An Interview on The Journey of a new book, Chained Dog Dreams, by Carol Guerrero-Murphy

Book cover of Chained Dog Dreams and author picture

My friend, the poet Carol Guerrero-Murphy, and I go waaay back to the late 1980s when we were both completing our doctorate degrees in Literature and Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Denver.  

Jobs, daughters (and son), and books later, we’ve found ourselves following similar paths again: retirement, partial teaching employment, writing, and books. 

Chained Dog Dreams (Finishing Line Press) is Carol’s second poetry book. Her first book, Table Walking at Nighthawk– this early winter, I even got the privilege of climbing over the family gate with Carol and walking up a snowy lane to her ancestral cabin in Nighthawk- was a finalist for the WILLA Prize in Poetry. Laura Pritchett calls this collection of poems, “quietly moving, deeply felt look at our vulnerable world, our vulnerable souls.”

Continue reading “An Interview on The Journey of a new book, Chained Dog Dreams, by Carol Guerrero-Murphy”

Pre-Orders and the Journey of a Book in a Year of Yes

cover of slow arrow with description of book
http://saddleroadpress.com/slow-arrow.html

Perhaps it’s the few new minutes of light since Winter Solstice or the still days between the end of Christmas and the hopes of a new year. Or just simply being stuck in bed with a lousy cold. But today seemed like the perfect one to begin the next stage of this long journey I’ve been on, the journey of the book in a year of yes.

Continue reading “Pre-Orders and the Journey of a Book in a Year of Yes”

Convergences of Poetry and Prose: In the Light of Ocean Vuong and Michael Steinberg

Book cover for On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

I was in the Florida Keys, reading the poet Ocean Vuong’s genre-blurring novel, On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous, off my Kindle when the first social media posting of Michael Steinberg’s death appeared in my Earthlink. Michael, writer and founding editor of the literary journal, The Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction, and I had just emailed each other a couple months before because, as all the beautiful tributes to Michael’s generosity attest to, he had kindly agreed to write a blurb for my upcoming book, Slow Arrow: Unearthing the Frail Children, despite his upcoming eye surgery, asking only that I send my manuscript in large script. I did not realize then how serious his eye condition was, nor to what discovery it would, so sadly, so soon, lead.  

But even before I heard about Michael’s death, Vuong’s novel, a soaring and lyrical tour de force about Little Dog and his family of refugees from Vietnam, had me thinking about the convergence of poetry and prose and what Michael had written to me a few years ago when I asked him to be part of an AWP presentation on the lyric essay.

Continue reading “Convergences of Poetry and Prose: In the Light of Ocean Vuong and Michael Steinberg”

Still Frozen: Olaf, Oates, and Morality in Creative Nonfiction

best american essay book cover

As I girded myself at the end of Thanksgiving for this week’s news cycle of impeachment shockers and “presidential” deflections, I started thinking about the five-year-old who had been seated two seats away from me at the matinee showing of Frozen II and of the anthology edited by Joyce Carol Oates, Best American Essays of the Century, that I was in the midst of reading.  

Both left me weepy.

Continue reading “Still Frozen: Olaf, Oates, and Morality in Creative Nonfiction”

Difficult Grace: Michael Chabon’s essay, “Final Frontier,” and the Balance of Truth and Fathers (and Mothers) in CNF

picture of Chabon essay from The New Yorker

Regis Mile High MFA has asked me to pull together a large lecture hall seminar for our next residency on the ethics of creative nonfiction.  I’m calling it, “ truth, TRUTH, my story, your story: The Ethics of (Creative) (Non) fiction.” As I scroll through the famous infamies of creative “non-truths” in the past decades—James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces, Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea to name the most web-notorious—I realize that my students don’t worry so much over the truthfulness of their stories as they do over their own capacities to hurt (or enrage) those close to them– good, bad, and/or ugly–who appear in the often painful memories these students find themselves compelled to write.

As  a poet, I thought nothing of truth or ethics. The poet Richard Hugo declared what we poets already knew: “You owe reality nothing and the truth about your feelings everything.” But then I wrote my first creative nonfiction book, Phantom Canyon: Essays of Reclamation, about a subject I had never broached with my family since the long decades past when my mother and father took me to testify in court against the stranger who assaulted me by the side of a graveyard. Each time afterward, they would stop off at the local ice cream parlor with me, in hopes, I think now, of returning me to the normalcy of childhood through a chocolate chip sundae, even after that last day in court when the judge read the verdict and the mother of the rapist half-collapsed at the end of the long court bench within reach of me, weeping to her son, “You said you didn’t do it,” as the police led her nineteen-year-old, convicted and sentenced, down the aisle between us. 

Continue reading “Difficult Grace: Michael Chabon’s essay, “Final Frontier,” and the Balance of Truth and Fathers (and Mothers) in CNF”

Cards, Photos, and Paintings: the Happy Collisions of Prose, Poetry, and the Visual Image

picture of card

Many thanks to Joan Digby, editor-publisher of New Feral Press, who created a beautiful  card combining my poem, Memories of Horses, with a historic photo of a 15,000 to 17, 000 year-old  Paleolithic horse drawing from the Lascaux Cave in France. Joan and artist Stanley Barkan are producing a box of Artists’ cards with horse poems and illustrations.  (Thanks, Joseph Hutchison, former Colorado Poet Laureate, for forwarding Joan’s call for submissions.)

Continue reading “Cards, Photos, and Paintings: the Happy Collisions of Prose, Poetry, and the Visual Image”

Slow Arrow: Unearthing the Frail Children Begins the Road to Publication

book cover for Slow Arrow

Saddle Road Press (so happy I went with this press) has sent Slow Arrow off to  Lightning Source for our first Proof Copy. Thank you to Steve Harvey, Laura Julier, Tom Larson, Robert Root, and Michael Steinberg for their beautiful beautiful book blurbs.

Continue reading “Slow Arrow: Unearthing the Frail Children Begins the Road to Publication”