The Next Big Thing

My friend Aviva Englander Christy generously tagged me for The Next Big Thing interviews.

The Next Big Thing is, as many of you may know, the self-interview for writers on forthcoming/recent projects. Aviva Englander Christy’s chapbook, The Interior Structure, is forthcoming from dancing girl press.


What is the title of the book?

Last Train to the Midnight Market. This is a chapbook.


Where did the idea come from for the book?

I took a gap year between high school and college, and went to live in Seoul, South Korea. For 10 months, I supported myself by tutoring, and in my free time, volunteered to teach English to orphans. I tried to look past the imminently bleak futures of the children I worked with, but it wasn’t until four years later that I could begin to process my experience through poetry.


What genre does the book fall under?



What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Father: Brian Goodman

Mother: Michelle Yeoh

Son: Harry Shum Jr.


What is the one sentence synopsis for your book?

A boy searches a foreign city for his mother.


How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

These poems were written during my time at Carnegie Mellon University. This chapbook was half of my senior thesis.


Who or what inspired you to write this book?

People: Jim Daniels, Li-Young Lee.

Korea: Namsan Orphanage. This. This. This.


What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest?

The cover was hand-drawn in three hours. The boy in the poems travels by subway. I am not an ethnic writer.


Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am honored that Finishing Line Press released my chapbook in March 2013. You can purchase it here.


My tagged writers for the next round:

Madeleine Barnes. Alex YuschikAnne Marie Rooney. Joseph Lapin. Louis K. Lowy. Corey Ginsberg. Shannon Deep.


Reflection of 2012

January = Started spring semester with more confidence, met brilliant profs.

February = Hm. Don’t remember much in there. Study study study.

March = AWP Chicago. Met Benjamin Percy‘s awesome bear-like reading voice as he read about a bear. A. flew down for a visit. First conversation with G.

April = O Miami poetry readings at the Betsy Hotel. G. and I became an official couple.

May = Work work work.

June = Work work work.

July = New York State Summer Writers Institute. One of the best things I ever did for my writing. Heard Frank Bidart read “Ellen West”. Notified of chapbook publication by Finishing Line Press.

August = Adopted a puppy with G.

September = Taught poetry at DASH. What amazing, creative, cool students. Brother got engaged! Congratulations!

October =  Study study study.

November = Sparky passed away the same day as Jack Gilbert, on 14th. Rest in peace.

December = Reflection. Resolution. Relaxation.


Currently, I am halfway through my MFA. Thinking about my thesis.Huzzah!–*coughchoke* Humble gratitude to everyone who purchased my chapbook. The release date is January 25, 2013. You’ve all been awesome readers. Thank you for reading. You’ve been great. Look forward to a more consistent year in 2013.

Sparky, you were an amazing dog for 14 years. I love you and miss you very much. Rest in peace. You deserve the best.




Chapbook on Sale

Hello awesome followers,

Finishing Line Press has offered to publish my chapbook, Last Train to the Midnight Market! I spent the greater part of the day rolling around the floor in a seizure of joy.

But I need your help. The press determines print runs based on pre-orders only, and they will not print my chapbook unless I get 55 pre-orders. Right now, I only have about 20. The deadline is November 30.

To those of you who have already purchased a copy, I am forever grateful. Please support me in my first publication!

Purchase a copy here.

See a sample here and below.

Shame to Line My Casket

Come sit on the bridge’s steel girders above the water’s graveyard.

Hang your feet over the edge and wiggle them in the mud of nostalgia.

While you searched for me in clamshells sucked clean,

I’ve been lifting my shirt to stare past the curve of my breasts into my navel.

My abdomen is flat, scarred with the heaviness of having cradled you.


I used to feel you kick against the darkness.

I used to think that children are old people with new faces.

I used to think that death comes easier to those who have lived too much.


Your sister curled the umbilical cord in her fist, strangling herself in blood.

How easily she slid out of me, without apology.


I saw you walking down the boardwalk, lifted my hand and you did not see me wave.

If, with each step, you counted the times you heard your father and me make love,

you would not have walked very far. He doesn’t know

how your sister murdered herself last summer,

how I could not keep her inside the darkness of my womb.


Come sit with me over the reflection of my shame.

Scrape your nails against the rust for the blood of your sister.

The evening shakes with the friction of cicadas.

Death must be like the hurricane of vertigo rippling below

our suspended bodies. We all desire death.


When I saw you coming, your beautiful face was tilted toward me.

It’s nobody’s fault, you might say. It’s got to be somebody’s fault.

Maybe tomorrow. Come back for me tomorrow

when the cicadas have shed their skins.


Originally published in The Oakland Review Alumni Edition, Fall 2011.

The Wild Iris

The first book I finished this summer is Louise Glück’s Pulitzer prize-winning collection of poetry, The Wild Iris.

Now before you judge me for never having read this book before, remember that I’ve been reading as much poetry as I can, whether it’s classic or not. This book definitely falls into classic, and is thus far one of the best orderings of poetry I have read.

Many of the poems are written from the perspective of flowers: lamium, violets, witchgrass, clover, ipomea, lilies. Interspersed are several poems of the same names, “Matins” and “Vespers.” In Catholicism, they refer to early morning prayer and sunset prayer service, respectively. Every poem is a beautiful unfurling of the human condition – ironic that our very humanness is recognized through the voice of flowers. Glück questions the presence of God, the goodness and wisdom of God. Each flower questions what we humans have done with our lives, our opportunities, the way we can think and move and feel and fall in love. I already posted a sample of her work here, but nearly each poem is breathtaking in its simplicity and density. Somehow I think I stumbled on this book at the perfect time in my writing career. Here are two more of my favorite poems.


You were like very young children,

always waiting for a story.

And I’d been through it all too many times;

I was tired of telling stories.

So I gave you the pencil and paper.

I gave you pens made of reeds

I had gathered myself, afternoons in the dense meadows.

I told you, write your own story.

After all those years of listening

I thought you’d know

what a story was.

All you could do was weep.

You wanted everything told to you

and nothing thought through yourselves.

Then I realized you couldn’t think

with any real boldness or passion;

you hadn’t had your own lives yet,

your own tragedies.

So I gave you lives, I gave you tragedies,

because apparently tools alone weren’t enough.

You will never know how deeply

it pleases me to see you sitting there

like independent beings,

to see you dreaming by the open window,

holding the pencils I gave you

until the summer morning disappears into writing.

Creation has brought you

great excitement, as I knew it would,

as it does in the beginning.

And I am free to do as I please now,

to attend to other things, in confidence

you have no need of me anymore.

This next poem is perhaps my favorite in the book, perhaps because this is one of the strongest conclusions to a book of poetry that I have enjoye in a long time, or perhaps because these last few weeks have come to be a particularly wonderful time in my life. Enjoy!


As a man and woman make

a garden between them like

a bed of stars, here

they linger in the summer evening

and the evening turns

cold with their terror: it

could all end, it is capable

of devastation. All, all

can be lost, through scented air

the narrow columns

uselessly rising, and beyond,

a churning sea of poppies–

Hush, beloved. It doesn’t matter to me

how many summers I live to return:

this one summer we have entered eternity.

I felt your two hands

bury me to release its splendor.

The Doctor is Out

Today I watched the last two episodes of the fantastic TV show, House M.D. I remember when this show first aired eight years ago. My parents and I have watched nearly every episode since then. The last episode listed on the FOX website is called “Swan Song,” and is Hugh Laurie walking around the set during the filming of the last actual episode, “Everybody Dies.” What a great season. I have to say that my favorite team was the original three, with Foreman, Chase, and Cameron, before the group dynamics got romantic and complicated, back when it was a pure medical show. And probably because I love the assholes who get their shit done right, I love House best of all. (Just like I love Simon Cowell and Gordon Ramsey and all those straightforward British guys who are the best at what they do and aren’t afraid to make people cry.)

One of the many reasons I love House is that Hugh Laurie actually played piano in those scenes Yeah, I know. Badass. He sings and plays blues when he’s not being a badass actor. Don’t believe me? Ask the New York Times.

While other people have favorite TV shows that will be replaced by other favorite TV shows as soon as that one ends, I am impressed by all that the writers of House M.D. were able to do. Brilliant writing and remarkable consistency with Gregory House’s psychological position.Nevermind Lost with its suspense and inability to stand alone without having watched all 300 previous episodes, or all those new trendy TV shows with beautiful people afflicted with various supernatural conditions. House M.D. has real people, and characters I grew up loving or hating. I doff my cap to you, House. Thank you for a fabulous eight years.


Late Start to Summer

Apologies for being AWOL. I promised my dog I’ll be better. I went on a roadtrip from Miami to New York, and have finally settled back in my parents’ house for the month of June. In July, I’ll be at Skidmore College’s Summer Writers Institute to write write write! In preparation for that, I am kicking off an incredibly and inexcusably late summer post with Louise Glück’s poem, “Matins” from her beautiful book, The Wild Iris.


Unreachable father, when we were first

exiled from heaven, you made

a replica, a place in one sense

different from heaven, being

designed to teach a lesson: otherwise

the same–beauty on either side, beauty

without alternative– Except

we didn’t know what was the lesson. Left alone,

we exhausted each other. Years

of darkness followed; we took turns

working the garden, the first tears

filling our eyes as earth

misted with petals, some

dark red, some flesh colored–

We never thought of you

whom we were learning to worship.

We merely knew it wasn’t human nature to love

only what returns love.

New To-Do List

I always wanted a dog named Bowser. My dog is giving me a dirty look.

New To-Do List! Deadline: Monday (minus April 1 gig)

– coordinate Billy Collins reading April 1 (ongoing)

– work on ePortfolio for Pedagogy class (erm…)

– write blog about AWP in Chicago (erm…)

– finish all 6 books I borrowed from Campbell, and all 8 books I borrowed from the library…last semester (erm…bedtime stories?)

– find twitter quotes for POB (copy from bedtime stories! >:])

– lay out POB Issue 2 (tonight!)

– revise chapbook (erm…)

– Sena QT Note & Book Review (any suggestions for Christian youth books?) (next week)

– write write write! 5 poems by the end of the week! (yeah…1-ish down,  and 2 revisions)