Some Updates

I want to thank everyone who came out to the New Visions Writers Showcase this past Saturday. The turnout was simply incredible. Big thanks to Dawn Leas, Frank Sabina, Rich Howells, Tricia Kinney, Lisbeth Herr-Gelatt, Jen Bokal, and Bridget McIntyre for strong readings. The next Writers Showcase will be in March, one of the last two weekends. We’re trying to nail down the date this week. We have the readers booked, and I promise they won’t disappoint.

If you can’t get enough of the poetry scene around NEPA, you should come out to the Third Friday reading at Art Seen Gallery this Friday in Wilkes-Barre. It is located at 21 Public Square. The reading starts at 8 p.m., and this month’s featured reader is my friend and fellow poet, Reena Ranells, who will have her new book available for sale. An open mic will follow her reading.

Finally, I want to mention that my chapbook, Front Man, is now available to purchase for Kindle. If you’re an Amazon prime member, you can also borrow the book for free.  Click here to check that out.  Also, if you’ve read the book, feel free to review it on Amazon. I would greatly appreciate that.

That’s all for now. Happy writing!


New Work and Beyond

About a year ago, Big Table Publishing accepted my manuscript of poems that became a chapbook- Front Man. Since then, I’ve done a slew of readings around the tri-state area, making new friends and meeting fellow poets along the way. With the readings winding down once the fall is over, I’m going to have time to work more on a second manuscript of poems.  I worked on it heavily this summer, and I’m always surprised where the writing process can take you, once it takes over. I thought this second book would be another chapbook of 25-30 poems, much like my first manuscript. I thought it would be centered on relationship-based poems and the way men and women communicate with each other. There are certainly a lot of poems that deal with that, but after spending the last few months working heavily on this project, this project has spread out more than I envisioned. I started writing about my hometown more, the people that inhabit it, its working-class history, the working-class struggles of the here and now in this political climate.

I think there’s a thread to all of these poems, in the sense that a lot of them deal with relationships, not only with the opposite gender, but also with home, family, and friends.

These poems also differ in the sense that they stray from the punk rock language and imagery that anchored Front Man.  There are a few poems that re-use some of those characters, but only to depict them as older, to push their narratives forward, and to speak to some of the other poems in the new manuscript.

I’m also thinking this project could grow larger than a chapbook, especially since I already have about 35 pages or so, and another 15 would make it a full-length manuscript. I didn’t plan that either, but I’m just writing and writing.

I assume other writers encounter similar cases where they plan something so specific, but once they dig in and follow the writing process, the project changes somewhat. This can be a a wonderful thing because being so anchored and hooked to a particular subject matter, form, or thread throughout a manuscript can sometimes leave little room for other poems and other voices. Write and see where it goes!

Upcoming Events/Readings

There’s some upcoming events I wanted to mention briefly on my blog. First, I’m going to be a poet-in-residence tomorrow at a fundraiser/benefit called Tree of Life, which aims to preserve farm land and animals in Wayne County, PA.  This event will be held at 33 Osborne Road in South Sterling, PA. I will be hosting a reading at 6 pm., and the other featured readers include  fiction writer Bridget McIntyre and poets Dale Wilsey Jr, Victoria Garafola, and Steve Keating. There are a slew of other events throughout the day,including an art program led by my girlfriend, Jenna Casaldi. That takes place at 3 pm. For more info and a full schedule of events, click here.

On Saturday, August 27, I’m reading at Cherry Alley Cafe in Lewisburg, PA with fellow poet Alexis Czencz Belluzi. The reading starts at 7 pm, and the cafe is located at 21 N. 3rd Street.

If you can, try to come out to one of the events!

good news all around

I want to pass along some positive news about my poetry. First, another review of my chapbook, Front Man, was just published by the journal Blood Lotus. You can read the review by clicking here and flipping to page 56 of the journal.  You can also read the review by visiting the blog of the reviewer, Kacy Muir. Click here to do so (this option is probably the easiest).

I also recieved word yesterday that three of my poems, “What They Forgot by Morning,” “Late Night Stop,” and “Remembering Names,” were accepted for publication by the NYC-based journal Yes, Poetry. They will be released in the October issue, the same time frame another new poem, “How She Hides Her Age,” will be published by the California-based journal the San Pedro River Review.

Finally, I want to announce that my friend and fellow writer, Amye Archer, just released a chapbook, A Shotgun Life, with Big Table Publishing, the same folks who released my book. Buy a copy and help support another local writer! You can get a copy by clicking here, or by seeing her read at Prose in Pubs on Jack’s Draft House in Scranton on  Sunday, Sept. 25 at 7 pm.

Upward, Onward

My summer vacation technically started a few weeks ago, once I turned in my spring semester grades, but since then, it hasn’t felt like I’ve really had a day off. I’m one of those people who constantly needs to be doing something. Since the spring semester concluded, I have drafted/revised four totally new poems, some of which have found their way into my new manuscript. I’m also teaching a  poetry workshop at the Vintage Theater in downtown Scranton, and I have a wonderful group of students that offer insightful, intelligent comments on poetry we cover.  I’ve also done a few poetry readings, especially at the end of May, and I have more coming up in June. I view these readings as the last push/leg of all of the readings I’ve done over the last 6 months or so for Front Man. When fall begins, I’ll be able to ease up on the readings and do last revisions to my new manuscript.

I’m also spending this summer placing the poems in order for a new chapbook. Some of the poems have already gotten published, including in Indigo Rising Magazine, Word Fountain, Young American Poets, WritingRaw, and soon the Pennsylvania Literary Journal.  I hope to get the new chapbook accepted by a publisher (maybe Big Table Publishing again) at least two years after Front Man came out. That is enough time after the first book came out, but also not too long so people don’t forget about me. Whenever that next chap comes out, I wonder what people will think about it. Gone are the music/punk rock/indie rock references, for the most part, though there is a poem that does reference Bob Dylan. But these are more coming-of-age poems, poems about love, poems about loss, poems about father/son relationships, and all from a male point of view.  Some of the poems are also in tighter forms, unrhymed quartrains especially, while some are longer narrative poems.

 I am indeed getting there, but there is a need to also trim the fat, to cut out a lot of poems that will make the book sound too repetitive.  In an ideal world, I’ll have a solid polished manuscript by the end of the summer, with the poems ordered, but I know how fast the summer turns to fall, and how soon I have to prep my work for the poetry course I’m teaching at Keystone starting in mid-July.

back to the early stages

Not long after Front Man was published and I did a slew of readings to promote the chapbook, I started wondering what next? What should I work on now? The poems from the chapbook, overall, have a distinct voice and focus on a particular music scene and the ideals that go with it. But I knew around the time I finished the book and it was accepted by Big Table Publishing up in Boston that I said all I wanted to say about that subject and it was time to move on.

Near the end of writing Front Man, I started drafting some new poems, with far different personas and even some different forms than the poems of my first book. I started to heavily explore the issue of relationships, of first meetings between friends, crushes, lovers, and what’s left after relationships unravel. I think some of this came from what I was reading at the time- a lot of Kim Addonizzio’s poems (which often deal with love, sex, lust, and loss), and Sam Hazo’s marriage dialogue poems, which explore how each gender communicates in a relationship. I also read Major Jackson’s new collection, Holding Company, and that collection has had the biggest influence on my newest work. In his third collection, Jackson leaves  behind the hip-hip references and longer narrative poems. For Holding Company, he created a series of tight, 10-line, sonnetesque poems, many of them dealing with a broken marriage and new beginnings/new relationships. I was especially impressed with the collection because of the leap forward he made as a writer, how he broke from his  familiar and probably comfortable personas and forms.

I have a good portion of poems written (probably 15-20 solid drafts,  just a few shy of a second chapbook manuscript). So far, it’s been exciting to take on new subject matter, new forms, and new personas. Finishing Line Press wanted to publish Front Man after it was accepted by Big Table Publishing, and recently, they told me they are very interested to see a second manuscript and will give it close consideration. But right now, I’m enjoying the drafting and revision process, figuring out how these poems will fit together and speak to each other. I’m in the process of sending poems out to journals, just like I did for Front Man, before it all came together. It’s refreshing to be back at the early stages of a new manuscript. Here is a new poem from the new collection I’m working on.

Old Lovers

He answered her motel call for company,

pulled her close, wrapped her in his long arms,

the same arms she used to imagine

caressing when she watched him swing bats

at their high school ball field.

For two hours, she made up for months

she ached to be touched,

nights she pulled a pillow close,

pretended she could feel his facial stubble prick her cheeks.

The old lovers finished, sparked cigarettes,

sat on the deck. They knew that come daybreak

they’d gather their clothes,

bathe and leave because she had her New York job,

and he his hometown carpenter work.

He liked to remember her moans,

his name loud in her mouth,

and she the strength of his hands

tracing her curves in the dark.

They always left before sunlight revealed

growing streaks of gray in their hair,

fine lines near their eyes,

bodies sore and tired, in need of rest

before meeting again.