Archive for March, 2009

Poetry is Bottoming Out

March 26, 2009

The NEA says we’re reading more fiction but less poetry. 

The dismal poetry findings stand in sharp contrast not only to the rise in general fiction reading, but also to the efforts of the country’s many poetry-advocacy organizations, which for the past dozen years have been creating programs to attract larger audiences. These programs are at least in part a response to the growing sense that poetry is being forgotten in the U.S. They include National Poetry Month (April); readings, lectures and contests held across the country; initiatives to get poems into mainstream publications such as newspapers; and various efforts to boost poetry’s presence online (, the Web site of the Academy of American Poets, even launched a mobile version optimized for use on the iPhone). Yet according to the NEA report, in 2008, just 8.3 percent of adults had read any poetry in the preceding 12 months. That figure was 12.1 percent in 2002, and in 1992, it was 17.1 percent, meaning the number of people reading poetry has decreased by approximately half over the past 16 years.

Sunil Iyengar, the NEA’s director of the Office of Research and Analysis, says the agency can’t answer with certainty why fewer adults are reading poetry. He and others believed the opposite would be true, largely because of poetry’s expansion onto the Internet. “In fact,” he says, “part of our surmise as to why fiction reading rates seem to be up might be due to greater opportunities through online reading. But we don’t know why with poetry that’s not the case.”

they later hit on what I side with. A lot of poetry is just bad. The stuff has more outlets than it did but I’m an English major, an amateur poet (admittedly poor), and reader myself and I have a hard time finding the determination to bother reading any new poetry I come across. But at least people are reading fiction again. Go Fiction

MFA Programs

March 25, 2009

girlfriend got accepted. Time filled with researching town/jobs/etc. and listening to her complain about her mom ranting about all sorts of damned things. I’m not married but, if I were, I can see I would have a very easy time not giving a damn for my in-laws. Or at least the mother-in-law. The old man’s good.

Something to remember it by

March 12, 2009

In Borders today, looking at books (obviously), and something happened that made me think of blogging it. I found a book whose title was interesting. I plucked it out from the bookshelf and turned it over in my hands. All over the place were little blurbs about the top10 lists it had been on for the past year. It was a massive list. The back cover was filled with them. The front cover was filled with them. The first few pages were filled with them. Then the story started.

I didn’t buy the thing. And now when I’m trying to find it online to point it out, I can’t even pick its title out from the others on the various Top Ten lists I’ve looked at. While it had been hammering away at the idea that this was a very important book from the past year, it gave me absolutely no real reason to buy it or to remember it. I no longer remember the title. Because every square inch of available space was used to mention some top10 list from somewhere that this book was mentioned in, it had no room to give any sort of hint what it was actually about.

I don’t buy books that I don’t know anything about. I don’t sit down and start reading them in the store either. The spine and title were nice. They grabbed me. Every other aspect of the cover design sucked. And it probably cost them a sale.

So if anyone reading this is in a position to decide what goes on the back cover of their books, heed my advice: put a short synopsis somewhere. Able to quickly find an idea of what your book is about is more important than that extra blurb or two from some top10 list from Albequerque.

working more lately

March 7, 2009

alright, a day late and a dollar short but for whatever reasons the whole blogging thing is difficult for me. On the plus side I am writing more lately. I hacked out over a thousand words today. Things are moving forward. It feels alright. Now I just need to sit down and do this every single day and I’ll really be getting somewhere.

I want to write more but my head is a mess and I’m tired, so I might just sign off now. On an entirely unrelated note, I made a maple pumpkin cheesecake today. It turned out very well. that is all.


March 4, 2009

looking at the page, words are in my head, but I want to be eating ice cream. Just another day trying to be a “writer.”

DF Wallace, new novel, a linky and a thought or two

March 3, 2009

This blurb about an unfinished novel by the late David Foster Wallace caught my attention today. “The Pale King” centers around the life at an IRS agency in Illinois and focuses on boredom in some way (such as it being its theme). 

Wallace was a guy who existed on he edge of my reading world for awhile (something that has become a running theme of posts I make as I start to read some of these “periphery” guys and realize they were pretty solid little writers that I should have read far sooner) and had make a point of actually reading when I heard of him having committed suicide. Of course, I discovered this like three months after he had passed. And am still just getting around to starting his short story collection, “Oblivion.”

Which has been alright so far. I’ve never been big on the stream of consciousness thing. It’s just not my thing. And with how meticulously Wallace constructs it, it’s even less my thing for long swatches of text (and I still have Broom of the System and Girl/Hair to read, heh…).  But for every four pages of text that feels like I’m throwing my head against an unmoving cinder block wall, he’ll pop up with a few pages of knee buckling beauty.  Where I read someone like Delillo and just not care for it, for me Wallace is a writer with the ability to transcend the page and strike out at a metaphysical self of the reader that few writers have the ability to do. Doesn’t mean I particularly enjoy reading him, so far, but in the little bit I have read he has had moments of startling perfection.

Anyway, where was I going with all of this? I’m not really sure. I really just wanted to hit on Wallace’s new unfinished novel, my unfinished reading of Wallace’s finished short story writing and how I sorta kinda not care for stream of consciousness writing which is odd because the vast majority of my blogs are exactly that. So it’s great when I write it but mediocre when others do it. Such is the curse of being a writer, eh?

Oh, and here is Newyorker’s awesome biographical piece on Wallace. Even if you have never read a word by the man, his life story is interesting and touching. Really just an insanely smart guy who was a bit messed up and could never find a way to really manage it or be helped with managing it. Hope he’s in a better place.

I forgot about this as my G/F texted me and I had to listen to a long boring rant. So I didn’t get this posted on monday so this appears to be my Tuesday blog. Maybe I’ll try to double up later. A lesson to the fellas – stay invisible until your work is done.