Thursday, January 14, 2010
Sunday, December 27, 2009
I am currently in Guadalajara, Mexico, which is where I began 2009, actually. I was on the tail-end of a month-long stay here (much like the one I am on now) and preparing to fly back to Ohio, where I was living and working at the time.
But while the year has come nicely full-circle, looking back on it, it is kinda insane how many disparate events it has held.
In this year, I completed a stint as a visiting assnt prof at Ohio Wesleyan University -- which was such an amazing experience that I am committed to teaching at small liberal arts institutions like that any time I can in the future -- and finished my MFA at Ohio State University. (Due to a weird and incredibly fortunate turn of events, I held the assnt prof gig during my third year of my MFA, in part because I already had an MA but mostly due to some wonderful professors at OSU who went to bat for me.)
Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a total OSU chauvinist. I think we have one of the very best MFA programs in the nation and several other wonderful departments, which I spent time in as well. (And our football kicks boots from Kirkuk to Irkutsk.) Lee Martin, who was the director of the program when I was accepted, once playfully joked that I might have been the fastest to accept an offer of admission to OSU in the program's history. What can I say? I knew where I wanted to be, and now that I am several months out of the program, I can say without one molecule of doubt that I was right to want to be there. Viva la OSU!
This year also saw the launch of Mayday, a literary journal that battles under the aegis of New American Press. The first issue was a pain and a delight, and ultimately a great success. Issue two is in the works and will be out in a few weeks.
I also began, with Matt Gonzalez (who happens to be one of my heroes), As It Ought To Be, a site dedicated to matters political as well as cultural. Here is where my lefty politics get their outlet, but also where I get to reprint poems from authors I like/admire in the hopes of creating a general audience for poetry that might not be possible in a purely literary venue.
I also moved to Illinois to begin my PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of Illinois. And I have to say that I am quickly becoming a U of IL chauvinist in the same way I am for OSU. My first semester went swimmingly; I learned tons, had great professors (Cary Nelson, Lilya Kaganovsky, and David Wright were all truly truly amazing to study with), and even got my first A+ (in fiction writing) in my academic career. I also am on a 3-yr Illinois Distinguished Fellowship, which is weird since this is the first time I've not worked (often in excess of 40 hrs a week) since I was 15 yrs old and got my first job at McDonald's. I miss teaching but feel very lucky to have the time to research and write. So, Viva la U of IL!
Over the summer, I spent a month in Montreal, studying French and hating hipsters. It was a great month, and my buddy Bob MacCready flew in for four days of madness and fun.
And while all of this stuff was going on, Raul Clement and I have been writing on our novel Joshua City, a chunk of which was just published in Surreal South 09. The Surreal South series has included such authors as Lee K Abbott, Robert Olen Butler, Andrew Hudgins, and Joyce Carol Oates, so Raul and I are pretty pleased to be included. Also, the novel is growing to titanic proportions, so having some of it out in the world is heartening.
In other publishing news, I've had work appear in or be accepted by Absinthe, Indiana Review, New Letters, New York Quarterly, Poet's Market, The Versus Anthology, Perigee, Birmingham Poetry Review, Prick of the Spindle, Circumference, A Public Space, Muse, The Literary Review, Main Street Rag, Per Contra, The Oyez Review, Jacket Magazine, and Inside Higher Ed (online). In short, I have been truly lucky this year on the publishing front. (May that luck continue for all the coming years!)
On a more personal note, I had a woman move in with me and then move out because it just wasn't meant to be. I dated a bit, but nothing really worth mentioning. I think I'm getting bored with dating. I just need to magically find a super-smart, super-adventurous, and super-patient lady to marry and start traveling the world with her. Maybe I'll have better luck next year on that one. I am hoping that either Pilar Diaz or Emily Loizeau are on the market for a hairy, tattooed, and disquieted writer dude -- but when I put it that way, I kinda doubt I have much of a chance.
I have so many wonderful friends, teachers, and colleagues. I really can't possibly thank all of you here, but you know who you are. I love you all and am indebted to you more than I can possibly express in a blog.
So there you have it. My year and my thanks for how wonderful and event-filled it has been.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Well, as those who used to follow my MySpace blog and then my BlogSpot blog know, I have not been doing any personal blogging for a while. To put it simply, I’ve been too damned busy with non-blog efforts and with other blog efforts.
First off, I’ve been running a blog-journal, As It Ought To Be, with Matt Gonzalez. Now, as it turns out, Matt was a hero of mine before we became friends and collaborators, so this makes me super happy. It also increases my busy-ness level quite a bit, as I am now producing two new blogs a month for the site and soliciting articles from people and then editing them or rejecting them.
I’ve also been blogging for Absinthe, a translation journal, though much less regularly. I plan to do more there in the near future. Whereas my work at As It Ought To Be provides an outlet for my political thinking, Absinthe allows me an outlet for my thoughts on European literature and translation theory/practice.
I’ve also been taking five classes here at the University of Illinois, where I am in my first year as Illinois Distinguished Fellow. My plan is to pound out the PhD in 2 years of coursework and 2 years of dissertating. This ought to prove mindnumbingly difficult. And time consuming.
I have also been working diligently on Joshua City, the po-mo/sci-fi novel I am co-authoring with Raul Clement. I have been writing new stories, poems, and essays. I have been working on some new translations, my best to date, I think. Oh, and there is a new issue of Mayday I’ve been working on with the incomparable David Bowen. Oh, and I’ve taken on the task of reviewing books in translation for an Inside Higher Education online.
Anything else? Let’s see….yes, I am volunteering at The Red Herring now, where vegetarian food is made, community workshops are held, leftist politics in general are promoted, and live music occasionally occurs.
Anyway….this is the personal update to why there have been no personal updates. I am slammed 10-12 hours a day and am looking for yet more to do. Sometime soon, I might start looking for a social life, and I did spend this past weekend in Chicago hanging out with some awesome people, which I plan to do more often in the coming months. But for now I am happy with a limited social life and a burgeoning work life. That might change sometime in the near future, but until then, look for me not on my personal blog sites talking about myself, but rather look for “me” in my work elsewhere.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
I am typing this in a computer lab I have access to as part of tuition. There are two Spanish speakers Skyping with abandon in the room with me. I am therefore getting some free Spanish practice by eavesdropping on them. Man, I love Spanish. It is hard to decide whether French or Spanish is more beautiful. I might be one of those folks who land on the Spanish side of this debate -- but I'd equate this finding Penelope Cruz hotter than Eva Green; there's a point beyond which it becomes meaningless to even compare, both are so beautiful.
In terms of the city itself, I am in love. Great food, great cultural events, clean streets, a stunning lake and mountain, and sweet architecture.
Stay tuned for more. In my next post, I promise longish meditations on Voltaire, wasted time, and The Good Life.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
My first one, in which I discuss the relationship of literature and politics, is here.
Go, read, comment.