About Me

My photo
Assistant Professor, William Paterson University of New Jersey, United States

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Reading Thursday 11/1 at NC State University

Free Verse and Free Verse Editions

A Poetry Reading:

Tom Lisk
Christopher Salerno
Michael Begnal

Thursday, November 1
7.00 pm
Tompkins G118
North Carolina State University
Hillsborough Street, Raleigh NC

Friday, September 07, 2007

Slightly Used--Some Scribbles Inside Cover

Interesting. I'm doing an Independent Study with a Poetry Student this semester and suggested a Heather McHugh book. The student got the thing through Amazon and it showed up--a signed first edition, inscribed to another poet of note. This has also happened to me in the past. I've gotten two other signed first edition books sold as "slightly used."
Business is business, for now.

Friday, August 31, 2007

The Laurel Review

The Laurel Review has accepted two of my newest poems, "Consequence" and "See Also All of Us" (the second of which may become the title poem to my current manuscript when it's all said and done). My point in this post is not, however, simply a matter of my poems, but largely to praise the Laurel Review for what seems to me like a fine "makeover" undergone in the last 7 or so years (since I was an intern at one of their "sister" journals, Tar River Poetry. At that time, the lead editors of the two journals published each other's work and reviews consistently, and I believe, were good friends). Bottom line: at that time I was slightly bored with the journal. Now, after checking it out again last year, it excites me. It seems John Gallaher and the folks there have done some great things bringing that journal into the 21st Century. I'm happy to be a part of one issue.
Here's the info on the latest issue. Buy it!
New fiction, poetry, essays, and reviews by: Rae Armantrout, Wendy Barker, Juda Bennett, Molly Brodak, J.D. Chapman, Melissa Dickey, Michelle Disler, Jehanne Dubrow, Albert Goldbarth, Mark Halliday, Jerry Harp, Gretchen E. Henderson, Noelle Kocot, Susanne Kort, Jay Ladin, David Dodd Lee, Rachel Loden, Erin Malone, Holaday Mason, Clay Matthews, Jennifer Militello, Kathleen Ossip, Anne Panning, Chad Parmenter, Emily Perez, Kathleen Peirce, Stephany Prodromides, Stan Sanvel Rubin, Reginald Shepherd, Kevin Stein, Mathias Svalina, Bradford Gray Telford, Amanda Traxler, Dara Wier, Ryan Wells, Jon Woodward, Dean Young, among others . . .

Friday, August 24, 2007

Liam Rector, Our First Day At Bennington

Memorial for Liam Rector


Saturday, September 22, 2007

2 p.m.

St. Marks Church In-the-Bowery

131 East 10th St.

New York, New York 10003

Friday, August 17, 2007

Liam Rector's Suicide

Rest in Peace, Liam. I realize now that so much of what you wrote and said in your several capacities had a touch of your leaving (this way) in it. Now I'm thinking of your poem, "We colored your leaving," etc etc. I also think of your Ronald Beaver ("beavering"). It took your suicide obituary for the world to know your given name was Ronald.
I shared a number of cigarettes with Liam after a number of one-on-one meetings regarding my poems and later manuscript (he was the first teacher to tell me that my work held a "there" there, so to speak, and the last one to advise me on the final manuscript). Sometimes he would describe the sensation of smoking a cigarette while hooked up to the chemo machine, and that it was actually incredibly satisfying. All in all, I'll remember the many mix Cd's he sent me (which were always surprising), and how he would send tapes of HIM reading MY poems aloud--something that struck me as a useful pedagogical tool. He once said the he'd never heard a poet read too slowly. I agree. We had an intermittent email correspondence going in the few years since my MFA, but I recall the last thing he said to me in person: "That's a sharp haircut. If I've taught you anything at all, Chris, it's the importance of a good haircut."
My favorite Liam workshop lines: "Discipline is the religion of the uninterested" (he always saw the systematic, and often spiritualized the secular. He did love Emerson). The other favorite point was this: "Every poem says, essentially, the same thing: My heart aches."

Monday, July 30, 2007

Who Asked You?

I answer Matt Mullins' Five Questions here.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Eng 289 Mix

Here's the Playlist from the Mix CD I made for my newest batch of Intro to Poetry Writing Students:

1. Pajo: Flashlight Tornado
2. White Stripes: Little Room
3. John Lee Hooker: Boogie Chillin'
4. Modest Mouse: Bukowski
5. Bob Dylan: Visions of Johanna
6. Memphis Slim: Nervous
7. Cat Power: Free
8. Magnetic Fields: How Fucking Romantic
9. Mountain Goats: International Small Arms Traffic Blues
10. Tom Waits: Cold Water
11. Otis Redding: Pain in my Heart
12. Fugazi: Long Division
13. The Danielson Famile: Did I Step On Your Trumpet?
14. Violent Femmes: Lies
15. Beastie Boys: Sure Shot
16. Wu Tang Clan: A Better Tomorrow
17. Lou Reed: I Love You
18. Tom Waits: The Piano Has Been Drinking
19. Magnetic Fields: Come Back From San Francisco
20. Rogue Wave: Publish My Love
21. Bruce Springsteen: Mary Queen Of Arkansas (Columbia Pop Audition, Take One)

(surrealism, extended metaphor, form following content, concrete vs abstract image, objective correlative (ugh), sentiment vs sentimentality, cliche, lies,lies,lies, tone, rhythm, the business of poetry, art for art's sake, famous poets, and more!)

I use this CD to supplement the syllabus (which already includes a giant, 6-page, cut and pasted anthology I crudely photocopied to supplement the text).

I suggest one or two tracks to go along with the discussion of the day. We get to it if we have time at the end of class.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Family Resemblances

Poet Mark Salerno and I have been corresponding. We recently did an exchange of books (my first-and-only for his first and latest books). I had already purchased his "METHOD" on my last reading trip to NYC, before ever having met or been in contact with him. I love the book, it being so closely allied with an experimental project I had been germinating ("The Downburst Summaries"--now officially defunct--though four "summaries" were actually published in the second issue of The Tiny, a nifty new(ish) Brooklyn based journal). Anyway, I was flattered to hear from him that folks had asked him (he lives in L.A. and I live in N.C) whether he and I were related. This was a question I too had been getting here in N.C., at Lucipo and other readings). So he and I have begun hashing out a kind of Reading exchange program whereby he comes to NC and we read on the same bill (the Flying Salerno bros or some such foolery) and then I travel to L.A. for the same deal. Anyway, the recognition of Mark Salerno's poetry via people's questions of our possible relation is great. His work is so worthy of attention and revisitation especially to anyone interested in new or post-avant poetics. It's brave and acrobatic and challenging and formally adept work. To date, he is the author of "Hate" (96 Tears, 1995), "Method" (Figures, 2002), and "So One Could Have" (Red Hen, 2004). His new work, a book-length poem entitled "Odalisque," is forthcoming from Salt Pubishing in 2007.
I'm travelling to the tiny island of St. John tomorrow, and I will be bringing Mark Salerno's books with me.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


I'll be reading this evening at the Cameron Village Libary in Raleigh @ 6:30 pm with poets Tom Lisk, Bob Rogers and Alice Osborne. I hear there will be refreshments.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Collection of Last Words

"Thomas Jefferson--still survives..."~~ John Adams, US President, d. July 4, 1826
(Actually, Jefferson had died earlier that same day.)

"I see black light."~~ Victor Hugo, writer, d. May 22, 1885

"Is it the Fourth?"~~ Thomas Jefferson, US President, d. July 4, 1826

"I've had eighteen straight whiskies, I think that's the record . . ."~~ Dylan Thomas, poet, d. 1953

see the big list here.

Monday, February 19, 2007

I'm Interested...

I had occasion to read (ok, browse heavily) Kevin Young’s book, “To Repel Ghosts” which is a fairly capacious tour of Black art, music, and popular culture. The book is a kind of cycle whose through-line centers on the life and work of painter, Jean-Michel Basquiat. But to read this book is to also be consciously aware of its acrobatics, its variants, and its rhythms, to the point where one may begin to seize upon the formal aspects of its poetics as a character or even a narrative unto itself. It occurred to me that there are a few rare occasions when a certain poem in "To Repel Ghosts (most of the book's poems are composed of terse, unrhymed triplets) turns on what I would call a classic Rap rhyme, which is to say an almost immediately-satisfied perfect rhyme (you know what i'm talking about), and in TRG's case, we're not talking about this kind of rhyme as full scheme or as being sustained for poem-in-full—but only in that one moment. These moments seem precious (in a good way), as they occur only a dozen or so times (I don’t own the book, so I should really go back to it to confirm). Anyway, I got to thinking about Emily Dickinson who, while her poems were not like traditional hymns, did use traditional hymn meter (often as a dreaming-off point) and occasionally had something akin to the traditional turn or classic moment, almost as homage to that convention...much like Young. I’d like to study those moments in both authors’. Something about the comparison of these two has started a bit of traffic in me…and I realize, too, that less is so much more, and more than more.

In completely other news: I’ve become mildly obsessed with the idea of the Rookie Card as deep metaphor, or as a kind of deep image even.
Oh, yeah. fill in the blank:
"You have built it, and indeed they do come, though they might not return unless you continue to ___________________."

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Various Sundries

Justin Marks has written and published a thoughtful review of Whirligig in H_NGM_N.
The two title poems from Whirligig, titled "Whirligig" and "Girligig" are published in the new print edition of Verse Magazine. It's a giant issue. The magnificent Chris Tonelli also appears courtesy of the state of Massachusetts.
This (novel written via text message) interests me, mostly for any idiosyncrasies it may contain...that and I want to study its syntax and grammar.
I've done several passes now of my new book manuscript (tentatively titled There Are Airs). It's tightening up a bit, thanks to the help of some sharp-eared pals of mine, and many exciting hours. I'm trying to have it ready for February send-out to presses.
Former Poet Laureate Billy Collins is reading on the North Carolina State University campus where I teach. I wonder the amount of his stipend.
As a counter to the Collins' shout, here's a wonderful bit of Ginsberg video that gets me out of my seat.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Russell Dillon has published a very gracious review of my own Whirligig here, at Speakeasynyc.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Dan Coffey has tagged me for my first meme--yeah the one that's going around like influenza. I'm game, though this breaks my usual silence regarding the personal here. What the hell, it's '07. Gentle reader, five things you may not know about me:
Here goes:

1) From the Al Bundy files: In high school, I played football for Immaculata High in NJ. My senior year, I was the starting noseguard. I was a bit bigger then, and was mostly used for my speed anyway, in what was a kind of unorthdox, hybrid 4-4 defense; I was free to line up almost anywhere on the line of scrimmage. That team, that season, and to this day, holds the New Jersey record for a defense/team going a whole season unscored upon. My favorite game was against Newark Central, which took place at night in downtown Newark's old, dilapidated stadium. Several of the upper deck sections were condemned. Their school band was small but amazing. On one set of downs, I recorded all 3 tackles, after which Newark punted.

2) My first job, when I was 16, was in a liquor store. My second job was as a gas station attendant, where I once pumped gas for John Amos (father from "Good Times") as well as Joe Piscopo. I also worked as a pool-hole-digger, a guy on a road paving crew, and was a forman on a house painting crew. I also painted playgrounds.

3) I played in a gigging band for 3 years--our drummer had previously drummed for Lisa Lisa and The Cult Jam as well as Clarence Carter.

4) I have received 4 of the 7 Catholic sacraments, before I gave up. For my Confirmation, I had to do community service. My seventh grade class went to an old folks home to visit with the elderly. My friend Brian and I rode the elevator for two hours, slinging our yo-yos, until I finally realized the error of my ways. I wandered into an old woman's room where she described to me, in detail, the lush countryside of Salerno, Italy.

5) My very first memory (that lasts more than a flash) is of my father throwing a pie across the dining room table, hitting my uncle in the face.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


What I enjoy most about my own book-length writing process is the discovery of each individual piece as well as the colors of larger book-length thing itself. If you haven't already guessed, I don't force content narrative or form. I also like the fact that I relinquish nearly all control in first draft mode, and exert (a kind of) total control in subsequent/final draft mode. Regardless, I'm nearly done drafting this next manuscript (tentatively titled "THERE ARE AIRS," but w.t.f.k. at this point). I'm stopping to look back at what i've been putting down. Three immediate thoughts: 1) My process has been at times so governed by sound that i'm going to have to rethink my discussions of invention and my own drafting process in my Introduction to Poetry course. 2) I've written several poems with the title "American Funeral," though they aren't nearly as grandiose or bulging as they might seem from such a title. Oh size and scale! 3) I seem to be taken, as I finish up, with Ekman and Friesan's Facial Action Coding System. That's me in the bottom row, second from the left, next to you.