I’m over the moon excited to announce the all-new January issue of (b)OINK. Flash Fiction! Poetry! Creative Non-Fiction! Art! And “Voices,” from the literary world-at-large. Thanks fellow editors Rob Parrish and Chelsea Laine Wells. Thanks Al Fuelling for your web skillz! Thanks to Meg Tuite for “Voices,” and David Carter and Rob Kibble for “Art.” And every single person who sent us over 150 submissions for this issue: we loved your work, we did our best, we had a blast. Please read this issue, and share it. Then send us a (b)OINK submission for February. We’ll be eating.
As a writer, it’s a given that one reads. Some of my favorite childhood memories are discovering new books. That excitement has never gone away. And, so although it’s not quite the year end, I wanted to post my annual 2016 reads here:
My 2016 reading list:
I’m Not Supposed To Be Here and Neither Are You- Len Kuntz
Kinda Sorta American Dream- Steve Karas
The New York Stories- Ben Tanzer
A Fractured Mind- Robert B. Oxnam
Bone Black- Bell Hooks
Robert Altman- Mitchell Zuckhoff
Haints Stay- Colin Winette
Mira Corpora- Jeff Jackson
Lithium for Medea- Kate Braverman
In Paran- Larissa Shmailo
lined up like scars- Meg Tuite
The Sound of Gravel- Ruth Wariner
Hotels of North America- Rick Moody
The Astonished Universe- Helene Cardona
Literary Outlaw: William S. Burroughs- Ted Morgan
Keith Haring Journals
Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art- Nancy Princenthal
The Gods Are Dead- Joanna Valente
Sex and Death- Ben Tanzer
Dear Mr. You- Mary-Louise Parker
Your Sick- Elizabeth Colen
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh- Michael Chabon
Did you Ever Have a Family- Bill Clegg
Portrait of An Addict- Bill Clegg
Atlas of Remote Islands- Judith Shalansky
Short Cuts- Raymond Carver (re-read)
Ordinary People- Judith Guest (re-read)
The Art of Memoir- Mary Karr
Updike- Adam Begley
This Must Be The Place- Sean Doyle
Rimbaud- Edmund White
Secret Historian- Justin Spring
Space, in Chains- Laura Kasischke
No Stopping Train- Les Plesko
What Belongs to You- Garth Greenwell
The Narrow Door- Paul Liscky
I’m From Electric Peak- Bud Smith
The Queen of the Night- Alexander Chee
It Starts With Trouble: William Goyen and the Art of Writing- Clark Davis
Lynch on Lynch, edited by Chris Rodley
Purity- Jonathan Franzen
Life on the Loose- Cari Taylor-Carlson
Not Nothing- Ray Johnson
Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery- Richard Selzer
A Manual for Cleaning Women- Lucia Berlin
Ninety-Nine Stories of God- Joy Williams
Potted Meat- Stephen Dunn
The Argonauts- Maggie Nelson
Communion & Other Stories- Curtis Smith
The Girls- Emma Cline
Cowboys and East Indians- Nina McConigly
Grief is the Thing with Feathers- Max Porter
Night Sky With Exit Wounds- Ocean Vuong
The Professor’s Quarters- Albert Degenova
Be Cool- Ben Tanzer
Rain Check- Levi Andrew Noe
Notes on my Dunce Cap- Jesse Ball
Cronenberg on Cronenberg- David Cronenberg
Life in Suspension- Helene Cardona
The Vig of Love- Bill Yarrow
Trier on Von Trier- ed. by Stig Bjorkman
Intersex- Aaron Apps
What we Know So Far- Robert Scotellaro
Ozone Journal- Peter Balakian
The Vegetarian- Han Kang
Measuring the Distance- Robert Scotellaro
Compression Scars- Kellie Wells
Joe Gould’s Secret- Joseph Mitchell
Bukowski in a Sundress- Kim Addonazio
The Reactive- Masande Ntshanga
Floating- Anne Pierson Wiese
The Loved Ones- Sonya Chung
New Jersey Me- Rich Ferguson
Bad Motel- Robert Scotellaro
Salute the Wreckage- Clint Margrave
Find Me- Laura Vandenberg
The Consumation of Dirk- Jonathan Callahan
Rhapsody of Fallen Objects- Robert Scotellaro
Sing the Song- Meredith Alling
Deer Michigan- Jack C. Buck
Here Comes The Sun- Nicole Dennis- Benn
Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you have a chance to “hole up” with a good book during these last weeks of 2016.
Last weekend I had the great fortune of visiting my old haunts. Staying downtown in New York City, and reading at the venerable KGB, in their relatively new third floor “Red Room.” Friday night was hosted by Bud Smith, for the roving F-BOMB flash fiction event. Readers included Bud, Meg Tuite, Len Kuntz, Karen Stefano, Michael Gillan Maxwell, Gay Degani and me. I read an assortment of stories: “Mother/Father/Clown” from Diptychs + Triptychs; “Recruitment” from Addicts & Basements; and “Sweet Surrender is all I Have Left To Give” included in the newly published States of Terror, Volume 3 (at Amazon).
On Saturday night, Paul Beckman hosted the Best Small Fictions 2016 reading! Same spot, KGB. This reading included mostly authors selected for the recently published anthology, expertly edited by Stuart Dybek and Tara Masih. Including, but not limited to: Britt Haraway, Anne Weisgerber, Dawn Raffel, Nancy Ludmerer, Courtney Sender, Ilana Masad, Dianca London Potts, Tina Barry, Eliel Lucero, Michael G. Maxwell, Karen Stefano, Paul Beckman, Len Kuntz, Meg Tuite, Bud Smith and me. I read my piece, “A Box,” which was chosen for the Best Small Fictions, 2016 (originally in RIFT, my co-authored book with Kathy Fish).
And then, there was the general pizazz of being in in a city I love more than any other, with writer pals/ friends I adore, admire, revere, love:
Overall, I would do this again, and again. Soulful, inspiring. Deeply satisfying. Please, sir, may I have some more?
There are certain postmarks as a writer that mean more than some others. When series editor Tara Masih sent me the news that my flash fiction, “A Box,” (originally published in RIFT) was chosen as a winner, and would be included in the second installment of Best Small Fictions 2016, I was overjoyed. The BSM 2016 book was released two days ago, and I can’t wait for my copy to arrive tomorrow. Also, it makes me even more ecstatic that Kathy Fish (we co-wrote our last book, RIFT) had her incredible story, “A Room With Many Small Beds” chosen by editor Stuart Dybek for inclusion in the same stellar anthology:
From the Goodreads page: “This second installment of The Best Small Fictions continues to celebrate the diversity and quality captured in fiction forms fewer than 1,000 words. Forty-five acclaimed and emerging writers—including Alberto Chimal, Toh EnJoe, Kathy Fish, Amelia Gray, Etgar Keret, R. O. Kwon, and Eliel Lucero—offer readers “some of the brightest concise writing available today” (NewPages). With spotlights on Texture Press and author Megan Giddings, the acclaimed new series, with its “finger on the pulse,” succeeds in its aim to make something big from many small things.”
Best Small Fictions 2016, Featuring Small Fictions by:
Amir Adam, Daniel Aristi, Tina Barry, Paul Beckman, Laurie Blauner, John Brantingham, Alberto Chimal, Justin Lawrence Daugherty, Toh EnJoe, Grant Faulkner, Kathy Fish, Rosie Forrest,Megan Giddings, Amelia Gray, Charles Hansmann, Britt Haraway, Mary-Jane Holmes, Laird Hunt, A. Nicole Kelly, James Kennedy, Etgar Keret, R. O. Kwon, Nathan Leslie, Paul Lisicky, Eliel Lucero, Nancy Ludmerer, Melissa Manning, Michael Martone, Elizabeth Morton, David Naimon, Jessica Plante, Dianca London Potts, Dawn Raffel, James Reidel, Sophie Rosenblum, Caitlin Scarano, Vincent Scarpa, Robert Scotellaro, Courtney Sender, Janey Skinner, Curtis Smith, Robert Vaughan, Clio Velentza
Amy Hempel: “Prepare to be surprised by this striking new series–it has quickly become essential reading.”
I just returned yesterday from our week long workshop. Kathy Fish and I led an Exploratory Fiction workshop: Tap In, Dig Deep, Discover Voice. It was held at the venerable Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, New Mexico. There are so many favorite moments, captured in snapshots from the entire, phenomenal week. I will include them in this post when possible.
Len Kuntz and I arrived a day early, and toured Bandolier National Monument:
The day was perfect, and I hadn’t been there since 1987. Quite amazing memories, and new ones, also.
Our workshop participants arrived all day on Saturday, and we began the event after dinner. All week, our focus was on creative, generative writing time, supported by contemporary writing examples of exploratory fiction we all read together each morning (e.g. Lucia Berlin, Lydia Copeland, Yennie Cheung, DJ Berndt, Eileen Merriman, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Aubrey Hirsch and Casey Hannon).
Above is Juniper Hall, where we experienced some stimulating discussions about flash fiction. Also, we had terrific fiction exercises that we used in class or as possible prompts all week for the workshop participants to pursue.
Top (L to R): Len Kuntz outside Big House; Levi Andrew Noe on Patio
Middle (L to R): Jonathan Cardew in Gazebo; Katherine Seluja in Big House
Bottom: Meg Tuite in Room 1 of Juniper House
We also held roundtables from 3-5 pm every day. The two groups would meet with either Kathy Fish, or me. Each writer would take a turn reading her/his new story aloud, then receive insightful comments. It was truly inspiring, both to hear the new work, and the amount of distance each writer traveled in terms of risk, support, adventure, and willingness to play at 100%.
The meals were terrific: ’nuff said. All three, every single day. The staff: beyond the best!
Workshop participants on L
Mabel Dodge Luhan Kitchen staff on R.
In addition, we held a panel discussion Tuesday night about publishing with independent presses:
(L to R): Len Kuntz, Kathy Fish, Meg Tuite, Robert Vaughan.
And on Wednesday afternoon, we had a docent tour of the Big House, which is exquisite:
Left: Bathroom windows painted by D.H. Lawrence! Right: Painted stairs to Mabel and Tony’s rooms.
“Salon Talk” in Mabel’s room, Robert Vaughan and Katherine Seluja!
Robert Vaughan, Meg Tuite and Len Kuntz on Tony Luhan’s original sleeping couch!
Our last evening in Taos, Thursday, we held a reading, hosted by Meg Tuite…all ten participants shared a new work that they’d crafted during the workshop. Also, Kathy Fish and I did. My story was called “Speed Trap.”
None of this would have happened without my partner and cohort, the uber-talented Kathy Fish. Thanks for everything you did (and have done), to make this all a realized dream:
And here’s the good news: we are already making plans for a 2018 return to Mabel Dodge Luhan House. In the meantime, visit Kathy’s site at www.kathy-fish.com. And I’ll be adding my teaching dates for 2017 very soon! Taos, we miss you so very much. Endless great memories made during our Exploratory Fiction: Tap In, Dig Deep, Discover Voice workshop:
BLOG TALK RADIO interviews Kathy Fish & Robert Vaughan about RIFT, their new collaboration:
TURN THE PAGE Host Kayla Greenwell interviews the literati and oddball creative-types with a focus on DIY and grassroots initiatives. This week, Kayla interviews Robert Vaughan and Kathy Fish about RIFT, their new collaboration of flash fiction from UNKNOWN PRESS.
A quick recap of my recent trip to Santa Fe: WHAT A BLAST!!! The view from our room 630 at La Fonda, and my pal, Len whom I shared the glory with:
We went to Santa Fe for the TWISTED Reading Series, hosted by our pal, Meg Tuite:
Our featured reader was the exceptional Kate Braverman, and once Karen Stefano and James Claffey arrived, everything was A-OK! Meg’s Santa Fe reading circle rounded out the twelve readers. Also the Denver writers, with Sally Reno, Kathy Fish and Nancy Stohlman (at a Karaoke Lounge after the reading) :
Last photo of me actually reading a new piece, “Keep it, Curt”:
Overall, it was a festive event and a great extended weekend!
The winner of the January Raffle is…Julia Fiero!!! There were seventy-four entries and I asked a non-writer to select a name out of a hat (blind). Congratulations, Julia- I hope you enjoy Luke Goebel’s Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours as much as I did!
February Raffle is Together We Can Bury It by Kathy Fish! To enter, simply comment here or on my Facebook Post, Twitter or Tumblr. This is another book you simply must have!
And, my piece called The Fallow Heart, which is in my Addicts & Basements book, you can read at Fictionaut: “The Fallow Heart” by Robert Vaughan — Fictionaut
And that, sugar plums, is a wrap…stay warm and informed.
It’s sub-zero weather this morning! Negative 11 degrees, to be exact. Which means, I’m a shut-in. Schools are closed, food is in the fridge. It’s a great day to curl up with a good book. Which brings me to my list from last year. I wasn’t going to publish my reading list from 2013. Why not? Who knows. But then, I devoured a great book the past three days, Calendar of Regrets by Lance Olsen (thanks, Jane L. Carman for recommending it), and I thought, why not share what I read last year? Also, how do you hear about the books you read? How do they come to you?
Here are my 2013 reads, in chronological order:
The Human Line– Ellen Bass (poetry)
Something Has to Happen Next– Andrew Michael Roberts (poetry)
Space, In Chains– Laura Kasichke (poetry)
A Thousand Morons– Quinn Monzo
Somewhere Piano– Sarah Busse (poetry)
The Bill From My Father– Bernard Cooper (memoir)
Debacle Debacle– Matt Hart (poetry)
Racing Hummingbirds– Jeanann Verlee (poetry)
Pomegranate and Other Stories– Gay Degani
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?– Jeanette Winterson (memoir)
Moods By Rachel Glaser
Shampoo Horns– Aaron Teal
House of Incest– Anais Nin
Laure: The Collected Writings– trans. by Jeanine Herman
Winter Stars– Larry Levis (poetry)
When the Only Light is Fire– Saeed Jones (poetry)
Smoking Mirrors– edited by Meg Tuite, Connotation Press
Fast Forward: A Collection of Flash Fiction 2012– edited by Leah Rogin-Roper
leadbelly– Tyehimba Jess (poetry)
A Secondary Landscape– Aaron Gilbreath
the great enigma– Tomas Transtromer (poetry)
Letters From Robots– Diana Salier (poetry)
Blue Rust– Joe Millar (poetry)
Machine Dreams– Jayne Anne Phillips
Life on Mars– Tracy K. Smith (poetry)
But Our Princess is in Another Castle– BJ Best
A Little Soul: 140 Twitterstories– Darren Cormier
What the Right Hand Knows– Tom Healy (poetry)
Native Guard– Natasha Trethewey (poetry)
He Do the Gay Man in Different Voices– Stephen S. Mills (poetry)
You Are Jaguar– David Tomaloff and Ryan Bradley (poetry)
Every Love Story is a Ghost Story– D.T. Max (memoir)
The Buoyancy of It All– Robert Walker (poetry)
Heroines– Kate Zembrano (memoir/essay)
Triste– Lisa Marie Basile (poetry)
Adirondack Camps– Craig Gilmore
The Art of Porosity– Andrew Franck
Aaron & Keoni– Loren Moreno (flash fiction)
Henry Darger Art and Selected Writings– edited by Michael Bonesteel (memoir)
Man Vs. Sky– Corey Zeller (poetry)
The Dream Police– Dennis Cooper (poetry)
A Taste of Cherry– Kara Condito (poetry)
Badlands– Thomas Biel
Verses– Ani DeFranco (poetry)
Slut Lullabies– Gina Frangello
Train Dreams– Denis Johnson
Glaciers– Alexis M. Smith
A Fast Life: The Collected Poems of Tim Dlugos edited by David Trinidad (poetry)
Men Undressed– anthology edited by Cris Mazza
the & now awards: the best innovative writing– ed. by Davis Schneiderman
The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara- edited by Donald Allen (poetry)
Black Aperture– Matt Rasumssen (poetry)
Rough Music– Deborah Digges (poetry)
One Hidden Stuff– Barbara Ras (poetry)
Zin!– Kyle Hemmings (poetry chapbook)
Waging Heavy Peace– Neil Young (memoir)
A Marker to Measure Drift– Alexander Maksik
A Walk in the Woods– Bill Bryson (memoir)
Pleasure Trout– Gloria Mindock (poetry)
Antidotes For An Alibi– Amy King (poetry)
Milk Run– Kate Braverman (poetry)
My 1980s and Other Essays– Wayne Koestenbaum (essays)
The Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge– Peter Orton (short stories)
We Agreed to Meet Just Here– Scott Blackwood
Time-Bound– Kurt Brown (poetry)
Bound by Blue– Meg Tuite (short stories)
First Time– anthology, edited by Bud Smith
By Myself– D.A. Powell & David Trinidad (faux memoir)
The Buoyancy of it All– Robert Walker (poetry)
Eternal Patrol– Russell Dillon (poetry)
The Peerless Four– Victoria Patterson (novel)
In the Carnival of Breathing– Lisa Fay Coultey (poetry)
Her Skin Is a Costume– Meg Tuite (chapbook)
Cinema Verite– Sam Rasnake (poetry)
Alone With Other People– Gabby Bess
Inheritance– Steven Reigns (poetry)
Dead Letters- Joani Reese (poetry)
American Busboy– Matthew Guenette (poetry)
The Whack-Job Girls and Other Stories– Bonnie Zobell (flash fiction)
Morrissey- Autobiography- Stephen Andrew Morrissey
The Book of Women– Dorianne Laux (poetry)
The Anchorage– Mark Wonderlich (poetry)
The Laughter of Strangers– Michael Seidlinger
Box Cutter– Samuel Snoek-Brown (flash fiction)
Had I A Hundred Mouths– William Goyen (short stories)
Were there any outstanding books you read in 2013? Any prior to last year? Do you share your favorite books with friends? Are you a member of Goodreads, where anyone can share the books you’ve read, rate them, or write a review? Here is my Goodreads | Robert Vaughan page.
Also, thanks to Molly Gaudry and the great peeps at The Lit Pub, for the listing of Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits: The Lit Pub • Home. My publisher, Deadly Chaps Press, and Joseph Quintela, sent out his 2013 year-in-review newsletter, and included this excerpt:
“Deadly Chaps Press made one release in our continuing chapbook series but it was a doozy: the remarkable Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks, + Dipshits by Robert Vaughan. He’s already getting rave reviews and has been listed at LitPub. Get your copy now, or as always, you can give it a read online for free! We look forward to upcoming releases by Niela Mezynski and Mark James Andrews in 2014.” Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits
When my friend Bud Smith told me he was planning a collection of pieces that had to do with loss of virginity, I thought…hmm, what a fantastic idea (and he’s full of them!) I’d just published Microtones with Cervena Barva Press (The Lost Bookshelf), and there is a poem in the chapbook, “My Bicycle,” that hints at a first time experience. Surely, as does most poetry, it leaves more details out than what might be included. So when I sent the poem to Bud (letting him know it was already in my chap), he took it. Then he proposed a suggestion: how about writing about it in non-fiction, or essay form? Hmm.
And I tried. More than once. Entering the situation from different angles. But it just wasn’t working. Then, I had a recent experience where it all came clear to me. When I was in San Francisco, we had the great fortune to take in City Lights Bookstore, an icon, and one of my favorite haunts. Among the books I purchased, was Marie Calloway’s what purpose did I serve in your life. I’d paid some attention to the initial publication of her story, Adrien Brody which had appeared at Muumuu House (included in the book). And the controversy that accompanied this, the Gawker article (Girl, Microfamed) and it’s ongoing debate. I remember thinking at the time, what’s all the hubbub? I’d read The Happy Hooker, most of Kathy Acker, among many other graphic, gripping accounts of sex.
So, then I read Marie’s (not her real name) book, in one sitting. And it felt anti-climactic. It’s not that the writing is “bad,” or too repetitious, or just bloody boring. It’s that one person’s sexual experiences are unique to their own person. And this is when I doubled back to my own complications with writing that scene in the tent. It’s mine. No big deal. Instead, enjoy this iconic song by Todd Rundgren, that came out the same summer I lost my virginity: ▶ We gotta get you a Women-Todd Rundgren – YouTube. Some great irony in those lyrics!
And, if you’re interested in sex (who isn’t?), or loss of virginity, or how over forty talented writers write about this topic, then by all means, get FIRST TIME:
Here is a list of contributors:
The Amazon Link to First Time: An Anthology about Lost Virginity:
Description: Four dozen writers retell the intimate details about how they lost their virgnity in this touching, hilarious and shocking collection.
“Utterly unique.” Kleft Jaw
“A truly jaw-dropping collection, featuring some of the best underground writers around today.” Uno Kudo
“This is one bareass collection you just gotta’ have…” Robert Vaughan
This enthralling assembly of short stories, essays, and poems never ceases to entertain. Everyone has a story about their first time; these writers take it to the limit. Thanks, as ever, Bud Smith, for rocking it time and time again.
I love the B-52s. Music that is irreverent, danceable, and simply unusual. I also like summer storms, and it’s a good thing since we have had plenty. I find the transitions from thunderstorms to shiny, happy skies refreshing. Weather has a profound, intense affect on me, on moods, and mental imagery. I often write about the world around me, the woods, the whistling trees, the budding peonies.
It is an honor to see that my writing is included among two “best of” lists, one that I mentioned at Gay Degani’s fantastic site called Flash Fiction Chronicles 100 Story Links in Honor of Short Story Month 2011 (4). Compiled by writers who suggested links to their favorite stories of 2010, my story, “10,000 Dollar Pyramid” , included at #66, was recommended by great friend and talented writer Meg Tuite. Thanks Meg, Gay and folks at FFC for compiling such a wondrous list.
Then I was shocked, and elated to see the same story appear at Sam Rasnake’s blog on his list 10,000′s favorite short fictions & verse: a would-be/should-be anthology « sam of the ten thousand things. Wowsah, thanks, Sam, and what a great list!
Meanwhile, we taped and aired our May Flash Fiction Friday program at WUWM: Lake Effect – Flash Fiction Friday: Writing & Reassurance. This month’s line-up was stellar with Wisconsin writers, bl pawelek and, Jack Douthitt and national writer Julie Innis. Thanks to all the talent, and co-host Stephanie Lecci!
Other writing published since I last blogged:
Blue Sky Ahead by Robert Vaughan « In Between Altered States (thanks Aleathia!)
Simo Freeshow – Pure Slush (theme was queer, thanks editor Matt Potter!)
fwriction : review (this is a collaboration of work called “Fictionaut Six” by editor Danny Goodman, including, Ana Verse, Len Kuntz (People You Know By Heart), Meg Pokrass, Sam Rasnake (sam of the ten thousand things), Susan Tepper and me. What an honor to have my work included in the great issue and zine. Thanks, Danny!
My micro-fiction “Rejection,” is up at 50 to 1. Thanks editor Paul!
And this just in: a new home page at 52|250 A Year of Flash!!! The project is morphing into Baker’s Dozen, more forthcoming from editor Michelle Elvy (Glow Worm), who also selected my story “Breath” to be included in her “Language and Place at the Edge” for Edition #6 of Language and Place Blog Carnival. Thanks, Michelle!
I have work forthcoming at Metazen, Housefire, Yes, Poetry, Connotation Press, Midwestern Gothic, Eunoia Review, MiCrow, among others.
This morning I am listening to Nicki Minaj…thanks to Char for turning me on to Nicki last week. Her song “Moment 4 Life” is infectious!
What are you listening to? Any favorites? What are you reading? Standouts?