So, here’s a nifty thing: One of my poems was selected to be handed out at Red Hen Press‘s Poetry Prom by poet Nicelle Davis, who coordinated a human Zoltar fortune-telling machine at the event. You know, Zoltar — like from the movie Big. (Apologies to anyone who was prematurely aged or turned into Tom Hanks due to receiving my poem.)

Anyway, here’s a shot of the poem laid out all pretty (bottom left):

Zoltar poems!
Mine’s on the bottom left.

Click here and zoom for a bigger version.

Thanks to Nicelle and Red Hen Press for including me!


Radio Silence

Well, it’s been quiet around here lately, but here’s what I’m up to…

I’ve been writing less poetry lately and focusing on my current novel-in-progress. It’s a longer, slower, more invisible-to-the-outside-world process, but it’s churning along.

I’m very excited to announce that I’m heading to the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference in a couple weeks! I’ll be workshopping some of my fiction, meeting some really excellent writers, and soaking in some summer Vermont scenery (I know it’s famous for its autumns, but I’ve always been partial to Vermont’s supersaturated green summers).


couplets, interviews

Interview with John Amen

My guest today for Couplets: a multi-author poetry blog tour is John Amen, who offers some insights into his work.

You’ve released three books of poetry. How do you see your work as having evolved over the course of writing those books and into your current work?

I hope that I’ve become more adept at exploring a wider range of themes, drawing from a broader and deeper set of content or references. I hope that my craft is evolving, too, that I’m continuing to expand and become more versatile stylistically. In terms of living my own life, I do feel that my experience is more multifaceted than it was even 3 or 4 years ago; it’s my hope that this more varied experience in turn impacts or in some way informs my poems. In many ways, I’ve always been trying to give voice to the paradoxes of life. Ultimately, paradox and the integration of opposites are alchemical principles, but I think they’re very relevant to the artistic or aesthetic process, too.

What role does time play in your poetry, both as subject matter and as a part of your process of orienting yourself chronologically?

What I perhaps appreciate most about art is that it can present the ephemeral things of life (blooms, thunder, tragedy, success) while also pointing to a more constant and unchanging reality, something more fundamental. In that sense, art is both sensual (i.e., evocative) and metaphysical (i.e., pointing towards an endless continuum of which everything is part and from which everything emerges). The Greeks talked of “chronological” time and “kyrological” time; i.e., time as it is measured by a clock and time as it occurs experientially. In this latter sense, a lifetime can be a moment or a moment a lifetime. It’s said in some mystical sources that God experiences everything (past, present, and future, from the beginning to the end) as one singular and indivisible moment.

In addition to being a writer yourself, you also edit The Pedestal Magazine. How does the role of editor influence your writing life, and vice versa?

There’s something gratifying about having your thumb on the current literary pulse. I think that’s a perk of editing a journal. You also meet a great number of writers, either personally or through correspondence, and get to immerse yourself in various literary developments and evolutions. These are things I certainly enjoy. There is, however, also the matter of having to juggle matters related to the journal and matters related to your own life and writing. This is to say, editing a journal can be quite time-consuming. Sometimes I feel that my commitment to my own writing (or other interests) gets compromised from time to time. But I think it all works out. I do enjoy sustaining a venue for other writers and being immersed in contemporary literary concerns. All said and done, I don’t think that editing has taken away from my own writing that much. In fact, maybe it has fueled it in some ways. When I look at the big picture, things seem to be pretty balanced, for the most part.

Check out the other posts this month from Couplets: a multi-author poetry blog tour!


The poet’s process — a guest post by Peg Duthie

Today’s post for Couplets: a multi-author poetry blog tour offers a look inside the process of Peg Duthie, whose chapbook Measured Extravagance was recently released from Upper Rubber Boot Books.


This is the first draft of my poem “Proportions”; the finished version appears in my chapbook, Measured Extravagance.  I was sitting at a friend’s kitchen table the day after Christmas, thinking about how to fill the gaps in the manuscript. I felt there ought to be a poem or two that specifically used the words “measure” or “extravagance,” so my brain was circling around notions of waste, investment, hoarding, and penny-wisdom/pound-foolishness — hence the working title of “ROI/Return on Investment.”

The decision to sketch out the poem in 5-7-5 stanzas was initially just to get the gears in my brain cranking — working within a form, at least to start, has a way of nudging my thoughts out of their usual ruts when it comes to word choices. In this particular case, it was also dictated by the fact that I’d brought only a pocket-sized memo pad with me.

And here’s the finished version as it appears in print:


Thinning out seedlings:
the harvest will yield enough
for bird and table.

The child wants to save
every plant we’re tugging out.
I talk about odds

and tithes. “God’s greedy,”
she declares. I reply,
“Aren’t we also?”

She frowns at the limp
green and white scraps on her palm.
She hasn’t seen yet

how compost is more
than a heap of waste and flies.
Hasn’t yet learned

how most of our lives
are a mélange of garbage
and triumphant blooms

–how incessantly
we measure ourselves to see
if we measure up.

Check out the other posts this month from Couplets: a multi-author poetry blog tour!