Keep it Clean.  I.E., Puns Welcome

Yearly Archives: 2014

Caption Contest?

Seriously — We need the Crawfords on this case!  Step it up, people!get-attachment.aspx

“We know our shit”

                  RJ Gibson (So much for keeping it clean!)

 “Shootin’ the Shit”

               Alain Park (Seriously, what is it with these MFA boys?)

“Plumbing the Depths So You Don’t Have To”

Lee Prusik (Traded this one in for my own entry: “You should see our snake!”)

 “If we can’t clear your pipes, no one can”

“Taylor” Lawson (A young man who knows his way around the “facilities”)

 “You know I’ve never seen you and the Ty-D-Bowl Man in the same room at the same time….”

 Amy Grimm   (Actually I’ve always wondered about this myself.)


Let’s Get This Done

Let’s Get This Done

Visiting Facebook these days is like trying to walk around downtown: Everybody’s got their hands out. Like you, I tend to avert my eyes from the beggars (and the posts) and scan the block ahead for something less guilt-inducing to focus on.

Here’s the thing: Some people really need the money, and not just for a beer. But how do you know that unless somebody tells you? That’s why I’m here.

The high quality and constantly underfunded New Rivers Press, publisher of A STAR IN THE FACE OF THE SKY, has launched an Indiegogo campaign in support of the publication of its 45th anniversary anthology. This is going to be a terrific book, and not only because it has an essay by ME in it.

Ironically enough, the essay concerns this very subject–the ongoing and constant struggle to keep our arts institutions afloat. You want to read it? The ONLY way that will happen is if you step up and send in a few dollars to get this thing on the press.

Click on the image below to go to the Indiegogo site and to make your donation today.  There’s some great swag available and it’s for a great cause.

Tell them “Dave” sent you.  Seriously.  Do.  They may send me a free bookmark.

Questions 18 Through 22

Questions 18 Through 22

Some more questions from Stephen Burt:

18. How often are readers from “marked,” or subordinated, or “minority” subject positions, asked to read as if they were not coming from those positions, to look at a literary work as if we were cisgendered, or male, or “middle American,” or well-off, or white?

19. How often are readers from “unmarked” or majority or until-recently-the-majority subject positions asked to read as if they were not coming from those positions, to look at a literary work as if we were Filipino, or Icelandic, or black?

20. Are the “asks” (or demands) in questions 18 and 19 demands of the same kind?

21. How often are readers unfamiliar with carpentry, or particle physics, or runway fashion, or haute cuisine, or Latin, asked to read as if we already recognized references to those fields?

22. Are the “asks” (or demands) in question 21 demands of the same kind as those in questions 18 and 19?

A charming retired gentleman participated in a novel workshop I taught in the DC area, and during a routine discussion of verisimilitude we debated the importance of authentic detail on the reader’s experience. He’d spent most of his life at sea—career Navy—and assured his fellow workshop members that, love him or hate him, the author of The Hunt for Red October hadn’t spent much time on submarines.   This student actually rather enjoyed Tom Clancy’s cold war tomes, although he admitted that in this particular case part of his pleasure arose from sneering at the implausible or inaccurate detail. I declined his offer to peruse his annotated copy of the novel.

31 Questions: Some Answers

31 Questions: Some Answers

Earlier this year I posted a link to a most excellent piece: Stephen Burt’s THIRTY-ONE QUESTIONS AND TWELVE APOLOGIES BY WAY OF A THANK-YOU NOTE FOR THE 2013 VIDA COUNT, and at the time I promised to write in response some of the questions. Life intervened, but I did want to return to that project, if only because I was so deeply stimulated by the original article. Here’s the first post:

Stephen Burt’s Question #9:

Is it possible to read a piece of literary writing without imagining that the author has an age, or a profession, or an ethnic identification, or a height, or a weight, or a race?

Well, yes, maybe, but which of us has the opportunity to read anything with the identifying information redacted—other than contest judges that is. For the rest of us, the publisher conveniently plasters images of the author on the cover and everything else we want to know is neatly summarized in the biographical notes. The message couldn’t be clearer: A person like you will enjoy reading something by a person like this.

The Kimbilio Interview

The Kimbilio Interview

Here’s a nice interview I did with Hope Wabuke for the Kimbilio website.  While you’re there, also check out the bios of our 2014 Fellows.  I can’t wait to meet them in person.

KCAAF: Where did you grow up?

David Haynes: I grew up outside of St. Louis, in a small community of working class black folks surrounded on all sides by working class white folks.

KCAAF: What was that like? How did it influence you?

David Haynes: Our little “pocket” community was stable and wonderfully nurturing. Same families in the same houses for half a century or more. It’s also true that that kind of insularity can also be stifling at times. This community will be the subject of the novella and stories I’m working on now.

KCAAF: Please tell us some of the books/writers you love.

David Haynes: I read widely and learn from everything I read. This past year, like much of the rest of the literary world, I’ve been celebrating Alice Munro. I’m a writer who thinks structurally, and Munro’s work continues to teach me to think rigorously about the importance of narrative design in storytelling.

Read the rest of the interview here:

Wild Fennel

Wild Fennel

So yesterday, as they were delivering a (not really) brand new couch (from the Habitat resale shop in Port Townsend)) to my studio, the delivery crew and I had a low-key debate about the monster plant growing in front of the cabin. We had two votes for dill, one for wild asparagus, another for random weeds.

Okay, I’ll confess: Wild asparagus was my guess. I actually have no idea what vegetables look like when they’re not in the produce aisle, and for most of those it’s a good thing they wear signs. Furthermore, I have been waiting for years for someone—anyone—to answer this question: Do Brussel Sprouts exist in the wild?

So I’m lounging on my “new” couch last night and reading away the long Pacific Northwest evening and I find myself choking on the scent of musky licorice and—Eureka!—I have an answer. Not to the sprouts thing; to the weeds outside the door.

Wild Fennel. A big giant overgrown bush of it. The picture above is archival. We trampled the bush down pretty bad yesterday as we dragged the couch through it—but no worries. It’ll spring back to life faster than you can say California Cuisine.



It occurs to me that when I say that I am disinterested in my students’ excuses, many people hear me saying, “I don’t care.” Disinterest is one of those words with a slippery and probably disappearing meaning. The word I’m using means this: the state of not being influenced by personal involvement in something; impartiality. I may (or may not) be genuinely sorry that the dog ate your semester portfolio. But, burden that it might be—all that gummed up 20# paper clogging up your vacuum, all those vowels clogging Fido’s intestines—it’s not my burden, nor is it my problem to solve.

At the beginning of the school year, back in my middle school days, the students would line up six deep at the desk in the morning with an array of pre-teen drama. Usually it was related to the various things they couldn’t, wouldn’t or didn’t do, or things that were done to them by others in line, and the reason why these things should matter to me. There were more mystery ailments than on a year’s worth of daytime TV.   Many days I felt much like a benevolent king, holding court as his minions approached the throne, my tribute their carefully crafted tales of young adolescent suffering.

I Just Work Here

I Just Work Here

Part of my AWP tradition is to attend each year at least one of the several panels devoted to the painful, recounting of the horrors visited upon writers of color while earning their MFAs in creative writing. On April 30 The New Yorker book blog published what is likely the highest profile version of this genre. Junot Diaz describes his program thusly:

Too white as in Cornell had almost no POC—no people of color—in it. Too white as in the MFA had no faculty of color in the fiction program—like none—and neither the faculty nor the administration saw that lack of color as a big problem. (At least the students are diverse, they told us.) Too white as in my workshop reproduced exactly the dominant culture’s blind spots and assumptions around race and racism (and sexism and heteronormativity, etc). In my workshop there was an almost lunatical belief that race was no longer a major social force (it’s class!). In my workshop we never explored our racial identities or how they impacted our writing—at all. Never got any kind of instruction in that area—at all. Shit, in my workshop we never talked about race except on the rare occasion someone wanted to argue that “race discussions” were exactly the discussion a serious writer should not be having.

You can read the rest of the post here.


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