Monday, June 11, 2018

Compass Needle Pointed Toward Diploma

I vowed to keep pace with my writer friends like Kelli Russell Agodon and Donna Vorreyer and post a blog a week in 2018 for the Poet Blogger Revival, but it was just so hard for me to write that last post about Chris Cornell so I got stuck for months.
But I will try to make up ground from now on. I'll probably sneak in some extra posts on as many weeks as possible, so maybe by the end of the year I will still get close to 52 blogs.

One cool thing that happened recently was that I got a poem picked up for a "Poetry Spot" feature on the AZCentral website. That's the online component for the Arizona Republic newspaper that started showcasing poems by Arizona poets. My poem can be read here:

Friday, June 8, 2018

"Like God's Eyes In My Headlights" ~Chris Cornell wrote some of the lines that turned me into a writer

I started trying to prepare for Chris Cornell's death in April 2016.
We all have artists who are foundational to our existence and when Prince died that year I immediately thought of one of my favorite poets, Scott Woods. I knew Prince's work was essential to Scott and reading his stellar essay "Prince & Little Weird Black Boy Gods" (just click that link if you haven't already read it) made me think about how devastated I would be if anything ever happened to Chris Cornell. I wasn't expecting to find out so suddenly soon.

I always resent seeing him grouped together with other contemporaries, because Chris Cornell had no peers. Nobody could do what he did. His voice was extraterrestrial and he knew how to use it across the spectrum to convey each and every emotion worth feeling, while also arranging haunting guitarscapes that perfectly framed dark poetic lyrics. Some of these lines ("like God's eyes in my headlights" for example) have always rattled around in my psyche and continue to influence everything I've created since. When I finally got my first book of poetry published in 2014, it was important for me to give a nod to Chris Cornell, so I included a "found poem" that I assembled from my favorite interview:

There are plenty of fans who were there before I jumped on the bandwagon in 1992 and plenty who went to many more concerts than I attended, so this is just for the record, not for bragging rights: it all started when my friend left the Badmotorfinger CD in my car and the song Slaves & Bulldozers wormed its way into my world. I still treasure getting to see some Soundgarden shows throughout that Badmotorfinger / Superunknown / Down On The Upside stretch as well as some Euphoria Mourning, Audioslave, etc. But Chris Cornell's later solo acoustic shows were staggering. It was pretty much overwhelming to be in the presence of such greatness. His voice somehow regained all the glory of his most powerful moments, but combined with technique and skill that had been honed over the past three decades. Those setlists made use of his entire catalog and exhibited what an incredible stockpile of brilliance he had created. 

I was also lucky enough to meet him after shows during the Euphoria Mourning tour in 1999 and his 2007 Carry On tour. Both of those experiences were more than I ever expected and I am forever grateful.
It makes me sad to go back and read my old blog post about that Euphoria Morning show (

It took me more than a year to post this and maybe I'll post a bit more if I ever figure out what else to say. Just know that I have been listening to those Songbook acoustic recordings nonstop for the past year. The performances and sound quality are impeccable, it's like Chris is still in the room with you and it hurts like a soul breaking but I never want to get to a point where it doesn't still hurt.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Rinky Dink Press pocket-sized poetry for the people

One of the projects that keeps me busy is Rinky Dink Press.

It's a little DIY indie punk kind of press that publishes pocket-sized collections of micro-poems. Each folded zine has 5 or 6 poems that are limited to around 20-35 words. A few years ago, I noticed the call for their debut series and I had no idea who was behind it, but I loved the idea so I was eager to submit.
rinky dink press (rdp) is on a mission to get poetry back into the hands (and pockets) of the people – each of our single author collections can fit in your pocket, but we never sacrifice craft, and despite the tiny format, we refuse to sacrifice style.
In short, we’re a microzine press that marries a DIY attitude with skilled poetics and fine-art aesthetics.

They didn't get many submissions for that first series so my odds were good and they published my collection of poems about the clowns that were causing trouble in the California town of Wasco. Here are a few of those poems:

It turned out that the press was founded by a group of ASU students and their Professor who is one of my friends, so they asked if I would join their editorial team for the next series and I've been involved ever since. Twice a year we publish microzine collections from 10 poets and we now get hundreds of submissions from around the world.

We are preparing for the launch of series 4 on Friday February 2nd.
If you're in Phoenix, AZ come to our launch party at the new Local First AZ headquarters (407 E Roosevelt St, Phoenix, Arizona 85004). If you're elsewhere, check out our website for submission guidelines and sample poems from all of our titles that are priced to move at ONE DOLLAR a piece:

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2018 acknowledges that last year wasn't skipped

Apparently, I went all of 2017 without posting on this blog, but Kelli Russell Agodon and Donna Vorreyer have organized a blogger revival for 2018, so a lot of us intend to post regularly again. Hopefully once a week. You can find a list of participating bloggers here:

So what would have been worth blogging from last year? I hardly sent out any poetry submissions, so I only got like 2 or 3 things published.  However, I did go to my first ever AWP conference in DC (thanks to a grant from the Arizona Arts Commission).

Since I'm not affiliated with any writing program and never even went to college, I always feel like such an outsider at those types of things. But it was very cool that I got to be involved in a great offsite reading by Five Oaks Press and Sundress Publications (because my recent chapbook Faithful as the Ground was published by Lynn Houston at Five Oaks).

I loved meeting the other Five Oaks poets like K.T. Landing and Peter Murphy  and all the Sundress Publications poets like Donna Vorreyer, Sarah A. Chavez, Krista Cox and Luci Brown. They truly felt like a sibling press. After all the outsiderness of wandering through all those conference room corridors, I felt at home in this back alley art gallery with these people.
I was also very excited to get to meet up and read with Charles Jensen who did the wonderful emoji blurb for my chapbook, since his new collection Breakup/Breakdown was also just published by Five Oaks.

I'll write more about my current projects soon.
Thanks for reading if you're reading.
And remember to check out all the other writers who are committed to posting more blog posts in 2018.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

80s SoCal Punk Behind The Poem in a recent issue of Chiron Review

I was excited to have a poem in a recent issue of Chiron Review (issue #101 Fall 2015) and several people asked me if the poem was based on a real photograph. It was and I finally found the photo, so I thought I'd post about the backstory.

I went to a local art gallery (Modified Arts) a few years ago to see an exhibit called "We Got Power! Hardcore Punk Scenes From 1980s Southern California"

It was a display of gritty photographs by Dave Markey and Jordan Schwartz, the proprietors of We Got Power fanzine based in Los Angeles who were at the epicenter of the early 80's scene. Candid shots from early shows of bands like Black Flag, The Minutemen, etc. 

(back when Henry Rollins had hair)

This is the one that caught my attention and ended up inspiring the poem in Chiron Review:

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Telepoem Booth Vandalized but Art Prevails

Poets have a natural affinity for phone booths.
Like poems, phone booths create private experiences
out of public surroundings. They both have the ability
to connect with people in faraway places.
Their perceived value is pocket change.

Earlier this year, I was excited to be involved with a wonderful project called the Telepoem Booth.
I recorded a few poems with David Crummey after Mesa's District 4 reading series for the brainchild of Elizabeth Hellstern, who found and purchased an old phone booth and had it re-purposed with the help of her partner, artist Owen William Fritts, as a poetry monument which housed recordings of over 200 poems from nearly 100 poets, including a variety of unpublished students and established writers. Hellstern even got the blessing of Allen Ginsberg's estate to use his recording of Howl.

The Telepoem Booth looks beautiful and inside is a "directory" listing all the poets with a corresponding phone number for each poem that you can dial up to listen (on a rotary phone!!).

Here's a link to the local NPR affiliate that aired an interview and story about it:

For several months, the beloved booth was located on the street in Flagstaff outside of Macy's Coffeehouse where pedestrians could dial up random poems at any hour of the day. But it was recently vandalized and forced to be taken down.

Fortunately, Hellstern and Fritts were able to restore it and find a new location, so it can re-open this weekend (visit it at Old Town Shops at 120 N. Leroux in Flagstaff, Arizona). If you would like to help donate to their generous labor of love, there is a Gofundme site setup for any amount of charitable contributions to help maintain the booth and to transform a second booth:

Every quarter helps.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Fathful as the Ground Launch Party

Although there have been a decent number of sales
for my new Five Oaks Press chapbook Faithful as the Ground 
over on Amazon (

I did have a launch event at {9} The Gallery to make things semi-official.

It looked a little something like this:

I had to publicly implicate cover artist Richard Bledsoe.

It was great to see lots of friends who are often too busy to run into, anymore.

I was also grateful to have one of my favorite poets David Chorlton read a few poems and to have a live jazz from the triple talented Mike Pfister Trio.

until future readings,