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.
All of my comedy and poetry responsibilities have been fulfilled! My performance calendar is empty for the first time in a while.
Maybe now I can get back to some projects I’ve been neglecting. Because the world deserves a one-act play from me. And possibly a new short story. And there’s always the podcast to attend to. And more little ditties to write and record.
After another cup of coffee, maybe. Or you’re also welcome to contact me about performance opportunities.
But first, here’s a little photo of what April looks like in Minnesota. Cruelest month, indeed.