Keep it Clean.  I.E., Puns Welcome

Monthly Archives: July 2013

Fresh Paint at the Cadillac Ranch


Public art, Texas style, I guess.  The whole thing reeks of Texas’ laissez faire ways; the whole “if I want to a sculpture garden in my front yard, ain’t a damn thing you can do about it” attitude.  And the whole thing reeks in general: of aerosol spray paint and of the aroma of one of the world’s largest feed lots, just up the road.   

I Can’t Say it Enough


Sanctuary, Haven, Asylum, Refuge.  Kimbilio can be translated variously: Even with the world’s most careful planning (and my service ARE for rent, at prices you most certainly cannot afford) the past week’s shelter and solace only happened because of the people who came together to make them happen.  There’ll be plenty of time to debrief, but first the public appreciation to those without whom none of this would have been a success. 

Working My Way Through This List

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Just attended the best literary event of my life, and, guess what?  It was my f@&%!^& event!  An evaluation from the world’s toughest critic reports that the inaugural Kimbilio retreat was a massive success.  Which is to say that no one is harder on himself than me, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome.

The Start of Something BIG


Two and a half days of Kimbilio, and all I can manage is the formula:

1.  Twenty-two brilliant, generous, engaged, passionate, compassionate, excited and wonderfully diverse writers

2. A beautiful remote mountainside retreat, where it’s pleasantly cool and the staff is as welcoming and attentive as they can be.

3. The generous support of colleagues back home at SMU English.

4. And all this happening at the time when it’s most needed.

Mix well.  Add a Supermoon.  Stand back and watch what happens.

Click on the Kimbilio Link to see the names of the 19 members of our inaugural class.

The twenty-two also include  my brilliantly talented colleagues ZZ Packer and Dolen Perkins Valdez and our amazing hard-working on-site coordinator Diana Napier.

Somewhere in the Mid-Twenties


The number of residencies I’ve served at the Warren Wilson MFA Program.  Above is a photo of the graduation ceremony for the class of Summer 2013.  Pictured are a number of colleagues, friends, and former advisees.  I feel enormously privileged to be part of this extraordinary community.  It’s work that I enjoy doing, and the ten days in Swannanoa are always one of the highlights of my summer–regardless of the snark of some of the FOTS staff.

(But people, really, the doors!)

I Guess This Thing is Going to Happen

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Seriously, I wasn’t “self-googling” or “rank surfing” or any of those other tacky obsessions we writers simply can’t resist.  Last week I was in a conversation with Suzanne Kelly about the book and it’s release date and perhaps shifting the timing a wee bit (for very good reasons).  Consortium, our distributor, put the brakes on that scheme for, among other reasons, the one pictured above.   So I surfed over to Amazon to check it out for myself, and there it is.

I’m still pinching myself over this whole thing.

Adventures in Diversity: Maybe It Was The SMU Merch


She wore her Illinois State Trooper uniform as if she couldn’t yet believe people thought it was a good idea for her to have one.  Or maybe it was just the casualness of people of her generation—she was surely only recently out of the community college criminal justice program followed by a quick pass through the academy—or maybe she’d taken the military route to law enforcement.  I’m thinking she was probably just uncomfortable to be seen in the ugly neutral tones of her trooper outfit.

Five Reasons Why “I’m Not Surprised” Doesn’t Really Help


  1. The shameless are immune to your cynicism. The only people bothered by it are on your side.
  2. Also: this tape loop has gotten scratchy from too much use. We’re not really believing you anymore. Which just makes us sad.
  3. And: in the creepy way that your response ends up making it about you, well…
  4. And, the shopworn reasons why you “saw this coming”—the same ones you trotted out last time something like this happened: they only contribute to our nausea.
  5. And your low-expectations of the human race just might be part of the problem in the first place.

Cynicism breeds apathy. The people who create the laws who sanction such things depend on fear and mistrust.

Be shocked. Be furious. Engage.


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