Friday, September 6, 2013

DOGZPLOT makes list of 10 BEST lit mags for VERY VERY SHORT FICTION

Thank you to MR. MICHAEL CHANEY of DARTMOUTH COLLEGE for naming DOGZPLOT as one of the 10 BEST lit journals for very very short fiction...

#7 is a little low but we'll take it...

http://michaelalexanderchaney.com/2013/09/06/top-ten-literary-magazines-to-send-very-very-short-flashes/

Thursday, August 29, 2013

2013 NFL PREDICTIONS - NFC - BATTLE ROYAL MASCOT EDITION ... followed by my actual predictions



Read AFC Picks HERE

REGULAR SEASON BY CONFERENCE


NFC EAST

-- NEW YORK GIANTS
-- DALLAS COWBOYS
-- PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
-- WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Cowboys and Indians fought a winner-take-all, no-holds-barred battle royal once before and we all know how that turned out, so this will be no different. The American Cowboy, master of the western frontier, proud, loyal, patriotic to a fault. And that's the problem here. Considering the Eagle is the national mascot, the faithful Cowboy will refuse to attack. But the mighty Eagle, always on the hunt, roaming the Earth (skies) as a lion, seeking whom he may devour (those who have ears let them hear) will attack the moment it senses weakness. But their effort is all in vain. The Giant, waiting patiently, Godzilla like in its fierceness and fury, its power and willingness to return its opponents to ash, will grab them both, quickly, ferociously in one fell swoop. Skin them. Make them bleed. 

WINNER: NEW YORK GIANTS
ACTUAL WINNER: NEW YORK GIANTS


NFC WEST

-- SAN FRANCISCO 49'ERS
-- SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
-- ARIZONA CARDINALS
-- ST. LOUIS RAMS

This is an interesting division. Lots of birds, which usually fair well in these battle royal scenarios, but here's why this time it's different. First things first, a 49'er pick axe cracks right through the skull of the lowly Ram. And it's over. Now the birds. Unlike other battle royal ready winged warriors, Seahawks and Cardinals aren't predators. They spend quite a bit of time on land looking for food. And that will be their downfall. The 49'er. Goldminer. Trapper. Hunter. Fisher, Gatherer. Will easily use the tools at their disposal to trap both birds and squeeze the life out of them. Without mercy.

WINNER: SAN FRANCISCO 49'ERS
ACTUAL WINNER: SAN FRANCISCO 49'ERS


NFC NORTH

-- CHICAGO BEARS
-- MINNESOTA VIKINGS
-- DETROIT LIONS
-- GREEN BAY PACKERS

Sad news for Packers fans. They don't really have a mascot and no one really knows what the fuck a Packer is so I will just say that, Packer man, whoever you are, you die first in this scenario. From there a number of different scenarios could play out but this is the one I'm going with. The Viking is strong, one of the greatest warriors in the history of the world and if this were a battle royal of historical armies you couldn't go wrong siding with a Viking. But here's what happens here. The Viking gets caught off guard, double teamed by both Lion and Bear. The faster, hungrier, greedier Lion gets there first and hits hard, ripping the shit out of that Viking, but not without giving him a moment to react, a second to deal a fatal blow. And he does. But not without being left severely wounded, leaving the great Bear to tear apart their flesh and feast on their innards. 

WINNER: CHICAGO BEARS
ACTUAL WINNER: CHICAGO BEARS


NFC SOUTH

-- ATLANTA FALCONS
-- TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
-- CAROLINA PANTHERS
-- NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Sure, we get it, Saints are sinners like the rest of us, but with no weapons but holy water and a Bible, they get their bones crunched and their lungs punctured pretty quickly by the Panther, and their limbs pulled apart and eaten. The Bucs sit back watching, waiting for the right moment to fire. And they do. The Panther drops dead next to the Saint carcass and begins its slow ride to decomposition. And the Bucs rejoice in their victory, beers and wenches all around, but they've forgotten about their final opponent, the always watchful Falcon, sharp, acute, heartless. The Bucs party hard. Collapsing from syphilis and rot gut rum. And they never wake. The Falcon swoops in and slowly, meticulously, picks apart the pirates, one peck at a time. One eyeball. One piece of flesh. And then there was one. 

WINNER: ATLANTA FALCONS
ACTUAL WINNER: ATLANTA FALCONS


NFC PLAYOFF WINNER

-- NEW YORK GIANTS
-- CHICAGO BEARS
-- SAN FRANCISCO 49'ERS
-- ATLANTA FALCONS

Based solely on size, strength and confidence from early dominance and superiority, the Giant fears nothing. He pays no attention to the Bear attacking, killing, and eating the 49'er at his feet. His only focus is the pesky Falcon, overconfident from past triumphs, pecking in vain at his face. He grabs it. Squeezes it. Crushes it. And lets the remains fall slowly to Earth. The Bear feels the bird's remains fall flat against its face, but due to his meal, barely notices. The Giant barely lifts his foot, then crushes the Bear beneath it. Game over. 

NFC WINNER & SUPERBOWL REPRESENTATIVE: NEW YORK GIANTS
ACTUAL WINNER & SUPERBOWL REPRESENTATIVE: SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (who don't win their division but still make the playoffs as a wildcard, win the conference, and rep the NFC in the Big Show)


SUPERBOWL

-- TENNESSEE TITANS
-- NEW YORK GIANTS

This is really no contest. Titans have already overthrown Zeus and his mighty lightning bolt reliant Chargers. Even if we consider them not as immortal Gods who ruled over the Golden Age, but merely as vengeful and bloodthirsty entities capable of destroying anything in their path, we realize this battle will be bloody and very short lived

SUPER BOWL CHAMPION: TENNESSEE TITANS
ACTUAL SUPERBOWL CHAMPIONS: DENVER BRONCOS

2013 NFL PREDICTIONS - AFC - BATTLE ROYAL MASCOT EDITION ... followed by my actual predictions





REGULAR SEASON BY CONFERENCE


AFC EAST

-- MIAMI DOLPHINS
-- NEW YORK JETS 
-- NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
-- BUFFALO BILLS

In spite of their intimidating appearance, Buffalo have already proven themselves to be pretty fallible, allowing their species to all but disappear at the hands of early American settlers. They are the first ones eliminated. Next are colonial-American Bostonians with their shitty muskets and clam chowder. Their tea party shenanigans will never hold up in a cut throat twenty-first century battle royal. Now the obvious choice is a Jet. What can stop a Jet? What can defeat an F-16 or an SR-71? In this group? Nothing. But... nothing has to. Don't underestimate the wisest and most enlightened of us mammals, the Dolphin. They will simply glide beneath the ocean's surface, underestimated and forgotten, until the human controlled Jet runs out of fuel, the Jet crashes, the pilot is critically injured but manages to survive. Without medication, food, or water the pilot's health deteriorates until infection sets in and food and water run dry. The Dolphin will then reemerge and remind us all of it's superiority.

WINNER: MIAMI DOLPHINS
ACTUAL WINNER: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
 
AFC WEST

-- SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
-- KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
-- OAKLAND RAIDERS
-- DENVER BRONCOS

As with the case of the Buffalo in the AFC EAST the first to go in this battle will be the Bronco. It's unfortunate, but with modern weapons and technologies available to some mascots and supernatural abilities available to others, I just don't see how animals can win an unfair fight. The interesting matchup here is the Chief vs. the Raider. Warrior vs. Pirate. Seafarer vs. Nomad. This battle comes down to intelligence. The Raider will be extremely reluctant to leave its terrain. The water and the ship are crucial to their victory. But the spiritually superior Chief has patience on his side. He will wait, ready, alert and the exact moment the Raider abandons ship to enter unknown territory, that's when its over. Superior hunters and warriors on their home turf, the Chiefs wins that matchup. The wild card here is the Charger lightning bolt. How does that come into play? Depends on your perspective. Or does it? If you believe in God, a higher power, a deity who controls the wind and stars and sun and lightning, then Zeus sits on Mt. Olympus reigning the bolts down and destroying the Chiefs at will. Too bad America is a nation that believes in the separation of church and state. Sure, for now the lighting bolts don't do much. The Chief dies in the same fashion as the the poor Jet pilot. Dehydrated and starving, waiting for a fight that never comes.

WINNER: SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
ACTUAL WINNER: DENVER BRONCOS
 
AFC NORTH

-- CINCINNATI BENGALS
-- BALTIMORE RAVENS
-- PITTSBURGH STEELERS
-- CLEVELAND BROWNS

Remember what I said about animals not winning? Scratch that. The hard knock Pittsburgh Steeler mill man is tough, and put in a battle royal of humans fighting to defend the toughest American cities I'd give them a legit shot, but not here. Maybe the Steeler could defeat a dog or whatever the hell a Brown is, but that's where it ends. Steeler beats Brown, then it's over for him. Man has no ability to pull a Raven from the sky and kill it. And Man vs Bengal tiger? We know how that one will go. So what's left? Tiger vs. Bird. How will this play out? I'm not sure. Maybe it can't. A tiger will fight but a bird is too smart to get in its way. Maybe. Or maybe when faced with starvation the Raven will attempt to pick on the tiger. I can't call it. If its a starvation battle, a tiger can last longer than a bird. This conference is boring. Not a lot of action although all competitors are strong and battle ready.

WINNER: CINCINNATI BENGALS
ACTUAL WINNER: CINCINNATI BENGALS

AFC SOUTH

-- TENNESSEE TITANS
-- HOUSTON TEXANS
-- JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
-- INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Unfortunately, this will be the most lopsided battle royal in any division. We have a Texan, the most ignorant and backwards of all Americans, and a Colt, which can't put up much of a fight. The mindless, senseless Texan will shoot it just to shoot something. Now the Jaguar. A mighty creature by any standard. It could easily chew up and swallow a Texan, but humans don't play fair and Texans carry guns. But that leaves the Titans and what short of a God can defeat a Titan? Not a mere mortal. We will be beaten, tortured, and promptly devoured.

WINNER: TENNESSEE TITANS
ACTUAL WINNER: HOUSTON TEXANS
 

AFC PLAYOFF WINNER

-- TENNESSEE TITANS
-- SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
-- MIAMI DOLPHINS
-- CINCINNATI BENGALS

Although a monster in their own division, the Bengal falls quickly here. The Animal Kingdom is no match for some of the greatest forces of the universe. Even the humble, quiet Dolphin is susceptible. When electricity meets water we all know the outcome. So this is it, the moment of truth. Is there a God or not? You decide. Quickly. Too late. I decide for you. We're scientists now. You get what you've asked for. No Zeus to control those bolts. The Titans storm the mount, ride the lightning, and put them safely into the ground. And do so easily.

AFC WINNER & SUPERBOWL REPRESENTATIVE: TENNESSEE TITANS
ACTUAL WINNER & SUPERBOWL REPRESENTATIVE: DENVER BRONCOS

Thursday, May 3, 2012

WIGLEAF TOP 50


Great list as always over at WIGLEAF. Congrats to everyone. Peep game.
http://wigleaf.com/

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

AUTHOR INTERVIEW. DANIEL BAILEY



Daniel Bailey is also the author of THE DRUNK SONNETS (Magic Helicopter Press, 2009). This is his blog: http://prayerhelmet.blogspot.com/ 

BG: Where did these poems come from?

DB: They came from a lot of time spent trying to make my head buzz from just words alone. In terms of geography, some of the poems were written while living in Muncie, Indiana. Others in Colorado. They were all written from 2008 to (the very beginning of) 2011.  

Some were originally in the bearcreekfeed ebook east central indiana. For those poems my goal was to write love poems about meth, an entire book of them. I wrote maybe two, but then I wrote some other love poems from inside a maze of corn fields. A maze of maize, I suppose. They're midwestern love songs and desperation songs. The title poem came from an earnest attempt to conjure a giant space wolf to come down and destroy humanity, but I ended up talking myself out of that by the end of the poem, I guess. Other poems just came in ways that poems come. It's like one day you're walking down the block after getting a super big gulp and the next minute you're running home because you've got this art shit in your head that you have to get out.

BG: It's interesting that you make distinctions geographically. In your mind / heart / nutsack, what is the difference between an Indiana poem and a Colorado poem?

DB: I don't know how strong the distinction is. The poems that I was writing in Indiana felt overwhelmed by the flatness of the land, the steady grey of the sky for half the year, and the way that the landscape is mostly fields that are without crops for most of the year. Psychologically, it's always felt pretty powerful and like it might define how the people in Indiana view themselves, myself included. Whereas when I moved to Colorado, it was like I was freed from that geography, even though the geography of Colorado is much more dramatic. Colorado's entire east half is flat. It has farmland and slaughterhouses. The western half is the rockies. I've been living near the front range, sort of the in-between of these two zones. No one goes east though, except maybe to go to the airport. I don't know how much Colorado has affected anything. I just know that the amount of sun here has made my head less gloomy.

Though, I still think that the poems written in Colorado can't really escape the Midwestern whatever of the Indiana poems. It's something that will always exist forever, I think. I guess, it comes down to not feeling like I have to figure out my home. I can focus on bigger things or smaller things.

I don't know how important any of this actually is.

BG: You're understanding of God, at least as made manifest through your poetry, seems almost puritanical, Old Testament at the very least. Where does this come from? I have a similar obsession, although it rarely finds its way into my fiction. Mine stems from a childhood crammed full of Bible School, Sunday school, AWANA, baptism, lots of Bible reading, praying, studying, meditating. Did you do much of that growing up? What is your relationship with God like right now?

DB: I was raised going to church every Sunday. I believed until around the age of 20 that I was going to hell, that there was some kind of loophole or some asterisk next to my soul that would keep me from being saved. Eventually, I was able to get rid of that feeling. That's such a pointless feeling to have. The more weeks I went without going to church, the less I thought about how damned I am. I realized, too, how impressionable children are, how easy it is to believe. 

I mostly went to Methodist churches, which are more liberal and accepting, but there's such a strange and exciting thing to the absolute and exclusionary views of the Puritans, especially since for so long I viewed myself as one of those who would not be saved. It made faith and spirituality more than just a struggle to me. It was something to fight against. Poetry became my way of attempting to put out the fire and grind the brimstone to dust. It's turned into my way of demolishing my old systems of belief and creating new ones or letting everything happen at once in a way that no one can deny the beauty of. Ok. Maybe the beauty can be denied, but whatever. That's ok. No beauty is undeniable.

I went to youth group throughout high school. Like I really went to youth group. I went on ski trips and white-water rafting trips, where I watched my mom almost drown in a flooded West Virginia river. I started going to youth group because that's what I had to do for my parents to let me use the car. I kept going because it provided me with friends, though all my effort to feel the love of God returned nothing.

I spent a lot of time in high school trying to improve my relationship with God or become one with God because that's what everyone around me was doing or seemed to be doing. I thought about attending Christian colleges to put myself even further into a place where God could potentially happen, but thankfully I ended up at Ball State where I learned to get drunk and stomp.

I was baptized twice, sprinkled once as a baby and once by submersion in a year that I can't remember. I was probably somewhere between 4th and 6th grade. I was submersed with three other kids my age. After our baptism we all dried off, got dressed, and delivered a fourth of a sermon each that the pastor had prepared for us to read. After that I'm pretty sure we all went to Little Caesar's and ate pizza. I don't have a very strong memory of any of it. I do remember once in Sunday School - I was probably 15 or so - I did that thing where you put your head between your knees and breathe deeply for 30 seconds. Then you lift your upper body and head quickly while holding your breath and cutting off circulation to your head. It made me collapse onto the sofa in the Sunday School classroom and I just laughed while my head moved around the room and that's what language is like to me. It's the inaccurate reconstruction of a feeling. Words are little packages to God or the rubble of a true sacrament and that sacrament would just be the hum or the buzzing back of what God speaks through us every moment of our lives. Poetry is something like a translation of the buzzing.

Right now, my relationship with God is between me and God. I'm 99% done with another book of poetry which speaks in this manner more so than Hallelujah, Giant Space Wolf. It's called Gather Me and if any publishers of poetry books want to read it for potential publication please email me at hisnameisdan at gmail dot com.

Anyone can feel free to email me for any reason whatsoever. Cram the tubes of life/the internet so tight with emails that we have to stint that shit to keep the blood moving.

Also, I don't what Awana is and I've tried meditating before but it just felt silly. 

BG: There seems to be this constant contrast in your poetry between wanting to cause and/or be part of the chaos and destruction of people, places, and things, even those you care about and purport to love, with the notion of faith and hope and a belief, after all, that humanity is something worth saving, something to invest your soul in and be a part of. Is that at all accurate, and if so, where does that conflict inside you come from?

DB: It is definitely something I feel and something that is part of the poems. The destruction is not anything I ever act upon. It's more the thing inside that looks at the world and feels that it could be so much better, that wants to destroy the parts that seem evil or worthless, even if that destruction ends up taking down something that you love, in order to create something of greater beauty, something more perfect, more of a heaven.

I am not a violent person. I have only punched one person in the face in my life and that was when I was in middle school and I was just having a shitty day.

I don't even kill spiders or the weird infestation of seemingly stunned or half-dead yellowjackets that we experienced all last summer. I would kill an animal to eat it. I would kill a dog to eat it if I had to, just not my dog.

I once ate a fried caterpillar. It was salty and the exoskeleton coated the inside of my mouth like flyers on the inside of a music venue's bathroom.

I've eaten ants off the sidewalk. I've eaten a live moth.

I think it's amazing that the world is a physical thing when it so often seems that the physical is just the shadow of this real thing that's out there, or that this physical world that we inhabit is maybe the symptom of a disease manifesting, like the spots from chickenpox and we can't see the virus itself with our own eyes.

BG: In addition to your Midwestern upbringing and your own love for language and writing and literature, how has your experience studying creative writing at a university affected / influenced / inspired / shaped your writing? 

DB: White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies > Academia 

BG: Fair enough, but cookies are greater than most everything. I'm gonna use syllogistic logic and assume either you learn more and gain more inspiration from cookies than you do academia and / or cookies just taste better. Either way, why are MFA's worth / not worth pursuing? Why did you, personally, make the decision?

DB: Well, I was hoping to avoid having to talk about MFA programs because I don't have anything new to add to the conversation. The main thing it gave me was time to write outside of the world. But now I feel like it's more important to be a part of the world rather than living in a bubble of bloated thought or whatever way you want to describe the academic approach to poetry.

I regret not eating more cookies over the last few years of my life.

My main reason to attend grad school was to get the hell out of Muncie, Indiana. As much fun as I was having there, that place is a black hole. So now I'm Colorado and I have a couple jobs and in a few months I get to start paying back my loans and hopefully someone will want to publish my thesis. Hopefully, I'll be able to find the energy to write more poems after that. It's nice to think that I'll be able to write poems for myself and no one else, which is what I've been doing this last year, but having to have those poems get a stamp of approval from a university doesn't really help the way I feel about poetry, which is that I want a poem forever into the dirt or until it rains. You can't stamp that.

BG: Cookies for sure. How about leaving us with a final thought. If there's one (or maybe a few) thing(s) you want readers to come away with after reading Hallelujah Giant Space Wolf, what is it?

DB: Oh god. A final thought. I don't want any thought to be final. People should keep thinking beyond poems. People should be good people, etc. I think I need to eat some breakfast. I think I need to drink some more water. It's so dry out here that I woke up feeling more dehydrated than any hangover, and I haven't even drank alcohol since Friday (it's Wednesday). People should drink more water. I think the Pacers could potentially win the NBA championship this year and that's pretty exciting. Though they probably won't. I think it's weird to promote a book in any way. It feels weird, but here I am promoting a book. I think you should buy the book if you are reading this, if you've made it this far into the interview. I promise it's good. It took three years to write. Some of the poems are pretty epic. Some let you breathe a little bit, though most are pretty breathless. This book exists so you don't have to go to church. There's that idea that the body is a temple. Well, my brain is a mega-church. Huddle in there, people. We're about to sacrifice a lamb. Also, what is the deal with people acting like they don't get poetry? It's just words! Do you know how to read? People!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

SURROUNDED BY WATER. STEFANIE FREELE. PRESS 53


Stefanie Freele was born and raised in Wisconsin, and currently lives near a river (but not near enough) on the Northwest coast. Her stories have appeared or are forthcoming in several literary magazines, journals  and anthologies including Glimmer Train, Mid-American Review, Western Humanities Review, Sou'wester, Quarterly West, The Florida Review, Night Train, Prime Number Magazine, American Literary Review, Word Riot and Pank.

Awards for stories in Surrounded by Water include First Place in the Glimmer Train Fiction Open for “While Surrounded by Water”; Second Place in the Glimmer Train Family Matters Contest for “Us Hungarians”; a 2010 Million Writers Notable Story award for “Buccaneers”;  an Editor’s Pick in the Mid-American Review Fineline Competition for “Removal of Oneself From Corporate Identity”; and a Pushcart Prize nomination for “Pozniejszy.” 

Stefanie received a Kathy Fish Fellowship from SmokeLong Quarterly and served as Writer-In-Residence. She was also the 2010-2011 Healdsburg Literary Laureate. Her first short story collection,Feeding Strays (Lost Horse Press), was a finalist for the Binghamton University John Gardner Fiction Book Award and the Book of the Year Award from Foreword Reviews. Stefanie holds an MFA from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts and is currently Fiction Editor of the Los Angeles Review.

Visit Stefanie online at www.stefaniefreele.com


REVIEWS & PRAISE

“Stefanie Freele's fiction offers the thrill of discovering details sure to be overlooked by a less alert eye. Her characters take control of their lives by insisting — as their author does — that each moment matters, and can become something resonant and moving and strange in the very best way. Read these rare stories, and you will learn all over again how to look.” 
— Steve Himmer, author of The Bee-Loud Glade, Editor Necessary Fiction

“With a poet's ear and a scientist's eye, Stefanie Freele recasts suburban ennui as existential terror, domestic drudgery as harrowing suspense. These stories are terrific—they are small in scope but their implications are enormous.” 
— J. Robert Lennon, author of Pieces for the Left Hand and Familiar

“If you like your darkness with a splash of humor, Stefanie Freele’s Surrounded by Water is the book for you. This smart mix of long and short-short stories is wonderfully crafted and filled with an array of uniquely flawed characters. Freele is a great storyteller. Read her work.” 
— Sherrie Flick, author of I Call This Flirting and Reconsidering Happiness 

“Tear open this latest bag of Stefanie Freele stories. Eat just one. Soon the bag will be empty, and you won't feel the least bit guilty. These stories contain minerals, vitamins, and fiber, but you'll swear they're too yummy to be good for you!” 
--- Bruce Holland Rogers, author of The Keyhole Opera

Stefanie Freele is a master of getting out of her own way. Her stories are notable for what they are not: not at all predictable, not heavy or light, not true, not false. They are joyful, harrowing, quirky and deeply honest like the music of your thoughts when your head is clear and ears unplugged.” 
— Dan Coshnear, author of Jobs & Other Preoccupations

Saturday, April 7, 2012

AUTHOR INTERVIEW. RUSTY BARNES


Rusty Barnes grew up in rural northern Appalachia. He received his B.A. from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania and his M.F.A. from Emerson College. His fiction, poetry and non-fiction have appeared in over a hundred fifty journals and anthologies.  After editing fiction for the Beacon Street Review (now Redivider) and Zoetrope All-Story Extra, he co-founded Night Train, a literary journal which has been featured in the Boston GlobeThe New York Times, and on National Public Radio. Sunnyoutside Press published a collection of his flash fiction, Breaking it Down, in November 2007. MiPOesias published his poetry chapbook Redneck Poems and Broke.  Sunnyoutside published his collection of traditional fiction, Mostly Redneck in August 2011.


BG: As fiction wrters, I think we are better able to seperate the author from the narrator, but for the common reader, the distinction is a little harder to make, especally with a collecton like this, where the setting and the characters and the voice and the intimate details and understanding of Appalachian life are so strong and distinctive its easy to assume these stories have a hint of autobiography in them. So what's the deal, how much of Rusty Barnes, the man, the author, can we find in the pages of Mostly Redneck

RB: I think I'm going to steal something I once heard?/saw? Steve Almond say. All the stories are emotionally autobiographical. Which is to say, some stories are really close to my life and others are complete fictions and still others are somewhere in the middle. I usually don't use many words writing but I spend a lot of psychic energy reliving parts of my life (a lot of it my childhood) in order to find the point of the story or poem I'm working on or an image that fits in.

BG: I hear a lot of poets talk about channeling that psychic level of energy and refocusing it into their poetry and I've been talked through the process so I think I understand it, but with fiction, could you describe a little bit about what that process might look like, what shape it might take? Talk me through the process of channeling that psychic energy and transforming it into a narrative / story?

RB: Material I write about--poetry or fiction--comes about via one line I've imagined first, which I build or subtract from; or the material comes from an image. In either case, I spend some time--usually not very much time, I'm a purely instinctual writer--cogitating over what I've done and syncing it into my flow of chi. Are you still listening? Good, because that last sentence was mostly horseshit.

I turn the images or sentences over in my mind and in a matter of seconds, usually, I have a character who I think is interesting, someone I can see having a future. In my mind their past is already set and I'm ready to go forward and give them a life from what I have. The process takes a lot of psychic energy to write about, as the subjects are often family secrets or things that could be family secrets, or things that will be family secrets, or based on people who hate me or love me or both. There's at least one person in the world who both loves and hates me. This process is also blessed by everything I've experienced, a subject both very limited and more expansive than I'll ever probably confirm through my writing.

I am a sensitive new age guy in some way--don't laugh--and when I feel the 'flow' I roll with it, and I manufacture flow by the mystic process of my-ass-in-chair. Creation is a dark process for me, though, and I take it that isn't so for everybody, and that's cool; I don't purge emotion through writing, but it takes pieces of me I'd rather not have taken.  On the other hand, I believe flow is everywhere, like the Force, and when I need it I need it and I will pull, rip, rend, teethe on, cower before, and threaten various entities to get it. I will ignore phones, I will ignore everything that doesn't draw breath in order to find flow for myself. If I ever needed to, I would Darth Maul your ass in a heartbeat, chase you down and risk being bifurcated to get it. But I will have flow.

As well, I don't revise often (I go with the flow, I tell ya) though I have in the past, fanatically, done up to twenty drafts per story. I mellowed that shit out when I had kids. I don't have time for it. Unless the story needs it, and then away I go. Anyway--to your point. Psychic energy involves taking my past or your past or someone's past and rolling it around in my mind for ballast--the stuff that keeps me upside right and afloat. I will never ever lack for thingsto  write about. All I need is flow and time. If you think I'm kidding, I have often taken a lazy Sunday away from my kids and wife and written a short-short for every hour of the day, nine-to-nine. And trust me, my kids survived, were fed, played, did their schoolwork, and my wife ended the day still married to me. And all those stories were published somewhere or other, as is. I can't do that every day, but I can do it. If I'm not writing, I'm not blocked, I'm just not writing, and I treat it that way. On some other day the flow will come and I'll drop ten thousand words and be an extra-blessed guy.

BG: How much energy / inspiration / influence do you draw from the Appalachian region itself? It seems that this particular part of the country creates some pretty distinct writers with pretty distinct voices, especially in this age of contemporary fiction and its focus on language and style over traditional story elements, ie plot, structure, story arc, etc. But you, Mr. Barnes, are a master storyteller in the more traditional sense. Would you say that's more because of the influence of the south and the Appalachian region with it's thick history of folk narratives or would you attribute your style to your own creative mind and the way it works naturally?

Also, do you believe what I said is true, that contemporary fiction has gone the way of style and language over story and plot? 

RB: My influences as a writer are all realist, minimalist writers, it's true. It's also true I didn't find people who resembled the ones I grew up with and around until I had read my way through a large swath of Southern writers who eventually led me to more regional writers and Appalachia in particular. I grew up a good deal north of what we could call cultural Appalachia, which is mostly Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia and parts of Pennsylvania and a few other states. I grew up with many of the same Appalachian traditions: strong, long ties with place/locale; an emphasis on religion and its place in the community, large, tightly knit families; even an emphasis on traditional, often gospel or otherwise churched music, though that tradition has fallen by the wayside a bit in my generation, the idea of it is still strong. And what I write about is obviously colored by these traditions, even if it's not immediately evident in the prose. There's been a Barnes of my line in the north-central PA Bradford and Tioga counties since the late 18th century,and 90% of my family live within 20 miles of where I grew up.

As far as the influence on what I write, I immediately reach for those (not necessarily Appalachian) writers I've always read for pleasure: Larry Brown, Harry Crews, Ed Falco, Andre Dubus, Richard Ford. I'd like to write the kind of stories they produced. I can't say though, that they're direct influences inasmuch as they're nearly silent buddies I consult with in my head. Larry Brown was not a great prose stylist, but he found a niche for himself as a solid attention-getting storyteller. I write with his sense of story in mind (load characters down with trouble and see what they might do) and my own sense of rhythm, I hope.

In a recent review of Mostly Redneck in the Brooklyn Rail, Nicolle Elizabeth made an interesting distinction between the work I published for years in Night Train, and my own stories. She characterized the writing in NT as much more ethereal, and that's true enough. I read a great deal, and my net is wide when editing, but I have no interest, really, in writing ethereal or experimental stories. I respect the writing I see in many cases, and even more often the writers, the ideas behind what experimental/ethereal writers are doing, but it's not me. My aesthetic in poetry is much more wide open, for some reason. I read almost nothing but experimental or avant poets, but my work hasn't taken on that particular flavor yet. 

The internet loves flash fiction and style and language and flair and pretty things to look at, and so do I, to an extent. I want a meaty story when I read traditional short fiction or novels, though. I don't think defining this pomo age and the processes of writers as an either/or situation works. There's a still-subtle trend--considering publishing in general and not just internet stories--toward shorter work and denser writing, maybe but I don't think we're at the crux of some important change in the way we view narrative, as some people think. Some writers press ahead of their time and some establish a status quo, and that's the way it's always been, it seems to me. Jesus. I don't know if any of that answers the question. Sorry.

BG: What do you say to the folks who think realism is dated or boring or dead? 

RB: Those folks can just fuck off.

BG: I noticed you didn't list Breece D'J Pancake as one of your influences. Considering Pancake is perhaps the poster child for Appalachian storytelling, how often do you hear the comparisons and what do you think of them? I wasn't necessarily reminded of Pancake as I read Mostly Redneck, but I read a recent review written by Nick Ripatrazone, featured in Storyquarterly 43, and he made the comparison more than once. He said of Mostly Redneck,"... this is not simply a one-note book about the rural poor. Appalachian literature, though, has never really fallen into that trap... Pancake built his Appalachia through concrete details of the setting and the feeling, as in 'Trilobites' that his typical character 'was born in this country and I have never very much wanted to leave.' Pancake used that firm sense of place to add gravity to the minutia of his characters' lives. Barnes is able to accomplish much the same in his fiction." How do you feel about Ripatrazone's assessment? 

RB: It's hard to say I don't like the comparison: it's a formative book for a number of Appalachian folks, including me. I do feel the need to push back at it a little. His shit is dark dark dark. While I'm not Mr. Sunshine and flowers for everybody, my work is fairly dark too, though not without hope. What I wish, though, is that the reading people do would encompass a larger spectrum of Appalachian literature, so they'd have some other comparisons at hand besides Breece Pancake, good as he is. There's Lee Smith, Lisa Koger, Maurice Manning, Silas House, James Still, Crystal Wilkinson, Charles Dodd White, Gurney Norman, Denise Giardina, Mark Powell, Pinckney Benedict, Chris Offutt and journals like Appalachian Heritage and online scenes like Still and Fiddleblack, and publishers like Motes Books and Bottom Dog Press who are all publishing good work. Nikki Finney is the founder of the Affrilachian poets, there's Frank X. Walker and a ton of of other writers who represent a great deal more diversity than Appalachia is ever given credit for. So I don't mind, is the answer, I just wish reviewers would/could cast their net a little wider.

As for the second part of the question, place is very important to me. I need to get the details right, and I fuss like hell when I make a mistake, especially as what I write about represents a great deal more to me than just fiction. It's people, my people, I want to represent, so if I fuck something basic up it's a double whammy. I'm in an odd position as a writer who claims Appalachian roots, when the image most people take of the area does not include me and mine up there where I was born, in the very northern tip of Appalachia. Most of the literature from and about the region comes from what's typically known as cultural Appalachia: eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, southwestern PA. So I feel a little internal pressure to outdo myself so me and mine might be included in descriptions of Appalachian writers. No one in the, uh,  "Appalachian mainstream" has ever treated me badly or pooh-poohed my claim--quite the opposite--but I really want to knock everyone's ass out one of these days.

And then there's the question of locale for me in another sense. I'm up here in Revere MA, expatriated, so to speak, from my PA roots. In one sense, I'm just another PA native who left for greener pastures, a victim of brain drain, that phenomenon by which the forces that propel a lower-middle class kid like me into college and graduate school and parts unknown means I'll probably never live on the home turf again.. I don't work a day job anymore, but for ten or twelve years I pursued the life of the writer as I knew it, and teaching opportunities in my hometown were few and far between. I can think of maybe six colleges within a reasonable commute,whereas in the Boston area there's more like sixty-five. So the choice was obvious, but a larger part of me regrets that as the thing I'll have to carry with me till I die. I left the place, left the family, and didn't come back.

BG: In addition to your Appalachian heritage and your own love for language and writing and literature, how has your experience studying creative writing at a university affected / influenced / inspired / shaped your writing? 

RB: That's hard to say.  Mostly I didn't have close friends at first so I spent my entire first semester trying desperately to pass my 19th century novel course and reading like fury to try to catch up to contemporary literature. Me, my guitar, and my Tandy computer using WordPerfect. Everything I wrote that first semester ended up in my thesis, though, and I read something like 300 books. My guitar playing never improved, though.

Grad school was good in that I met some people who are still my friends eighteen years later, and I made enough connections with faculty whose confidence in me helped enormously as I suffered through being violated in workshops. Christopher Tilghman and DeWitt Henry were particularly helpful, as was Christopher Keane's advice about novel-writing, which only sunk in after I left the program.

BG: So you don't think anything you learned in a Creative Writing class helped strengthen or improve your writing in any way? What was the novel-writing advice from Keane? 

RB: What I heard in class--mostly--was that my stuff wasn't ready yet for publication. I learned from another professor, Eileen Pollack, the utility of a really thorough review, even though I didn't write them well at the time. I heard show don't tell/never start a story with dialogue. Stuff like that. I think I had to unlearn a lot in order to get to a comfort zone with my subject matter. I heard a lot about endings in grad school, and I listened, but ultimately, I liked the way I ended stories. Epiphany doesn't come for many people or many characters, so it never made sense to have the story blow up into seriousness or some ponderous lesson learned.

The novel advice from Keane via Harry Crews was simply to keep at it. I'd bet more than half the people writing in graduate school, probably more, give writing up within ten years after grad school, because they have no audience and little familial/other writer support,and their spouses or significant others don't understand. The world doesn't want writers or artists, and the schools who train artists never mention how hard it is just to keep going. The world wants you not to fuck around with art; the world wants you to toddle along and not think about the things that make good fiction, for example. They train you away from conflict and into mild or middle of the road views on everything,which doesn't make for good fiction. Harry Crews just died, so I've been rereading him lately, and one of the things he said that stays with me is that he did not admire fiction or writers with no edges. The people who make change in the world or who make art that succeeds have edges, and those edges enter the world and alter it. I'm not saying it as well or succinctly as he did, and wouldn't suggest that anyone travel as far as he did to find the edges or make the edges, but the statement rings true for me nonetheless.

BG: Thanks a lot for your time and for a great interview. Now's your chance to leave us with a final thought. If there's one (or maybe a few) thing(s) you want readers to come away with after reading Mostly Redneck, what is it? 

RB: I want them to come away with a woody, even the women. I want them all het up and bothered and wanting to read my next book.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

2012 MLB PRE-SEASON PREDICTIONS



AL EAST
NEW YORK YANKEES

AL CENTRAL
DETROIT TIGERS

AL WEST
TEXAS RANGERS

NL EAST
PHILADELPHIA PHILLES

NL CENTRAL
CINCINNATI REDS

NL WEST
ARIZONA D' BAGS

All pretty safe picks this year. I know people think the Yankees are gonna finish behind the Rays, but I think the Yankees find a way to get it done. Also, same with the Rangers. I know people think the window has closed for them and the Angels will go back to heading the division, but I'm not so sure, I like the Rangers for one more run. And the Reds. Every year I pick the Reds and they let me down. Not this time. Let's go Cinci. 

AL WINNER
TEXAS RANGERS
I'm really torn because the Tigers look so strong this year, but I think this is the year the Rangers find a way to win it.

NL WINNER
ARIZONA D' BAGS
I wish Philly could get their shit together in the post-season and win, but they can't. They will dominate the regular season and get beat by an inferior team in the playoffs, so I'm going with the D'bags.


WORLD SERIES CHAMPION
TEXAS RANGERS

The only thing that makes me cautious about this pick is the law of averages. Seems very unlikely that a team gets to the World Series three years in a row, but I'm holding steady like Ben Tanzer. My back-up World Series pick is Arizona over Detroit.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

GUEST EDITOR. JESSE EAGLE

Huge thanks to JESSE EAGLE for agreeing to guest edit the next issue of DOGZPLOT. So get your stories ready and send them our way. Please and thanks.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

WRITERS RESPOND TO AWP. WING CHAIR BOOKS

Michael Fillipone from WING CHAIR BOOKS asked me and a few other writers the same question:

What did you learn at AWP 2012?

Here's what I said:

It’s easy to give in to the belief that everyone in the small press / indie lit / AWP writing scene are all on some fake ass, circle jerk, social bullshit, then you arrive at AWP and remember that people are amazing, full of love and life and talent and energy and creativity and goodness and you forget how / why / when you ever even forgot that in the first place.

Here's what everyone else said:

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

Saturday, February 4, 2012

DONDADA. MY MAN'S FREESTYLIN' ON SOME JEEZY, SCARFACE, DMX HYBRID SHIT. FAKE NIGGAS PEEP GAME







Super Bowl Predictions

White Chocolate Mousse addicts moisten up to nose rings at the spa.

A Son of A Son of a fill in the blank smuggles wet wipes into the airport that is its air-tight redundancy.

Someone does something meaning I don't mean that.

The next sentence is instead of me.

29/30.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

MORE STUFF TO READ




Blake Butler & Sean Kilpatrick - Anatomy Courses

Ken Baumann - The Sky Went Red While He Was Inside

Monday, January 16, 2012

FUCKSCAPES. SEAN KILPATRICK


fuckscapes by Sean Kilpatrick
100 pgs. /// Dec. 2011 /// $12 ///
“The violent, sexual zone of television and entertainment is made to saturate that safe-haven, the American Family. The result is a zone of violent ambience, a ‘fuckscape’: where every object or word can be made to do horrific acts. As when torturers use banal objects on its victims, it is the most banal objects that become the most horrific (and hilarious) in Sean Kilpatrick’s brilliant first book.” – Johannes Goransson, author of A New Quarantine Will Take My Place
“Pregnancy dream of poetry has this Sean Kilpatrick book by the fist. You learn to signal to others from the woken state, here, line-by-line. Do you have any extra money? Buy this book! If you have to skip lunch, buy THIS BOOK! “I held my breath so hard I ended up in the country.” Some poetry you read is forgotten, and never remembered. Some poetry, this poetry, Sean Kilpatrick’s poetry, is a manual for exciting the engine to throw you out of the vanquished pleasures. Here is your I.V. drip of sphinx’s blood.” – CAConrad, author of The Book of Frank
excerpt:
dolemite
motherfucker my stains dance
in trumpet cast clouds
by faint progression like torn
skin off money
ho
physicians break my caravan
to crave a scalp this
low
bitch I doggy paddle the stars
in jars of petty absence
where love most is I slapped
a straight jacket on and got fancy
in the cunt of evenings gone
overture of pockets now
swiping my balls on god

Wednesday, January 11, 2012