HUMP Day Hangouts

Time for another HUMP Day! I love cows. Enjoy these great reads, selected from around the web:

HUMP Day Hangouts:

1) Jim Ruland discusses his new novel, Forest of Fortune on San Diego’s KPBS: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2014/oct/21/forest-fortune/ – ?utm_source=t.co&utm_medium=social-media&utm_campaign=kpbsnews-twitter

2) At Fictionaut, Writers On Craft column by Heather Fowler, an interview with Sara Lippmann, author of The Doll Palace: http://www.fictionaut.com/wordpress/2014/10/20/writers-on-craft-sara-lippmann/

3) Emily Temple reveals 50 of the Scariest Short Stories of All Time at Flavorwire: http://flavorwire.com/483530/50-of-the-scariest-short-stories-of-all-time?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=socialflow&utm_campaign=FlavorwireSocial&utm_content=FaceBook

4) Monica Drake on Modern Love in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/19/fashion/life-was-a-roving-party-until-i-grew-up.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

5) Donald Hall reflects on his marriage to Jane Kenyon in Poetry Magazine: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/article/146874?commentsubmit=true – article

6) “Accidents Happen” by Roxane Gay at Tumblr: http://roxanegay.tumblr.com/post/100195578415/accidents-happen

7) Check out the great posts at People You Know By Heart, Len Kuntz’s Blog: http://lenkuntz.blogspot.com/

8) Michelle Elvy’s “Impossible Weather” at Revolution John: http://revolutionjohnmagazine.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/impossible-weather-by-michelle-elvy/

9) Gina Frangello’s essay “This is Happiness” at The Nervous Breakdown: http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/gfrangello/2013/05/this-is-happiness/

10) The Rumpus Interview with Alex Dimitrov and Kate Durbin: http://therumpus.net/2014/10/the-rumpus-interview-with-alex-dimitrov-and-kate-durbin/

Also, my latest poem, “When He Left it all to Me,” is at Fictionaut: http://fictionaut.com/stories/robert-vaughan/when-he-left-it-all-to-me

And that, my friends, is a wrap. What are you reading?

Two for Tuesday: Meg Tuite and Melanie Page

It’s Tuesday again, and today is the second installment of our Two for Tuesday column. I asked two friends if they were willing to choose two of their fairly new reads, and write a short “blurb” about why they liked it, or the impact the book had, impressions, etc. Both said “sure!” I love my friends. Here it is, hope you enjoy it:

TWO FOR TUESDAY: MEG TUITE

Elegantly Naked in My Sexy Mental Illness by Heather Fowler is 16 stories that ‘cross unseen barriers’ created by a world that pretends these characters are far-removed from our existence: the obsessions, the phobias, the voices. Fowler exposes the fraudulence of our so-called ‘sanity’ in every one of these stories by revealing scars, secrets, traumas through characters that are not only familiar, but familial: humanity masked behind drapes.

“They made their lives with monotony. She ached for something new. I stole in, invisible, as I always do. It is easy to steal a heart unguarded, as easy as opening an unlocked door. I watched her and touched her–expecting nothing.”

“Blood drenched our fields. It made us see red. The poor would not wait.”

Fowler whisks us smoothly through the 12th century to the present to remind us that ‘then and now,’ are interchangeable with judgment, death sentence, class issues, vengeance and the lust to dominate someone just beyond our reach.

Heather Fowler’s writing is inimitable and unforgettable. She is fearless while storming through uncharted waters. Get a copy!

http://www.queensferrypress.com/books/elegantlynakedinmysexymentalillness.html

Paperback and e-book: 296 pages; Queen’s Ferry Press (May 26, 2014)

Heather Fowler

 

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if i would leave myself behind by Lauren Becker is an astonishing collection of 28 stories and one novella. Get ready to be rearranged and turned inside out. The narrator climbs inside you and messes with your internal organs. My heart will never be the same. Every paragraph is its own brilliant landscape of relationships and how they move or stagnate as the narrator warns pursuers of a future she has already anticipated:

“You will disappoint me. Perhaps you must. I don’t know otherwise and will be confused at the absence of disappointment. You are just another and I am only me. I give you full permission to be everything I don’t want. In fact, I insist. And you don’t need my permission. It will only impel you to do the opposite and the opposite would be distressing to us both.”

“I climb into his beautiful mouth and I am his mouth and his pain and his words.”

But the true relationship is between reader and narrator. Moving from 1st person to 2nd person, Becker never leaves us behind. The door is open and we are in her thoughts, her fears, her hangovers, her refrigerator, on her couch, blasted face-on with her fierce honesty that makes this collection a life-long friend and necessity. It is a book that will never cease to inspire me. If you don’t have this collection, than you are truly missing out on writing at its best.

http://www.curbsidesplendor.com/shop/if-i-would-leave-myself-behind

Paperback: 120 pages; Curbside Splendor Publishing (June 17, 2014)

Lauren Becker

Meg’s Bio: Meg Tuite’s writing has appeared in numerous literary journals. She is the author of two short story collections, Bound By Blue (2013) Sententia Books and Domestic Apparition (2011) San Francisco Bay Press, and three chapbooks, the latest titled, Her Skin is a Costume (2013) Red Bird Chapbooks. She won the Twin Antlers Collaborative Poetry award from Artistically Declined Press for her poetry collection, Bare Bulbs Swinging (2014) written with Heather Fowler and Michelle Reale. She teaches at the Santa Fe Community College, lives in Santa Fe with her husband and menagerie of pets. Her blog: http://megtuite.com.

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TWO FOR TUESDAY: MELANIE PAGE

Lately, most of my reading is the result of required reading for a course I’m teaching, or for a virtual book tour I’m coordinating. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t love and/or admire the book, for I wouldn’t work with texts I don’t enjoy.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X—with Alex Haley. I read the excerpt of Malcolm X learning to read in prison in a textbook from which I was teaching. After reading the book myself, I knew I had to teach it to others. Not only is Malcolm X’s story of parents murdered and driven insane, to graduating 8th grade, to hustling the streets of Harlem—which leads him to prison—amazing, but inspires students in my ENG 101 class. Many of them come from small beginnings only to see what reading, critical thinking, and discipline can do for one person. I think Malcolm X still speaks to those who feel small. In fact, my used copy has an inscription: “11.25.92 To Bobo, Because it’s your birthday and because we have to keep abreast of current events. You are a warm, genuine, fabulous person! I’m totally happy you’re my friend…love, Hammer.”

The Autobiography of Malcolm X (As Told to Alex Haley): Malcolm X, Alex Haley, M. S. Handler: 9780345376718: Amazon.com: Books

Paperback: 466 pages; Ballantine Books, 1992 edition.

Malcolm X

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Her Own Vietnam—Lynn Kanter. Lynn’s book I am reading as part of a forthcoming virtual book tour. While most novels and movies focus on the male perspective of war, Lynn views Vietnam from the eyes of Della, a young nurse who signed up for the sake of school money. Only one year in the field changes Della forever. Readers don’t experience that numbing fear in the field, which we often get from a soldier’s perspective, but the carnage, the burning, maggot-infested, limbs missing or dangling side of it. The nurses get bags of body parts and must play match the pieces. Told from two time periods (in Vietnam and as a 50-something nurse and mother), Della’s life is one amazing story to read.

Her Own Vietnam: Lynn Kanter: 9780991355525: Amazon.com: Books

Paperback: 214 pages; forthcoming November 2014 from Shade Mountain Press.

Lynn Kanter

Melanie Page teaches in Michiana. She is the creator of the ladies-only blog, Grab the Lapels, where you can catch reviews and interviews every M/W/F (or there about). Her fiction is mostly in small-press anthologies, like Tales of Excess (Unknown Press), Wreckage of Reason II (Spuyten Duyvil), and Dirty: Dirty (Jaded Ibis).

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Thanks so much, Meg and Melanie! The two books I read recently that are worthy of a mention are Sylvia Plath’s Ariel: The Restored Edition; and Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons: The Corrected Centennial Edition. Interesting that both of these texts appeared in previous publications apparently not in the form/ format of the author/ poet’s initial desires. Check them out! I highly recommend both.

 Sylvia PlathGertrude Stein

 

 

 

 

 

Hump Day Re-Launch

Welcome to Hump Day! Ten literary sites that might interest you this week, and on every Wednesday:

HUMP DAY RE- LAUNCH:

1) Meg Tuite tells us why she writes flash fiction at Every Day Chronicles (this site also has one of the best resources of flash fiction markets for submissions): http://www.everydayfiction.com/flashfictionblog/why-i-write-flash-fiction-tuite/

2) Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist) delivers with this essay at The New Statesman: http://www.newstatesman.com/2014/10/roxane-gay-i-have-feared-white-men-and-i-have-loved-them

3) Scott Waldyn, of Literary Orphans, reviews ART AND CRAFT at The Tavern Lantern: http://literaryorphans.org/ttl/mastering-art-craft-scott-waldyn-reviews-oscilloscopes-latest/

4) Rachel Heimowitz has a stunning new poetry collection, What the Light Reveals:

http://www.rachelheimowitz.com/

5) Michael Seidlinger of Civil Coping Mechanisms selects a tie for the press’s Mainline writing contest: http://copingmechanisms.net/mainline

6) While in New York City, I had the wonderful fortune to hear poets Ellen Bass and Kevin Simmonds read from their stellar new collections:

http://www.ellenbass.com/

Kevin Simmonds :: musician, writer & artist ::

7) Poet Claudia Rankine waxes and wanes in the Los Angeles Times: http://touch.latimes.com/ – section/-1/article/p2p-81625795/

8) Recently at Boston Review, poet Amy King gives Ocean Vuong a Poet’s Sampler: http://www.bostonreview.net/poetry/amy-king-ocean-vuong-poets-sampler-ocean-vuong

9) Michelle Bailat-Jones talks with Christopher Allen at I Must Be Off!: http://www.imustbeoff.com/2014/10/expat-author-interview-with-michelle.html

10) I love when my path crosses a new (to me) poet, like Neil McCarthy (at Fictionaut):

http://fictionaut.com/stories/neil-mccarthy/criticism-of-the-dead

 

 

 

Two for Tuesday: books

I love to consider how a book “comes” to me. Often, it’s a friend, or a sibling who recommends a great read. Because of this, and the variety of writing available, I decided to launch my new Two for Tuesday column! Every Tuesday, whenever possible, I’ll ask two people to select two books they’ve recently read, and write a small “blurb”: what they liked, or not, and what sort of impact the book might have had. A “teaser” if you will. So, here are our first Two for Tuesday participants:

Two for Tuesday: BUD SMITH

Doll Palace- Sara Lipmann. I loved. Electrified short stories about girls growing up in NJ/NYC area, sometimes in outlandish situations (like Target Girl, who’s the daughter of a knife throwing expert). Real care put into this writing. Above and beyond the usual, the expected, the mundane. Bonus points because one of the stories in it “Everyone Has Your Best Interests At Heart” takes place in a town on the Jersey shore where I grew up.

Paperback: 258 pages; Publisher: Dock Street Press, Sept. 2014

http://dockstreetpress.com/portfolio-item/doll-palace

Book_covers_dp

Last Days of California by Mary Miller. A family on a road trip towards the west coast, getting ready for the Rapture. A mobile exploration of contemporary America through the eyes of a teenage Born Again, with doubts. Dig this book because the writing is addictive, seemingly loose, but put together as if done so under a spell.

Paperback: 256 pages; Publisher: Liveright (Sept. 2, 2014)

The Last Days of California | W. W. Norton & Company

Unknown

Bud Smith’s bioBud Smith is 32, hungry, thirsty, and from New Jersey. He currently lives in New York City, in Washington Heights, near the GWB Bridge. He’s got a car that he parks on the street every night. Not a single window has been smashed in, even after eight years. His books are the novels Tollbooth and F-250 (Piscataway House), the short story collection Or Something Like That (Unknown Press) and poetry collection Everything Neon (Marginalia). He works heavy construction building power plants and refineries, welding, burning, rigging to maintain and repair process equipment. So that’s fun. He also co-edits the art meets lit anthology Uno Kudo. Some recent short stories and poems have appeared at Smokelong, JMWW, Metazen, Word Riot, and theNewer York. He is currently working on a collection of poetry. Also: he was born on Thanksgiving Day. Likes to sit at his desk and listen to the same record over and over again. Is fond of paperback books found online, second-hand, written by dead people. More at www.budsmithwrites.com

 

Two for Tuesday: MICHAEL GILLAN MAXWELL

The Mayor of MacDougal Street is the mostly autobiographical memoir of Dave Van Ronk, one of the founding figures in the American folk revival in the sixties. He was also one of most influential folk song historians, songwriters and guitarists of his time. The Mayor of MacDougal Street is a sprawling, comprehensive depiction of life and times in New York City’s Greenwich Village in the 1950s, 60’s and 70’s. Thoroughly engaging and fascinating, it’s a beautiful complement to two other NYC memoirs by prominent musicians: Bob Dylan’s Chronicles and Patti Smith’s Just Kids.

Paperback: 272 pages; Publisher: Da Capo Press; (Second Edition, 2013)

http://www.amazon.com/Mayor-MacDougal-Street-2013-Memoir/dp/0306822164/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413219471&sr=1-1&keywords=Mayor+of+macDougal+street

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I Never Met A Story I Didn’t Like: Mostly True Tall Tales is Todd Snider’s memoir of his life and career. Todd Snider is one of the most beloved and influential “Americana” singer/songwriter/storytellers out there. Each chapter is an expansion of one or more of his story songs, with larger-than-life characters that are almost mythological in stature. Compelling, compassionate and hilarious, I couldn’t put it down. Don’t pass up an opportunity to see him in concert!

Paperback: 304 pages; Publisher: Da Capo Press (April 22, 2014)

http://www.amazon.com/Never-Met-Story-Didnt-Like/dp/0306822601/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413219237&sr=1-1&keywords=todd+snider

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Michael Gillan Maxwell’s bio: Michael Gillan Maxwell is a writer and visual artist in the Finger Lakes Region of New York state. Maxwell writes short fiction, poetry, songs, essays, recipes and irate letters to his legislators and his work has been featured in a number of journals and anthologies. He serves as associate flash fiction editor for JMWW quarterly journal and editor of MadHat Lit’s Drive-By Reviews. A teller of tales and singer of songs, he’s prone to random outbursts, may spontaneously combust or break into song at any moment and might be occasionally found ranting and raving on his website: Your Own Backyard. http://michaelgillanmaxwell.com

 

Also, I’d like to mention two books that I’ve read recently: Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein (The Corrected Centennial Edition); and ghostbread by Sonja Livingston. Both highly recommended! Thanks for a great first Two for Tuesday, Bud and Michael! Please feel free to comment with any books you recommend, especially those you are currently reading!

 

 

 

Recap: My Week in New York City

I was recently in New York City for readings, inspiration, great food and more.

On Monday, September 29th, the day I arrived, I met friends Bud and Rae for dinner at John’s in the East Village. Although under new ownership, this is an East Village landmark that operated as a speakeasy during Prohibition. After an amazing dinner, and a quick after-dinner drink at Booker and Dax, Bud and I scrambled up to Kipsey’s for Sue Polo’s Saturn Series Poetry Readings: Saturn Series Poetry Reading Every Monday Nite. There was an open mike at the beginning, then three featured poets: Adeena Karasick, Larissa Shmailo, and Jonathan Penton (all of Mad Hat). Then Bud and I both read in the latter open mike. I read “Three for Carol” (which was my poems devoted to Carol Novack, original editor of Mad Hat), and “Hummingbirds.” Bud slayed three entirely new poems from his forthcoming collection: “In Their Pool,” “point taken,” and “Cherry World.”

Tuesday, writing at Cafe Pick Me Up, then lunch with Andrea at Cafe Mogodor in East Village. My New York family. LOVE HER! We’d attempted Yaffa Cafe, but it was closed, so adjacent was Mogodor, and it was fantastic. I also met Andrea’s acupuncturist, Dr. Richard Hazel.

My pal, Cyrus arrived in the afternoon. We walked over to SoHo, had a quick bite on a patio at Prince and Lafayette, then I found my local watering hole: Westville! One block from the Sheraton Four Points. Dinner at Spice Market, food fantastic, company even better:

spice

Wednesday, October 1, we went to McNally Jackson, where poets Kevin Simmonds and Ellen Bass read. A fantastic literary event, sponsored by The Poetry Society. Then, Bud and I went to Westville for IPA’s (Meg, we toasted to you!) at the bar. I highly recommend Ellen’s new book, Like a Beggar:

Ellen Bass – Like a Beggar

LikeaBeggar200px

Thursday, October 2, was the reading at Mellow Pages in Brooklyn! This amazing lending library hosts events regularly http://mellowpageslibrary.com/:

Jacob Perkins at Mellow PagesHost Jacob Perkins (and Matt Nelson)

Mellow Pages Library readingReading “Temporary” from new book

10403236_653303894766909_5535559670162446680_nStill “Temping!!!”

Bud Smith really rocked this reading, too. He did this cool thing where he turned off the lights and read from his phone. Killer! Thanks to friends Rae, Valentin, Cyrus and John Madera among others who turned out in support of Bud and me.

Friday night party at The Smith- Buleri household (Haven Ave…appropriate name!) Prior I met my publicist, John, at my new favorite vegetarian restaurant, Blossom on Carmine Street. We had a great time!

At the party, I saw so many friends, including the hosts, also Michael Maxwell was in the house, Julie Allen, Chuck Howe, Erin McParland, Gessy Alvarez, and many more. Because it was our dear friend Meg’s birthday, we took silly photos and posted them on her Facebook page. Silly, goofy fun:

10624972_871036116247522_7792553798582006191_nGlasses courtesy of Unknown Press

Saturday started with watching videos of Sylvia Plath on YouTube, recorded at the BBC in 1962, only months before her premature death. “Did I escape I wonder?” So many great lines in her Ariel poems.

Dear friend David met me at Cafe Pick Me Up, and we strolled around the East Village in search of a bag for his new bear poem books, a gift from Cyrus. Andrea and Ian met us for an early bite at Caravan of Dreams on E. 6th Street. That evening, we had our group reading for Too Much: Tales of Excess Anthology, edited by Chuck Howe, published by Unknown Press:

Unknown

Amazon.com: Too Much: Tales of Excess (9781500216771): Chuck Howe, Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow, Michael Gillan Maxwell, Melanie Page, Puma Perl, Ron Kolm, Robert Vaughn, James H Duncan, Misti Rainwater-Lites, Gus Sanchez, Ryder Collins, Ashley Perez, Sophia Sturges, Ted Jackins, John Saunders, Irene Stone, Bekah Steimel, Dave Roskos, Tracey Lander-Garrett, Meg Tuite, Heather Dorn: Books.

Such a blast, Bud was a great host, and Chuck plied us all with his banjo strumming to wrap, while host of Jimmy’s 43 supplied us with free Stillwater Existent black IPA’s. Oh what a night!

Outside Jimmy's 43Arriving at Jimmy’s 43 with Bud and MGM

Bud SmithBud Smith, host and vivant reader

David and MGMDavid Carter and Michael Maxwell

Audience at Excess ReadingA great audience at Jimmy’s 43

And that, my friends, is a New York wrap!

Also, I have a new poem at Fictionaut. “Solaris,” my first piece there in months:

“Solaris” by Robert Vaughan — Fictionaut.

Just as I was preparing to leave NYC, I saw this image on a boarded up excavation site adjacent to my hotel, and I knew I was ready to get back home:

unnamed

Thanks everyone for a great New York City week, big city of dreams!

I’ll be back.

 

Two September Readings: Bay View and Green Bay

Hi friends!

On Wednesday, September 24th, I will be reading at The Studio Lounge in downtown Bay View, Wisconsin. Fellow writers Tom Biel (Badlands), Ken Walker (Mercer) and Doug Rose (Bolt) are also reading. Tom, Doug and I will be celebrating our first year in circulation (Addicts & Basements is mine). Ken’s novel, Mercer, is forth-coming, so this is his debut. The Studio Lounge is located at 2246 S. Kinninkinnick Ave, and festivities are 7:30- 8:45 p.m.

Studio Lounge Bay View

We do have a Facebook page set up for the event here: Studio Lounge Reading: Get Your Bay View Gallery Nite in Gear. Please help us spread the word and support your local writers!

 

Also, on Thursday, September 25th, I will be reading in Green Bay, Wisconsin at The Reader’s Loft, 2069 Central Court, Suite 44 in Green Bay. Fellow poets Cathryn Cofell and Marilyn Windau are also reading. Event will be hosted by Tori Grant Welhouse and is 6:00- 8:00 p.m.

The Reader's Loft in Green Bay, WI

We do have a Facebook page for this event: Poetry Reading with Cathryn Cofell, Robert Vaughn, Marilyn Windau.

Would be great to see you at either event, please help spread the word if you are not able to come. We appreciate every single person who helps out!

What are you reading lately?

Family, Friends and Writing

Today is August 18th. That’s a big deal because 21 years ago, after more than 24 laborious hours, my first nephew, Robert Jarvis, was born. And today, he is now officially “legal,” and therefore has all sorts of new options open to him. I love you, Rob, and am very proud of the man you’ve become, and are becoming:

Heidi and baby Rob Christmas Hiram Lake, 1993

Also, today is my dearest friend Andrea’s birthday. It is not polite to mention a lady’s age, but we’ve been friends for more than half of our lives. Besties. Roomies. Through thick and thin. Through drink and smoke. Through concerts by the dozens. And through it all, we’ve maneuvered our relationship with grace, with ease, supple support. I love you, Andrea! Thanks for so much laughter and our depth.

My story, “Bacon and Eggs, 1977″ is published today at Everyday Genius. This is from my upcoming story collection, Departures Or Arrivals. Michael Seidlinger chose it as he curates the month of August at EG, and wanted to represent writers’ works from a current project:

Everyday Genius: Robert Vaughan

Also, another short fiction piece, “No Face World Champ” was published recently at theNewer York, by Josh Raab and Chuck Young: No Face World Champ – theNewerYorkThanks, guys!

Last weekend, I was in the city of my youth, Rochester, and was simultaneously reading a memoir by Sonja Livingston called Ghostbread. What a breathtaking book! Through her use of poetic prose and short chapters, structured like brilliant flashes, this book made me feel as if I’d learned something completely new about a city and region in which I was raised. I highly recommend it.

I also suggest gathering siblings and loved ones on a frequent basis. Telling stories, various opinions on why this one got that name, or how grandpa fell into his potato soup. Or why it matters to have intelligent and diverse discussions! Thanks Mikel (Mike), Julia, Cheryl (Aldo), Satchi, Heidi, Jeff, Rob (Anna) and Trevor for being my family. And grateful for all of the friends who turned out for Trevor’s going-off-to-college party…thanks! Kick some serious butt: Rob, Anna and Trevor this fall.

My music playlist at LargeHearted Boy

David Gutkowski, the editor at LargeHearted Boy wrote this about Addicts & Basements:

“Robert Vaughan’s collection brilliantly straddles the line between prose poetry and flash fiction, defying categorization while impressing with its unlikable characters that repeatedly earn the compassion of readers.”

Thanks, David! Also a nod to John Madera at Rhizomatic Publishing: LARGEHEARTED BOY Publishes Robert Vaughan’s “Book Notes” for ADDICTS & BASEMENTS | Rhizomatic

Check out my playlist: Largehearted Boy: Book Notes – Robert Vaughan “Addicts & Basements”

Also, congratulations to mentor and friend Roxane Gay, her publication day of Bad Feminist, a collection of her Essays, is out now. Get your copy, you won’t be disappointed:

unnamed

Enjoy the week! Happy Birthday to my room-mate Gregory from college.

 

 

Room with a View: The Clearing, part 2

Hi friends!

I returned yesterday from a week in paradise, my first visit to Door County! From July 20- 26, I taught a new course that I designed for The Clearing called Mixing Genres. Upon my arrival at the campus, I accidentally went to the Jens Jensen Center, which is where they house wonderful gifts, the bookstore, handmade cards, etc. I was greeted by lovely volunteers, told I had made a common mistake: I took the wrong entrance! Back on to Garrett Bay Road, and I found the entrance to The (actual) Clearing workshop space:campusentrance1

Upon arriving at the Lodge, I was greeted warmly by Tammy, and shown my Loft room in the Professor’s Quarters building (same building, different entrances). Although the stairs to my room were possibly lethal, I had the best view on the planet!

mainlodge

The first morning, I had a taste of our entire week: five writers showed up to take the Mixing Genres course: Nancy, Pete, Jami, Siobhan, and Cate (would have been six, but one had a last minute family commitment). After a hearty breakfast, I worked my way through the woods to the Schoolhouse where we hosted the entire week of Mixing Genres in the Weaver Room:

schoolhouse

The workshop went great; here is a brief outline, some of what we covered:

Monday: We opened with a quote by Steve Jobs. Talked elements of Poetry,  including poems by Marie Howe, Li-Young Lee, Stanley Kunitz, Dorianne Laux, David Wojnarwicz, and Ocean Vuong. We also tried a prompt called Making the Ordinary into the Extraordinary. And in the afternoon, we roundtable the new work. Handout from Ray Carver’s “On Writing.” Also, every day I met with one writer one-on-one so we could discuss whatever they desired.

Tuesday: Discussed Mark Twain’s concept about Truth is Stranger than Fiction. Five Elements of a Story. “Read” by Kathy Fish, Russell Edson, Evelyn Hampton, Elizabeth Ellen, Len Kuntz, William Goyen, Brandi Wells, and returned to Kathy Fish. We did an in-house prompt on character, using photographs. In the afternoon, after a filling lunch, another roundtable.

Wednesday: We chatted about the ever-evolving landscape of Memoir. Read and discussed Anais Nin’s prologue to House of Incest. Samuel Delaney, Lidia Yuknavitch, Kate Braverman, Mark Doty. Then we read the entire Yiyun Li’s “Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life”, published at A Public Space. We did another in-house writing prompt. And we round-tabled after lunch.

Thursday: Biography: we read the forward of Shadows and Light, by Joni Mitchell’s biographer Karen O’ Brien, talked about D.T. Max’s Every Story is a Ghost Story: David Foster Wallace; Diane Arbus by Patricia Bosworth; Raymond Carver by Carol Sklenicka, and Cynthia Carr’s Fire in the Belly about David Wojnarowicz. 5 writing prompts on the board. Afternoon free. And so, I used the opportunity to do a couple of things I’d wanted to do:

photos_labyrinthhomesteadmeadow

I walked the entire labyrinth, and then soared through the breath-taking Homestead Meadow, following the footpath through deep woods to the Cliff House, Jens Jensen’s original private retreat:

cliffhouse8

This is Jens, the founder of The Clearing, sitting on his Cliff House bed. I spent time inside of this small but incredibly special place on the campus. I really felt Jens’ presence more than once during the week, but no place more than here.

Back in class, Friday, we discussed the essay, beginning with Bob Hicok’s “Prose Poem essay on the Prose Poem” which is the forward of the Rose Metal Press’s Field Guide to Prose Poetry. We also discussed Kate Zembrano, Ben Tanzer, Hilton Als, and Roxane Gay. We talked about all sorts of other things you might do with a writing career: radio, television, travel writing, literary journalism, plays, writers on craft (like Judy Bridges’ Shut Up and Write) We practiced our pieces for the Friday evening Camp night! Then we did one last exercise to honor one another and the great week we’d spent together.

After Friday’s supper, all the workshops performed: first my writers read their original works, then a Jeopardy game by the Touring Door County group; the Wood Working workshop explained their shed they’d built, and finally the Novel Discussion group performed an impromptu performance. Afterwards we had refreshments and I joked “don’t drink the Kool-Aid!” When I returned to my sleeping quarters, there was a group of new friends drinking wine: Marilyn and John, Mary, Pat, Joan, Russ and Corky. A nice way to round out the week!

What a wonderful week! Thanks Judy Bridges for this amazing opportunity. Thanks Mike Schneider, Kathy Swanson, Eric Rinkleff, Tammy Musiel, and Melinda Schaufer for not only making me feel welcome, but taking interest in what we are all there to accomplish. To everyone I met, and spoke with, laughed and cried, risked and debated: I cherish you. I will return.

 

 

 

 

The Clearing

Hi friends!

I’m leaving tomorrow for Door County, one of Wisconsin’s favorite playgrounds. I’ve lived in this state for the past decade, and never made it that far north. So, you can imagine how excited I am. Also, I have been working away, preparing a new course to teach at The Clearing called Mixing Genres: The Clearing Folk School::Classes. This idea came to me over the past few publications I’ve had, and reading reviews for Addicts & Basements. One of the repetitive comments is ‘I’m not sure if Vaughan is writing poetry? Or fiction? Or something in between!’ Clearly, I’m not sure either!

And so, I began to dig around and investigate the actual “rules of genres” and how much current writing blurs the lines of (for instance) memoir and poetry, or fiction and essay, etc.

Thus, the class. It’s a full week at camp, in some of the most luxurious environs. Just take a gander at those photos at their website. Here’s one of the building in which I’ll be staying:

mainlodge

I’ll return with plenty more. I want to thank Judy Bridges, my mentor and friend, for the suggestion. Also, the team at The Clearing, especially Mike and Kathy who are so pleasant and professional. And to you, writers who have registered: Let’s have a ball!

See you in a week…take a risk! Do the unexpected.