Arkansas Miracle, California Shame by Lost John
This feller, Eric Witthans, sure does know how to write some beautiful songs. This second album brings ten tracks of rural-living, city-grappling, forever-longing fever tunes. Seriously, one of my favorite albums thus far this year. And you must check out "Dollar Menu," the goofiest-yet-most-sincere love song I've ever heard.
Shane McCrae on the Vanessa Place situation
"How does one justify hurting black people to teach white people a lesson?" Some situations get so big and clustered with chatter, so it's helpful here to see Shane McCrae's solid, sturdy response to Rich Smith's questions about the Vanessa Place situation.
Sufjan Stevens live
Dear Diana gifted me with this glory, and thank you, thank you, thank you. Over the last year or so, I've really be yearning for more art that uses other styles and mediums to enhance its primary genre--poetry readings that use the good charm of stand-up, narratives that allow poetic blossoms, concerts that pay attention to the visual elements of the performance. And goodness gracious, Sufjan and crew nailed that with their recent gig at Bass Concert Hall at UT. From the little (Sufjan put on a hat and started talking between songs once they finished the new album's songs) to the theatrical (blackouts and lights up between songs / around movements on-stage) to the mesmerizing (this gorgeous slideshow behind the band), this was an experience more than a concert, thank heavens.
Pubs of Indiana
Showing Diana around Indiana wouldn't have been complete without some stops to my favorite pubs. Of course, we spent an evening shooting pools, laughing with buds, and watching the NBA playoffs at Savage's Ale House, Muncie's finest spot (Two-Hearted Tuesdays, $2.50 Bell's Two-Hearted, nonetheless!). And before our reading in Indianapolis, I had to snag some cheese curds and a Sun King pint at Twenty Tap. But the biggest joy was watching D's eyes glow at the Opera House Pub in my hometown of Elwood (Dogfish Head 90 Min on tap in Elwood, what?). These places really remind me the importance of having safe, fun spaces for people in the middle of the country for people to gather, laugh, and drink.
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
I don't often read novels, but when I do, I want them to be wacky, a little poetic, and very entrenching. Goodness, this debut by Karen Russell certainly gets a big nod from me. The story of a family of alligator wrestlers on the verge of losing their amusement park gets ramped up with ghosts, betrayal, and the pains of growing up fast.
Reading as a Wildflower Activist by Carrie Lorig
So happy dear H_NGM_N books published this collection of essays / prose poems with their great poetry chapbook series. An odd claim, but I do declare that Carrie Lorig is one of the most important readers of contemporary poetry. From her book reviews to her editing to her own poems, she, again and again, teaches me new ways to see the artifact of the book, the necessity of poetry, and my place / importance as a reader. This chunk of writings is insightful, entertaining, and like nothing else I've read in a long, long time.
Not far from my Hoosier homeland, but I'd never really spent much time in the great city of Omaha, Nebraska. But now my week here is almost up, after an unofficial writing residency. It's got cool, necessary stuff like a rad bookshop (Jackson Street Booksellers), awesome coffee shops (Aromas, for one), and good bars (Crescent Moon Ale House!). And a great set of disc golf course, which always seemed packed especially with new / casual players. Another big check-mark city for the Great Plains / Midwest.
How To Be Drawn by Terrance Hayes
I've seen Hayes read a couple times and have read the majority of his work, and goodness, he continues to fascinate me. I'm endeared by his willingness to play, to try odd forms (lots of poems in graph or list form), to surprise with his wit and his words. And this book, in particular, seems to stretch the breath, long lines and long poems and long sentences, sucking the reader into the poem as the speaker often seems to sucked into life, history, and the feeling.
Playing my first full rounds of disc golf since the most recent shoulder catastrophe up here in Omaha and so my disc golf fever is back. I know there's no better place for me on a sunny day than a disc golf course. I know I know no better way to get to know a city and its people than to drive around finding the disc golf course, than to play some rounds with locals. I know this sport is growing (there's a disc vending machine at Seymour Park in Omaha! there were so many casual players out there!), and I know that's a good, good thing for our communities.