2013 Roundup Year-in-Review

I have once again taken a look over the past year and selected a single post from each month that seems meaningful in some way.

  • 7

    January: Lucky Seven

    On the anniversary of his passing, I reflected on the profound understanding of the meaning of love that my son’s brief life gave to me — thus making me the lucky one.

  • Urban Harvest

    February: Urban Harvest

    The Highgate Poets are a lively and talented group of North-London-area poets who welcomed me in to their fold during my time in The Big Smoke. I was pleased to have poems included in their twice-yearly anthology.

  • The Silence Teacher

    March: The Silence Teacher

    Comprised of more than seven years of poems written after the death of our son, Poetry Salzburg published this slim volume in Austria, and orders soon began shipping worldwide.

  • Baby Mice

    April: Mice of the London Underground

    Qarrtsiluni ran my three-part homage to the fuzz balls who helped make my time as a London commuter that much more bearable.

  • May: Doomed in Good Company

    Responding to the news that Salt Publishing has stopped publishing single-author volumes of poetry, I set down these thoughts on why and how and how much poetry matters to me — even if I am the only one.

  • Silk Road Review 10

    June: Silk Road Review British Poetry Special

    A special feature I edited for Silk Road Review, featuring poets from all over great Britain, went to press in the USA.

  • July: First Transatlantic Poetry Broadcast

    Despite a few bumps, we pulled off our first live trans-Atlantic poetry broadcast featuring two fine poets and dear friends. Hundreds tuned in, and a new vessel for poetry was christened.

  • 金継ぎ

    August: Broken is Beautiful

    I mended a broken bowl, and learned a lesson about the beauty of impermanence.

  • Robin

    September: Two Wingèd Poems

    London Grip gave flight to two new poems.

  • Robert reading

    October: Reading at the Troubadour

    I was invited to read from The Silence Teacher at one of my favourite London venues. It was a very special evening indeed.

  • Holborn

    November: Loving London

    I rekindled my love affair with London, discovering it as not only a poetic city, but my poetic city.

  • Ursula

    December: Ursula (Film-Poem)

    Our film-poem “Learning the Letters” screened in Athens at the International Film Poetry Festival, and we brought out a new film-poem playing with anthropomorphism and the noir genre.

2012 Roundup Year-in-Review

Mayan Stone CarvingsOnce again, I take a look over the past year and select one post from each month that seems significant.

January: Numerology of Grief (The Sixth Year)

This brief meditation on six years since the death of our son found its way to a friend-of-a-friend who also lost his son in infancy. To hear how much it meant to him made all the long silences between writing seem bearable.

February: Long-Listed, National Poetry Competition

So close. Still, having my poem be one of the 130 long-listed poems out of over 11,000 entries was a nice little boost.

March: Magma Poetry Launch Reading at The Troubadour

I was delighted to have a poem appear in Magma, and fell in love with the history and rich atmosphere of The Troubadour that night.

April: First Year in London: Lessons in Negative Capability

Reflecting on lessons learned after one year living in England, I found the advice of John Keats as pertinent to poetry as it was a balm for culture shock.

May: Jonah (Film-Poem by Alastair Cook)

Lens-based artist Alastair Cook did a remarkable job incorporating a poem I wrote in memory of our neighbour-friends’ son into a film-poem in his characteristic visual style.

June: At Home in the English Countryside

Settling in to a different pace of life.

July: In Praise of Small Spaces

Learning to take pleasure in the little cultivations of a simple life.

August: Sabotaged! (A Review)

Martha Sprackland made some deeply insightful observations, the likes of which could only have come from reading closely and thinking carefully about my debut collection Human Shade

September: Ira Lightman: Experiments in Poetry

I came to embrace the high-risk, high-reward art form of experimental poetry.

November: Silk Road British Poetry Feature

After months of poem-wrangling and poem-wrestling, I completed my special feature on British poetry for Silk Road Review, due out in print next summer.

December: The Power and Peril of Written Words

Raw from the Newtown shootings, I typed out some thoughts on America’s reverence for the Second Amendment. It was re-syndicated by Huffington Post and ended up making the front page. Thousands of reads and hundreds of comments later, I only hope we might come a little closer to preventing such tragedies in the future.

2011 Roundup Year-in-Review

“How can I tell what I think ’till I see what I say?”

-E.M. Forster
Image: Wikipedia

Once again, I have taken a look over the past year, and selected one post from each month that stood out in some way.

January: The Fifth Year

Today, I said goodbye two our two-year-old Australian nephew, not sure when we will see him again. As we near the sixth anniversary of our son’s birth and death, I realise how far we have come, not only geographically, but psychologically as well. Passing the fifth year was a milestone for us.

February: Human Shade

In February, my debut short collection Human Shade was published by Lost Horse Press in America. It was extremely heartening to see so many orders arrive in such a short time. I brought a few copies with me to England.

March: London Calling

In March, we made the decision to move to London. Having lived my entire life in California, I had no idea just what a leap this would be for me.

April: Adieu, America

In April, I said goodbye to America, but not to being an American. In fact, living here, I have never felt so American as I do now. My father also bid me farewell in a very special way.

May: Through the Looking Glass

In May, we arrived with just our suitcases. We had one week to find a place to live before the start of my new job. After the whirlwind subsided, I began to feel like Alice, down the rabbit hole in a world that only superficially resembled the one I had known.

June: Notes on Contemporary British Poetry

In June, I began to take advantage of my circumstances by way of comparative Anglo-American poetics. So began an effort to overcome what I have deemed “poetic culture shock“ — and come to understand the subtle differences between British and American poetry.

July: Discovering an Artistic Ancestor

In July, I discovered a remarkable book by another poet named Peake, which had a profound effect on me.

August: The Nature of Peace

In August, the London riots exploded not far from our home while we were on holiday in Wales with my parents. The contrast prompted this meditation.

September: An American Werewolf in London

In September, I began to put my finger on the sense of otherness that had been haunting me, and let myself howl a bit at the moon.

October: “On Being Straight (A Thought Experiment)

I wrote this piece in October, and within a short span of time my “thought experiment” turning the tables on identity politics had received over 95,000 views on StumbleUpon, and been republished in The Good Men Project.

November: “The Invisible Father

A colleague’s casual remark set off this mini-essay for The Good Men Project about the being a father without a child.

December: “British Matches

In December, Aperçus Quarterly published this short poem, inspired by the warning label on a pack of matches. Along with comparative Anglo-American poetics, I seem to be studying semiotic estrangement — the effect of “everyday” signs and symbols on a cultural outsider.

It has been a remarkable year. Wishing peace to you and yours in 2012!

2010 Roundup Year-in-Review

Father Time and Baby New Year

Once again, I have looked back over my posts from the past year, and pulled one favorite for each month.

January: Amichai and Nasrallah

In comparing these two remarkable poets from either side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I am struck by their similarities.

February: An Unexpected Dedication

A massive sculpture is installed downtown to commemorate the Ojai bear, and remembers another to me unexpectedly.

March: Blogging the End That is the Beginning

A friend who passed away this year started a blog near the end of his life to share his revelations.
Continue reading…

2009 Roundup Year-in-Review

Like last year, I have selected one post from each month in the previous year as a means of reflection.

January: The Third Year

Each January brings an opportunity for my wife and I to reflect on the birth and death of our son, and on just how far we have come in learning to re-embrace hope.

February: Poem in The Long-Islander

February was a dark month, as the economy began to take its toll. A glimmer of light came with the news that this poem had been published, on the other side of the country, beneath Walt Whitman’s gaze.

March: Mark Doty: Phoenix Aflame

I discovered solace in the remarkable work of the poet Mark Doty, whose collection Fire to Fire continues to inspire and astonish me.

April: Defining Great Poetry

A young marketing executive from Singapore wrote to me to ask what makes great poetry great.

May: On Ashbery and Surprise

One of the surprises of completing my MFA was discovering an appreciation for the poems of John Ashbery.

June: Pacific University MFA Commencement Student Speech

I was selected by the faculty, on the basis of my “contribution to the program” to give the student speech at my MFA commencement. It was a glorious day.

July: Interview with Scottish Poet Andrew Philip

I had the great pleasure of meeting Andrew Philip through the blogosphere, and interviewing him about his outstanding debut collection of poems as part of Salt Publishing’s innovative Cyclone Book Tour.

August: Generativity and Letting Go

We marked another milestone in recovering from grief when we finally gave away the baby items originally intended for our son.

September: The Blessings of Complicated Grief

The anniversary of the birth and death of a poet-friend’s son prompted this meditation on the blessings that can come from the deep self-examination profound grief can instigate.

October: The Bear

A remarkable visitor came, all too briefly, into our neighborhood, and met a tragic end. I wrote a poem about the experience, and our next-door neighbor placed an enduring metal sculpture in the tree the bear occupied right across our street.

November: The Death of Loftiness in Poetry

I conducted a quick, fun poll about poetry book titles, and came to some surprising conclusions about what people from different backgrounds think poetry “ought” to be.

December: Enlightened America

I had the pleasure of flying to Boston with Val to see two dear friends get married, and to meet their new baby daughter — the first baby I held in my arms since our son passed away.

It has been an incredible year — full of poetry, hardship, and the renewal of hope. I wish you and yours peace and prosperity in the year to come.

2008 Roundup

There are many ways to look back upon a year. I have decided to select a single post from each month of 2008 that in some way reflects my preoccupations at the time.

January: The Second Year

Looking back on the second year since the birth and death of our son, as even now we are approaching the third anniversary.

February: Seamus Heaney on Dante, Eliot, and Mandelstam

Some observations on poetic lineage and terza rima form, which influenced The Silence Teacher. This excerpt later became a part of the essay portion of my MFA creative thesis.

March: Post-Postmodernism and Hope

Reflections on postmodernism in the twentieth century, and the need for hope.

April: The Foolishness of Poetry

April 1st is “April Fools’ Day.” April 1st is the start of National Poetry Month. Coincidence? I think not.

May: Worst Poet Ever

Some thoughts on William McGonagal, one of history’s so-called “worst poets,” and the importance of being “bad” in the creative process.

June: America’s Hunger: an Open Letter to Krystian Zimerman

A response to renowned classical pianist Krystian Zimmerman’s boycott of the USA, including a humbling and edifying exchange in the comments section with a remarkable Serbian musician.

July: What Marriage Means to Me

Thoughts on love and marriage, months before the passage of Proposition 8 in California.

August: The Shed

Reflections on a significant moment in my process of grief recovery — cleaning out the shed full of baby things.

September: Modern Love

Here are my reactions to a beautifully well-written piece on losing a child.

October: Manuscript Anxiety

Completing my MFA creative thesis brought about its own kind of anxiety — the kind brought on by creativity-killing comparisons between new and compiled work.

November: Poetry and the Economy

Here are some thoughts on the need for poetry in a “down” economy — still relevant, it seems.

December: Poetry as Defiance

In preparing for my graduate reading, I began thinking about the process of writing, and the importance of defying the sense that one is ever “done.”

And, on that note, here’s to more writing and thinking and learning and loving and hoping in 2009.