Saturday, December 06, 2014


The fall semester is all but done, and the usual tumult accompanying it has resulted in some quiet here. Come January, I will be continuing with my Hands on Stanzas residency at Skinner West, and also returning to Indiana University Northwest to teach some higher ed classes. In all, academically the spring semester looks to be quite busy!

In other news, my label, Zenith Beast, is currently in the process of delving into its back catalogue, with the result being a series of archival releases. The first, including albums from 1986-1993, resumes December 9th. These albums are digital-only releases, available from iTunes, Amazon, and other e-tailers. ZB's next wave of releases may comprise a deeper dig into the archives, going back to the early '80s, or it may entail brand new music -- check out the redesigned ZB homepage for details, and/or follow the label on Twitter.

Finally, the end of the year signals the arrival of the annual Alex Chilton Birthday Bash! The Injured Parties are pleased to play for the tenth year straight, and this lineup looks to be especially good.

Happy holidays, all!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Private Reading Series

On October 26th, I'll be reading for the Private Reading Series, along with Hannah Gamble and Christine Kirouac. Here's the scoop:

The dates, times and location of each reading series are secret until announced on the group's page. Members may invite guests to join, but they must be approved by a moderator. The Private Series is a special reading series where writers of all stripes, poets and other language artists may read more sensitive material not ready for the public, test-flight work, work that is too experimental for a publisher or that simply could benefit from an environment of other artists and writers. We seek to foster a seedbed of encouragement for risky writing in a respectful context.

So please ask to join the group to be a part of this unique event! See you there, wherever "there" is!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

New Poem in The East Bay Review

I'm happy to announce that I have a new poem in the latest issue of The East Bay Review, just out now.

The very apt drawing accompanying it is by Christopher Coffey.


Saturday, September 06, 2014

Recent Work

I'm happy to announce that I have poems in recent issues of East Jasmine Review and OVS Magazine

Get your copies today, and thanks for the support of my work, as well as the efforts of my fellow contributors!

Friday, August 01, 2014

Excited Utterance

Next weekend marks the third outing for my quarterly reading series in-the-round, Excited Utterance! We have a new venue, and two terrific readers joining me: Richard Fox and Donna Vorreyer. This event is free and Dollop offers delicious coffee drinks as well as selected foodstuffs.

Read biographical information on the authors as well as all about the series on our home and Facebook pages (as well as the event page).

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Language Lessons: Volume 1

Today is the day. As of July 22nd, Third Man Books is taking pre-orders for Language Lessons: Volume I. The official street date is August 5th.

At long last Third Man Records and Third Man Books are very proud to present our first commercially available book, Language Lessons: Volume I. Though the term book, in this case, may actually be a bit limiting considering what this whole package actually contains… Want to hear more? Read on. 

Language Lessons is a 321 page hardbound book, co-edited by Chet Weise and Third Man’s own Ben Swank, full of contemporary poetry and prose including over 20 award winning and/or nominated contemporary poets and authors such as Dale Ray Phillips, a Pulitzer Prize nominee in fiction, C.D. Wright, a National Book Award finalist and National Book Critics Circle winner in poetry, and Adrian Matejka, a National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist in poetry. Language Lessons is two vinyl LPs of jazz, psychedelic-punk, poetry, blues and pop from artists such as William Tyler, Destruction Unit, Ken Vandermark, Sampson Starkweather, and more. Language Lessons is five pieces of frameable broadsides of poems by C.D. Wright, Frank Stanford, Brian Barker, Jake Adam York and Chet Weise with original art from former Big Boys guitartist Tim Kerr, one-time Hate illustrator Jim Blanchard, intertwangle-ist folk artist Butch Anthony, and more. That’s a lot of bang for your buck… and it all comes housed in a hard-case clothbound sleeve. Has any other record label ever created such a thing?

As previously mentioned, LL:VI will be Third Man Books' first commercially available tome and signifies a strong intent for Third Man entering the universe of publishing. Third Man Books, like Language Lessons, will be fearless, imaginative, and eclectic. We hope to be a welcome addition to what is already a very compelling and thrilling independent American literary landscape.

Language Lessons: Volume I is now available for pre-sale direct from the Third Man Store and will be available in discerning book and record stores the world over from August 5th.

I am proud to have two of my poems included in LL:VI, even though I am considerably out-classed. Get your copy today!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lit by the Bridge

I'm reading from new and collected works tonight at this series...

Lit by the Bridge is an open-mic reading held on the third Thursday each month from 6:30-8 p.m. at Culture Stock bookstore in downtown Aurora, IL. 

Each month they welcome a main featured writer or poet who will read from their works. Before and after the feature there is an open-mic for anybody who wants to read. Poets, memoirists, short story-ists (?), and whatever other category of writing they come up with are welcome. 

Open-mic readers have five minutes to read, so don't bring anything too long. Get there early because sign-up for the open mic begins begins at 6:15 and is limited to 10 readers.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014

4th Grade Centos

Today was my last with the 4th graders, and to wind up the residency we created centos in each class. Read all about it here, and thanks to the teachers for making me feel welcome!

I hope to be back at Skinner West next year. Happy (almost) summer, everyone!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hands on Stanzas: 4th Grade, Week 9 + All Schools Reading

Last week, in addition to teaching the second-to-last classes with my 4th grade students at Skinner West, the Poetry Center hosted its end of the year All Schools Reading celebration at the Cultural Center. Three 2nd graders from earlier in the residency, along with three readers from my current 4th grade classes were able to attend, and everyone did a terrific job! I was similarly impressed by the student poets from other participating schools; it was great to meet my students' parents, as well as other host teachers involved with the program, and to hobnob with fellow poets-in-residence. It was an amazing night!

Audience at All School Reading 
For last week's classes, we read and discussed "One Train May Hide Another" by Kenneth Koch, and students wrote poems about things that are hidden. Here are some of them at work:

Mrs. Carlson's class

Looking forward to this week's classes!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Excited Utterance

The spring edition of Excited Utterance is upon us! The May 18th show features myself, as curator, host and co-reader, along with Kenyatta Rogers and Kathleen Rooney. Full bios are available on the homepage as well as the Facebook event.

7 pm at Uncommon Ground, 3800 N. Clark Street. Reservations are highly recommended: 773-929-3680. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

The Return of Hands on Stanzas and the Poetry Center Online

Last day with Mrs. Beaudry's class
I hadn't posted anything about my ongoing Hands on Stanzas residency at Skinner West (which continues through the end of May) in over a month until yesterday. Back at the end of March, I began having problems with the site, and after scrupulous investigation by Poetry Center bigwigs it was determined that it had been hacked. (My students were intrigued by the prospect of hacking a poetry site. I said the least the perpetrator could have done was post some bizarre verse in an attempt to foist it off as legit, but I also added that if that had been the case, this being poetry and all, nobody might have noticed! That's a compliment, BTW.)

The upside of this is that the site has finally undergone a long-needed facelift. It's brighter, cleaner, and more navigable now -- please check it out, and in particular the work of my students to date, including my last 2nd grade classes and all the poems from 4th graders through today.

More to come!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

GCHS Writers Week

I'm happy to announce that I'll be kicking off my de rigeur National Poetry Month appearances by presenting during the second annual GCHS Writers Week!

Grayslake Central High School's Writers Week is an annual week-long celebration of the work of authors, journalists, poets, songwriters, broadcasters, and screenwriters. Each year, professional writers of all kinds are invited to speak and/or perform alongside students and faculty in the GCHS theater.

Check out the nifty promo video, like them on Facebook, and/or follow on Twitter and Instagram!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hands on Stanzas: Week 9

Last week, we had our penultimate 2nd grade classes at Skinner West, and I also began the second half of my residency, starting in three 4th grade rooms. (More on that later.)

This time we read and discussed nine of Robert Hass' translations of haiku by Kobayashi Issa. The students seemed to really enjoy this form, which was new to most of them, and came up with a litany of incredible haiku of their own.

Read all about it here, including examples of their exemplary work.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Hands on Stanzas: Week 8

Color was the focus this week for Hands on Stanzas. The 2nd graders at Skinner West read and discussed Marge Piercy's "Colors passing through us," then wrote their own color-themed poems. Amazing!

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Hands on Stanzas: Week 7

Hard to believe we're winding down with the 2nd graders at Skinner West!

This week, we read and discussed Natasha Trethewey's lovely "Theories of Time and Space," and the students then wrote their own poems about memories. There were many amazing pieces this week...

Take a gander, and hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Hands on Stanzas: Week 6

Last week the 2nd graders read and discussed Edip Cansever's poem, "Table," then wrote about things they see every day around their homes.

Check it out!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Poems in Festival Writer

I'm thrilled to announce that I have four poems in the latest edition (February 2014) of Festival Writer! Because I couldn't say it any better myself, I'm going to quote directly from FW impresaria, Jane L. Carman:

Premiering in 2009 as an offsite event at AWP, the Festival of Language is a celebration of art dedicated to innovation and inclusion.

What began as a gathering of about a dozen readers and participants had rapidly grown to include numerous participants and multiple conferences, supporting a rich community of diverse art and artists.

Festival Writer is a way to keep the spirit of the Festival of Language moving throughout the year beyond and between appearances at AWP, SSML, and M/MLA.

By making available diverse and engaging work, Festival Writer aims to celebrate both established and emerging writers with a variety of voices and is particularly interested in publishing that which is traditionally marginalized.

Hands on Stanzas: Week 3

This week the 2nd graders read Emily Dickinson's "A Bird came down the Walk." Take a gander (pun intended) at their amazing work inspired by our discussions!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Hands on Stanzas for 2014

I'm back at Skinner West for another year of Hands on Stanzas residencies! It was thrilling to return to the three 2nd grade classrooms I had last year; in addition, I'm in Skinner's fourth 2nd grade class as well. Different from last time, my initial ten weeks will be spent with the 2nd graders, and the final ten weeks will be with 4th graders. I look forward to working with all the amazing students at Skinner!

For a report on the first week of classes, where we read and discussed Mark Strand's "Eating Poetry," go here.

Excited Utterance

I've started a new reading series! Chicago has no shortage of them, but what (hopefully) distinguishes Excited Utterance is its in-the-round format, giving each reader three chances to present their work. While it's envisioned as a mixed genre series, our debut event is poetry-centric, featuring Kyle Churney and Sara Tracey along with yours truly, who also hosts.

Our first reading is next month at Uncommon Ground. Hope to see you there!

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