As usual this time of year, I’m pretty much passing the three hours of daylight wondering if I’ll survive another winter’s interminable darkness and sub-zero cold. I’ve been writing and publishing and working out some storytelling ideas, too. Because I’m doing December’s Two Chairs Telling at the Bryant-Lake Bowl. Jokes are on the back burner for now. So at least they’ll stay warm.
Online yoga/mindfulness magazine Elephant Journal recently published my poem “Whirligigs.” [Click the link.]
Revolver, force-feeders of pudding last summer, just published my poem “The Last Diving Horse in America.”
The above pic was taken the day before snow and temperatures fell as if tied to Wile E. Coyote’s ACME anvil. My face is too frozen to smile now. I’m sure people think I’ve gotten Botox. Take my word for it.
Turned out I wasn’t cut out to be an arts columnist — and that two years was all I had in me as a podcaster. The prospect of turning 44 in January has me taking inventory of my creative pursuits. I’m looking forward to doing more storytelling, playing more music and keeping my hand in comedy.
There will be more poems, too, whether anybody wants them or not. In fact, here’s one:
A jar of fireflies
on a shelf abandoned
years ago to dust
gives this place
(a barn) a glow a guy
could read by
if he’d brought a book.
But no one would believe me.
does my story become
instead? That I was
lit inside (warmed, too)
by a little something shared
from a different jar.
No wonder I can’t
remember how I got here.
Maybe that’s why I’m alway so blurry.
The latest edition of The Columnest recounts my experience as part of the Little Brown Mushroom Summer Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers. My interview with The Missouri Review recounts my gradual decline from prodigious literary up-and-comer to over-the-hill stage performer/hack needy for laughs.
Editors aren’t showing much interest in this new poem of mine, so here it is. Because that’s possible in 2013. (The photo is of British stand-up comedian/storyteller Daniel Kitson, who in no way inspired the poem.)
He found it hilarious to tell balloons,
“Don’t hold your breath.”
Maybe because he too was empty inside
and at the same time incapable of containing
his own hot air. Or there was another
explanation seized upon
by the scientific community
in which he had zero faith/friends:
People near him often noticed a quiet hiss
(though they never smelled any odor)
that was determined — by rigorous experiment —
to be the truth escaping him the moment
he dared to start a conversation.
This fart of honesty typically disappeared
on the next breeze, no matter how slight.
And afterwards everyone would wonder
what was safe to believe and what was not.
Two site updates in the same week is unprecedented around here. Don’t count on it happening again.
I’ve failed my four readers yet again. I’ve neglected this venue for weeks, in favor of living an offline life that included reading my story “The Four Hermans” at the Triple Rock Social Club like some sort of literary punk rocker and talking about comedy/storytelling for photographer Alec Soth‘s “Little Brown Mushroom Summer Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers.” I also emceed the Summer Camp’s closing Slideshow and Dance at the Soap Factory. I wrote a new column and produced a new edition of the podcast in there somewhere, too. And “What Happened Next,” a new noir-ish flash piece, appeared online at Shotgun Honey. I almost forgot.
This pic is a $1 Portrait by LBM Summer Camper Tara Wray. She’s back in Vermont by now. I’m still here in Minneapolis, answering questions for The Missouri Review by email. More about that when the time comes.
So I’ve landed a new regular writing gig, covering the arts (and whatever else I notice at any given moment). “The Columnest” is written for mnartists.org and is currently a blog feature at walkerart.org. I hope you’ll go give it a read, leave a comment, etc.
My first column, which included a respectful shout-out to Chicago artist-of-many-talents Tony Fitzpatrick, was a throat-clearing exercise, just to be sure the mic was on. That’s his piece “The Bruised Village” above.
The legendary Spider John Koerner, the hilarious Maria Bamford, starving artists who’ve forgotten that being a little hungry comes with the territory, the art of bad advice and the published commencement addresses of David Foster Wallace, Neil Gaiman and Kurt Vonnegut are all in my sights.