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Interview Jamie Iredell Prose. Poems. A Novel.

1.) Many of these texts seem to explore nostalgia, a time-before, an Idyll in a way, but with a voice from the present, gazing back…Can you discuss the importance of the past in your work?

Nostalgia’s probably the emotion I associate with closest when it comes to narrative. Also, it’s no secret that this book is autobiographical. I changed a lot of details, put things together that in reality were very disparate, and made up stories entirely, so I think it’s still “fiction”. But the narrator here (let’s use a cliché and say he’s not “me,” but someone I know very well) is certainly retrospective, looking back, and kind of killing this old him that used to be. Even in other stories I’ve written that aren’t in any way autobiographical I have a fascination with the ways people change over time and how they look back on the people they used to be. There’s something both exalting and sad about it. The struggle is keeping it from being sentimental.

2.) I have a friend named Dan. He saw your book on my kitchen table and said he knew you, said one time you bumped a rail of cocaine at a bowling alley, out in the open, like atop those shelves where you pick out your bowling ball. He said that was a few years ago out west.

Is this true?

I used to know this guy that we called Dan-the-Man. I can’t remember his real last name, but this guy could hook up all kinds of drugs. His apartment was like an illegal pharmacy. In all ways it was like any person’s apartment, except that Dan-the-Man’s apartment came with a coffee table adorned with coke-encrusted mirrors. Once me, Fredo, and Dan-the-Man all jammed a bunch of psychedelic mushrooms down our throats at Dan-the-Man’s apartment. All night, Fredo kept calling the mushrooms “munchies”, and he wouldn’t stop eating them, until he curled in the bathtub laughing at the ceiling and calling down the hall for us to bring him more “munchies.” It was that kind of place. I might’ve snorted some lines with Dan-the-Man—or someone else named Dan—at the Starlight, which was where we sometimes went bowling. I don’t bowl. I suck at it, so for me it’s not much fun. But there’s beer involved at least, and the bar at the Starlight has a ceiling that looks like an enormous purple Ruffles potato chip. Once I snorted lines off the top of the bar at the Highlander in plain view of anyone who gave a damn. Eventually, Dan-the-Man got his girlfriend pregnant. Last I heard he was driving a truck, his belly flopping over his belt, as he helped his father erect townhomes in Fernley, Nevada. Dan-the-Man’s girlfriend stayed at home with the kid, and sometimes she and Dan-the-Man would fight. Also, sometimes they wouldn’t fight. They are exactly like everyone else.

And, follow up, is bowling a sport?

If bowling’s a sport, then so is snorting cocaine. Bowling requires dexterity, like crushing up a tough rock on a CD case without shooting chunks off into the carpet of your pick-up’s floorboards. It also asks precision of the bowler, and care. If you don’t want to go to jail, you have to know how to get your coke and how to do it. Especially when you’re out at bars, and snorting in a truck in an alleyway, or in the parking lot of Wal-mart. Once, my buddy Bob bought a ball of coke and did the entire thing by himself, locked up in this dank apartment that smelled like sweaty underwear, and that had an antelope head posted up on a wall, an antelope Bob had gunned down and that I named “Merle”. Bob still says, “If you didn’t kill it, then you can’t name it.” I saw Bob for a minute that night, and his eyes looked like tiny bowling balls about to rocket out of their sockets. A professional bowler has amazingly long tournaments. Bob looks just like these professionals, except maybe fifty pounds heavier. At my wedding, Bob’s T-shirt read, “I make my own gas.”

3.) I am sick of people who intimate that flash fiction is blooming now “because we all have short attention spans,” blah, blah. How would you answer those who claim this?

Flash fiction asks much more of a reader’s attention than, say, War and Peace. Everything’s so tightly controlled in flash that, as a reader, if you miss the tiniest detail, the whole story could be lost. In War and Peace, for example, you might forget about the scene—early in the novel—where Pierre is drunk and ties a bear to a sentry and somehow wrangles them into the Neva River. Forgetting that scene over the next thousand pages isn’t going to completely destroy your experience of the novel. There’s an obvious problem in my comparison, in that flash fiction is not a novel, but to say that lack of attention span is the reason there’s more flash today is naïve. For one, I’m not sure there’s more flash than in previous eras. Folk tales don’t bog the listener down with character or narrative development in the same ways that long-length fiction can; Jesus’ parables had a punch-and-run effect; some of Ovid works like very short fiction; and Aesop’s Fables are certainly precursors to modern flash; some of the tales of The Decameron, it goes on and on. If anything, flash fiction is closer to poetry than fiction, and so it’s language condensed, broken down to what really matters.

I suppose some people might like to say that flash occurs in online literary magazines because the medium more aptly appropriates the form, or that flash is derivative of the fragmented world we live in, or some other postmodern evaluation of Earth—or Western culture. But I don’t necessarily see that this hasn’t always been with us, while at the same time epics were recited, and novels and lyric poems were written. Maybe to some readers flash is like a music video, a short film, or a commercial, but these forms are explicit unto themselves as video art in the first two examples, and kitsch in the latter. Flash deals with language as its subject matter (also, sometimes narrative) and because of that it’s literary art, not schlock.

4.) Here I go teaching a lesson or two on titles to my students, and then you go NO TITLES. Explain.

When I wrote these things—the initial drafts—they came out mostly title-less. But, when I published them in magazines I gave them titles, and had fun thinking of good ones. With many of the individual pieces I used titles that were part of the first clause of the story. The pieces from which the titles of the sections came start with “When I moved to Nevada,” or “When I moved to Atlanta,” etc. The title seemed apt, in that it highlighted the action of the story, and ran right along as part of the first clause. I also had titles that were a glimpse into the story, like “Praying in the Snow,” which you mention in a question below. My students also go forgetting titles on stories and essays, and I teach the importance of them, but when I collected all these little stories into the overall story that makes up this book, I realized that from story to story, as they move along, they’re telling one story about this guy who’s a fuck-up who fucks up until he stops fucking up. The individual titles broke up the continuity. So the titles had to go.

5.) The beverage Zima appears in your writing. Zima is generally known as the lamest drink on the planet. Can you explain the importance and/or role of Zima in your writing? More seriously, the role of alcohol? Device, or something else?

Zima is indeed the world’s worst drink. Ever. Zima shows up in a story when the narrator is a teenager. Teenagers don’t know what the fuck they’re doing when they drink. They’ll drink shit like Zima, Boone’s Farm wine, Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Anyway, Zima, in that particular story, shows that this guy’s an idiot, the same kind of idiot we all were when we were sixteen.

As I said, this book is autobiographical, and my friends in Reno and I were like that Alice in Chains song, “Junkhead.” Our drug of choice was whatever you had. Alcohol was more readily available and cheap in a place like Reno, Nevada than any other drug (casinos, twenty-four hour gambling and drinking). But, to say it’s in these stories because that’s the way it really was isn’t an explanation. It contributes to character and story development. Also, lots of flash seems to deal with the absurd and surreal, and alcohol and drugs certainly fuel that—at least in this book.

6.) Can you discuss PLACE? You seem to continually juxtapose the natural world with us humans (part of the natural world, but so not). Can you discuss this?

Like nostalgia, place is prominent in my writing probably because when I started loving literature it was because I read Of Mice and Men. I’m from the Monterey Bay Area, and when I was a kid and read Steinbeck’s novella, it was the first time I could relate directly to a writer. Before that they all lived in England and wrote about Narnia. I knew the Salinas River—practically the exact spot Steinbeck describes in the opening to Of Mice and Men. Since then I’ve been interested place—especially the natural (nonhuman) world—and how humans interact with it. Maybe this is symptomatic of growing up on the west coast. There’s a lot of “place” out there. When you stand at the top of Castle Peak in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, you can see. That’s harder to achieve on the east coast. There are too many trees, the “mountains” are actually hills, and suburbs filled with assholes waiting to give you high fives wind through the landscape. But, the top of Castle Peak is desolate and dangerous. The first snow in the Sierra Nevadas usually falls sometime around Halloween. One day it’s 80 degrees, the next it’s dumping powder, and fast. It’s easy to get snowed in, like the Donner Party did. My grandfather used to tell me stories about the Donner Party, so that’s also an example of the tie between place and human that’s not as pretty as a river winding through a valley.

7.) Will you trace the path to publication (as a collection) for these works?

I first started by sending the individual pieces from this book to many of the traditional print literary magazines. From many I received form rejections, and some editors sent back notes, saying that they liked what they read, but it wasn’t quite right for them. I figured beforehand that that might be the case (because of the flash form), but why not try. I thought places that might be more receptive to the form would be online literary journals, and print journals that weren’t associated with colleges and universities, or at least seemed to feature more innovative writing, or that specifically looked for flash fiction/prose poetry. The first acceptance of these pieces was at NANO Fiction. Then other places started taking pieces, too: 3:AM, elimae, Hotel St. George, Mud Luscious, Wigleaf, Keyhole, Oranges and Sardines, PANK, etc. When Carl Annarummo, editor of The Corduroy Mtn. and Greying Ghost Press, accepted some pieces he asked if I had enough to put together a chapbook. I told him that I did, and then scrambled and put a chapbook together. I did have enough of the short pieces, but hadn’t really organized them in any way. So I worked on the chap that became When I Moved to Nevada for a while before I sent it to Carl. A while later he accepted it.

I put the short pieces of WIMTN as a section into a book along with lined poems, this thing that at the time I called “The Donner Party Picnic Area.” Some writer friends who read that book all said that the section stuck out by itself, and—while it felt linked to the other poems thematically—it was distinct in form and content and deserved its own book. I knew I could go on telling stories like the little ones that appeared in that book, so I continued writing them. Altogether, I probably wrote 150 pages of these short stories/flash fictions/prose poems. Then I started culling them, pulling the best out, and forming them—along with WIMTN—into this book. I continued sending the individual pieces out, and also divided the other sections into chapbooks.

I sent the book as a whole off to Barry Graham at Paper Hero Press, around the time that he was finishing up with Sam Pink’s book. Barry offered to publish the last section as the chapbook Atlanta. At that point, I figured why not publish each section as chapbooks before publishing the book as a whole. So I sent the first section to Adam Robinson at Publishing Genius. I’m really grateful to those editors (Carl, Barry, and Adam) for publishing the chaps. They all knew I had a book as a whole, and that I published the other sections, but they all said that they loved the writing, and that it deserved to be published. They made me feel really good about what I was doing.

While all of that was going on, I was revising, restructuring, toning up the book as a whole, and I sent it out everywhere I possibly could. I wanted to send it to Hotel St. George Press, but this was right when the economy took a shit, and they didn’t have any money. I asked Adam Robinson if Publishing Genius would be interested in the book-length manuscript and he said it was possible, but it probably wouldn’t be until 2010 or 11, as he only published so many books per year and already had his plate full. Call me impatient, then. I also sent the book to Starcherone Books, Spuyten Duyvil, Etruscan Press, Blue Road Press, Pecan Grove Press, Keyhole, and there’s probably a few places I’m missing. Meantime, Jason Behrends at Orange Alert Press had reviewed Atlanta and also mentioned some of the individual pieces on his blog, so I emailed him, asking if he’d be interested in seeing the full-length manuscript. After I sent it to him, he got back to me in about two months, which was the quickest anyone had yet. He accepted the book. I held off, though, because I wanted to see how it would do with the other presses. I told everyone that I had an interested press, but that I hadn’t yet signed a contract. Everyone was really great about that. I just wanted to go with the best thing I could possibly get, and there were a number of factors I wanted to consider. Orange Alert offered to have the book published by the following autumn, which was fast, and attractive. Also, since I design books for C&R Press, I knew how I wanted this book to look. And if I could design the book myself, I knew I would be happy. Orange Alert also said they could accommodate me there. So, that’s who I ended up with, and the editors of the other presses were understanding and generous with my wants in this regard. They didn’t make me feel like a dick, in other words. Almost all of these editors said something to the effect of, “we know it’s a tough business out there, so if you’ve got a press that already knows they want to publish it, go for it. No hard feelings.” It wasn’t like they all wanted to publish it or something—most of them were still considering it, and hadn’t made a decision—I just didn’t want to waste their time, with their readers reading it, and all.

All that said, while the chapbooks came and so too the book, it wasn’t like I didn’t get rejected, or that it wasn’t hard. I did a lot of footwork to see who I thought would receive the book best, and I think that cut out a lot of unnecessary postage. What I mean by footwork is that I looked up presses’ website, ordered their books, read those books, and evaluated. In the end, when it comes to the initial drafting and final publication of the book, in total it was about two years’ time.

8.) The first time your writing snarled off the page for me was one Tuesday I was leafing through an issue of NANO Fiction. You had this flash (on page 72 of this book) and it opens with a reference to Halloween. So the reader has a tone and mood and subject anticipation. Then the flash ends up having an absolutely different tone than expected. It’s homage (again nostalgic) to the almost kissed, the what-could-have-been, the stirring smoke of regret, etc. It’s a touching, beautiful work, and a reversal, is my point.

That’s a long way of asking, Are turns and reversals a thing you look for/enjoy in your writing, or maybe they surprise you?

Thank you. The guy who suggested the title for the book (Mike Dockins, a poet) really loves that one, too, and I think it’s his favorite. It means a lot to me when you and him—two people with writing and critical approaches to literature that I admire—say that about something I wrote. When drafting the parts of this book, I didn’t think about things like reversals, and probably few people do. I did a lot of writing without thinking, a technique that’s working more and more for me. I talked to Dean Young about this a lot when he came to Atlanta once. It’s not automatic writing like Kerouac wrote about. I write without thinking to see what comes out, but in revision and rewriting the actual story or whatever shapes itself. When I wrote this book, I would start off with whatever character/situation/place, etc., came to me without really thinking about it, then I shot the details out. Since I was dealing with nostalgia, narrative came along with the territory. I was thinking about what things were like then from the perspective of the here and now (which is now then). So there’s automatically a sense of time-passed. When I would get to the end of the shorts, I wanted to get some turn of phrase—or image, detail—something that made the prose click closed, like a box, a la Yeats’ idea of how a poem works. I suppose that reversals are built into us, as products of western civilization? Some would likely disagree with that, that Aristotle has wound his way into our collective consciousness so indelibly. Perhaps in revision I saw things that I could turn for surprise. I do love irony. Not all reversals are ironic, though. I don’t fucking know.

9.) The title of this book seems to want make cake and eat it too. Can you expound on the title?

The title’s a bit of a joke, or a challenge. One of the pieces in the book is about rattlesnakes, with the word/image “rattlesnake” repeating throughout it. That thing was titled “Rattlesnakes: An Essay: On Rattlesnakes” when it was published in a magazine. The book’s title, like this rattlesnake title, makes fun of genre, and titling conventions. I had about four or five different titles for this book, including “They Called Me Larry,” “Feel the Inside of the Back of My Skull with Your Fist,” “Looking Back, it’s Only Now that I See What Kind of Idiot I’ve Become.” When none of these satisfied, I said, I’m just going to call it “Prose.” A friend—Mike Dockins, the same guy who suggested the rattlesnake title—said, “yes, ‘Prose,’ colon, ‘Poems.’” I laughed, and he went on, “colon, ‘a Novel.’” We were drinking. You can see what kind of dorks we are. I didn’t consider the title seriously for some time. After a while though, it worked on me. It’s a dork’s-tongue-in-his dork’s-cheek done in a dorky way. It is just like making the cake and eating it. The title is about what the fuck it is that you’re reading, which is a book of poems, written in prose, that, when collected, make up something that is at least novel-like.

10.) Does a writer write best when deeply in love?

Yes. Not necessarily romantic love. Maybe just in love with life, or the world. That’s sentimental. Maybe it is more like romantic love. Sometimes you really hate your lover, or you want to do something to hurt your lover, because you love them so much. It helps to feel this way about writing. Really love it, but also hate doing it, want to hurt it, hate it.

Writing Flow of Inscrutable Dr. Head Heavy

I have been in a writing flow. I am not sure why. It has been making me feel insane. I don’t write like this often–daily, output, words dropping like parachute silk, evergreen buds, butlers in the Solomon, or_______ (geese hutches)–and it has made my insides thrum, like when right before/after illness, feathered a bit, or a September of stimulant addiction, or should I say a patent leather case full of escapades and springy steps of bare, high, summer hills. (I mean a train journey through snow, though it is clearly not snowing. Keep brushing off the snow, commenting on the snow. It is NOT snowing, why do you keep talking of snow?)

Do others feel this way when grooving, like hollow?

I don’t like the feeling, or dislike the feeling. I think it’s maybe 60% dislike to 40% like. Why? I mean I can’t sustain it; it’s too thummy-clud, too wired. Usually, when I feel this white clouds/blue air/red Amsterdam type of energy I run, hard, into the sweet embrace of pain. Pain is so clear and honest. And then the energy ebbs away and I can talk, listen, stumble, sleep.

What has made me write this way? Theories:

* I have a concrete project. I know where I am going (but of course the destination will change like a black tie, tiepin, black hair). Robert Penn Warren said writing a book was like driving a car at night–you can see about as far as the headlights. I don’t know.

* Flow leads to flow like one drink leads to another drink leads to…(please don’t say my manuscript will vomit up a curb)

* I have spent the last few weeks in the forest. The forest makes the mind settle, unravel like a dying wave, then go all hysteria. Moonset, sunrise. Glowing orange eyes. I sit in my stand–way-ass up in the air, swaying, swaying in the wind–and read, read, read. Watch, watch, watch. Reading and watching too much is like playing too much chess. Head will throb like a heart. It will make you crazy.

skip 2



I saw another cat today. Size of a diet Sprite.


Been reading HTML Giant a lot. So what? This: I keep buying books. I don’t need more books! Thanks, HTML Giant! You asses.


Some fool emailed me about another fool about another fool. They said, “The word is Blake Butler (talk about evidence that Blake drinks) says he knows more about nachos than you (this was told to this fool in Queens, NY, during one of Blake’s tours).”  What? Than ME?!


Ok. Ok. Anyway, somehow one of my (many, many–maybe 45 and counting?) nacho Thunks made it online…

Here Nacho Hybrid/Poem. (I didn’t know this was online. Then I Googled [verb] myself, and now I know. It’s a rough draft of what appears later in Sonora Review.)

(More than ME about nachos? I retire not to hurl. I can’t get over this.)

(Can not wait for the dinner and book of nachos and the Food Channel calling and…all that settles this.)

Dinner as I type?


OK, these are only level 3, and obviously processed, obviously tertiary deprived, BUT I am busy tonight, and they do have the beans (black) fried, fried again! And I still eat nachos almost every day (I missed one day two months ago–the flu). The point is on a night I don’t have time to eat nachos I do. Because I AM NACHOS.


Laurie Lindeen and Kyle Minor and Nikole Brown, oh my.

I think I might be an idiot.

I went to dinner and drinks with a bunch of writers last night and I have a writing blog and I didn’t even bring my Didge Cam. Well that was dumb as boiled tortilla chips. It spleened me. I am going to blog about hanging out with these writers, but sorry no pics. Instead I staggered around my house this morning and took 3 random photos. You will have to imagine these photos are something else entirely. I need you to do that. I need you to do. I need you to. I need you. I need. I.


This is Nikole Brown and Kyle Minor and Laurie Lindeen giving a reading at the BSU art museum. What a room, huh? We are very fortunate to have access to this vast imaginative space, as you can see. It is whole hog awesome. The reading was a 8.9, way up there on my Dedicated Lovelace Scale of Badassness. I hope you see that Nikole has an amazing smile and that Kyle is thoughtful and often edgy and that Laurie said Judy Bloome was an influence on her writing.

(When various Heads of State arrived at the White House, Lyndon Johnson’s chef, Henry Haller, was proud of how his “steaming nachos adorned a long buffet table decorated with yellow roses…”)


Kyle read fiction about a young girl being chased through tobacco fields. (spoiler: she might get caught)

Laurie read nonfiction about boxcars and hobos and a very beautiful Nordic painter. (spoiler: the hobos might set her car afire)

Nikole read poetry about a character peeing on the side of a house (but in a good way). (spoiler: Nikole might have quaffed a Blue Moon at dinner. Huge-ass slice of orange. The orange slice was larger than the beer glass. It was like a monolith of orange. It was the largest slice of orange I have seen so far.)

I was happy as a dead pig in the sunshine. I felt skint. A good time. These were all good people I felt and their words felt like maybe spring is nearing. Maybe near.

(Pour an undrunk bottle of rum over the kebabs. Add rhythm and allspice to the nachos. Serves 14.)

Next we had dinner, and two Sycamore Review editors joined us. One was from Iran. I asked him, “Does Iran have separation of church and state?” Then I said, “Are Iran and the U.S. fighting a cold war in Israel?” I’m not sure what I meant by these questions. He answered them all. He answered them rather well.

He said his taco was too hot. He started sweating. I thought, “He sure is sweating over that taco.” He was really sweating. I had a friend who would sweat that way over hot wings. It was pretty much endearing. I left thinking this in Tao Lin quotes: “That was a cool guy. I wish I could have talked with him more.”

Another editor said she ran marathons (like me) and then after the second marathon she had two seizures and stomach problems and I guess almost died, like that. We talked proper preparation for a marathon. I told her, “You should get a doctor who is also a runner.”

She seemed like she really wanted to run another marathon although she almost died after the last one. I could totally get that. I felt close to her then, spiritually. I felt much obliged to talk with her.

(Nachos are not cowpoke food. That is a misrepresentation of nachos.)

Out of nowhere someone at the table said loudly, “That guy Blake Butler makes his money writing about poker. That’s how he makes his money. Did you know that?”

(I did not. I was startled to hear the words Blake Butler. I had not blogged in a few days and felt detached from blogging and someone yells out Blake Butler. It almost put me off my feed.)

We ate fried pickles and I ordered…yes! Check out these fucking nachos!!!


Can we say salsa?? Do you notice how the chef actually correctly placed the jalapenos? Finally!

Next Kyle said, “I am done with my readings and so CAN I GET A QUALITY BEER IN MUNCIE?!” And Laurie said, “Hell yeh!” (She is a rocker at heart. She was/is member of Zuzu’s Petals.)

(Caviar doesn’t have to be beluga for certain upscale nachos. Long story.)


(Laurie in middle here)

Uh, Kyle and Laurie, you are preaching to the exponential choir now. I said, “Drinking? I’ll take you to the Heorot!”

I took them to the Heorot.

We drank quality beers. We drank Magic Hat #9 and Two Hearted Ale and some IPA I forget. I think it had the word dog, or either wheat or maybe inscrutable malice in its title.

(A flattened waffle is basically a nacho. I mean you can take it that way, with tenaciousness.)

At the Heorot Daniel Bailey walked up and spilled his flask on me.

I said, “Dude.”

He laughed. I love Daniel Bailey’s laugh. It’s like a Motherlode of mandatory triggers. He said, “I feel like my whole life is nachos and I wonder who made them, and are they enjoying the experience?”

I nodded.

Here is my final photo. This is Kyle singing Karaoke up on the stage! That is Laurie smoking the cigarette in the background! That is me on the saxophone!!! Wow.


AWP Itinerary/Readings/Poker/Nachos

Most have seen the press release. But the press release is false, a Blue Tuna, a technique to throw off the paparazzi and several stalkers. Here is really what I am doing at AWP. I hope to see all of you (well not all of you, just the ones of you I like). You can buy me a beer and I will buy you another. Etc exponential.


1.) My primary role at AWP is to assist my colleagues in hiring a new professor at BSU. This is exciting, and will be my Professional Mode. If you see me carrying manila folders, or anything produced in Manila, I am in Professional Mode. Eye contact during PM will be direct. Also my voice will lower, one could say sonorous or just the term International Foliage. My hair style will resemble a cashew. My walk a Big Walk during PM. Most verve will be expressed by a very fucking cool necktie. Also I might spontaneously limerick.

2.) The necktie is rent away and buried in a potted plant and I am in Book Buying Mode. During BBM, I glide like champagne. I wear bright yellow shoes flecked with glitter. I drop at least 100 American dollars on books. Maybe more. If you are selling a book, now would be a good time to approach me (but never from behind). If you shoot me with a free book cannon I might read that book and then review that very book on this blog. Here is an example, Ever by Blake Butler.

(Not to imply I only review free books. I bought EVER, and others I review.)

(visit CELLA!)

3.) If you see me reading aloud I am in Reading Mode.

I am reading here on Wednesday night. Reading Under the Influence? Uh, no worries. I always ingest beer during readings to alleviate my self esteem. I will be wearing sunglasses made of the sun.

I am reading here on Thursday night. The list of people reading this night is humbling. I should not be on the stage, as I will attempt to prove.


NACHO DINNER?? Anyone want to meet for nachos before the Th night reading? I like nachos. And tequila.

Any other reading will be of foot-pounds pressure, mattress creases, air in the limbs of skyscrapers, bubbles rising in glass, catastrophes, or my two cards as I out-flop all comers in…

4.) Friday night I will be in Poker Game Mode. There is a poker game! So far, rumors of Ander Monson and Blake Butler and Barry Graham and others, others…

(Game of choice will be Baccarat or Texas Hold ‘Em. I have also been known to bet on how close a person can throw a penny to a hotel wall, what gender will appear first in the next TV commercial, man or woman; and any other prop bet you might devise.)


What? I out-flop Mark Neely again!

5.) Any other free time (not much) I am the guy at the bar. Join me. I promise to tell a beer and drink a dull story.


Other modes for AWP include disc golf, Mojave Slammers, rocket glares, Scottish coats, jogging, higher pitches of living, time-out understandings, opiate withdrawals, further nachos, and don’t you know all the museums are for free in February?


Me, final judge, this:

There are ten million other cool things going on during AWP. Support all the art you can, folks, and be careful, or I will blog you.

Anyone interested (all 1.7 of you) in getting my phone number to make contact easy in Chicago, just zap me an email: leapsloth14@hotmail.com


A Pretty Nice Hotel.

First thing, any writer who uses the terms “pretty” and “nice” needs to be shot in the forehead with a slaw burger. Nice? Nice? I just swallowed my third lung and called the housekeeper. I kneecap that prose. I fling. I hurl (all meanings). Who writes that?


I write like Carrot Top comedians (wow a noun into a verb! What’s next I say that I bulldozed my way through the nacho buffet?)–ah, the sadness, gimmicks, a bit of hype, a Dominoes Pizza costume, but basically he sucks like me.


Whao! I don’t think he’s just shooting up carrot juice! And what is the advantage of being buff when a shitty comedian? Maybe hecklers in the alley will hesitate to beat your ass? I don’t think it’s just narcissism. Hollywood eats and excretes narcissism all up in 6 months.  To attract women? A third rate comedian and a really buff guy get exactly the same level of women. He’s being redundant.

Who knows?

Well, fuck Carrot Top. Can you imagine his face when his agent suggested that moniker? Like when Mellencamp sat there on a black leather couch and was told his name was now cougar. Cougar?

And fuck qualifiers, adverbs, people who don’t know how to tip bartenders or roulette dealers, people who drink Corona in the winter, people who do not turn right on red, people who give toys or apples or Christian fliers during Halloween. People who skip class then show up later and ask, “Did we do anything?”

No, naturally, no we did not. We sat here for a hour without you and meditated to Enya.

I am about to ignite a rant, but feel too tired.

But I digress.


The FAM is in a NICE hotel tonight , kids. I drove too late, on too much caffeine, just obsessed to “put in miles,” to scurry back home, to press things as they say, and found myself and all my responsibilities up way too late, too lost, in a fog of ashy darkness, caffeine withdrawal, adult weight. I was crashing. I yelled out, “We are stopping! This is America!”

We are in Pennsylvania, between a coal plant and a bail bondsman. Birds cough outside our window. The air has chunks in it, like poorly smashed potatoes. When I asked if a room was available, the man behind the glass cage (wires embedded) said, “One hour or two?”

Several “Ladies of the Night” are in the lobby, just slouching there. They look uglily beautiful and bored and hungry at the same time, like maybe one of those deranged lions at the zoo, sans pacing. One of them has hair the hue of bile and is the size of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, same Whip-It nitrous oxide grin.

If traveling alone, I might say hi to her and then somersault away.

But probably not.

Here is the bathroom door handle. Think anyone locked themselves inside recently to avoid a meat cleaver?


Here is the blood stain on the floor.


Here is my life, 2night, a Saturday, named after Saturn, god of agriculture, of domesticated growth. It must be my life. I see beer, infant formula, a laptop, the Star of Bethlehem radiating from my engorged aorta.




Oh wow this kicks ass at robot melon.

I love 14!!!!!!

Thank you Katrina Kymberly NGUYEN


Loves u all. Some day I’ll be back in Indiana. So. I’ll be back, in Indiana. So. So. So.



Today Let’s Discuss Tension and Marlon Brando and Naked Running.

He was in the bedroom pushing clothes into a suitcase when she came to the door.

I’m glad you’re leaving! I’m glad you’re leaving! she said. Do you hear?

He kept on putting his things into the suitcase.

Son of a bitch! I’m so glad you’re leaving! She began to cry. You can’t even look me in the face, can you?

Then she noticed the baby’s picture on the bed and picked it up.

He looked at her and she wiped her eyes and stared at him before turning and going back to the living room.

Bring that back, he said.

Just get your things and get out, she said.

He did not answer. He fastened the suitcase, put on his coat, looked around the bedroom before turning off the light. Then he went out to the living room.

She stood in the doorway of the little kitchen, holding the baby.

I want the baby, he said.

Little Things, Raymond Carver excerpt.

Listen. I am about to put your story down. I am about to go watch something blue on something square. I am about to huddle, to semi-circle, to get drunk on antihistamines and Stella. Listen:

Danger + Desire


Oh boy, Brando’s in his psycho Lee Strasburg “method” stage. I can feel the air crackling. People on the set are wondering: “Will he show up today? And, if he does, will he grab someone’s left breast and scream out, ‘Are you a player or a prop, man! A player or a prop?!!'”

(He’ll rip his shirt off in a minute. Many believe this will be the first time in U.S. history that a human will appear in a Hollywood film with their shirt off. This is incorrect, but Brando LOVED ripping his shirt off.)

Once during the sad, sad years of morbid obesity, Brando pulled out a mojito glass, waved it menacingly near my spleen, and said to me, “Sean, I only know four things in this world.”

I said, “What are they?”

He gave me this look. It was like a mix of butane and shortcake. He said, “When to rip a shirt, and math.”


Stud alert:

(Anyone else getting a Calvin Klein, 1980’s, maybe Depeche Mode vibe here?)

Vivid Action Please

His voice seemed about to crack and the grandmother’s head cleared for an instant. She saw the man’s face twisted close to her own as if he were going to cry and she murmured, “Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children !” She reached out and touched him on the shoulder. The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times through the chest. Then he put his gun down on the ground and took off his glasses and began to clean them.

Flannery O’Connor, the hermit novelist…

Often I will hand back a story and I’ll look the student in forehead and I will say, “Can you do me one thing in revision? Can you have somebody punch somebody in the face? Like immediately.”


Sam Pink has this play in the latest No Colony. In the opening:

The one: It’s nice to see you. [smiles]

The other one: [Matching the smile] Yeah, you two.

They both reach for their pockets. Eyes together. With slow precision they put black handled steak knives against each other’s throats.

Here’s how I open my Elvis story published in Crazyhorse a while back…

Eleven minutes later I’m sitting on the diving board waiting for somebody to come out and try to calm me down and Priscilla comes out of the house, walks a full circle around the pool and slaps me in the face.


Blow something up

Crunch a finger


Do something (inside, outside)



Maybe it’s because I am a runner, or maybe just one of the pigeons in this park we call earth, but the Steve Guttenberg running naked video is amusing. (BEWARE KIDS, this C level star will be NAKED.)

A few years ago, I ran the Grand Rapids Marathon (14th overall, thank you very little). And I was talking to a guy after the race who claimed to have run the entire course naked, in darkness, early morning a few days before. He had very authentic eyes so I do believe him. He had a hat crumpled like an apology. His name was either Stan or Dan.

Or Flan.


Cella’s Round Trip is having a big ol’ raffle reading thingy. If you are near Muncie, drop on by. Check out this wacked-out poster, too.


November 21

8-11 pm

At The Heorot, a snazzy dank cave of a bar.

Raffle, reading, ramblings, oh my.

English Composition Guide: The Seven Elements of Loam Later Named.

In the Art of Rhetore there are no fixed rules. Except for gravity, of course, that and some kid standing outside the room wanting to add the very class you just announced as full. Kid has a page-boy haircut like early Mia Farrow, though. Might as well add him. Never thumb wrestle with your instincts, or with a Eurasian Sparrowhawk. Never sleep on an escalator. Confucius says you can get beer real cheap in Wisconsin, but keep that one tight. Hey, pay attention! Seven Elements of Loam Later Named. Remember? Time just passed you by like a gut-shot wolverine in the night. Feel that shiver? That was your soul.

The Seven Elements of Loam are: Narrative, Compare and Contrast, Persuasion, Process, Definition, Exemplification, and Livestock.

1.) When I say Narrative I mean story. There are five traits deadly to a story. These traits are calamitous and will result in ruin. First is excessive courage. If reckless, the story will run crazy into the night and be bludgeoned by a camel buggy. People say it’s great to be bold. Small children are bold, too; where does that get them?

Second is fear. Meet with your students individually on cold winter Wednesday afternoons and tell them this: If you bring a cat to a yak fight you better have one wonderful cat. Third is impulsivity. One day Confucius is riding his yellowish moped very fast through a small town in Florida. Sheriff pulls him over. Sheriff says, “Son, why you going so fast?” Confucius say, “To arrive home quickly.” Sheriff smiles. “How quick you moving right now?” Fourth. Fourth? My legs feel all tingly; sometimes they soar. Gulls, funny balloons, etc. To be honest I just finished a bottle of fermented arachnid and I’m rather sleepy. I was up, and now I’m down. I did mention gravity, right? A teacher prefers high ground. Fifth is a sense of humor. I forget why. One morning I awoke anew and saw a sparrow taking a bath in dust. Same morning I saw the sunlight off Mia Farrow’s goose-bumped arms: it was pebbled gold. Where is Jeff Goldblum? Gone away, maybe. Pebbled gold, I swear. Sometimes I wish I was a poet so I could freeze it all. But I digress.

2.) When I say Compare and Contrast I mean watch your back. Bottled water never beat gasoline per gallon without petrol helping drink the bottle. Do not gobble proffered goat, if blue. One day Confucius sells me a leopard only I get home and the spots fall off. Now what? I could tell some god but which one would I tell? When lesson planning, drink only oxygen and doubt. When grading, only ale. When teaching, drink nothing but horse milk from a tall horse. This is what I mean by Comparison.

3.) When I say Persuasion I mean have you ever closed your eyes and listened as several hundred thousand musk deer stampede a pizza parlor? Ditty sat on the edge of a cliff and cried for seventy days. How’s that fashionable sweater feeling now, Mr. P? Then Mia Farrow appeared and planted him a garden. She looked tan, her face lean, cheekbones a manifesto to themselves, as she knelt and planted potatoes, and nearby a row of onions. “Tranquility,” she said, brushing the soil from her hands. “The onions will make the potatoes’ eyes water and you will never need to toil again.” Diddy ceased his crying. Mia handed him a cheese pie. It had waves of white meringue and colorful sprinkles. She said it was made from the tears of a sad lamb. Diddy ate the pie. Mia dove off the cliff, into the river. I watched from a shrubbery and wondered. The sun lowered. Rodents scurried by. So silent was I, an owl perched atop my head and phoned his mother, collect. Now you understand Persuasion.

4.) When I say Process I mean watch where you’re going. One student is a single, two a pair, three a trio. You grow old; they remain young. A village will pave a forest for a subdivision and then name the roads Leaping Deer and Green Meadow. Never shoot an arrow straight up into the sky. Never rely on a cloud. If a rock moves on its own, it isn’t a rock. Every day now, Goldblum takes long walks, hunting and fishing. Once he was stalking musk deer in the icy highlands of Snog. I followed, as is my way. Goldblum saw a mighty stag far away and took it with his bow. A lucky shot. Only as he neared did he see the flooded river. Now you know what I mean of Process.

5.) When I say Definition I mean no parking on the dance floor. One day Confucius invited his bocce club over for dinner. In preparation, he attempted to cook three meals at once. One was a lobster roll pastry shell stuffed with Wellfleet oysters, duck breasts, venison cutlets, ham hocks, and horse ribs. The second was an ostrich egg omelet of herbs, sorrels, mustard greens, and truffles. The third was nachos. In the end, all went fine, but many words were spoken about the omelets as just a tad bit runny. Also a dove entered the dining hall, flew into the ceiling fan. Goldblum grabbed it and bit off its head—always an ill omen. This is what I mean by Definition.

6.) When I say Exemplification I mean listen to the lips of Mia Farrow. She says, “The way of the wind is only revealed in the arms of the trees.” Otherwise have a point. Stay focused. Not what story do you know; rather, what story do you tell? Mia loses me now in her morning strolls—all these double backs, cliff-climbs, thrown shrubberies, and twice fording of rivers. Does she know I follow? No one can answer. I ask Confucius and he stares at my forehead in silence. Then he tells me in America the universities have cows with windows cut in the sides so you can see their stomachs. I’d like to have a window for my heart. Or my liver, curtains, too. I know something is going on in there. One season Mia wore a bikini made of bark. That was a good season.

7.) When I say Livestock I mean the use of eloquent speech. There they are, strolling like blue cranes along the frozen edges of Lake Toyota. The moon is an obese moon tonight. Goldblum looks tanned and healthy. Even the cast on his arm seems to glow. Mia Farrow looks like Mia Farrow. A dog barks in the distance, a cougar retches, and I miss my pet yak. I look up again—their hands together make a triangle. A sort of theory. Numbers alone confer no advantage. Maybe. My heart feels like a Man Purse picked from the gullet of a swan. There goes a shooting star, or most likely a sigh. Yes, it was a sigh—I can see my breath in the air.

I need a drink or two,

but I’ll have 14.