The Lovely Arc

Sep 18

I drew my friend, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, as part of an ongoing portrait series. JMW is coming to town next weekend and will read with Eleni Sikelianos and Endi Bogue Hartigan at Literary Arts downtown on Sept. 27. 
Also, I’d like to start a portrait series of strangers (to me), so if you’d like me to draw a portrait of someone you know, to eventually give to them, I’m now open for paid commissions. Send me an email. 

I drew my friend, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, as part of an ongoing portrait series. JMW is coming to town next weekend and will read with Eleni Sikelianos and Endi Bogue Hartigan at Literary Arts downtown on Sept. 27

Also, I’d like to start a portrait series of strangers (to me), so if you’d like me to draw a portrait of someone you know, to eventually give to them, I’m now open for paid commissions. Send me an email. 

Sep 12

[video]

Sep 09

Literary Arts turned 30 last night. I was a 2010 Oregon Book Awards finalist, a 2013 winner; my small local poetry press, Octopus Books, was awarded a fellowship in 2009; I’ve read poems in front of big and brilliant audiences at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and the Gerding Theater at the Armory, among other places; I am finally starting my novel with the help of a novel class that Literary Arts is offering; I’ve led a workshop of my own, and am about to lead another, and all because of Literary Arts. So when they asked me to write them a poem for their 30th anniversary, and read it at the Schnitz, sharing a stage with Elizabeth Gilbert, Calvin Trillin and Colin Meloy, I couldn’t have been more proud. I am so grateful for their support, confidence and attention since I arrived in Portland in 2008. Literary Arts, congratulations on turning 30. And, so sincerely, thank you. 
I used one of their phrases that often appears in their newsletters, “Words Matter,” as a bit of a prompt for the poem I wrote them. Here it is:





By the age of 30, we’ve said all
 the words we’re ever going to say.
 We’ve said buttercup, for example.
 We’ve said layercake and horseshit
and flautist. We’ve said willy nilly
for the umpteenth time. We’ve never
 met a man from Bora Bora
 we didn’t like, which is true.
 We haven’t. And just like that,
 we’ve said Bora Bora too. We have about
 40 words for loneliness more or less—
 I can think of about 8 of them
 right now—and I’ve said all of them
 in my old bed staring at the water
 stain that looks like my cousin Mike
 in a Hawaiian shirt, or in the kitchen
 of that sad studio apartment on Burnside
 while on the phone with my mother
 who was always alone in the kitchen
 I grew up in in Council Bluffs,
 or to someone’s dog when its
 owner wasn’t looking. Forlorn, I’d say.
Disconnected. Remember before
 we had remote controls and I had to sit
 so close to the television so I could turn
 the channel knob for you, Mom?—
 this is how a conversation
 with my mom would go—and the volume
 knob, how you wanted it just right
 and it never seemed just right
 for you? You would say, turn it up,
 but just a hair, and I would pluck a fine
 white hair from the front of my head,
line it up just right with the knob,
and barely turn it, reveling already 
in the beautiful way words work. 
Also do you remember how you
 would get so upset at how close
 I was always sitting to the television.
 Well, remote is one of those words too.
 I once visited the grave of a woman
 who choked to death on a hot dog 








late one night, alone, on her back porch 
under a silver moon. How sad it must
 have been to know that it would be 
a hot dog that would eventually take us down. 
Maybe all I would have been able to think 
about would be the words hot and dog, 
and maybe that is the saddest of all things, 
that in that final moment, such an awful 
couple of words like hot dog would haunt 
and haunt my last seconds. And how panicked
 her face must have looked in those
 last seconds before the warm black wave 
rolled over it and calmed her eyes. 
Did she see the moon? How did it look?
 What words could she have said about it
 if that hot dog weren’t wedged in her throat
keeping some beautiful string of them
 trapped in her heart? Would any of them
 have been new, some new word spilling out
 like a shiny swift from a chimney in the dark?
 And what were her last words? Could they
 have been hot dog, the very thing that
 took her—how cruel. How much crueler
 it would be though, that if on our first day
 after turning 30, words would begin to just 
go away once we use them once—like just another 
super-finite resource to be protected, and to
 not use our words is never a kind of protection. 
Would the first one to go almost always be I.
 And then the second almost always be why.
 We’d immediately be made to deal with not
being the center of our own universes,
and not being curious. We’d save love 
for when our father dies, and then we’d 
stare and blink helplessly
 at our mothers as they crumpled up like wads
 of paper in front of us. Remote control, mom,
 I’d maybe have to say then, if I could even
 be so lucky. And I would have to pluck out
 another hair, a hair that is just as much hers
 as mine. How else can we know if something
 is too loud, how something is not loud enough,
 and then how to love becomes like dying
 through the sounds. I once saw my face
 in the silver side of a mylar balloon
 half-emptied of helium just hovering there
 at face-level. There you are, I thought. Yes, 









there I am. Not here, but there. Not
 the balloon, but me, my face in the convex mirror, 
over there, floating without a body, and so 
slowly dying. A much slower
 kind of choking, a long life of choking
 as happily as I can, the kind where I get
 to pick every word I get to think,
 and to say out loud, with all of my breath,
 as I die. This is what I will think of the moon 
above me in my last moments.
 And out loud I will get to say
 You look like a silver balloon
 with my face dying in it,
 silver moon, and my words will hold it up 
and my words will make it so
 and unlike the moon
 my words will never die

Literary Arts turned 30 last night. I was a 2010 Oregon Book Awards finalist, a 2013 winner; my small local poetry press, Octopus Books, was awarded a fellowship in 2009; I’ve read poems in front of big and brilliant audiences at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and the Gerding Theater at the Armory, among other places; I am finally starting my novel with the help of a novel class that Literary Arts is offering; I’ve led a workshop of my own, and am about to lead another, and all because of Literary Arts. So when they asked me to write them a poem for their 30th anniversary, and read it at the Schnitz, sharing a stage with Elizabeth Gilbert, Calvin Trillin and Colin Meloy, I couldn’t have been more proud. I am so grateful for their support, confidence and attention since I arrived in Portland in 2008. Literary Arts, congratulations on turning 30. And, so sincerely, thank you. 

I used one of their phrases that often appears in their newsletters, “Words Matter,” as a bit of a prompt for the poem I wrote them. Here it is:

By the age of 30, we’ve said all

the words we’re ever going to say.

We’ve said buttercup, for example.

We’ve said layercake and horseshit

and flautist. We’ve said willy nilly

for the umpteenth time. We’ve never

met a man from Bora Bora

we didn’t like, which is true.

We haven’t. And just like that,

we’ve said Bora Bora too. We have about

40 words for loneliness more or less—

I can think of about 8 of them

right now—and I’ve said all of them

in my old bed staring at the water

stain that looks like my cousin Mike

in a Hawaiian shirt, or in the kitchen

of that sad studio apartment on Burnside

while on the phone with my mother

who was always alone in the kitchen

I grew up in in Council Bluffs,

or to someone’s dog when its

owner wasn’t looking. Forlorn, I’d say.

Disconnected. Remember before

we had remote controls and I had to sit

so close to the television so I could turn

the channel knob for you, Mom?—

this is how a conversation

with my mom would go—and the volume

knob, how you wanted it just right

and it never seemed just right

for you? You would say, turn it up,

but just a hair, and I would pluck a fine

white hair from the front of my head,

line it up just right with the knob,

and barely turn it, reveling already

in the beautiful way words work.

Also do you remember how you

would get so upset at how close

I was always sitting to the television.

Well, remote is one of those words too.

I once visited the grave of a woman

who choked to death on a hot dog

late one night, alone, on her back porch

under a silver moon. How sad it must

have been to know that it would be

a hot dog that would eventually take us down.

Maybe all I would have been able to think

about would be the words hot and dog,

and maybe that is the saddest of all things,

that in that final moment, such an awful

couple of words like hot dog would haunt

and haunt my last seconds. And how panicked

her face must have looked in those

last seconds before the warm black wave

rolled over it and calmed her eyes.

Did she see the moon? How did it look?

What words could she have said about it

if that hot dog weren’t wedged in her throat

keeping some beautiful string of them

trapped in her heart? Would any of them

have been new, some new word spilling out

like a shiny swift from a chimney in the dark?

And what were her last words? Could they

have been hot dog, the very thing that

took her—how cruel. How much crueler

it would be though, that if on our first day

after turning 30, words would begin to just

go away once we use them once—like just another

super-finite resource to be protected, and to

not use our words is never a kind of protection.

Would the first one to go almost always be I.

And then the second almost always be why.

We’d immediately be made to deal with not

being the center of our own universes,

and not being curious. We’d save love

for when our father dies, and then we’d

stare and blink helplessly

at our mothers as they crumpled up like wads

of paper in front of us. Remote control, mom,

I’d maybe have to say then, if I could even

be so lucky. And I would have to pluck out

another hair, a hair that is just as much hers

as mine. How else can we know if something

is too loud, how something is not loud enough,

and then how to love becomes like dying

through the sounds. I once saw my face

in the silver side of a mylar balloon

half-emptied of helium just hovering there

at face-level. There you are, I thought. Yes,

there I am. Not here, but there. Not

the balloon, but me, my face in the convex mirror,

over there, floating without a body, and so

slowly dying. A much slower

kind of choking, a long life of choking

as happily as I can, the kind where I get

to pick every word I get to think,

and to say out loud, with all of my breath,

as I die. This is what I will think of the moon

above me in my last moments.

And out loud I will get to say

You look like a silver balloon

with my face dying in it,

silver moon, and my words will hold it up

and my words will make it so

and unlike the moon

my words will never die

Sep 05

Octopus Books has finished reading all of our manuscript submissions from April, and after duking it all out, we’ve decided to publish Dan Hoy’s The Deathbed Editions in the summer of 2015. 
We chose Dan Hoy’s work from these finalists, every one of which we’d be more than proud to be the publisher of: 
2014 April Reading Period Finalists: 
Anne’s Heart is a Bomb by Brooke Ellsworth
Popular Music by Kelly Schirmann
Two Suns by Elizabeth Clark Wessel
Dear Warrior Motel by Julia Story
Cow of Sleep by Patrick Culliton
Things that Go by Laura Eve Engel
Oosh Boosh by Shannon Burns
Tomahawks by Bill Carty
I Love You but I Don’t Speak Your Language by Jason Bredle
—
After reading our manuscript submissions submitted in May for our first annual Octopus Books poetry-in-translation series, we chose to publish Noontimes Won by Tristan Tzara, translated by Heather Green. 
So, our catalog for the next two years looks like this: 
Fall 2014 - Summer 2015
The Father of the Arrow is the Thought by Christopher DeWeese
Indian by Marisol Limon Martinez
Broadax by Amy Lawless
The Deathbed Editions by Dan Hoy
Noontimes Won by Tristan Tzara, translated by Heather Green
Fall 2015—Summer 2016
How I Became a Hum by Eric Baus
Weirde Sister by James Gendron
Inauguration Day by Emily Kendal Frey
(2015 April Reading Selection)
(Translation Series Selection)

Octopus Books has finished reading all of our manuscript submissions from April, and after duking it all out, we’ve decided to publish Dan Hoy’s The Deathbed Editions in the summer of 2015. 

We chose Dan Hoy’s work from these finalists, every one of which we’d be more than proud to be the publisher of: 

2014 April Reading Period Finalists: 

Anne’s Heart is a Bomb by Brooke Ellsworth

Popular Music by Kelly Schirmann

Two Suns by Elizabeth Clark Wessel

Dear Warrior Motel by Julia Story

Cow of Sleep by Patrick Culliton

Things that Go by Laura Eve Engel

Oosh Boosh by Shannon Burns

Tomahawks by Bill Carty

I Love You but I Don’t Speak Your Language by Jason Bredle

After reading our manuscript submissions submitted in May for our first annual Octopus Books poetry-in-translation series, we chose to publish Noontimes Won by Tristan Tzara, translated by Heather Green. 

So, our catalog for the next two years looks like this: 

Fall 2014 - Summer 2015

The Father of the Arrow is the Thought by Christopher DeWeese

Indian by Marisol Limon Martinez

Broadax by Amy Lawless

The Deathbed Editions by Dan Hoy

Noontimes Won by Tristan Tzara, translated by Heather Green

Fall 2015—Summer 2016

How I Became a Hum by Eric Baus

Weirde Sister by James Gendron

Inauguration Day by Emily Kendal Frey

(2015 April Reading Selection)

(Translation Series Selection)

Sep 02

[video]

Aug 21

I’ll be on the mic for a special set with Thai Food (can you guess which band this is?) for the AKA music fest at the Burgundy Wildcat this Saturday. Change your own name and go there. 

I’ll be on the mic for a special set with Thai Food (can you guess which band this is?) for the AKA music fest at the Burgundy Wildcat this Saturday. Change your own name and go there. 

[video]

Two of my poems from Fjords vol 1, “Hands” and “The Killing Trees”, have been turned into songs by Kelly Schirmann and posted here. 
kellyschirmann:

I have a couple new recordings up at Austin Hayden’s 90’s Meg Ryan project. They are translations of sorts from two of Zachary Schomburg’s poems, Hands and The Killing Trees. There’s also a bunch of other stuff from rad geniuses like Sampson Starkweather, Leora Fridman, Donald Dunbar, Morgan Parker, Dillon J. Welch, & lots of others. I recommend listening to them while brainstorming ways to decolonize our society of its own institutionalized shittiness.

Two of my poems from Fjords vol 1, “Hands” and “The Killing Trees”, have been turned into songs by Kelly Schirmann and posted here

kellyschirmann:

I have a couple new recordings up at Austin Hayden’s 90’s Meg Ryan project. They are translations of sorts from two of Zachary Schomburg’s poems, Hands and The Killing Trees. There’s also a bunch of other stuff from rad geniuses like Sampson Starkweather, Leora Fridman, Donald Dunbar, Morgan Parker, Dillon J. Welch, & lots of others. I recommend listening to them while brainstorming ways to decolonize our society of its own institutionalized shittiness.

Aug 19

[video]

Aug 17

Day 42: Garberville, CA

8736 miles

Day 42: Garberville, CA

8736 miles

Aug 16

Day 41: Oakland, CA

8540 miles

Day 41: Oakland, CA

8540 miles

Aug 14

Day 37-40: Tucson, AZ

7645 miles

Day 37-40: Tucson, AZ

7645 miles

Aug 10

Day 36: Las Cruces, NM

7270 miles

Day 36: Las Cruces, NM

7270 miles

Aug 09

Day 35: El Paso, TX

7210 miles

Day 35: El Paso, TX

7210 miles

Aug 08

Day 34: Marfa, TX

6952 miles

Day 34: Marfa, TX

6952 miles