.

A hundred million thanks to Debbie and the NCAC.

So all told now the DC has $6200 dollars for the 05/06 season. That's half the total income I sketched out for this season's budget. It's really, really, really amazing to me to realize how much money I actually have. Previously, the series was funded out of the pockets of myself, friends, and family. And now I have $6000. Wow.

So the best part is that all the money I get from here out (several more grant apps to submit) is for projects that I previously never had money for (space rental, administrative costs, advertising, chair rental/purchase, dinners, receptions, etc.) The money I have already will cover all the honorariums and travel for all the poets reading. It's pretty wonderful. That so many poets were in the past willing to come to the DC for (often) nothing is both a terrible and beautiful part of the poetry world. Beautiful in that these people saw that the series (and reading/community building generally) was valuable enough to justify coming at their own expense. Terrible in that I think most poets (myself included) are pretty happy if the hat gets passed at the end of the reading, and we wind up with some beer money.

I believe all the poets that read in the DC (and all the poets out there reading generally) are worth a hell of a lot more than 20 bucks in change. It's pretty exciting to be able to compensate everyone the way I've always wanted to.

So I feel like I owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the folks who came out to the DC for nothing over the last three years -- without all of their (your) efforts, I never would be in the position I am now. Getting these grants is a sign of the quality of the poets who have visited in the past as much as those that will come.

Hot damn. Onward.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Quick Update

I'm headed out the door, but good news on many fronts:

John Taggart and I have confirmed and scheduled his reading in the Desert City! He will be reading on Saturday, October 22nd, at 8pm at Internationalist Books of course.

Taggart is one of my favorite living poets, a legend even -- we may even get the treat of debut reading of his most recent project.

Ed Roberson has agreed to read sometime in the Spring!

Also a favorite -- wow, I'm very excited about this (and, apparently, inarticulate beyond the banal.)

Brenda Coultas's reading partner will be Greensboro's Marcus Slease. Also very exciting -- Marcus is one of my favorite local poets and a good reader of his own work. Be there on September 17th, Saturday, 8pm for that reading.

Brent Cunningham is also reading in October on the 8th at 8pm. I'm still working on getting him a reading partner -- very close to finding him/her.

Sarah Manguso's reading partner will be Winston-Salem's Julian Semilian -- also exciting. Julian and Sarah both dip into the surreal in a way that I think will create interesting echos in the reading and some nice harmony. See them together November 12th, Saturday, 8pm -- you know where.

That's the quick update -- more soon.....