Reading at Hudson Valley Community College, September 18!


Amped to be part of this bill chock-a-block with great writers around the Capital Tech Region Valley Tri-City.

Get involved in local lit! The event will feature readings from Karin Lin-Greenberg (Fiction), Daniel Nester (Creative Nonfiction), Victorio Reyes (Poetry), Laura McCoy (Poetry), Richard Hartshorn (Fiction), and Moe Daniels (Creative Nonfiction).

Friday, September 18at 7:30pm
Hudson Valley Community College
80 Vandenburgh Ave, Troy, New York 12180

The event is free and open to the public, and will be held in Bulmer Telecommunication Center (BTC) Auditorium.

Doors at 7pm, readings at 7:30, subsequent meet-and-greet with the writers. Books will be available for purchase.

Facebook event page here.

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Notes on Rock Blocks


“Yes! Floyd! Floooyyd!”


Whenever there’s a block of Pink Floyd, Jimmy the Pothead, Bill’s counterpart in the back, howled from the back of the wash. WMMR, the Philadelphia rock station that played Bad Company and Grateful Dead records in a loop, played “Workforce Blocks,” four songs from the same artist, during lunchtime. If it was a block of Floyd, you bet your ass the car wash track would stop so Jimmy the Pothead could smoke a doobie.


Floyd blocks, at least WMMR’s Workforce Floyd Blocks, always started with the cuckoo-clocks rings and tick-tocking from “Time” from Dark Side of the Moon.


For the next 20 minutes, Jimmy entered a state of bliss. He was not to be spoken to. Bill let soap bubbles blast over his hair and sunglasses. And George, usually the Chatty Cathy, wiped in silence, waltzed around the cars with his towels. Nothing could ruin a Floyd Rock Block afternoon.

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Notes on Mail

consumer information catalog 1979

Anything addressed to me seemed more important. Or at least personalized.

And so I filled out any pre-paid postcard I found that would send something free in return. Each day mailman arrived with Burpee seed catalogs, Columbia and RCA record clubs with gag names like (Jacques Strapp, Seymour Hiney, I.P. Daly), and brochures for travel bureaus. I sent away for The Consumer Information Catalog, checked from a list of publications—the government had to mail them to your home, I thought, it was the law—and couple weeks later, a bulging envelope from Pueblo, Colorado would arrive with “Tips for Successful Interstate Moves” (DOT, 620pp, Free) and “Women and Retirement Plans” (DOL, 587pp, Free) would arrive, too big for the mailbox. Whoever worked at the FCIC in 1979 must have thought that the Daniel Nester in New Jersey who sent for “A Volunteer’s Guide to Food Safety” (40pp, FDA, Free) and “Loss of Bladder Control” (2pp, FDA, Free) was not a ten-year-old boy, but some loony retiree or hermit.



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Just up on BuzzFeed: “In Defense of Vaguebooking.”


We read them every day in our Facebook feed. “I can’t right now,” my former student proclaims. “I don’t understand the decision-making process,” a colleague writes delphically one morning. A famous writer tops quips with an ominous “Bored. Waiting on 10 things.”

Stripped of context, these status messages befuddle and intrigue readers at the same time. We have had a word for this: “vaguebooking.”

Defined by Urban Dictionary in 2009 as an “intentionally vague Facebook status update that prompts friends to ask what’s going on or is possibly a cry for help,” the vaguebook is perceived as the needy, less hip counterpart to the “subtweet,” in which someone is dissed anonymously on Twitter, and the “supertweet,” dubbed in a recent story in The Atlantic by Ian Boghost as a tweet “meaning to be clear to everyone, but to feign concealment from its target.” Boghost cites Azealia Banks’ sidelong tweet about “Igloo Australia” (i.e., Iggy Azalea) in the wake of the Eric Garner and Michael Brown killings as “the most famous supertweet.”

Vaguebooking’s reputation has has reached rock bottom in the past couple of months. Unlike “shade,” celebrated in the New York Times as “the art of the sidelong insult,” vaguebooking has been met with almost universal revulsion. Tech blogger Dave Parrack shot one of the first salvos a couple years ago with “What Is This Imbecilic Art of Vaguebooking?” in 2012, and the anti-vaguebook has only intensified. The Tumblr (its tagline reads, simply, “ugh”) showcases screenshots with such vague classics as “Sometimes it’s not what you expect, but it’s ok,” “Feeling irritated and annoyed by certain people,” and that old chestnut, “Sometimes you have to learn to just walk away when things are not healthy.”

But I am here to suggest that vaguebooking deserves a second look, not only as a valid way to communicate, but to keep our privacy. It’s already happening: Results from a study released this past March by the MRS Delphi Group revealed that teenagers, far from oversharing, now take an active role in safeguarding their privacy by “dirtying their data” with “social coding” such as in-jokes, false personal data or, yes, vaguebooking, all so their messages are understood only by their intended audience.

Read the rest on BuzzFeed

I have some bonus stuff as well, which I post soon.

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Just up on Poetry Foundation: “Behind the Sound,” on W. Bliem Kern’s Meditations. Here are some bonus materials.

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Just up on Poetry Foundation’s website is my appreciation of Meditations, W. Bliem Kern’s sound poetry book/cassette collection from 1974, which I have held onto for years as a private inspiration. Read the piece here.

Above: a slide show of images I collected in my research, and a few snapshots from visiting Kern in his Upper West  Side apartment last winter.

I recorded Kern perform a number of poems in his apartment. “Vulcan” is linked in the piece itself, but I have a bunch more. Below is a link to a SoundCloud collection I made with most of the performances.

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