Feeling the Love in Los Angeles

I had such a fantastic time in Los Angeles this past week for AWP. I want to thank Jamie Iredell for organizing and hosting the Future Tense anniversary reading at AWP. I also want to thank Justin Maurer for putting me up at his homestead again and for setting up the great Future Tense off-site reading at the Redwood Bar. And thanks to the Timberline Review folks for letting me share their table.

It was so fun to talk to so many people at the Future Tense table at the book fair and to sell SO MANY books as well. A lot of people said they thought the Future Tense anniversary panel/reading was their favorite and that they could feel the love in the room. It was such an honor to be in that room with Jamie, as well as Chelsea Martin, Wendy C. Ortiz, and Meredith Alling (and Chelsea Hodson in the audience) and to see a great turnout for it. I LOVE being a publisher and ushering these amazing people and books into the world, into peoples’ hands–into hearts and brains. I freakin’ love it! This year’s AWP left me feeling so inspired and appreciated. I appreciate you all back, so so much.

Here are pics of some of my AWP highlights.

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Beginning of the book fair on Thursday!

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Jamie Iredell, dapper southern gent and literary powerhouse

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I read a little bit from a few of the Future Tense chapbooks at the anniversary reading. And also gave out Spudnut doughnuts to the morning crowd.

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I went to see Wendy C. Ortiz get a Lulu Award and sat with these stars: Cheryl Strayed, Melissa Chadburn, and Lauren Eggert-Crowe

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Later, at the Standard Hotel rooftop party, there were pods with waterbeds in them. Wendy C. Ortiz gets comfortable.

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Here’s upcoming Future Tense author Meredith Alling and Wendy by the pool

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With Meredith in very uncomfortable chairs by the poolside

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Big crowds at the panels, like this one for the “Year of Magical Thinking” panel I was on. It wasn’t about Joan Didion. It was about the first year of your debut book’s life.

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Always fun to make Myriam Gurba laugh. She has the best laugh. And the best hair.

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Sean Kilpatrick owns the floor (and kicks a chair across the room) for the Dark Fucking Wizard reading Friday night.

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Awesome to see Brandi Wells also read for Dark Fucking Wizard.

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Meredith Alling reads about an ancient ham at the Dark Fucking Wizard reading.

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Awesome to see Monica Drake’s book on this Small Press Distribution display.

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And to see Ooligan Press captain Abbey Gaterud (the day before I saw old friend Kait Heacock, who they’re publishing later this year).

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Before going to AWP, I found one lone copy of Chelsea Hodson’s highly sought-after chapbook, Pity the Animal, and packed it with the rest of he books. On Friday, while taking a break from the table, Meredith Alling (salesperson of the month!) sold it to an excited fan for $50. I wanted to give the money to Chelsea, but she’s too dang sweet and generous to take it.

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Ran into Kattywompus Press’s Sammy Greenspan after spotting Leah Umansky’s books on display.

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Finally met the fabulous Ashley Perez in person

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I didn’t get a lot of time to wander around the book fair, but I did get a few breaks thanks to Jamie, Meredith, and Darkmouth Strikes Again author Jay Ponteri. Here are the much anticipated books I’ll be reading soon by Natalie Eilbert, Ben Mirov, Chelsea Martin, Melissa Broder, John Colasacco, and Lincoln Michel.

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Saturday night wrapped up with the 17 Television/Future Tense Books reading. Meredith Alling killed it again at the Redwood (one of the highlight of the whole trip was seeing her read THREE times in three days–good practice for her book readings later this year).

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One of my favorite writers, Zoë Ruiz, at the Redwood

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Thanks again for everyone who stopped by to say hi and check out the Future Tense stuff. We even officially sold out of our print run for May-Lan Tan’s Girly.

I’m not sure if I’ll be going next year or not. Washington D.C. is great but maybe too far away. We’ll wait and see. But for now, the L.A. AWP was such a good one and will be one to remember for a long time. Thanks again, my friends.

I Be All Up in AWP

Friends! Oh, friends! Such fun times happening right now and in the near future. I’ll be at AWP in Los Angeles this week. What does that stand for? There are many different interpretations but I think it means Awesome Writer Party.

Here’s where I will be when I’m not at the Future Tense booth (table #106–come say hark!)…

Thursday morning Future Tense anniversary reading

Friday morning panel on getting your first book to print

Saturday night reading at The Redwood Bar

I have so many friends that live in L.A. It’s going to be beautiful to see Zoe Ruiz, Meredith Alling, Melissa Chadburn, Davy Rothbart, Ariel Maccarone, Myriam Gurba, Wendy C. Ortiz, Amelia Gray, Justin Maurer, Stephen Kurowski, Michelle Tea, and all the rest of you warm weather angels .

See y’all at the hotel pool!

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Thank You

I’m extremely excited to be one of the recipients of the James Patterson Bookseller Holiday Bonuses for this year. I was one of 87 folks to get one (out of 2,848 nominations) and I realize how lucky I am to be recognized in the vast, impressive landscape of book lovers working at independent stores everywhere. I wanted to take a moment to talk about how important this job is to me.

I started at Powell’s in November of 1997. But just a few years before that, I was just a dude who never went to a real college, was barely interested in books as a kid, and probably thought Tennessee Williams was a baseball player. I had finally picked up the habit (the addiction!) of reading when I was 22 years old. I would choose books by the covers, their reputations in history (banned books were of particular interest), the stories of their troubled authors. I didn’t know many readers when I started reading. I didn’t know who to ask for recommendations.

It’s funny how your trajectory as a reader can be forever determined by one book or one author. I recall particular booksellers in Spokane, Seattle, Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Portland that put books into my hands that would alter my brain and my life. In Spokane, that book was The Abortion by Richard Brautigan. In Seattle, it was Jesse Bernstein’s Personal Effects and Dennis Cooper’s Closer. In Fort Smith, it was Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior. In Portland, it was Gordon Lish’s Dear Mr. Capote, Kathy Acker’s Blood and Guts in High School.

When I started at Powell’s, I would observe how other booksellers would help customers with such kindness and intelligence. Specifically, those customers who asked us, with all the trust in the world, “What book should I read next?” Throughout the years, these have been my favorite sort of customers, especially if they say things like, “I just got into southern fiction” or “I want something funny” or “I want to know more about Portland poets” or “I like heartbreaking Mennonite authors.” These kind of statements make my heart pitter-patter. For them I offer: Barry Hannah, William Gay…Jonathan Ames, Myriam Gurba…Emily Kendal Frey, James Gendron…Miriam Toews! And I could go on.

When you do something for eighteen years, you’ll probably get good at it. Especially if you watch and learn from those around you. Some of the best booksellers I’ve known starts with Vanessa Renwick, who as the mother of the legendary small press section, showed me the value of helping out tiny presses, the self-publishers, the scrappy zinesters, and the industrious literary weirdos of Portland and beyond. I’ve written elsewhere on Vanessa’s importance to where I am today. There’s also the late Marty Kruse (who also ran the small press section before me), and other fantastic ex-cohorts like Steffen Silvis, Meredith Schreiber, Elizabeth Miller, Aaron Gilbreath, Joseph Lappie, Jessica Patton, Nicolette Lind, and Liz Olufson. Currently, I work with bookselling superstars like Gin Enguehard, Jason Chan, Jacob Schraer, McKenzie Workman, Chris Faatz, Dianah Hughley, Liz Vogan, Linda Watson, Mark Savage, Chris Hagen, Tove Holmberg, Santi Elijah Holley, Ryan Hall, and so many others that could fill several blog posts.

Anyone who loves books and places books into readers’ hands is a person whose value is beyond measure. Our position–as recommenders, taste-makers, readers, sellers, book displayers, etc.–is important to culture. Heck, it’s important to the whole world! It’s maybe the most important thing I do in my life. When I meet people outside of work and they ask what I do, I don’t start off by saying I’m a writer or publisher or collage artist or whatever. I always start by saying, “I work at Powell’s.”

Here’s a photo of me with Carol Easter, another member of the Powell’s bookseller family, standing in front of the James Patterson books at the store. Mr. Patterson seems to know the importance of books, readers, and bookstores. His website shows not just his mammoth bibliography but also his inspiring array of community service. Thanks to everyone who voted for me for this award. Come in any time and I’ll help you find a book.

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Eating Paste and Sniffing Glue

Hey. Happy Fall!

I have a new collage show up at Radio Room in Portland right now. It’s up until Nov 25th. Come hang out and say hi at my “Paste Eater” reception on Tuesday, Nov 3rd. I worked really hard just in the past couple of weeks on this show. I stayed up until 4am two nights in a row this past week to make sure I had lot of fresh, new pieces to show. Even Simba helped.

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Gratuitous shot of Simba’s manx tail.

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I suddenly have a few other collage things in the coming days as well. I’m teaching a collage workshop at this year’s Wordstock at the Portland Art Museum on Saturday, November 7th. And then there’s always the Open Collage Night at the IPRC (every 2nd Wednesday of the month)–so much fun!

"Shirley" from Paste Eater, at Radio Room, November 2015

“Shirley” from Paste Eater, at Radio Room, November 2015

In writing news, I’ve been taking a novel writing class the past several weeks (you can take it too!). Which means I’m back into a writing groove as well. I’m very excited about the book I’m working on and can’t wait to see how it all comes together. I’m only about 1/4 of the way through right now though, so it may be a while.

In the meantime, I have two poems in the new issue of Pouch Magazine! And I wrote a piece in the new Poets & Writers Magazine about Andrew Proctor at Literary Arts Inc.

Thanks for checking in, friends. Hope to see you soon! xo

A Fast ’15

Oh, wow. Is it really Fall now? Like practically Halloween! This year is going by really fast. Here’s some quick update action for you. Thanks for stopping by!

Thanks for reading. Hope you’re having a great year.

Friends

Summer is a time when I try to be with friends as much as possible and enjoy the small window of sunny Portland weather. We just kicked off the season with a few hundred friends here in Portland at LitHop, which was a hot and memorable night of readings all over downtown.

Jeff Alessandrelli and I thank the crowd at the LitHop after-party at Dante's before Brownish Black takes the stage.

Jeff Alessandrelli and I thank the crowd at the LitHop after-party at Dante’s before Brownish Black takes the stage.

Jay sets up some music for his reading that closed the night at Ash Street Saloon and LitHop 2015.

Jay Ponteri sets up some My Bloody Valentine music for his reading that closed the night at Ash Street Saloon and LitHop 2015.

In other friend news, my pal Lidia Yuknavitch has a new book out this week. I had fun recording a snippet of the first chapter of it for this video, produced by Meg Tuite and Ken Robidoux for Connotation Press. Many other friends are also in the video: Paula Bomer, Margaret Malone, Amelia Gray, and many more.

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Some of my favorite books this year are by friends and the newest one in my heart is Kevin Maloney’s Cult of Loretta. He’s reading with my other friends (and Future Tense authors) Chelsea Hodson (Pity the Animal) and Elissa Washuta (the new Instant Future eBook Starvation Mode) at Colonel Summers Park Saturday, July 11th at 7:30pm.

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Elissa, Chelsea, and Kevin M

Other friends with new books you should get: Wendy C. Ortiz, Jamie Iredell, Lisa Cicarello, Myriam Gurba, Sean H. Doyle, Troy James Weaver, and Amy Fusselman.

And these stellar new essays by Zach Ellis and Zoe Ruiz.

In other friend news, Frayn and I adopted a new kitty. His name is Simba and he is quickly becoming an all-star cuddler and furry pal around here. Just look at this loving friend!

Photo by B Frayn Masters

Simba (aka Mr. Simms) Photo by B Frayn Masters

I hope everyone’s having a great summer so far. Stay cool, buddies.

May Flowers

It’s May already! This year is going by fast. Some great things are brewing. Look!

I am doing a workshop TOMORROW at Clackamas Community College at their very cool COMPOSE event. You can still sign up but you have to do it today.

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Other collage news!

I have a Tumblr now. It’s specifically to highlight my collage life. Check it out and follow me. So far it’s been super fun!

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The new Kolaj Magzine (#12) features a story I did about Portland collage artist Kurtiss Lofstrom. He’s one of my favorites.

And look–there’s even some poetry news!

My poem, Anti-Extinct, is featured in the first issue of Backwords, a new T-shirt press. You heard that right. Instead of being printed on a website or in a journal, they put their stuff on T-shirts. Really excited to be part of this new venture. Here’s a really nice thing they wrote about me. Also featured are poets Ocean Vuong (poem pictured) and Elaina Ellis.

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Thanks for looking. Thanks for reading! xo

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