Recommended Reading #4

  1. “The Village with All of the Boyfriends” by Zachary Doss
  2. “The Murder Sounds” by Amy Silverberg
  3. “How to Spend Your Time Before the Renegade Planet Makes It All Go Dark” by Justin Lawrence Daugherty
  4. “Grief as Mythos” by Brandon Taylor
  5. “Let’s Not Begin” by Maggie Smith
  6. “How the End Begins” by Cynthia Cruz
  7. “Ten Step Tulpamancy” by Kia Groom
  8. “Beach City” by Jaquira Díaz
  9. The Best Small Fictions 2015, edited by Robert Olen Butler
  10. The Bad Cover Letter Generator, built by Kendra Fortmeyer, which generates extremely professional cover letters for the aspiring writer (give it a whirl!)

Pugnacious Boy

A poem of mine, “Pugnacious Boy,” has been published in the newest issue of Permafrost. It’s dedicated to Donnie Marsh, a friend of mine and writing partner who died from an overdose three years ago. We met on Livejournal back when I was in high school. His apt handle on there was “a_pugnaciousboy.” He was a very controversial figure in publishing – if you Google him, you will see him ranting on various writing forums. People appreciated his bluntness, but he lacked professional tact to get ahead in an industry where that kind of thing really matters. He was an extremely prickly person with lots of demons. People who knew him exclusively online (myself included) weren’t even aware of his problems with addiction. Nonetheless, he was always encouraging me to write and told me he’d publish my first collection of stories once he started his own press. He was an incredible memoirist himself, with aspirations of either being a great literary agent or publisher someday. It’s a shame his demons finally won. I miss our conversations. I’d like to think he’d appreciate this poem.

I’ve been reviewing editors at the Review Review who publish hybrid and “alternative” literature. There’s my interview with Threadcount and my interview with Matador Review. Interviewing is a new venture for me, but I’ve always loved asking questions and listening to people’s thoughts. I updated my writing portfolio to include these new interviews and some old essays. Have a look.

Recommended Reading #3

  1. A Field Guide to Surreal Botany, edited by Janet Chui and Jason Erik
  2. “Glass Box” by Sandra Simonds
  3. “The Math Is Bad” by Casey Hannan
  4. On the Edges of Vision by Helen McClory
  5. “Smooth Body, Smooth Mind” by Paul Rusconi
  6. “Psychic in Reykjavik” by Fatima Bhutto
  7. “Anthropogenesis, or: How to Make a Family” by Laura van den Berg
  8. “A Hierarchy of Friends and Lovers” by Amanda Miska
  9. “Why I Didn’t Write Back” by Diana Spechler
  10. “The Agony of Community: an Introverted Writer’s Lament” by Meghan Tifft
  11. Read the World, a blog that categorizes literature by place and encourages more worldly reading

Recommended Reading #1

I’ve decided to retire the Carousels on this blog and turn it into a regular Recommended Reading feature instead. These lists will include anything noteworthy I’ve been reading lately that I want to share with all of you. There’s just so much out there now, and sometimes it’s hard and very time-consuming to find the real gems. If you have anything you’d like to share yourself, you can always send me an email. I’m always looking.

So it begins:

  1. Quaint Magazine, Issue 4
  2. The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild,” Part 1 by Cat Valente (and Part 2)
  3. “Logic” by Richard Siken
  4. “Teach Me Something” by Amy Silverberg
  5. “Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong” by Ocean Vuong
  6. “Eating the Bible” by Robert Vivian
  7. “This Was Ugly” by Lauren Gordon
  8. “Tonight, in Oakland” by Danez Smith

2014: The Retrospective

Let’s take a look. It’s (mostly) in a book. This past year, that is.

Professionally, I started a new full-time job that came out of the blue. I applied online and thought nothing of it. Maybe because it happened alongside a very serious city job that had a very involved hiring process and horribly impersonal interview format. However, when I got to the interview for my current job, I felt very confident. I mentioned my writing and editing, I even showed them this blog. I’d never really mentioned my writing at an interview before because I felt it was mostly irrelevant. In fact, my previous supervisor completely forgot I even had a degree in English. But I have my own business cards now and that’s all that matters. Welcome to the real world, Joseph.

I got published in a few more journals, although not as much as I wanted. I entered poetry contests and made it to the final round several times. I got angry at some rejections. I was nominated for the Best of the Net anthology. I started reading for the online literary journal Pithead Chapel, which publishes monthly issues of both fiction and nonfiction. I’m now an assistant fiction editor.

I thought this would be the year of poetry, but it became much more eclectic. Short story collections, graphic novels, essays. Last year I mentioned how I read a lot of women writers and I continued with this trend, albeit unconsciously. I just happened to pick up more books by women. They definitely aren’t scarce. They’re still not winning enough awards though. Speaking of underrepresented voices, one of my posts about literary magazines publishing those who often get overlooked somehow went viral. At least, “viral” in terms of the online literary community. I received kind messages of support from readers and editors, and it continues to get passed around every once in a while. If anything, I hope it helps connect writers with publishers and maybe encourage editors to be more aware of the imbalance and strive to become more inclusive.

I went to Miami to meet Amy Tan at my alma mater. I went to a very intense poetry reading at the Miami Book Fair, featuring Ocean Vuong. I visited coffee houses, local used bookstores, and cozy places to read. I wrote more letters than I ever have before, I’m pretty sure.

There was also a lot of tragedy this year that is impossible to gloss over. There was a lot of public grieving, which you often don’t see. Suicides and shootings. Protests and anger. We can always do better. We should always do better.

Soon enough, I’ll be posting photos of my memory jar from this year too. I’ll spill the contents I’ve collected. This project was fun and I hope to make it a tradition. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, here are a bunch of things that helped to define the year 2014 for me.

Books:

The Isle of Youth and What the World Will Look Like When the Water Leaves Us by Laura van den Berg
The Diaries of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1 by Anaïs Nin
This Is Paradise by Kristiana Kahakauwila
Birds of America by Lorrie Moore
Crush by Richard Siken
Burnings by Ocean Vuong
The Lions by Peter Campion
Poetry and Commitment and Tonight No Poetry Will Do by Adrienne Rich
An Untamed State and Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Every Kiss a War by Leesa Cross-Smith
Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki
The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
The Penguin Book of Witches by Katherine Howe
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
Fleshtrap by Magen Cubed
The Self Unstable by Elisa Gabbert

Literary journals:

NANO Fiction
Hobart
Provocateur
Rattle
Atlas Review
Black Warrior Review
The Pinch

Movies and TV series:

Cowboys and Angels
Heathers
(again)
The Big Lebowski
Girls (again)
Dallas Buyers Club
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present
Portlandia
Bob’s Burgers
Ergo Proxy
Return to Oz

The Wind Rises
The Fifth Element

Video games:

Broken Age
Gone Home

Dark Cloud
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3
Child of Light
Bravely Default: Flying Fairy
Sims 3
Costume Quest 2
Puppeteer

Music:

“The Gypsy King” and “Tristan” by Patrick Wolf
“Floating City” by Tori Amos/Y Kant Tori Read
“Spellwork” by Austra
“Black Cat” by Ladytron
“Magic Rabbit” by My Brightest Diamond
“Experiment IV” by Kate Bush
“Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
“Chandelier” by Sia
“Completely Not Me” by Jenny Lewis
“Words as Weapons” by Birdy
“Tous Les Memes” by Stromae
“On Ira” and “Comme ci, Comme ça”  by Zaz
Everything by Lorde (again)
Everything by PJ Harvey
Everything by FKA twigs

And now, onto the 2015 resolutions:

  • Find some kind of physical activity that I don’t hate completely and follow a routine
  • Eat healthier
  • Find a place of my own to settle and build a nest
  • Learn some French?
  • I could always read more
  • Submit to lit magazines more often