Category Archives: Poems

My poems that are published either online or in print journals

Interview at Midwestern Gothic

Thanks for editor Audrey Meyers for her salient and insightful questions, my interview was published today at Midwestern Gothic magazine:

http://midwestgothic.com/2017/03/interview-robert-vaughan/

I also want to thank editors-in-chief and founders Jeff Phaller and Robert James Russell. I had the honor of my work appearing at MG in two of their early print journals, and also Kathy Fish and I were interviewed for our book, RIFT, at the MG website in 2016. Midwestern Gothic has expanded into the book business (MG Press) and offer “The Lake Prize” for Midwestern authors to enter. Be sure to check them out, especially if you live in the VAST MIDWEST!!!

I’m reading Roxane Gay’s Difficult Women. Love it so far!

What are you reading? Any words about it?

Also, an image from last night’s Red Oak reading at Comedy Sports (which was fantastic). Me wearing my all-new Ron L. Kibble wearable art hoodie (Ron painted the amazing cover of FUNHOUSE). Thanks RON, and thanks Jonnie for the shot:

Red Oak Reading

Tonight I’ll be reading in the Red Oak Showcase at Comedy Sports along with other writers, including:

Mel Miskimen, Judy Bates, Rachel Gerlach, Maryclaire Torinus, Jonnie Guernsey, Nancy Bauer- King, Myles Hopper, Kim Suhr, Carol Wobig and Joel Habush.

I’m thrilled to be among so many diverse writers and talent. Please come, early if you want a bite, or a drink, the reading will start promptly at 7 p.m. Also, we are dedicating tonight’s reading to Judith Zukerman, who was a member of the Friday roundtable group for a span of over 10 years. What a life Judith lived: a terrific partner and mother, an advocate for women’s rights, sharing her Jewish faith and beliefs, and such a talented writer, poet and dancer! I was honored to know Judith for this decade, and she made my life much deeper, richer and expansive as a result.

Please come and help us spread Judith’s passion, her zest for life. I hope to see you tonight! I will also have copies of FUNHOUSE, my latest book for sale. And Unknown Press, my publisher, has launched a new website. Check it out here: https://unknownpress.org

Finally, it’s never too late to tell those you love (right now) that you LOVE THEM!!!

 

WordTango Cross-Genre Deep Dive

I’m teaching a weekend online workshop April 28-20, called Cross-Genre Deep Dive, hosted by WordTango, the online writing community. I had the terrific pleasure of meeting Liz Pettie and Jen Kircher- Carr at the AWP Conference in Washington D.C. recently.

We didn’t go swimming, or even diving. But life can take you into deep waters, or leaping, plummeting from various heights, for innumerable other reasons: debt, accidents, secretive meetings. The list is endless!

If you are unfamiliar with my writing, I’ve just published my 5th book, FUNHOUSE (Unknown Press). It’s a good example of cross-genre work in one book: flash fiction, prose poetry, and longer short stories. (See the tab “My Books” for more information.)

I hope you will consider taking the WORDTANGO course. More information is here: http://us11.campaign-archive1.com/?u=fc8698610dd752def107a548c&id=72030255b0

Please let us know if you have any questions. And thanks, Kathy Fish, for the solid recommendation.

Happy Writing!

I Got The Boot

Hi friends…

Post- AWP bottom has set in! And it doesn’t even take bottomless mimosas to make it happen. I swear, every year the Monday after is the lowest low. And today, in Milwaukee, the sunny blue skies and near 50 degree temperatures are doing their best to make me smile. So, I’ll try. Despite the, well, challenges, that came up during the conference.

SO NICE TO FINALLY MEET YOU– so many new faces at the AWP Conference this year. Among them, Windy Lynn Harris, Jennifer Kircher Carr, Liz Pettie, Maureen Langloss, Levis Keltner, Diem White, Jan Elman Stout, Grant Faulkner, Christine Texeira, Jensen Beach, Sherrie Flick, David Galef, and too many others to count.

OH, IT’S YOU AGAIN? Reunions are always the best, and most of mine in D.C. began with “WHAT HAPPENED?” Still, always terrific to see Kyle Semmel, Angela Woodward, Bill Yarrow, Roxane Gay, Lori Brody, Gay Degani, April Bradley, Dorianne Laux, Christopher Allen, Kathy Fish, Nancy Stohlman, Jeff Landon, James Thomas, T.L. Sherwood, Matt Bell, Mary Akers, Joe Millar, Nita Noveno, Matt Lewis, Michael Seidlinger, Janice Lee, Rae Bryant, Ben Tanzer, Joseph Lawrence Dougherty, Anna March, Robert Russell, Lee Krecklow, Jeffrey Phaller, David Atkinson, John Wentworth Chapin, Wendy Ortiz, Brandon Hobson, Gloria Mindock, Annie Pluto, Pamela Painter, and numerous others.

FROM A DISTANCE… I saw you, but there was no way I could run to you… or I might have…   Sara Lippmann (pictured above), Lidia Yuknavitch, D. Foy, Kim Suhr, Stephen Gowin, Joani Reese, Chiwan Choi, Joanna Valente, Alex Kalamaroff, Chelsea Hodson, Joshua Mohr, Alice Anderson, Alexander Chee, Jeff Jackson, John Madera, Garth Greenwell, J. Bradley, Michele Filgate, Amber Sparks, Chelsea Bondolillo, Sarah Rose Etter, Mark Doten, Julia Fiero, Henry Hoke, Amelia Gray, Michael Kimball, and too many others. It’s always such a delicate balancing act, that AWP.

WHERE WERE YOU? It felt like you were there the entire time. Dream or otherwise. Meg Tuite, Bud Smith, Michael Gillan Maxwell, Meredith Alling, Gabino Iglesias, Josh Denslow, Brandi Wells, Michael Taekens, xTx, Ben Loory, Jules Archer, Seth Berg, Katherine Seluja, Sheila Hanrahan, Cyrus Cassells, Mark Doty, Marie Howe, Aaron Apps, etc.

WHAT I LEARNED: Don’t use the bathroom in the middle of the first night, ever. If you trip, you just might break your ankle. (Could have been my neck). Hairline fracture, right fibula. Never ever would have imagined this. I have to thank my gracious Physician’s Assistant, Clarence M. Chan, at the George Washington University Hospital for his tender, consistent care and my splint.

GROUND CONTROL TO MAJOR TOM: Len Kuntz, Karen Stefano, Robert P. Kaye- you saviors, I love you all! And Meg, your constant online support and love was (is) stellar, and Andrea & David, you always make me laugh- love you both. And Satchi, who offered to air lift me home- my heart, my soul, always.

I I

RECAP: My favorite panel was From Flash Fiction to Micro Fiction and included luminaries Pamela Painter, Grant Faulkner, Nancy Stohlman, Sherrie Flick and James Thomas. I sincerely apologize to Joani and my Hot Pillow compadres- I was there in spirit! Also to host John Madera whose reading I had to cancel. And to WordTango: Jennifer and Elizabeth, for sponsoring my Saturday FUNHOUSE signing, you guys ROCK! 

Thanks, everyone, or anyone who said a version of “SPEEDY RECOVERY!!!” I am obeying your wishes.

See you all in Tampa for AWP18. NO wheelchairs.

The Arrival of FUNHOUSE, my 5th book

My new book, FUNHOUSE, has emerged from the dark recesses of a playground. Unknown Press, and Bud Smith made this wonderful experience possible.

I want to deeply thank Ron L. Kibble for his tremendously powerful cover art!(www.ronkibbleart.com).

FUNHOUSE has four sections: Balloon Darts pierces short fiction; Hall of Mirrors “Another Brick in the Wall, part 4” delights with 26 kids in a classroom, and art sketches by Bob Schofield; Tunnel of Love Divas, “And the Winters Cannot Fade Her” proposes prose poems, layout, and graphic design by Eryk Wenziak; and  Ferris Wheel churns short stories of a more traditional length.

I want to thank Michael Gillan Maxwell and Rob Parrish for their extensive edits. And to Robert Scotellaro, Megan Giddings, and Len Kuntz, three writers whose work always brings me awe and joy- your blurbs are exquisite! Many thanks to you all!

Mostly I have to thank Bud Smith, who’s UNKNOWN PRESS also published RIFT and many other amazing books during its run. Thanks Bud. So honored to create another book together.

From Bud Smith: “You can PayPal me $14 at budsmithwrites@gmail.com and I’ll mail you the book direct. Otherwise FUNHOUSE is available on Amazon, for a couple extra dollars. Thank ya over the moon.”

Amazon direct link: https://www.amazon.com/Funhouse-Robert-Vaughan/dp/099830901X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1486394686&sr=8-1&keywords=funhouse+robert+vaughan

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John Madera of Rhizomatic Public Relations assembled an extensive list of “The Most Anticipated Small Press Books of 2017” and FUNHOUSE was mentioned by John. He also asked me, and several other independent writers for their own lists at Big Other. Thanks, John: https://bigother.com/2017/02/04/most-anticipated-small-press-books-of-2017/

(B)OINK zine

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.

Home

HUMP Day Hues

It’s another HUMP Day! Bluer than the tip of an iceberg. Whiter than a march hare. Here are some interesting sites to visit this December:

At Entropy, the best new site of 2014, the Best of Non-Fiction Books: http://entropymag.org/best-of-2014-non-fiction-books/. And while at Entropy, check out the list of our 2014 Literary Advocates: http://entropymag.org/2014-entropy-thanks-the-literary-advocates/

Literary Orphans issue 16: Houdini has arrived: http://www.literaryorphans.org/playdb/issue16-houdini-2/

Sam Snoek-Brown has selected his 2014 book shopping list! Thanks for including Addicts & Basements, buddy: http://snoekbrown.com/2014/12/02/book-shopping-for-the-holidays-the-2014-edition/

Len Kuntz has three new poems at HOUSEFIRE: http://housefirebooks.com/three-poems-by-len-kuntz/

At Book Riot, Margaret Aldrich also compiles a Best Books List: http://bookriot.com/2014/12/02/riot-round-best-books-2014/

Melissa Broder’s “Salt” at Poetry Magazine podcast: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/249126

Janice Lee at The Volta’s “In Review”: http://www.thevolta.org/inreview-bestbooks2014-jlee.html

Amber Sparks slays it with her essay, “Melville Never Wrote Me a Choose Your Own Adventure Book” at Electric Literature: http://electricliterature.com/melville-never-wrote-me-a-choose-your-own-adventure-book-writers-on-their-lowbrow-influences2/

At Camroc Press Review, Jim Breslin’s flash fiction, “The Graduate”: http://www.camrocpressreview.com/2014/12/jim-breslin.html

Bree Barton at PANK with “&%@# Me” (warning: graphic content!): http://pankmagazine.com/piece/

And that, my friends, is a HUMP Day wrap. Choose a book (or two) as a great holiday gift.

 

 

HUMP Day: November Nuggets

Hi friends,

I have a strange new fiction trio published today at Revolution John called Pets: Three Vignettes: PETS: THREE VIGNETTES by Robert Vaughan | REVOLUTION JOHN. Thanks editor Sheldon Compton, for your support! And check out the other amazing work at this great website!

Here are ten other places you can click and visit in cyberland:

1) Allie Marini Batts is interviewed by Drunk Monkey’s editor Matthew Guerrucky: http://www.drunkmonkeys.onimpression.com/interview-allie-marini-batts/

2) Janice Lee, co-founder of Entropy, talks about origins and more, “Writers and Creative People are Multi-Faceted” at The Review Review: http://www.thereviewreview.net/interviews/writers-and-creative-people-are-multi-faceted-jan

3) At Gigantic, a conversation about Fairy Tales between Porochista Khakpour and John Dermot Woods: http://thegiganticmag.com/magazine/articleDetail.php?p=articleDetail&id=206

4) Although I typically abhor these sort of “exclusive lists,” at Buzzfeed, this one is pretty damn good: http://www.buzzfeed.com/jarrylee/20-under-40

5) Roxane Gay writes at her blog with “By Way of My Heart”: http://roxanegay.tumblr.com/post/102325291790/by-way-of-my-heart

6) An excerpt of his forthcoming novel, Alice, Sheldon Compton is up at New World Writing: http://newworldwriting.net/fall-2014/sheldon-lee-compton/

7) Downtown Express highlights “Risque Tales from respectable parents,” including a great photo of writer Paula Bomer: http://www.downtownexpress.com/2014/11/06/risque-tales-from-respectable-parents/

8) Adam Robinson at Everyday Genius sums up the Letters Fest in Atlanta 2014: http://www.publishinggenius.com/?p=4536

9) Ryan Bradley’s Pop Cartography is up at Revolution John: http://revolutionjohnmagazine.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/pop-cartography-in-which-i-steal-rock-and-roll-by-ryan-w-bradley/

10) Gabe Durham interviews Maxwell Neely-Cohen about his new book, Echo of the Boom at The Rumpus: http://therumpus.net/2014/11/the-rumpus-interview-with-maxwell-neely-cohen/

My Dad was a veteran of WWII. And so, we toasted to him last night, and thanks, Dad for your service. But today I don’t want to focus on war. I’d like to focus on peace. Have a great HUMP day. Do something nice, unexpected, for someone. Perhaps a stranger.

 

Two for Tuesday: Amanda Harris and Karen Stefano

It’s Election Day, so please remember to vote! And today, we have four more books, each with their focus brought by two stellar writers and people: Amanda Harris and Karen Stefano. I hope you enjoy!

TWO FOR TUESDAY: Amanda Harris

The Glass Crib—Amanda Auchter

Amanda Auchter’s chapbook found me in an unexpected place—one full of ache and aimlessness and a desk full of rejection letters. Everyone on Amazon had raved and raved about this little volume of poems, so I figured, if anything was going to give me my spark back, it would be this woman.

Now, I did not know anything about this other Amanda, beside than the fact that we share the same first name and we both have curly hair. One poem, in particular, undid everything I thought and understood about poetry, and I believe it was called “The Ecstacy of Saint Theresa.”

I could give you a thousand reasons that this poem is worth being anthologized in every poetry anthology ever, but nothing could do justice to its deep musicality and raw power. You have to read her writing to believe it:

“There is no pain but the bodily. Nothing less / than the long spear / the golden iron / dagger. “

The more I read her work, particularly this poem, the more her precision amazes me. Breaking the line on “dagger” may seem like a small detail, but it makes the image that much sharper, that much more likely to pierce the skull of the reader.

If you’re a writer who wants to learn how to make your writing emotionally connect with people, this book is like a crash course in an MFA program. It’s that revelatory.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Glass-Crib-Amanda-Auchter/dp/0978612760/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1414637246&sr=8-2&keywords=the+glass+crib

Paperback: 88 pages, Zone 3 Press (September 15, 2011)

Amanda Auchter

The Afflicted Girls—Nicole Cooley

 The first time I saw Nicole Cooley was in my freshman year of college. She didn’t look like anything particularly unique—just another flighty Creative Writing professor who tried to see too much of the world at once.

Perhaps those wandering eyes, however, are the reason Nicole Cooley has produced such consistently breathtaking poetry. The Afflicted Girls, which centers on the Salem witch trials, provides hauntingly poignant takes on gender, sexuality and the fear of what’s different in a way I didn’t think poetry was capable of doing. What makes it even better is that she does it in simple language:

“Marriage is the punishment (God) invented / for the wicked in this village. . . / My lungs are burning / Bury my words in the dirt. “

In one stanza, we get a gripping conflict and we get all the layers underneath it: sexual conflict, ‘othering’, transgression.

Nicole Cooley’s writing organically balances craft and rawness, deep philosophy and visceral emotion. There is nothing like it being published right now.

The Afflicted Girls: Nicole Cooley: 9780807129463: Amazon.com: Books

Paperback: 50 pages, Hardcover: 64 pages; Louisiana State University Press, First Edition (April 1, 2004)

Nicole Cooley

Amanda’s Bio: Amanda Harris is a writer and gym rat living in Flushing, NY. When she’s not working on her own stuff, she’s either posting on Fictionaut or editing her own magazine, The Miscreant.

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TWO FOR TUESDAY: Karen Stefano

You Were Born For Greatness: Spiritual Guidance From The Angelic Realm by Jacob Glass

If life is absolutely perfect and you feel amped and deliriously happy every single moment of your days, then you probably don’t need to read the book I’m about to describe. But if you’ve ever experienced a loss that has left you staggering, or perhaps been gutted like a fish by someone you had expected to love forever, or if you’ve ever just felt a teensy weensy bit of ennui, I suggest that you read Jacob Glass’s latest book, You Were Born for Greatness: Spiritual Guidance From the Angelic Realm.

Glass is a spiritual teacher and author lecturing and writing on spirituality and New Thought metaphysics. His messages are potent with truth and compassion, his words dedicated to guiding readers to a more peaceful life. And, he is really fucking funny as he calls you on your shit. You Were Born For Greatness offers daily spiritual guidance with lessons prompted by The Course In Miracles, a well known self-study curriculum about spiritual transformation. The Course In Miracles is a fantastic text, but it can feel heavy at times, demanding a bit more work than a person in “the dark place” might be willing to do, and that’s why this book fills a void. I call it The Course In Miracles Lite. Each lesson quotes an excerpt from The Course In Miracles and then Glass gives his own take on what that quote means in daily life. Here’s an excerpt from Lesson 14:

“One of your main problems is that you often line up with your perceived limitations rather than lining up with your Greater Self…

Every limiting story you tell about the past, present or future activates that same limiting vibration within you and keeps you in that old energy pattern. Every time you whine, criticize, bemoan, grumble, murmur and complain you are blocking and denying your own good by affirming limitation…

You must practice sowing seeds in your life through your WORDS. You need not speak the most positive amazing life-affirming words anyone has ever said. You need only speak words that encourage, soothe and uplift even slightly and this will start activating the higher vibrations within you…”

If you want more peace and joy and good in your life, this book is for you.

Paperback: 192 pages; Createspace Publishing: (first edition, April 27, 2014)

You Were Born for Greatness: Spiritual Guidance from the Angelic Realm: Jacob Glass: 9781499276947: Amazon.com: Books

Jason Glass

Middle Men by Jim Gavin

I bought this collection on a recent trip to Vermont and devoured every last morsel of it on the flight home to San Diego. And then I couldn’t help myself: I sat down and read it again.

Each of Gavin’s stories is dryly funny, depicting men with dreams squarely at odds with the realities of their lives. There are toilet salesmen, not-quite-good-enough basketball players, and epic fuck ups. There are liquor stores, cars that need coaxing before they’ll start, and many satisfying trips to Del Taco. Many well drawn scenes are simultaneously heart wrenching and hilarious. Every single scene is delivered with wit and intelligence.

Here’s an excerpt from the title story, “Middle Men”:

“As a boy, Matt Costello often wondered what his dad did when he left the house in the morning. The old man was in sales, he knew that, and from the brochures and catalogues stacked in the garage, he knew it had something to do with toilets…Years later, while half-assing his way through college and trying to decide what to do with his life, he finally asked his dad how he got into the plumbing industry. The old man, with his usual modesty and good humor, explained that when he returned from Vietnam in 1969, his only goal in life was to work someplace with air-conditioning.”

And Gavin has a gift for dialogue. In “Bermuda,” the narrator purposely gets lost, his goal being to arrive late to the club and miss the band with the guitarist he fears his girlfriend will be attracted to:

 

“You just went in a circle.”

            “I’m a little lost.”

            “What’s wrong with you tonight?”

            “Nothing.”

            “It might be nice if you told me I looked nice.”

            I never thought she cared about that kind of thing. I loved that about her.

            “You look nice.”

            “Fuck you,” she said quietly, in a resigned voice.

 

My advice: read this book.

Paperback: 256 pages; Simon and Schuster, reprint edition (February 11, 2014)

Middle Men: Stories: Jim Gavin: 9781451649345: Amazon.com: Books

Middle Men Jim Gavin

Karen Bio: Karen Stefano is a Fiction Editor for Connotation Press. Her own work has appeared in The South Carolina Review, Tampa Review, The Santa Fe Literary Review, Metazen, Lost In Thought, Epiphany, and numerous other journals. Her story, “Seeing” was nominated for the XXXVIII Pushcart Prize. Her debut collection of stories, The Secret Games of Words will be released in January, 2015. To learn more about Karen, visit www.stefanokaren.com.

I’ve been reading two stellar books simultaneously. I often do this, especially when they are different genres, like poetry and memoir, or fiction and biography. Here are my two picks:

UnknownChris Hosea

I also want to extend my deepest sorrow and support to the Simonds’ family. Our neighbors across the street from our farm in Macedon lost their elder son, Cliff, recently. Sail on, my friend. Thanks for some fantastic childhood memories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

HUMP day: leaves

HUMP Day: leaves… a quote from Rilke-

“Deep patience which makes him almost anonymous, a quiet, wise forbearance, something of the great patience and kindness of Nature herself, who traverses silently and seriously the long pathway to abundance. Patience that puts us in touch with all that surpasses us. Practiced in the present, patience is the art of courting the future. It belongs to becoming rather than being, to the unfinished rather than the completed.”

1) Tobias Carroll at Everday Genius with “Some Things I Botched”: http://www.everyday-genius.com/2014/10/tobias-carroll.html

2) Bud Smith’s “Falling Horse, Stacked Demons” at theNewerYork:

http://theneweryork.com/falling-horse-stacked-demons-bud-smith/

3) The Guardian expands its roster of US Opinion Writers: http://www.theguardian.com/guardian-us-press-office/guardian-expands-roster-us-opinion-writers

4) Amber Sparks and Mike Meginnis will be talking books live today, at 6:30 EST here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1iysoAY-uM

5) Tanya Olsen’s “Ain’t I Pretty” at PANK: http://pankmagazine.com/piece/aint-i-pretty/

6) Will Chancellor chats with Sheldon Compton at Revolution John: http://revolutionjohnmagazine.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/lightning-steers-the-world-an-interview-with-author-will-chancellor/

7) Sara Lippmann at David Abrams’ The Quivering Pen talks about “My First Time”: http://www.davidabramsbooks.blogspot.com/2014/10/my-first-time-sara-lippmann.html

8) Matthew Simmons and Litsa Dremousis with “The Challenge” at Hobart: http://www.hobartpulp.com/web_features/the-challenge-an-interview-with-litsa-dremousis-on-writing-about-death-grief-and-getting-better

9) Mallory Ortberg “Talks Shit About Hemingway and Thoreau” at Flavorwire: http://flavorwire.com/485203/talking-shit-about-hemingway-and-thoreau-with-the-toast-founder-and-texts-from-jane-eyre-author-mallory-ortberg

10) Wendy Ortiz’s new memoir, Excavation, in the Los Angeles Times: http://touch.latimes.com/ – section/-1/article/p2p-80884386/

Also, I want to congratulate Kim Suhr, and the Red Oak community for a fantastic, inspiring reading last night at Saz’s. What a superb turnout! Stellar words from Pam Parker, Jonnie Guernsey, Beth Huwiler, Jack Douthitt, Jessi Vertz, Jennifer Vanderheyden, Jo DeMars, Christine Baerbock, Bruce Campbell and Jennifer Rupp. More information about Red Oak Writing.

Please join us this Thursday, October 30th, for our next installment, Middle Coast Poets reading at Riverwest Public House, 815 E. Locust Street, 7 p.m. Frank Berg, Marilyn Windau, Paul Scot August and Robert Vaughan (me). We hope to see you there!