Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening Day

Baseball is my favorite sport to watch. I don't relate to the players as well now that I've reached the age many of them wash up and retire, but I'll always remember watching games with my father, dating back to before I could talk. Here's one of my first published poems, from Lynx Eye:

First Memory of Watching Baseball with Your Father

Downstairs after church and Star Trek
Saturday nights you watched the Yankees
from the wicker chair with the yellow cushion.

There was a remote, but you liked to
hunker close to the big Zenith,

Open the panel, and push TINT;
turn Reggie's skin from brown to yellow-green
until your father sighed.

You knew the players by number, but
didn't know why they got traded.

Couldn't tell fair from foul,
balls from strikes, but you listened
for Phil Rizzuto's “Holy Cows”.

By the middle innings,
you were back in his lap,

Smelling the plateful of peanut shells,
beer from the bottle in his hand
or maybe his breath.

You took sips, bringing out
the must in the room.

No windows, no clock in the den,
telling time by the inning.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Lineup 4 Blog Tour

Starting Friday and running through April, friends of The Lineup: Poems on Crime will be blogging about their favorite poems in Issue 4. If you'd like to join in, just leave a comment or e-mail me.

Friday, April 1: Kevin Burton Smith - The Thrilling Detective Blog
Saturday, April 2: Bill Crider - Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine
Sunday, April 3: Patricia Abbott - pattinase
Monday, April 4: Peter Rozovsky - Detectives Beyond Borders
Tuesday, April 5: John DuMond - Nobody Move
Wednesday, April 6: Kathleen Ryan - Women of Mystery
Thursday April 7: Chris F. Holm - _holm
Friday, April 8: Anthony Rainone
Saturday, April 9: Sandra Seamans - My Little Corner
Sunday, April 10: Janet Rudolph - Mystery Fanfare
Monday, April 11: Richie Narvaez - Nuyorican Obituary
Tuesday, April 12: Keith Rawson - Bloody Knuckles, Callused Fingertips, Bill Cameron - Thinking with My Skin
Wednesday, April 13: Paul Brazill - You Would Say That, Wouldn't You?
Thursday, April 14: Charlie Stella - Temporary Knucksline, BV Lawson - In Reference to Murder
Friday, April 15: David Corbett - Poetic Justice Press
Saturday, April 16: David Rachels - Noirboiled Notes, Patrick Shawn Bagley - Bitter Water Blog
Sunday, April 17: The Lineup's third episode of CrimeWAV
Monday, April 18: John Kenyon - Things I'd Rather Be Doing
Tuesday, April 19: Anne Frasier - Monkey with a Pen
Wednesday, April 20: Wallace Stroby - Live at The Heartbreak Lounge
Thursday, April 21: Jim Winter - Edged in Blue
Friday, April 22: Stephen Jay Schwartz - Murderati
Saturday, April 23: Ali Karim - Existentialist Man
Sunday, April 24: Kathy Slamen - My Boring Life in Pretty Pictures
Monday, April 25: Cullen Gallagher - Pulp Serenade, Lou Boxer - NoirCon
Tuesday, April 26: Duane Swierczynski - Secret Dead Blog
Wednesday, April 27: Kent Gowran - Blood, Sweat, Murder
Thursday, April 28: Stephen Blackmoore - L.A. Noir
Friday, April 29: S.J. Rozan, J.D. Smith - Smitroverse
Saturday, April 30: Keith Snyder

Monday, March 28, 2011

Buy Now

UPDATE: 20% off orders with coupon code SPLISH305 through April 4.

Signed copies of The Lineup #4 have arrived at our four bookshop locations, and I've just made the book available on The Get The Lineup section of the Poetic Justice Press site lists everywhere The Lineup #4 is available and will link to reviews of the issue as the come in.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Superheroes Rebooted

With a slight pun on costume boots, I introduce my thoughts on the casting for Zack Snyder's Superman movie. Diane Lane as Martha and Kevin Costner as Jonathan seem like good choices. Both can play salt-of-the-earth. I haven't seen Superman Henry Cavill or any of Zack Snyder's movies, but I'm ready for a fresh take. Bryan Singer's Superman Returns so wanted to link itself to Richard Donner and Christopher Reeve, there was nothing original about it.

UPDATE (March 27): Amy Adams has been announced as the reboot's Lois Lane. I contend Lois is the most important part. She helps us earthlings relate to a strange visitor from another planet. Adams may have the acting chops I'm looking for.

Meanwhile, David E. Kelley has promised his Wonder Woman TV series at NBC will blend classic and modern. I'm not sure it can match the '70s Lynda Carter series for earnestness. Here's a photo of star Adrianne Palicki in costume that I haven't quite digested:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mom's Corned Beef

Corned beef is also a Filipino dish called carne norte. In the recipes I've found online, it's mashed and fried out of the can, but my mom stews the mashed beef with diced tomatoes and onions and, sometimes, red or green chili peppers. Mmmm.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"The Last Wallet" Video

Here's a video for my poem "The Last Wallet", originally published in Mouth Full of Bullets #1 (September 2006), ed. B.J. Bourg:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Prose or Poetry: Do You Have to Choose?

I've always appreciated the sound of poetry, but from grade school to grad school, I felt I was on firmer ground writing prose. It wasn't until I helped Robert Plath with the HTML code for a faculty poetry site at Hofstra that I committed to writing poetry. (Have I mentioned my interest in writing began when an eighth-grade classmate had a book published in the school library? Jealousy is a great motivator.)

I think you do have to commit to whatever you do to get the most out of it, but this doesn't mean you have to choose one and make it a career path. Prose is better than poetry for some ideas and vice versa. I recommend you sharpen both tools, have both at your disposal, so when the time for each one comes, you're ready.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Prose and Poetry: Different Mindsets

The multifaceted Steve Weddle interviewed me for an upcoming Do Some Damage post about The Lineup. One of his questions was, "Is poetry harder to write than fiction?"

I answered that poetry isn't harder; it just has different goals from fiction. Prose—fiction or nonfiction, novel or short story, article or essay—proceeds more or less linearly from beginning, to middle, to end. In drafting prose, the writer focuses on fleshing out the details and the action. An increasing word count is considered progress.

The goal of poetry is to communicate the power of a moment, emotion, or viewpoint in as few words as necessary. There is some fleshing out, but much more time is spent choosing the right words to sharpen the image, to express precisely what you feel.

Prose writers are often taught to get ideas out in early drafts and refine those ideas in later drafts. Poets typically reach the refining stage much sooner. If you primarily write prose and find your poetry lacking, it may be because you're concerned with beginning, middle, and end instead of capturing your feelings in the moment. It may be because you've never warmed to the task of revision, a task essential to finding the right words for a poem. I hope this post helps you tackle what's holding you back.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

YOUNG JUNIUS by Seth Harwood

Seth Harwood's second novel, published last October by Tyrus Books, covers a single life-changing day in the life of 6'2" fourteen-year-old Junius Posey. Determined to avenge his older brother Temple's death, Junius makes his way to visit a woman in the Rindge Towers who supposedly knows who killed Temple.

Like many of his fans, I discovered Seth Harwood's writing via his CrimeWAV podcast, writing that engages you in just a page or two and tempts you to turn off the computer, unplug the phone, and be immersed in the world he's creating. I didn't have a day to do that and imagine the events in the timeframe set. However, though I read the book in pieces, I still felt its smaller character moments.

I'm most impressed with Harwood's balancing truth and fiction. His depiction of drug-related violence in 1987 rings starkly true, yet Junius's quest for the truth is inevitably sidetracked by a lie. Though driven by the lie, the steps Junius takes into manhood are genuine. Highly recommended.

Right on.

Last night, J.D. Smith blogged about receiving his contributor copy of The Lineup #4. His penultimate paragraph zeros in on The Lineup's modus operandi:

If you're trying to convince someone that poetry touches on real life and real people, you may want to share this collection. It includes vice, theft, muggings, murder and post-traumatic stress disorder, all in language that is moving as well as accessible.

Look for J.D.'s poem, "From a Deposition", on p. 31 of Issue 4.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

"Let's all go."

In 1995 (Wow.), I helped found a literary magazine at Hofstra called Font (now trendily known as f0nt). I wasn't the editor-in-chief, the managing editor, or the layout editor. I was the "Structure Representative", the guy who attended weekly meetings to make sure Font was marked present by the student government (as opposed to being absent, forgotten, and de-funded).

I didn't rise much in the ranks. I was a second-semester junior when Font was conceived. I had been a loner until then, but wanted to be part of building something new, something that might last. I was the guy in the office most often, which for most of my time was a cubicle in the basement of the student union. My point, though, is that I did represent structure. I was one of the people who made the office a cool place to stop by. I reached out to the surrounding clubs, and Font had a good reputation by the time I graduated.

In 2001, I was recruited by Kevin Burton Smith and Victoria Esposito-Shea to edit the original fiction section of Thrilling Detective. Victoria was preparing to leave to devote her time to HandHeldCrime, one of the first zines delivered to portable devices. For the next nine years, Kevin and I worked well together, in part because I always remembered Thrilling was his site. Whatever my opinion might be, he had the final say, but our dispositions complemented each other, making the stories we published better overall.

And now here I am at The Lineup, a magazine I couldn't and wouldn't want to have started on my own. Aware of how many voices can work together, I asked some friends to throw in with me as equal co-editors. Five people have edited with me over the years, and our collective effort has shaped The Lineup's unique identity.

The past few months I've blogged about our continuing efforts to see how far our concept can go. The alternative would be not to say anything about our plans, making developments seem sudden. That has some some individualist appeal, but I can't forget everything I've gained from sharing my plans with others.

How can you take part in The Lineup? Read our issues. See for yourself what we're about. Then tell two friends, and they'll tell two friends, and so on, and so on...

Monday, March 07, 2011

Booked for Bouchercon 2011

Yesterday, I reserved a room at the Marriott Renaissance St. Louis Grand for Bouchercon 2011 (September 15-18). I'm set to arrive midday on the 15th, so I'll be lugging my luggage around until check-in at 4:00 P.M. I'll keep that in mind when packing, though. Good times, good times.

Here's my post on Bouchercon 2008 in Baltimore.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011