Three Things

Friends! Some news tidbits I should share with you…

1. I’ve started a new reading series. Yeah, I know there are already dozens of others in this little town, but I think my idea is pretty sweet. I’m calling it Two Essays & A Poem. It will happen whenever I get the gumption to set one up. Maybe like once a month-ish. It may take place at rotating locations and maybe even with rotating hosts/curators–maybe even in different cities.! The first one is this Saturday at Glyph Cafe in downtown Portland. It will be exactly as advertised: Two people will each read an essay and then the evening will finish with one poem from someone else. No more looking at the clock, wondering when it will end. Each 2EAP will be about the same length as an episode of The Daily Show. Short reading. No nonsense. Maximum impact. The first one features Instant Future author Litsa Dremousis, Check out the Facebook event page for more info.

2. Instant Future has launched! This is the new eBook venture I’m doing with Matthew Simmons, Bryan Coffelt, and a bunch of awesome writers ready to rock your world. Check it out. The aforementioned Litsa Dremousis is our powerful first author, and her book, Altitude Sickness has already garnered many great reviews as well as debates on the sanity of mountain climbing culture.


3. I’ll have a collage show in January at Powell’s City of Books, in the Basil Hallward Gallery. I’m so excited that so many people will see my work there through the month. I just have to think of a cool name for the show. Hmmmm. I’m also writing an essay about my “rookie season” as a collage artist and it will appear in the January issue of Kolaj Magazine (a publication I adore). Speaking of collages, I have collage work in the new issues of JerkPoet and The Lazy Fascist Review. And my collage column at The Rumpus is still going strong. This whole collage mania has been so fun for me this year. Thank you so much to everyone who has shared my enthusiasm for it. I plan to do so much more in 2015. Sometimes I feel like such a nerd about it. :/

Tricky Dick Fish

Time to Read

Friends! I have two readings coming up very soon. After spending so much time and energy on my collaging adventure this year, I’m excited to get back behind the mic, especially on Wednesday, Oct 22nd with Miriam Toews, who is one of my all-time favorite writers and people. I just adore her. Also: The great Portland poet Adam Adamschick. Also: Ace Hotel lobby!?!


And then on Saturday the 25th, I’ll be reading at the Bone Tax Reading series at Ford Food & Drink, alongside John Beer, Wendy Bourgeois, and Zosia Rose. Gonna read some new poems and maybe even an old one. 🙂


Collage Summer Heats Up

Every time someone asks me what’s been going on, I usually shrug and say, oh, more of the same. Or something like that. I think it’s about time I just fess up: I’m busy as f$ck!
I go to work and then I come home and “go to work” again, until way past my bedtime. I thought July and August were like vacation months. Times to lay out in the sun or on the beach. Sadly, it doesn’t work out that way. Besides the recent Future Tense/Scout Book releases, me and team Future Tense (Bryan, Tina, Mareika, and Ariana) were working hard on getting Wendy C. Ortiz’s memoir, Excavation, out into the world. I’m expecting boxes of the paperback in the next day and then we’ll FLOOD THE WORLD with them! Watch out!
Besides all that, it’s been collage madness over here. And I’ve got a bunch of things coming up. Here we go…

1. I’m doing a collage slide show at the Entertainment For People show this Friday night, July 18th at Disjecta. It’s kind of hard to describe what exactly this entails. I think back to the time I saw Crispin Glover do his “Big Slide Show” and I feel like that’s sort of the vibe I’m going for. A visual roller coaster of weirdness, beauty, and precision cutting! Also there will also be awesome folks like Laura Gibson, Arthur Btradford, B Frayn Masters, and host Dan Kennedy.

2. Starting on August 5th, some of my collages will be part of the show, Sex From Scratch, at the Waypost in Portland. The other artists will be Molly Schaeffer and Natalie Nourigat, who illustrated Sarah Mirk’s awesome new book, Sex From Scratch. I just recently bought my first frames for some of my more sex-y, relationship-y collages. I’m so excited about this being my first art show. On Tuesday, August 5th, Sarah and I will be hanging out there and maybe selling art, books, and other things from 7:30-9pm.
art show banner

3. Just two nights after that, on Thursday, August 7th, I’ll be joining forces with A.M. O’Malley and the Independent Publishing Resource Center to kick off a new once-a-month Open Collage Night. This means you can come hang out at the IPRC and make collages with me, A.M., and whoever else wants to show up and cut and paste for a few hours. There will be some scissors and old magazines and books to cut the heck out of, but you’re encouraged to bring your own stuff too. Go ahead and bring some beer or other refreshments as well.

4. Besides all this, I’m continuing with my collage column, Paper Trumpets, on The Rumpus. Next ones posting on July 23rd and August 6th. Stay tuned to that.

5. I recently signed up with a retail partner and will be selling some collage prints and other collage-centric products soon. Like Andy Warhol’s factory, I’m planning to take over the art world like a mofo, or at least sell a few postcards and T-shirts. More (less vague) info on this adventure soon!

Cougar Cave, June 2014

Cougar Cave, June 2014

Pre-VIDA Call to Action!

I found this ad in a 1964 women’s magazine. Almost fifty years before VIDA, Faith Baldwin tried to give female writers a kick in the butt.




LitHop #2

The gigantic literary party of Portland, LitHop PDX, happens tomorrow night. I’m so psyched. It’s turning into something like a book geeks Mardi Gras (show us your poems, we’ll throw you some beads). So fun. Go to the website and check the schedule. And keep in mind that me and my partners Bryan Coffelt and Jeff Alessandrelli do not make money on this shiz, so buy us drinks if you see us. Or next time you see us. Any time really.


Also, I’m psyched that my collage column, Paper Trumpets, has launched at The Rumpus. So excited and happy that I’ll be exploring this passion for altered images with y’all.


See you on the streets!


What’s Inside the Sorrow?

Oh, man, do I love Emily Kendal Frey’s new book, Sorrow Arrow (Octopus Books). I also love the cover art by Treasure Frey (no relation).


But I wonder… what is the void in the middle doing there? Is that the sadness? Is it a frame for something missing? A fill in the blank? Is it the arrow, or the target for the arrow? Or is it simply what it is?

As someone who thinks in collage (I say that like it’s a brain disease, and maybe it is) I had the urge to fill that space. To alter it in some way, as if that openness in the art were an invitation to collaborate.

So, here are some “remixes” of the Sorrow Arrow cover. Please enjoy…









Now go out and buy this wonder!

And if you want to see Emily and I hanging out on the Casserole Reading on YouTube, check it out.

Also, there’s a video of me introducing Emily at a reading almost four whole years ago. 

As you can tell, I adore Emily and all her work.


A Postcard From David Rakoff

Recently, I was cleaning up around my desk at Powell’s, where I have now worked for over sixteen years. As you can imagine, it can get pretty messy, especially the leaning towers of review copies, the piles of zine and chapbook submissions, and the various press releases from publishers. Sometimes I find some really cool artifacts though, like thank you notes from authors. Here’s one from the wonderful writer and sweet human, David Rakoff. Just over twelve years ago, I had hosted his reading at Powell’s and then–later the same night–had the pleasure of reading with him and a few others at a tiki bar by Portland State University. It was in support of a Chicago literary journal, Bridge Magazine that was run by Michael Workman and Greg Purcell (who also did a great website called No Slander). His reading that night was wryly funny yet warm and understated. He was the star of the night. 






The postcard is also addressed to Dave Weich, who did numerous interviews and amazing things for Powell’s web site for many years.

I love having this postcard as a reminder of my very brief time with David and how kind he was. David was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, lost his left arm during treatment soon after, and then passed away on August 9th, 2012. He wrote about his arm in the final essay of his collection, Half Empty, and talked about it to NPR’s Terry Gross. He left us with many insightful, hilarious, and daring works of nonfiction. His swan song, Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish, was a poignant novel-in-verse that came out last summer. He would have been fifty this year.



The Blue Girl

Like writing, collaging is about making choices. Recently, I was working on a very simple collage involving a young girl in a blue bonnet placed over a peaceful lake and as I looked for other pieces to add, I found myself faced with multiple choices. This is one of the thrills of making collages–the infinite possibilities. I took some photos of the various stages and ideas. Here’s how it went…


First, here’s our star: The Blue Girl, as I call her. I decided to flip the lake over behind her, giving it an otherworldly sort of vibe.


Now, when I say I call her The Blue Girl, I don’t want you to think I was sitting there, moving paper pieces around and muttering in a weird voice, “Well, Blue Girl, let’s see what you look like with this building on your head.”

Well, okay. If you think it’s funny, go ahead.


“Okay, Blue Girl, don’t be alarmed, but I’m going to put a ginormous camera with a flash bulb behind you. What’s a flash bulb, you ask? It’s like a very slow strobe light.”


One of the coolest things that sometimes happens in collaging is when you get something that works like a weird optical illusion. One of my main collage heroes, John Stezaker, has mad skills when it comes to this. This Mars Bar, like Blue Girl, comes from an advertisement out of a 1950s-era Life Magazine (or it may be Saturday Evening Post, I can’t remember). Placed at just the right angle, the nuts in the candy become her eyes. Mmmmm, eyes.


Okay, so this is weird. But I like weird.

“Blue Girl, this is Butterfinger Ghost Boy. He wants to float around behind your head. I don’t know why his eye-holes are so big.”


I like how Tuxedo Dude can so easily just lean on her shoulder like that. But, I don’t know. They don’t really look like a good pairing. Moving her over to the right kind of screws up the balance of the whole thing too.


Emerging like a leaping shark behind her is this sweaty boxer guy. His aggressive vibe is kind of a fun juxtaposition (sorry to throw in these advanced art terms). I ended up using him for another collage just a few days later. He was too good to languish in the scrap pile.


“Blue Girl! Paparazzi alert! Don’t turn around! And watch out for his pointy elbow!”

I’m a sucker for hands coming into the frame. I mean, that shit looks crazy cool, doesn’t it? And it’s going to squeeze some toothpaste into the sky/lake. Is this some kind of political statement about fluoride in the water?! “Watch out, Blue Girl! Keep those lips sealed!”



Oh, look how charming that phone is. It matches Blue Girl so well, not to mention the lake/sky. And there seems to be a small flower arrangement attached to the phone, because pretty. I also like the idea that this girl could be thinking of a phone, as in daydreaming about calling some far away friend or flame.



And finally, the official scan (sorry about the non-pro camera phone quality of the previous images)! The newspaper words are fairly minimal and poetic. I like to imagine what Blue Girl would sound like singing by this lake/sky/forest. Yodel-y maybe? Perhaps Enya-ish? Singing is just levitating breathing, right? I think this end result makes the best sense (or nonsense, which is often better). Also–paper cutter! Such nice straight lines.

“Blue Girl, welcome to the Internet. I’ve grown quite fond of you.”

Uh Oh NaPoWriMo!

This month is all about poems. The foxy folks at Bloof Books are letting me join in their fun for National Poetry Writing Month, which I guess is in tribute to National Poetry Month and also a nod to National Novel Writing Month. So, go check it out every day. I’m going to write (or at least rough draft) a new poem every day. (NOTE TO SELF: NOW THAT I’VE SAID IT, I HAVE TO DO IT!)

I’m also going to listen to Future Islands a lot probably. This performance on Letterman has turned me into a rabid fan.

Smatterings That Turn to Spring

It’s been a super-fun month so far. First, AWP was a blast. I got to see a bunch of great friends and share a table with Adam Robinson, Mike Young, Bryan Coffelt, and Gabe Durham. I did a panel, a few readings, and even got to meet one of my next Future Tense authors for the first time: The fantastic May-Lan Tan, who came all the way over from the UK.

May-Lan and I work the "Magic Mammoth Future Genius" table.

May-Lan and I work the “Magic Mammoth Future Genius” table.

Richard Chiem, Adam Robinson, and Matthew Simmons

Richard Chiem, Adam Robinson, and Matthew Simmons

I also got to see another upcoming Future Tense writer, Chelsea Hodson!

That's not my hand. That's not my basketball.

That’s not my hand. That’s not my basketball.

After AWP weekend, I got to indulge in my collage-mania some more. I interviewed Seattle collage artist Jesse Treece for Nailed Magazine.

And then I got to meet the fantastic Cory Peeke at his Gallery 6 show in Portland. I also bought my first copy (of many) of Kolaj Magazine.

Holy shit, it's Cory Peeke!

Holy shit, it’s me with Cory Peeke!

I also had a couple of collages published on The NewerYork website, which is super cool. I have more collage work appearing elsewhere soonish but I have to be hush hush about it.

What else?

I was part of this cool story on Flavorwire about how to deal with bad reviews.

I was part of this cool book club for the Johns Hopkins University literary journal, Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review.

I’ve been doing a lot of work on the next three Future Tense releases: Scout Book chapbooks from the aforementioned May-Lan and Chelsea, as well as Jay Ponteri, who just won an Oregon Book Award for his last book, Wedlocked. These three books are so good. I can’t wait to show you.

I was also on a cool podcast talking about This Is Between Us, but it’s not up yet, so until next time… Happy first day of Spring!