—The last Glitterpony for now is out, very bittersweet. A fine swamp of poems up in there. All the faves and new faces too. Sampson Starkweather says "light is awesome! / there should be a mind Olympics" and in so saying invents a new school of poetry called The School of Poetry That's Impossible to Disagree With. I have a couple poems in the issue, with 2/3 saucy-mouthed titles: "Why Fuck Around?" and "You Must Motherfucking Change Your Life" and "Know and Make Known." These are from a new school of poetry that involves taking chickpeas and pouring some masala paste on them and cook-stirirng things in a pan of warm olive oil until your dinner is evenly coated and easy to have made.
—Back on December 9th I did this "New Voices in Fiction" thing at Brown University with a great bunch of folks: Matt Bell, Rachel B. Glaser, Lily Hoang, and Matt Salesses. It was kind of a trip to read and have my work taught at Brown. Deep thanks to all the organizers and coordinators and cool Brown MFA students we met, especially Evelyn Hampton and Sarah Tourjee. One kid came up to me and aggressively grilled me about changing the ending to "The Peaches Are Cheap," which was exciting. Here is what else happened, according to my text message draft notes: "Hometown jigsaw and orbitwheels. The keep-yr-distance-bug-vaccuum. Jimmycake benedict." I only remember what the last one means, because the last one is about food.
—Then around Christmastime I went back to California, and within California went to the Bay Area to eat burritos and visit cool people like Chelsea, Jimmy, Mike K, Lorian, and Elliot/Erin. While there I did a reading at SF's hippest new tweegoth secret spot, the 851 Squat, beautifully decorated by Janey Smith and friends. Thanks to Mike K and Janey for inviting me. There were some interaction opportunities ("C'MON!") and some sexy stories. Here is a video of my reading (thanks to Evan Karp for recording), which is 13 minutes long, so you know, get a samosa or something (I mean to eat instead of watching it, not to eat while you're watching, geez, what do you think I am, aggro or something):
—Some thanks to bow at faces: thanks to the big DC for including Look! Look! Feathers in his list of favorite 2011 books, and thanks to Michael Fillipone for mentioning We Are All Good in his list of every book he read in 2011 and saying that when I open my mouth, "America comes out." Which, geez, I know my stomach's been weird since I got back from Thailand, but I hope MF doesn't have any information I don't. I still need to do my Every Book I Read in 2011 list for HTMLGIANT. There are around 92 books, so less than last year, but hey, I had to figure out the Baltimore bus system, gimme a break.
—The super cool Carrie Lorig asked me to make a playlist for the University of Minnesota MFA blog, and how could I say no to that? My playlist is called "A POETRY ADVICE THEMED PLAYLIST THAT IS SINCERE AS A JAR OF SWEET PICKLES BECAUSE I DIDN’T LEARN THE WORD GHERKINS UNTIL I WAS 23 AND BY THEN IT WAS TOO LATE." Sources inform me that gherkins aren't actually always the same thing as sweet pickles, so be careful about taking any of my advice. But do listen to the songs, which are really good.
went up on Hobart. Some of the stuff I say is a little gherkins-y (see above), but at least one true thing is when I say that I feel at home whenever I visit somewhere.
—For January I've been guest editing Everyday Genius, and I felt like the most genius thing I could do was acknowledge my own lack of genius and farm the selection process out to some actual geniuses, so I asked Gene Kwak, Evelyn Hampton, Nat Otting, and Carolyn Zaikowki to harvest some content, and they did an amazing job finding stuff. January isn't quite over yet, so check out what's there and stay tuned for more.
—In a few weeks, Mark and Laura and I are driving up to New Hampshire, where I'm going to do a guest workshop/reading at their alma mater, the Chester College of New England. I'm very excited, as New Hampshire has a very endorseable weirdness that floats over its entirety. Also we're going to stop in Northampton on the way back, so it will be cool to see friends and do snowy high fives there.
—Finally, the 2012 Magic Helicopter Press catalog is up! Do the checking of it outness! Especially the April 2012 forthcoming book of Jordan Stempleman poems No, Not Today. Speaking of how I'm unable to publish a book that doesn't have "today" in the title, major props to Ofelia Hunt's Today & Tomorrow for winning the Alt Lit Gossip 2011 Best Debut Novel award. Keep the channel on Alt Lit Gossip's Tumblr for all your alt-lit gossip needs. I wish the rest of life were so accessible. Like I could go to cheapindianfood.
tumblr.com for all my cheap Indian food needs. For now I guess I will have to yell at the microwave.
at 5:04 PM
That's right, I went to Thailand to visit Carrot Cake Zaikowki. We had a grand time. I will now recap our time in a hella extensive blog post I've been kind of dreading because I know it will get very long. For once the pictures are really pictures I/Carolyn took. Gross! There's also a whole other blog post in the wings full of misc. writing related stuff. I will inhale the jet fumes of this blog post to follow up with that one. First let's see how much I can remember about Thailand.
One thing that happened in Bangkok—though I can't remember if this was the first time we were there or the second—was we went to a temple where we had to take our shoes off. There was a place you could buy candle things to light a thing, and Carolyn bought one. But she dropped the little foil wrapper of the candle stick on the ground, and a monk came by and said something in Thai and picked up the foil and dropped it in a large communal foil pot.
After Bangkok, we went to this island called Ko Phi Phi. It's where they made the movie The Beach with Leonardo DeCaprio, which is a movie I've never seen and now strangely feel like I must resist, like it is somehow an enemy of me, like it will try to find me and make me watch it randomly and I'll have to carry a special tigerskin blindfold for such occasions.
We tried to go to a mosque, but it was closed. At the highest point of the island, a gardener kept trying to speak Russian to a Polish lady, even though he knew she was Polish, which I and everybody else thought was hilarious. I drank coconut stuff out of a huge coconut! We ate twice at this place called Papaya, which had amazing massaman curry that took apparently eight years to make. The place is ran by a former Muay-Thai boxer who seems super gay in a good way. There is some spice that happened during some of the pad thai frying that caused everybody in the room to cough. An Asian mother filmed her pantsless child peeing on the Monkey Island beach. The child peed for like ten minutes straight I swear. We met a Norweigan lumber speculator who said he'd always wanted to go to the redwoods. On a boat Italians and Spaniards talked together in halting English about how fun it was to vacation in some island off the North African coast. In the Phuket airport, there was a store that sold cashews, and there was a huge video in the store of how hard it was to work on the assembly line in the cashew factory, but this seemed like it was intended to impress you into buying more cashews.
We took a bus to Ayutthaya, which was the capital of the kingdom of Siam for 400 years. Back in the early to mid 1000s. It used to be called the "Venice of Asia." Was allegedly one of the most beautiful and bustling cities of the ancient world, and I believe it. Nowadays it's very weird because it's sort of a working class/factory/university city whose infrastructure and city blockage is occasionally interrupted by these amazing and crumbling ancient temples.
In Beijing I couldn't meet up with my friend Luke because I couldn't leave the airport. The authorities kept telling me it was "too late." I thought they meant proverbially, but really they just meant it was 2AM. So I paid too much for a bed in a weird airport hotel place, telling myself it was worth it for the experience. I guess what I meant when I told myself that was the hotel clerk picked her nose in a really interesting way right in front of me. On the plane back to San Francisco, a kindly Chinese grandmother type tried to speak to me in Chinese and helped me find my pen when it fell between our seats. Back in the Bay Area, my first re-acclimation impression was everybody in America has too much space and quiet to themselves.
"Travel was once a means of being elsewhere, or of being nowhere. Today it is the only way we have of feeling that we are somewhere. At home, surrounded by information, by screens, I am no longer anywhere but rather everywhere in the world at once, in the midst of a universal banality—a banality that is the same in every country. To arrive in a new city, or in a new language, is suddenly to find oneself here and nowhere else. The body rediscovers how to look. Delivered from images, it rediscovers the imagination.”
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