December 31, 2011

And ...

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

— Robert Burns

December 27, 2011

Brooming branches

The wind arching
and bowing the trees

until it looked as if

they were trying
to sweep the ground.

— Alice Munro, short story "Leaving Maverley"
(New Yorker, 11-28-11)

December 22, 2011


Several hours of phone calls ...
that's all I need
to undo
my life.

— Shira Nayman, short story "The House on Kronenstrasse"
(The Atlantic fiction issue 2005)

December 19, 2011

Our Words

No one likes to be required
to answer a question
yes or no,
because things are never
that simple.
This is not because
individual words
are too weak;
it's because
they are too powerful.
They can mean
too many things.

So we add more words,
and embed our clauses
in more clauses,
in order to mute language,
modify it,
and reduce it
to the modesty
of our intentions.

—Louis Menand, essay/review on Ezra Pound
(in The New Yorker, June 9&16, 2008)

December 17, 2011


Any man that tried
to walk over me
would get his feet
cut to pieces.

— Truman Capote, short story "The Bargain"
(appeared in New York Times Book Review, 9-12-04)

December 16, 2011


And sometimes trains would cry
in the monstrously hot and humid night
with heartrending and ominous plangency,
mingling power and hysteria
in one desperate scream.

— Vladimir Nabokov, "Lolita"

December 15, 2011


Snowflakes had gathered
in her eyelashes

and made it appear
as though she
had been crying.

— Augusten Burroughs, "You Better Not Cry"

December 13, 2011


We have labored long
to build a heaven,
only to find it
populated with horrors.

— Alan Moore, "Watchmen"

December 12, 2011

Cool-looking authors No. 24

Author of "Christmas in Canaan" as well as the photographer of the book "Your Friends and Mine." Oh, and I hear he's a pretty good singer.

(Photo from Kenny Rogers Productions)

December 11, 2011


Certain empty houses
that seemed
to stare

like the faces
of people suffering
from terrible
mental illness.

— Stephen King, "11/22/63"

December 8, 2011

Cool-looking authors No. 22

Tupac Shakur (1971-1996), author of the poetry collection "The Rose That Grew From Concrete"

(Photo by Michael O'Neill)

December 7, 2011

December 6, 2011

December 5, 2011


A man
who owned
his own
private tornado.

— Stephen King, "11/22/63"

November 27, 2011

Cool-looking authors No. 16

Kurt Vonnegut, literary legend, author of "Slaughterhouse-Five," "Cat's Cradle" and "Breakfast of Champions"

Vonnegut on the Shape of Stories:
Quick video lesson on YouTube

November 25, 2011

Now that's poetic

A list,
is that what
desire makes,

- An essay by poet Mark Doty linking Walt Whitman, Bram Stoker, meth, sex addiction and vampirism. In Granta's Horror issue, Autumn 2011.

November 23, 2011


It all happened
in silence,
yet within
the silence
voices were
endlessly busy.

- Tomas Transtromer, 2011 Nobel laureate,
from memoir

November 14, 2011

Local star

Creative Loafing's Best of ATL pick for Best Local Poet 2011:

Kevin Young, author of the books "Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels," "Dear Darkness: Poems," "For the Confederate Dead" and "Jelly Roll: A Blues." And curator of Literary Collections and Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University.


Every invitation came
with a stern reminder:
“Please don’t bring a guest.”

— From New York Times article about the Wilde Boys poetry readings/literary salon created by poet Alex Dimitrov (pictured)

November 8, 2011


This reader's response to a prize-winning poem certainly goes for the poetic style too:

This poem smells like the sawdust
rising from a puddle of extinguished upchuck.

— Bonnie (reaction to "Likenesses")

October 29, 2011

Cool-looking authors No. 15

James Franco, author of the short story collection "Palo Alto"
(Photo by Inez van Lamsweerde, for VMan)

September 20, 2011


Tengo's father turned
in his direction.
His expressionless eyes
made Tengo think
of two empty swallow's
nests hanging
from the eaves.

— Haruki Murakami
(translated by Jay Rubin, New Yorker fiction, 9-5-2011)

July 4, 2011

Cool-looking authors No. 13

Ernest Hemingway, author of -- OK, please tell me I don't have to list what he wrote, since you know who the iconic American author is. And, yes, in addition to his famous novels and short stories, he also wrote poetry.

(Photo by Yousuf Karsh; iconic photo taken in 1957)

July 2, 2011

June 25, 2011

Cool-looking authors No. 11

L. Lamar Wilson, poet featured in "The 100 Best African-American Poems" and a good all-around person.
(Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths)

June 20, 2011


have losers
as well
as winners.

— Albert E. Cowdrey, "The Bogle"
(short story, Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine, Jan/Feb 2011)

June 14, 2011

Cool-looking authors No. 10

Arthur Rimbaud (French poet, stopped writing around age of 21; died at age 37 in 1891)
(Photo by Etienne Carjat)

June 13, 2011


The voices in the books
were like the voices of the dead.
I did not hear them.

— Sherwood Anderson, "The Other Woman"

May 15, 2011


The air was so quiet
he could hear
the broken
pieces of the sun
knocking the water.

— Flannery O'Connor, "The River"

May 9, 2011


She may have been the first
to say the words out loud,
but she was only giving voice
to a thing I'd been trying not
to know for a long, long time.

When she said that it was
him or me, the words
rang out like church bells,
shuddering through my bones.

For two days, they sat
in the pit of my belly,
making me sick.

— Joshilyn Jackson, "Backseat Saints"

May 8, 2011


Empires are built, however,
by laying the groundwork
for their own destruction.

— Michael Chabon, essay "Fan Fictions (on Sherlock Holmes)"

April 30, 2011


So long, National Poetry Month. Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.

April 21, 2011


O The Oprah Magazine focused on poetry for its April issue. Some lines culled from different articles that weren't part of the featured poetry:

You'll detect a woodsy bouquet
of jasmine, rose, and oak moss,
the way a great poem can move you.
There is always hope —
always tomorrow.
Sometimes I think
being the village idiot helps,
the way a great poem can move you.
As delicate as can be
without ink soaking through.

April 19, 2011


And this year's winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry is Kay Ryan. Here's a brief but good interview. Her brevity and skills at rhyme are to be admired. Wall Street Journal: Kay Ryan AND an example of her work: "Bait Goat."


His talk was like
a curtain of easy rain
between me and the trees,
the light and the shadows on the road.

— Alice Munro, "Lying Under the Apple Tree"
(memoir essay from The New Yorker, 2002)

April 15, 2011


Everybody is waiting
for the end to come,

but what if
it already passed us by?

What if the final joke
of Judgment Day

was that it had
already come and gone

and we were none the wiser?
Apocalypse arrives quietly.

— Jonathan Nolan, "Memento Mori"
(inspiration for film "Memento")

April 10, 2011


Her eyes
the pale gray
of rainwater
in a dish
left on the
window ledge.

— Michael Chabon, "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay"

April 9, 2011


Poems don't have to be that complicated either. Here's a video clip of two Hollywood icons, Jimmy Stewart and Johnny Carson. Stewart reads a simple poem he wrote about his dog, and it's a poem and a reading I'll always remember (especially since I'm a "dog person"). "YouTube: A Dog Named Beau"

April 8, 2011


With the window covered
in plastic sheeting,
he felt as if he were
inside a plastic container,
like a leftover,
peering into the tallow
fog of the world.

— Lorrie Moore, "Debarking"
(New Yorker short story)

April 7, 2011


She was a prism
though which
could be
into its

— Jonathan Safran Foer, "Everything Is Illuminated"

April 6, 2011


Perfect eloquence,
is, I think,

— Stephen King, "Hearts in Atlantis"

April 5, 2011


As Atlanta writer Collin Kelley shows, you never know what you might find in a poem. In this instance, a treasured comic book (whose cover I also recalled fondly) that makes other connections. Here's the link to the original publication of "Secret Origins of the Super-Villains" at the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.

April 4, 2011


No. You did not pray for things.

like Franklin's key on a kite,
attracted the lightning,
burned at your mind and soul.

— Robert Stone, "Bay of Souls"

April 3, 2011


"Tell him yes,"
she said.

"Even if you are
dying of fear,

even if you
are sorry later,

because whatever you do,
you will be sorry

all the rest of your life
if you say no."

— Gabriel Garcia Marquez, "Love in the Time of Cholera"
(translated by Edith Grossman)

April 2, 2011


The landscape had
a kind of clear
daylight darkness
about it that struck
her as apocalyptic.

— Stephen King, "Desperation"

April 1, 2011

National Poetry Month 2011

Ah, it's National Poetry Month. To kick it off, I present an excerpt from what is likely one of the most well-known contemporary pieces. Here is a touching poem from Lisa Simpson:
I had a cat named Snowball ...
She died!
She died!
Mom said she was sleeping ...
She lied!
She lied!

March 30, 2011

Cool-looking authors No. 8

Karen Russell, author of novel "Swamplandia" and short-story collection "St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves"
(Photo by Michael Lionstar)

March 21, 2011

March 20, 2011


Billy Collins even writes good Twitter-poetry. New York Times reports on the challenges of poetry in 140 characters or less.

March 18, 2011


He was steady,
she told me,
like a rock.

I was only a child
but I wanted
to say a man
is not a rock.

I myself would
have preferred
a man who was
like a river,
and quick,
a surprise.

— Alice Hoffman, "The Red Garden"

March 7, 2011


She thought of deer
and how they slipped
through the woods,


as if they were
ghosts themselves.

— Alice Hoffman, "The Red Garden"

February 28, 2011


She liked to disappear,
even when she was
in the same room
as other people.

— Alice Hoffman, "The Red Garden"

February 23, 2011


The Washington Post has a nice profile of the editor of Gargoyle, the magazine where my first poetry publication appeared. This is Richard Peabody

February 19, 2011

Cool-looking authors No. 5

A classic. Truman Capote, author of "In Cold Blood," "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "Answered Prayers"
(Photo by Carl Van Vechten)

February 18, 2011

Cool-looking authors No. 4

Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize for Literature recipient, novels include "Song of Solomon" and "Beloved"
(Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders)

February 17, 2011

Cool-looking authors No. 3

Tama Janowitz, author of "Slaves of New York" and "A Cannibal in Manhattan" and member of the '80s Literary Brat Pack (ah, those were the days).
(Photo by Stephen Sprouse)

February 16, 2011

Cool-looking authors No. 2

Will Allison, author of "What You Have Left" and editor of Story magazine
(Photo by Lizzie Himmel)

February 15, 2011

Cool-looking authors No. 1

Benjamin Percy, author of short story collection "Refresh, Refresh" and novel "The Wilding"
(Photo by Jennifer May)

February 14, 2011


Not only is this book 10,000 pages.
It's in one volume. 10,000 pages.
And it's a book of poetry.

February 11, 2011


She was also

the only one
in town who
could write

a poem.

— Alice Hoffman, "The Red Garden"

February 8, 2011


She had a five-inch stack
of quarters next to her
drink, which she used
to bribe the jukebox
into taking her hostage
over and over.

— Jay Cantor, "Krazy Kat"

February 1, 2011


They would never
appear in other
people's dreams,

and that was all
anyone dreamed
of anymore.

— Jay Cantor, "Krazy Kat"

January 31, 2011


My shortest short story has been published online. It's less than 140 characters total, including punctuation and spaces -- "twitter-fiction."
Here at Nanoism.

January 18, 2011


The icicle
a snowflake,
just as it
always did
with that

She thought,
He loves me.
She tried
to say it.
She couldn't.
The snowflake

and left
in her heart
but a puddle
of confusion.

— Jay Cantor, "Krazy Kat"

January 3, 2011


The whole point of crying
was to quit before
your cornied it up.

The whole point of grief
itself was to cut it out
while it was still honest,
while it still meant something.

— Richard Yates, "Revolutionary Road"