On Knowing If You’re Any Good

  If you’re a writer, you’ll live your life not knowing if you’re any good.  And you’ll die not knowing.  I think John Berryman said that.  After Phil Levine published his first book of poems, people said, yeah, but can you do it again?  Then he did it again.  Then they said, yeah, but have… Continue reading On Knowing If You’re Any Good

The Heat Death of a Wandering Star

A fortune teller in Northern California looked at my palm and said, “You’re going to lead an unnaturally long life.”  Then she slid my money back across the table and added, “I feel bad for you.”  This was in 2008 or 2009.  My memory of the year is less distinct than the mournful expression on… Continue reading The Heat Death of a Wandering Star

This Mad Dance

Looking at photos of relatives from the early 20th century, I’m struck by how incredibly normal they look, how I could walk down any street and see the same faces.  Such an insight comes easily since I live near the locus of my ancestral lines, but I think it’s a realization one could have anywhere. … Continue reading This Mad Dance

The Voice in the Fire

As I have said many times and in many different ways, graduate study in literature and creative writing is not easy for anyone, even in the most favorable circumstances. There is an inner, emotional, psychological, processual effort that no one talks about and an outer, technical, rhetorical, production effort that everyone takes for granted. Both… Continue reading The Voice in the Fire

Weirdo: Visions of Future Past

Cunning is what counts in this life, and even that you've got to use in the slyest way you can; I'm telling you straight: they're cunning, and I'm cunning. If only "them" and "us" had the same ideas we'd get on like a house on fire, but they don't see eye to eye with us,… Continue reading Weirdo: Visions of Future Past