Why Is It Taking So Friggin’ Long?

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It’s hard to dispute the omnipresent signs that we are a nation of strivers and slackers who have been told that we deserve immediate results, and if at all possible, we should be able to reap the rewards of the good life without any real or prolonged struggle.  Instant

Poetry Dialogue: Oliver de la Paz

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Oliver de la Paz is the author of three collections of poetry, Names Above Houses, Furious Lullaby (SIU Press 2001, 2007), and Requiem for the Orchard (U. of Akron Press 2010), winner of the Akron Prize for poetry chosen by Martìn Espada. He co-chairs the advisory board of Kundiman

Thoughts on Structure

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I have become, maybe unfortunately, obsessed with structure. I don’t imagine I’m alone in considering this aspect of poetry: all of us who write have, at some point, had to decide where the line breaks, how we’ll let the clusters of language cohere. I don’t have a goal in

The Vampire in the Ivory Tower: Genre Fiction

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A year or so ago, a friend who teaches college English courses made a thought-provoking comment about the reality gap between MFA programs and the publishing world, one that continues to haunt me:  “Why do MFA writing faculty turn up their noses at genre fiction,” he asked, “when that’s

“Release the Kraken”: Reading Etiquette Part II

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For Part I, see Here. As both a practicing writer and Co-Director of the River Styx at Duff’s Reading Series, I’ve had the opportunity to step to the mic in multiple capacities. The expectations of a reader and a facilitator of readings are very different, but both have the

A Discussion about the word “Random,” Part II

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I have, for at least the past year, been mildly to massively frustrated by the rise of the word “random” as it’s presently used. This is dull in all sorts of ways—every writer’s got his/her words which frustrate, to say nothing of the nebbishness of even bothering to be

Rated R for Racy

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In the mid-90s, when I was a graduate student at Indiana University and nervously facing my first class of undergraduate creative writing students, I understood within the first couple of weeks that there were few things more fascinating or more daunting for writers than the moment they decide to

“Release the Kraken”: Reading Etiquette, Part I

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Not too long ago, I caught a bit of the original Clash of the Titans on TV. It has always been one of my favorite movies: Harry Hamlin’s hair cut, the impressive stop-motion animation, and of course, Zeus commanding Poseidon to “release the Kraken.” The sight of the sea

“Random” Poetry: a conversation with Bob Hicok

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I have, for at least the past year, been mildly to massively frustrated by the rise of the word “random” as it’s presently used. This is dull in all sorts of ways—every writer’s got his/her words which frustrate, to say nothing of the nebbishness of even bothering to be

A Reader’s Crush

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Deborah Eisenberg.  Martin Amis.  Steve Almond.  Alice Munro.  Penelope Fitzgerald.  Jim Harrison.  Anne Carson.  W.G. Sebald.  Michael Ondaatje.  John Updike.  These are some of the authors whose books, in recent years, I have all but inhaled, many of them in rapid succession.  As I suspect most book lovers do,