6.28.2010

"My real life is here, and I’m not sure whether that will always be the case"

Now that I'm back from tour, I can get back to the real world, e.g. the internet. On that front, I interviewed Justin Taylor for the June 2010 Word Riot. Justin says a lot of interesting and worldly things. Check it out.

so a water bug isn't a cockroach? no it's just slower and other poems

TOUR DIARY PART 5

In Charlottesville, Sam and Noah (Josh's brother) hosted an awesome reading for us at their house. Their friends were all architects. The dog didn't like Seth's beard. Rachel's story had immature goth girls and a mature consideration of death. Natalie introduced her poem about Otto Frank by alluding to her interest in time travel, which opened up the poem for me in a new way that felt awesome. We slept in a basement. Rachel demonstrated her weird mouth sounds. In the morning, I ate a corned beef hash thing that I couldn't really eat because of a cold sore. Josh and I watched Slovakia defeat some listless Italians. The drive to Baltimore was a slop of heat, traffic, sorethroatedness, and freeway construction. We stopped at a gas station in rural Virgina, fifty miles outside of D.C, and there were a lot of flies. Rachel and I couldn't find anything good on the radio.

In Baltimore, I ate perhaps the most interesting dish of the whole tour: some kind of pork shoulder thing with a strawberry salsa and a sweet potato cake. It was amazing, but I recall that you're not supposed to eat fruit and meat together for digestive reasons. Baltimore almost rained but didn't. We heard about a tornado in Charlottesville. Sorry, Charlottesville. We met up with Adam Robinson, who took us to the Hexagon for the reading/performance. The night opened with a YouTube open mic. There were fishing accidents and someone with exploding bananas on their face. Natalie, Rachel, and I all felt very emotional reading because it was our last stop. I read a long poem I hadn't read the whole tour, a long poem about eating a bagel and dying before all of my friends.

We stayed with Adam at a three story gingerbread crackhouse he was house sitting for Stephanie. Alec called the number off a lawyer billboard, and Rachel said "Alec's going to make Mike's tour blog!" A self-fulfilling prophecy if I ever heard one. There were enormous water bugs in Adam's backyard, which Adam said he sometimes raced. He and Stephanie did an amazing amount of work to their place, which used to be a Chinese grocery store. Joe found some saltines, and we ate them. We talked about rationality and irrationality. Later we talked about barmitzvahs and ghosts. Two people who'd recently gone to William and Mary were there, and they were very nice: they fed me some garlic and managed to open a pickle jar I couldn't open. That night, one of Adam's cats peed on my blanket, I think, but I felt both embarrassed and not entirely sure that's what had happened, so I didn't tell him. Until now, I guess.

The next day I took two buses back to Northampton. Feels good to be home. Going to see the dentist tomorrow.

Many thanks to all who hosted us, listened to us, cooked for us, gave us high fives, helped or attended kindly to us in all the noticeable and unnoticeable ways of human betweenness on this tour. All told, it was a lovely adventure, and I was honestly touched to be able to share my poems with so many interesting people, and to tour with such talented roadmates (Rachel and Natalie) and magis (Josh Bolton and Seth Landman). Much love.

6.24.2010

puttin your own child in that car and other poems

TOUR DIARY PART 4

My apologies for the tour diary delay. We took a weekend break in Atlanta. I drove around with Blake. He lives in an old mill. His mailbox is a thresher. We invented a domestic post-apocalypse survival real-time strategy video game. Later, Natalie and Blake invented a cereal restaurant called Cereal Killer, which is also a Method Man track. Jamie Iredell made amazing food for all of us the entire weekend: chicken liver pate, homemade ice cream, excellence all around. Jamie said hanging out with Blake all the time is like listening to the same part of the same rap song over and over. Blake said "not like—is," but this is mostly because Blake and Jamie have disagreements about figurative language. Atlanta also marked the arrival of Seth Landman, would later turn out to be quite a savior.

The reading at the Beep Beep Gallery went amazingly well. Amy McDaniels's dog looked like a pillow and kept sitting gracefully in my lap. One of Blake's childhood friends who never comes to readings came to the reading. He had a good time. The air conditioning didn't work, but Blake, Jamie, and Amy gave very generous introductions. We sold a ton of books in Atlanta. Later we had breakfast at a Flying Biscuit. They had some very nice raspberry jam.

I rode with Seth Landman to Raleigh. We listened to the Wu Tang Clan and James Taylor. It's hard to remember what the drive was like, but I do remember stopping at a Bojangles and seeing interesting road signs, such as Dinwitty County, maybe. It's interesting how the roadsigns get more embellished in the South, like the signs say "THERE IS FOOD AT THE NEXT STOP" instead of just "FOOD." I might be making that up.

Chris Tonelli met up with us in Raleigh, and we had Lebanese food with him, his wife Allison, and their son Miles. Miles was very cute, but he tried to drink Chris's whiskey, which was funny. Many of Chris's students came to the reading. One of his students asked Natalie what a stag is. The same student asked me if I have more action figures at home. I stayed up late with Chris talking about publishing and poetry, and I felt we had a very good conversation. Chris made an excellent point about the difference between humor that disappears like balloon gas and humor that is a form of rescuing from silence.

The next morning is when all the fun started. I wish time machines were real! Rachel asked me if I wanted to drive the first shift or the second. First, I said. We were driving out of Raleigh when suddenly a two lane road turned into a two lane road with cars parked in the right lane, which was the lane we were in. So I tried to get over to the left, but there was a car behind me and no one was letting me over to the left, and I got too close to the truck parked in front of me. When I tried to veer over into the left lane, I clipped the truck. Rachel's light got messed up; her bottle of washer fluid broke. The truck's bumper fell a little. We got out. We discovered that there were two plumbers sitting in the parked truck. They were very nice about everything. "I've been saying for years people shouldn't park here," said one. We asked them if they were okay. "We're fine," they said. "More shook up than a hooker in church, but we're fine." The police came. We took Rachel's car to a body shop. It was drivable. We kept driving to Charlottesville.

Background: my family did not have a car growing up, and I only learned to drive in 2007. I hate driving, and now I feel like I never want to drive again in my life, but Natalie says that these things happen to people all the time, and that the solution is to drive more, not less. Seth Landman pointed out that Barack Obama would not find this "fender bender" that big a deal.

The drive to Charlottesville was beautiful, and I saw a toy boat full of kudzu.



6.21.2010

ATLANTA READING @ 8PM

Rachel, Natalie, and I are reading at the Beep Beep Gallery tonight @ 8PM! Don't come at 7PM unless you want to hang out for an hour, which, okay, sure, whatever, cool, cool.

6.20.2010

the only catch is murder and other poems

TOUR DIARY PART 3

Richmond is a beautiful city. They seem incapable of building a house that isn't beautiful or doesn't have a balcony. We hung out with Tim and Stephanie, friends of Josh. They took us to The Black Sheep, which marks Richmond as the third city I've been in to have a cool restaurant called The Black Sheep.  I ate a pulled pork sandwich with apple coleslaw, and I also ate some deviled eggs. There is a pyramid in the Richmond cemetery under which eighteen thousand people are buried. Tim/Stephanie told us a story about a dog giving birth in the cemetery. Tim told us The Philadelphia Gun Story. Here is an excerpt: Tim running down the streets of Philadelphia, wearing a mitten, holding a ceramic gun high in the air, appearing to chase two girls. The gun was real. In Richmond, there was a sign that said "SORRY, WE'RE OPEN." Bojangles bought the first stoplight for Richmond.

Liz hosted the reading at Chop Suey—which I wish I'd had more time to browse, for it is a terrific bookstore—and did a very good job. She read introductions off her iPhone. Rachel read a story about life being a cover of other lives. Natalie read a poem about pandas that went over very well. Rachel and Natalie both reported later that they enjoyed a poem I read concerning a man who buys cookies in a Cumberland Farms. You can read an account of the reading by clicking here (thanks, Karen). After the reading, we went to another restaurant, Mamma Zu's, where Josh's friend Maya hooked us up. We passed around pasta and pizza dishes like a traditional Italian mobster movie. The Philadelphia Gun Story was told again and embellished further. I ate some tiramisu that did more things to my mouth than I've ever had done to my mouth. We hung out at another beautiful house, this one with a garden. Everyone in Richmond is friends and works at the same three restaurants. On the way home, we avoided the block were someone had been stabbed. Earlier we'd seen a fight where a woman appeared to both be talking on a phone and completely unaware of the world's existence. Richmond has a lot of interesting Civil War statues.

The next morning, we drove to Atlanta. It was a ten hour drive. We stopped in Greensboro, North Carolina for lunch. Even though we just wanted to learn about lunch, we learned about Elsewhere, which is an awesome antique museum/artist collective. We also stopped at a gas station on the South Carolina/Georgia border. We had to drive a little off the highway to get to the gas station. There was a whole Cheerwine soda case. One woman was smoking cigarettes and eating vanilla wafers at the same time. The air had a feeling of boiled peanuts.

We got to Atlanta, which, for those keeping track of analogies, is the Los Angeles of the South. I am staying with my friend Blake. There are trains that seem to run directly above his roof. It reminds me of my childhood home. Blake can eat French fries extremely fast. We are going to spend the weekend in Atlanta, then do a reading on Monday. Happy Father's Day!

6.18.2010

tomaž is rooting for the other team and other poems

TOUR DIARY PART 2

Rachel, Natalie, Josh, and I ate brunch with our friend Michelle at a place called The Gold Standard. Rachel was hoping there would be someone paid to sleep in a window. Instead, our waitress had a mustache. I was called upon to finish whoopee pies. We made a new friend named Aaron, who was sitting at another table reading one of CAConrad's books. There was discussion of putting breakfast in champagne flutes but not for drinking the breakfast, which was probably what you were thinking.

We drove to Washington D.C. I talked with my favorite girl, Carolyn Carrot Cake, on the phone. When we got to D.C, there was a friendly employee at Starbucks who implored us to use many of their bathrooms at once. Natalie called me the J-Lo of UMass. We walked to the White House. I stuck my hand through the gate. We saw Michelle's garden. The police closed the street. We figured it was because Michelle was coming out to garden. Someone was grumbling about the closure, and their wife said "There must be a reason!" in a bright and incredibly frightening tone. There were a lot of egg rolls for sale.

Many kind people from Baltimore came to the Narrow House/Publishing Genius reading, including Justin and Jamie of Narrow House, and The Mighty Joe Young. I met many interesting folks, including Alec Niedenthal and his friend Roz, and Mark C of Big Lucks. Dan, of Barrelhouse, was an awesome host. Ric Royer had a white noise machine, and he was an event. Natalie's stigmata poem went over well. Rachel read a condensed version of "Pee On Water" which was still very epic. Adam Robinson worked the crowd like an elegant sailor, and he also bought me a whiskey. I drew two hockey goalies having a sad fight in the copy of my book that Roz bought.

Josh, Natalie, Rachel, and I drove to Josh's parents house in Reston, VA. They have a sign in their garage that says "I worked hard so I could make a good life for my cat." We watched the Celtics lose to the L.A. Rapists. But I ate many terrific foods, such as goat cheese wrapped in berries and homemade salsa. This morning I ate a tiny scone. We are watching the U.S/Slovenia soccer match. The U.S. coach looks like a cross between a police instructor and a soccer ball. We are off for Richmond! Thank you for reading.

6.17.2010

jillian gillian and other poems

TOUR DIARY PART 1


Rachel B Glaser and I drove to her parents' house in New Jersey. The Glaser dog, Rocky, tried to catch a chipmunk, but the chipmunk was too fast. Rachel's dad is growing eggplant in his garden. Later, the Lakers blew out the Celtics with the help of a fly that kept darting across the TV. Rachel's mom does not like Roger Federer. She baked us some potatoes for the road. We drove to Philadelphia, took the Ben Franklin bridge, listened to Devendra Banhardt's first CD, and met up with Natalie Lyalin and her husband Josh Bolton. I ate a Cuban(o) sandwich. The cook came out to tell us how he'd put mint and triple sec in the strawberry shortcut. We made "And Other Poems" jokes, but I can't remember any of the good ones. Natalie and Josh talked about how people in Israel can't form lines, so they shout a lot. Natalie's friend Juliette had a nice birdhouse made from scrapwood. We saw a busted TV and two human statues. Someone outside a convenience store said "Gonna kill somebody, gonna get killed." Juliette and Natalie bought each other socks. It was very windy, but it didn't rain until much later. A man without a shirt was directing people into Bookspace. He looked like the guy from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, a little bit. Bookspace was amazing. It is a giant warehouse full of books. It used to be an elevator factory. They had an in-tune piano and an air hockey table. I found a book called The It's Just Lunch Guide to Dating in Phoenix, but much of the advice seemed unspecific to Phoenix.

We did our reading. There was a semi-dramatic lamp. Natalie read from her book, then read new poems about birds and minor stigmatas that were very good. Rachel read "The Magic Umbrella," which was good and funny with such lines as "Growing up, her best friend was a spoon." After the reading, I talked with people about sincerity, and Brian—Natalie's and Juliette's friend—made an interesting well-digging analogy. Rachel and I stayed with Rachel's cousins. They took a zany route home. We talked shit about Apple. We ate some organic Cheese-Its. Their cat, Henry, has paws that look like cookies'n'cream ice cream. I slept under the record player. Now we are off to the "nation's capitol." Thank you for reading.

6.09.2010

it never rains on lancelot

You may have already seen this announced elsewhere, but for Hobart's online June issue, Jensen Beach put together an epic roundtable discussion with twelve first-time authors: Kevin Wilson, Roxane Gay, Rachel B. Glaser, Caitlin Horrocks, Jed Berry, Andrew Ervin, Holly Goddard Jones, Tom McAllister, Julia Holmes, Laura van den Berg, Kyle Beachy, and me. It's graciously segmented so you can browse the different topics. Thanks to everybody for their candor, and double thanks to Jensen for his invitation and work.

6.06.2010

when you take a sip you buzz like a hornet / billy shakespeare wrote a whole bunch of sonnets

2010 READING TOUR OFFICIALLY SPONSORED BY A PICTURE OF 90s POP-RAP GROUP LFO AND A PICTURE OF ARROZ A LA CUBANA


June 16th, Philadelphia: 8:00 PM at BOOK space 1113 Frankford Avenue (1/2 block south of Girard Ave. ) Philadelphia, PA 19125 w/ Rachel B Glaser + Natalie Lyalin

June 17th, D.C: at Barrelhouse Presents at Wonderland Ballroom at 7:00 1101 KENYON ST, NW WASHINGTON DC 20010 w/ Rachel B Glaser + Natalie Lyalin + Adam Robinson + Ric Royer

June 18th, Richmond, VA: 7:00 PM at Chop Suey Books w/ Rachel B Glaser + Natalie Lyalin

June 21, Atlanta, GA: for the Solar Anus Series, 8PM @ Beep Beep Gallery (696 Charles Allen Drive Northeast) w/ Rachel B Glaser + Natalie Lyalin

June 22, Raleigh, NC: An "Impromptu So & So Reading" @ 7:30PM @ the Morning Times Cafe (10 E Hargett St) Raleigh, NC 27601 w/ Rachel B Glaser + Natalie Lyalin

June 23, Charlottesville, VA:
House Reading w/ Rachel B Glaser + Natalie Lyalin (email Natalie for details)

June 24, Baltimore, MD: at the Hexagon (1825 North Charles Street) @ 7PM w/ Rachel B Glaser + Natalie Lyalin

July 8th, Turners Falls, MA: Music! At The Rendezvous with Carolyn Conspiracy + Dust Savior

July 28th, Brooklyn, NY: LIT 18 launch party, powerHouse books, 6:30 PM

August 4th, Boston, MA: at Brookline Booksmith (organized by Gene Kwak). w/ Rachel B Glaser, Blake Butler, Carolyn Zaikowksi, Sasha Fletcher, Anne Holmes, and Jonathan Papas

September 19, Ann Arbor, MI: The Great Lakes Great Times reading series w/ Rachel B Glaser + Tao Lin



CHECK BACK FOR MORE INFO! HOPE TO SEE YOU! FRIED BANANA!

you can have your shopping carts



BETTER ANIMAL

for Gabe and Liz Durham!

Who put the teeth in the ice cream?
Who stopped the argument with the ump?
Who gave a hearing aid to the slave?
Who poured the buttered rum on the nun?

We don't have a tent. So let's make one from our skin.
Ask me what I want to be and I will tell you then:

All I wanna be's a better animal
All I wanna be's a better animal
All I wanna be's a better animal
All I wanna be's a better animal
You can have your shopping carts
And mistletoe and tea
Oh, a better animal
Is all I wanna be
I wanna be
I wanna be

[context specific lyrics!]
Who said Gabe and Liz could move to Nashville?
I seem to remember that they didn't ask me
[end of context specific lyrics]
Who drank a smoothie in the tsunami?
Who sang doo-wap to the fascist cop?

We don't have a tent. So let's make one from our skin.
Ask me what I want to be and I will tell you then:

All I wanna be's a better animal
All I wanna be's a better animal
All I wanna be's a better animal
All I wanna be's a better animal
You can have your shopping carts
And mistletoe and tea
Oh, a better animal
Is all I wanna be
I wanna be
I wanna be

6.02.2010

WE ARE ALL GOOD IF THEY TRY HARD ENOUGH now available for pre-orders!

Very stoked to announce that the advanced edition of my poetry book, We Are All Good If They Try Hard Enough, is now open for pre-orders from Publishing Genius Press for $9. You can read sample poems here, here, and here. To celebrate, I am going to make some eggs with potatoes and show you the picture to your right, which is a visual reenactment of a poem in the book called "My Heart Is a Small Yellow Emoticon Wearing a Cowboy Hat in the Snow."

More info soon, including the dates of a summer reading tour with Rachel B Glaser and Natalie Lyalin! Huzzah!