Outrageous

overalls are rocking out country-style tonight.
That outrageous fiddle, the toe-tapping
outrageous lady singer and Brother Jeremiah with
his bass and jaunty
fresh-brimmed derby.
You are all outrageously dressed up like
Depression era folks tonight.
Except so much
cleaner.

Just for fun

Sam wanted to bob for apples on Halloween “just for fun.” Which was a relief, because I know there are some people who bob for apples competitively, and others who bob for apples professionally. And I’m just not ready for him to make either of those leaps.

Dreamful swimming, it’s the first

wriggle of morning thought.
Something to hold on to. To pull him out. Sharp. He bites–
Hold on! Hold on!
Tight jaw, reeling in,
line stretching, water shake. There’s a
bend and a swing.
with the whole scene
swirling past too fast then he’s
flopped over and
down onto the plankety
board bottom of the shiver boat.
Standing above himself now.
Wide awake.
Cold.

Plug-ness: Poetry Reading, This Thursday

I’ll be reading a few poems this Thursday night at the West’s Oldest Independent Bookseller (aka, Books Inc, Alameda) at 7:30 pm along with Jannie Dresser, Julia Park Tracey, and some guy named Don. I’m not sure whether we’ll be reading in sequence or simultaneously, but that’s the drama, right? Bay Area folks, of course we’d love to see ya there.

An about-creativity.com interview with National Novel Writing Month’s Chris Baty

Now that we’ve moved the creativity interviews over to about-creativity.com, my plan is to post brief excerpts here, both to share favorite bits, and to let folks know when new interviews go live.
The most recent interview was with Chris Baty, founder of National Novel Writing Month, an extraordinary site, community, and annual event that exhorts people to write a 50,000 word novel over the course of November.
Baty’s been doing this for years now, and I wanted to find out what he’s learned from getting hundreds of thousands of people to tackle a creative project of that scale Here’s a bit of his answer:

“Part of National Novel Writing Month’s success, the reason so
many people keep doing it, is that it’s an event. I didn’t study English in college. I always loved books. I loved writing. But I’m an anthropology major, and I didn’t come at this from the position of an aspiring novelist who really was frustrated by the realities in the publishing market so I made my own world. It was really just like, “Man, books are so cool, and wouldn’t it be cool to write a book?” And because of that, there isn’t this unnecessary stultifying reverence for the literary art form.
I see novels as an enormous, exciting puzzle or something similar to the local middle school basketball court where you can go up on Saturday with your friends and have a great day losing yourself in this game and the thrill of competition. Novel writing is the best video game on the planet, one that requires so many different aspects of your imagination and so many different aspects of your life management skills. It really takes a lot of focus and discipline. The creative side of it is just one component.”

The Brothers Karamazov Deathmarch, Week 14

Congrats, ye mighty ‘marching band! It’s the final week and this week’s page count target is pretty straightforward — we’re racing toward the back cover.
When you’ve finished and posted your closing comment, be sure to drop me a note at “poetry at cecilvortex dot com” with your shipping address to stake your claim on a custom magnet (not actually guaranteed but likely) to pull loose paper toward fridge doors.
Big thanks to you all for taking this ride. I’ll confess that I get a huge kick out these ‘marches, and I hope youse do too. See ya round the next bend in the trail….
-Cecil

The Brothers Karamazov Deathmarch, Week 13

…in which I forgo all attempts at pith to focus instead on (1) timely posting! and (2) correct categorizing! I’m still reading, enjoying, trailing behind. Hope to meet you at the finish line, perhaps while you’re all packing up your cars and/or napping under trees…..
Next Wednesday: Let’s catch up for at the end of Book Twelve, Chapter 8, along with the “indisputable one!”
(which is to say: please use this thread for comments on pages 0-715; aim to finish reading that section and shout out here by end o’ day Tuesday)

The Brothers Karamazov Deathmarch, Week 12

Welcome to Week 12 and my first best opportunity to make good on last week’s pledge to be late- nae-more. Let me also declare general amnesty to anyone who didn’t have a chance to comment last week. There was hardly enough time to get the keyboard, and yet somehow, astonishingly, 17 of you did. I think, by the way, this is a Deathmarch record — I can’t recall this many marchers making it this close to the end afore. Speaking of which…..
Next Wednesday: Let’s meet up at the end of Book Twelve, Chapter 1 (just a little bit less than 100 pages from the finish line), where they’re being “called up one by one.”
(which is to say: please use this thread for comments on pages 0-662; aim to finish reading that section and shout out here by end o’ day Tuesday)

The Brothers Karamazov, Week 11

I had a great day today reading 60 pages, and I’m still 30 pages behind the last target! But I pledge this to ye, my deathmarching pals: You’ve all been wildly patient with me, even a certain Old Man. From here on out, particularly as we close in on the conclusion, I’ll put the good of the many above the few, and most especially the one, which means posting on Wednesday, whether I’m with the pack or miles behind.
As regards the text, I’m in the happy-reader camp — really enjoyed Dmitri’s inquisition, all the lovely spins and dips his mind does when his mouth is moving. And the boys section is off to a wonderful start. Kolya walking down the street, messing with everyone he passes, that was an extra pure joy.
Next Wednesday: Let’s meet up at the end of Book Eleven, Chapter 6, where he’s making “his way to Smerdyakov again.”
(which is to say: please use this thread for comments on pages 0-612; aim to finish reading that section and shout out here by, dareIsay, the end o’ day Tuesday)

The Brothers Karamazov, Week 10

4/30 Update: I’m extra special behind this week but will post tomorrow. For those saying, “what the what?”, between you and me, the next target is: Book XI, Chapter 6…..
And just like that, it’s Week 10! I’m still reading, having a great time with the book, but I can’t say I’ve caught up. In my world, Dmitri just had a glorious extended freakout involving angry Poles and blood and money and at least one moment of delirium, and then the roof caved in. I can see now what everyone’s been talking about in the comments. It does feel like FD spent the first 300 pages meticulously putting his boat together, kneeling by the river’s side, and now he’s gone and thrown into the rapids. That’s right, it’s a whiterafting gumball rally! Or something like that. Very glad to have it made to this exhilirating patch, and thanks to you all for pulling me along….
Next Wednesday: Let’s meet up at the end of Part IV, Book Ten, Chapter 7 — “make sure you come! Ici….”
(which is to say: please use this Week 4 thread for comments on pages 0-562; aim to finish reading that section and shout out here by end o’ day Tuesday)

A Whole New About-Creativity.com (Don’t You Dare Close Your Eyes)

I’m delighted to share the news that the “Conversations about Creativity” interviews on this site have moved over to their entirely new digs at about-creativity.com.
A post on the about-creativity.com blog gives a tour of the major changes we’ve made, but the quick version is: (1) interviews are now organized and presented in a way that should be much easier to browse through — content burbles up, I say, literally burbles up through vents and other hot spots! (2) We’ve created a couple of all-new areas where you can let folks know what you’re working on and share what works for you.
When you get a chance, please drop by the new site and chime in!
In related news, now that the site is up, new interviews will be following shortly, starting with a conversation with Chris Baty of NaNoWriMo (Nation Novel Writing Month), due to be posted next week.
-Cecil

The Brothers Karamazov Deathmarch, Week 9

Welcome to Week 9, in which I’m late again, the gap-doth-inflate again, I’m a need-to-be-reading-more ‘march mate, again. Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered, I’ve fallen behind! I’m in a great part of the book tho — still marveling at the fact that she’s an onion. Lovely story, that.
Just think of me as the voice from your not-so-distant past, cheerfully turning pages on the dusty path ye’ve already trod. Don’t wait for me though. Charge on! Charge on! And here’s hoping I have that extra productive weekend I need to get back in the thick of the pack…..
Next Wednesday: Let’s meet up at the end of Part III, Book Nine, Chapter 7, or “I’ll probably start raving.”
(which is to say: please use this Week 4 thread for comments on pages 0-499; aim to finish reading that section and shout out here by end o’ day Tuesday)

The Brothers Karamazov Deathmarch, Week 8

monk.jpg Welcome to Week 8, my very own week-of-DM-shame, as the days have slipped past and now I’m suddenly a week behind. I blame the Cannonball Run references from a few weeks back, which inspired me to go on a 750-mile trek throwing my DM schedule into mad array! But don’t wait for me. March on! March on! I’ll aim to catch up with ya before the next bend.
Next Wednesday: Let’s Gumball Rally our way to the end of Part III, Book Nine, Chapter 2, “after a long but, I believe, necessary explanation.”
(which is to say: please use this Week 4 thread for comments on pages 0-456; aim to finish reading that section and shout out here by end o’ day Tuesday)

The Brothers Karamazov Deathmarch, Week 7

monk.jpg Welcome to Week 7! From a sort of outrageous 70 or 80 marchers, we’re now down closer to a still impressive as hell ~30. Another fun and thoughtful batch of comments this past week. I was particularly gratefully to Cookie for catching this (as So-Called-Bill pointed out) impossibly timely line:
“We are assured that the world is becoming more and more united, is being formed into brotherly communion, by the shortening of distances, by the transmitting of thoughts through the air. Alas, do not believe in such a union of people.”
I’m not sure how I missed that one, though I have this theory that whenever there’s duels and murders and stinking corpses, I’m fully engaged, and then when things switch to religious philosophy and/or 20-page prose interpretations of poems about religious philosophy, I black out.
Fortunately, we’ve been ending of late on these lovely pivot points in the action that leave me looking forward to the trail just ahead. Here’s hoping that string continues!
Next Wednesday: Let’s zip on by the midpoint and catch up with Mitya at at the end of Part III, Book Eight, Chapter 4, where he appears to be running “like a madman.”
(which is to say: please use this Week 4 thread for comments on pages 0-395; aim to finish reading that section and shout out here by end o’ day Tuesday)

The Brothers Karamazov Deathmarch, Week 6

this image is from the norton critical edition of the brothers karamazov
Welcome to Week 6, and let me just say: yikes. I’m talking to you, pages 246-264 in the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation. There are brains made to absorb an endless prose description of a religious poem about faith and free will (and aftermath chit-chat) like the one we experienced this past week. Some of those brains are among us, as evidenced by this week’s excellent comments section. But I’ll confess, I have that other kind of brain. To me it all sounded like the same three sentences over and over and over again. And I say: here’s to all the ‘marchers! Because I’m sure I would have been left by the wayside had it not be for the lure of the trail and the shame of constructing magnets for others whilst having no BKDM magnet to call my own.
Fortunately, Smerdyakov was waiting on the far side of this maddening section. Good old broth-making, scurrilous, creepy, super-dooper compelling Smerdyakov. Fyodor’s beard-behavioral analysis lay just beyond that. And the Brothers Karamazov Cannonball Run was on again….
Next Wednesday: Let’s meet up at the end of Part III, Book Seven, Chapter 2, “because it’s very opportune for us.”
(which is to say: please use this Week 4 thread for comments on pages 0-343; aim to finish reading that section and shout out here by end o’ day Tuesday)

Subway times

Subway ride through a newspaper, flutter
express stop and cooked air at the sports section
with the concrete pressed straight cold against your feet
like there’s no shoe there at all. No shoe to separate
the ligatures that spell out
the times of the day, the subway times you’re zipping through. The
business, life, nation, op ed, crowded, closing metal metro doors
and gossip too. And there’s you, subracing through in
flip-flops made of newsprint and cold-pressed shoe.