Notes on Summer Programming

To the readers of my blog–all three of you–I think it only fair to let you know that the nature of my postings over the next few months will be a little different. Not entirely, I do have some thoughts on summer television, the new program Longmire based on a book series by Craig Johnson that I love, my problems with the comedy series The Big Bang Theory.  I have articles coming up running on different sites for the next few months that I’ll talking about.

The blog will be a little different because I’ll be spending my summer in the Middle East studying Arabic at the University of Jordan. More on that later.


Talking with Michael Robbins about "Alien vs. Predator"

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a great fan of poetry and I was thrilled that I recently got the chance to talk with Michael Robbins, whose debut collection "Alien vs. Predator" is out now from Penguin Poets and I think it's pretty obviously the big poetry collection of the year to date. We talked about all the topics one might expect when conversing with a poet–pop culture, capitalism, Guns n Roses' November Rain video, other poets (both those praised and those scorned), and a little about life, being irresponsible, returning to graduate school, Rimbaud and more.

Congrats to James Sallis on receiving this year's Hammett Prize

The International Crime Writers announced that James Sallis' novel The Killer is Dying is the winner of this year's Hammett Prize for excellence in the field of crime writing. I'm a huge fan of Sallis and a great fan of the book. Honestly, though as someone who read four of the five finalists for this year's prize (including Sara Gran's masterful novel Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, which I'll be writing more about later) I would have been happy with almost any of them winning.

Congratulations, Jim.


Sunday Conversation with Andrew Chambliss

I had a great conversation recently with Andrew Chambliss, the incredibly talented (and annoyingly young) writer behind the Buffy Season Nine comic series who's also currently working as a writer and producer on Once Upon a Time. We talked a lot of things – Los Angeles, mid-century architecture, England...oh yeah, also Joss Whedon, Jane Espenson and Buffy Summers.


Tommy Castillo and Strathmore Sketchpads

I missed this and it annoys me. I'm a big fan of Tommy Castillo, a fabulous fantasy artist (the book Dragons, Myths and Mayhem) who does the occasional comic book (Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, George Romero's Toe Tags). In truth I don't think he does enough comics work, but I'll freely admit, that's my own personal preference. Anyway Castillo is working with Strathmore and a drawing of his is featured on the front cover of the 400 series of sketchpads from the company. I'll admit that part of the reason I missed this is because I buy sketchpads infrequently (I tell myself I should draw every day...I don't) and I don't usually buy Strathmore. I was looking for a small pad, though and was thrilled when I saw it.

And as it's been a little while since his last comics work...I now have a new piece of Castillo art to look at...and intimidate me every time I think about drawing...

The 20th Sunken Garden Poetry Festival opens

One of my favorite things about summer in New England is the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival. This year marks the twentieth summer that poets have gathered in the garden at the Hillstead Museum to read to hundreds of people. Probably my favorite place to attend a reading anywhere. In the garden there are occasional distractions–birds, planes, squirrels, nearby sheep–but it is precisely that, poetry as a part of our lives, a part of the fabric of the world in a way that it all so rarely is, which makes it so exciting.

It's at the festival that I heard Donald Hall and Richard Wilbur, Stanley Kunitz and Mark Doty, Sharon Olds and Billy Collins, Dick Allen and Patricia Smith, Brendan Galvin and Carolyn Forche, Natasha Tretheway and Eamon Grennan, Joy Harjo and Philip Levine, Marie Howe and Yusef Komunyakaa, Margaret Gibson and Grace Paley, Tony Hoagland and of course Rennie McQuilkin.

I'm excited about the opening weekend of the festival which will feature Richard Wilbur and a number of other poets including Suji Kwock Kim, Bessy Reyna, Minton Sparks, B. Yung, Toi Derricotte, Rennie McQuilkin, Margaret Gibson, Sue Ellen Thompson, Gray Jacobik, Doug Anderson, Bob Cording, Marilyn Nelson, Vivien Shipley, Steve Straight and Pit Pinegar. There will music and dancing, workshops and readings. It should make for a great weekend, assuming that the rain holds off.

I'm sad I won't be able to attend the rest of the season which will include Christian Wiman, Natasha Tretheway, Tony Hoagland and Donald Hall.

Richard Wilbur on today's Writer's Almanac

I'm a daily listener of The Writer's Almanac, a great daily radio feature and podcast from American Public Media. This is where I learn about writers born on that day, and often learn a little more about the lives and work of people whose names I know but whose work I don't know. And there's a poem read every day, not all of which are to my taste, but I'm always a great fan of more poetry anywhere. Today the program included "Blackberries for Amelia," a poem from one of America's great living poets, Richard Wilbur. I had the great pleasure of speaking with Mr. Wilbur recently and I'm very excited to hear him read tomorrow night at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival in Farmington.