Tag Archives: Future Tense Books

My AWP Schedule

I’m posting this as much for my own memory’s benefit as I am for anyone who wants to see me at the AWP Conference next weekend in Seattle. Here’s what I’m up to and where I will be. I’m so excited to see everyone!


* denotes off-site events

The rest of it happens at the Washington State Convention Center & Sheraton Hotel (which is across the street from the Convention Center and where the panels will be)

*Thursday night, February 27th, 9pm: Reading with others for Similar Peaks. Vermillion (1508 11th Ave.) with Rauan Klassnik, Donald Dunbar, Kate Durbin, Leah Umansky, and others.

Friday, 12 noon: Panel on publishing with small presses and bigger presses, with Amelia Gray, Peter Mountford, Tara Ison, and Matt Bell. Willow Room @ The Sheraton

Friday, 1:30: Book signing at the Tin House table. Booth 1704

Friday, 4:00: Booth signing for Third Place Books. Booth 830

*Friday, 6-8pm: Performing in Newer York Literary Carnival. Caffe Umbria, (320 Occidental Ave. South) (Note to self: go to this immediately after)

*Friday, 10pm: Ink Node reading at Left Bank Books at Pike Place Market. With Mathias Svalina, Dena Rash Guzman, and others. (also, Friday night is The Literature Party–dancing!–co-sponsored by Future Tense Books)


Saturday, March 1st, 1:00: Booth signing for The Independent Publishing Resource Center. Booth G7

*Saturday, March 1st, 5pm-6:30pm: Co-hosting this Six Press Reading, which features Future Tense author May-Lan Tan. Rendezvous Jewelbox Theater (2322 2nd Avenue)

*Saturday, March 1st, 10pm: Co-hosting the Sweet Fanny AWP wrap-up reading, which features Future Tense author Chelsea Hodson. Georgetown Liquor Company (5501 Airport Way South)

Future Future Tense author Chelsea Hodson

Future Future Tense author Chelsea Hodson

When I’m not doing all this other stuff, I will be at the Future Tense/Magic Helicopter/Publishing Genius/Mammoth Editions booth, which is #Q24, by the North Hall. We’ll be right between Night Train and Factory Hollow Press. Also pretty close to The Austin Review and Sunnyoutside.


See you there!

RIP Paul Ash, Writer, Publisher, and Visionary

A longtime friend and the man who designed the Future Tense Books website, Paul Ash, took his own life on February 7th in Portland, Oregon. I met Paul around 1999 and for a couple of years we often did readings together and talked about our various publishing projects. I was publishing little Xeroxed chapbooks by various small press writers and he was enthusiastically exploring the world of Internet publishing, first with his website, Sniffy Linings Press, and then by designing eBooks for a bunch of people including myself, Jemiah Jefferson, and some other Future Tense folks and mutual friends. He was the first person I heard talk about eBooks in a serious way. In fact, he was probably way ahead of the times with that stuff.

Shortly after we met, he volunteered to redesign the Future Tense website. He worked for several days on it. What at first was a bright and garish disaster without even one Paypal button, he turned into the cool, clean beauty (featuring the art and lettering of the great Kurt Eisenlohr) it currently is. He built websites for many companies and his talents were vast in that arena. He was influenced by sculpture and art history, two subjects he studied in college.

For the next several years, he was my webmaster. Whenever I published a new book or had a new update for the News page or additions to the Links page, I’d send the info to Paul. Most of the time, he’d do it quickly. But sometimes, he’d take weeks and I’d grow impatient and we’d bicker a little bit. He was working for free after all, though I would give him some money whenever I could. I was a little worried that tossing him forty bucks here and there, maybe writing a $100 check, was perhaps more insulting than anything else, but I knew he made money freelancing for the most part, so I figured anything helped.

Paul seemed pretty solid but I’m sure a lot of his friends worried about him. He described himself (only slightly joking) as “an absent minded disassociated borderline psychotic narcoleptic insomniac” whose past included pills and cocaine. He told me that he hadn’t filed taxes in years, living off of his design work, his art, and even as an electrician. He was suspicious of websites where you had to enter personal information. He wasn’t on MySpace and avoided Facebook as well (though he did pop up on Facebook briefly a couple of years ago).

I think I lost touch with Paul about four or five years ago. He helped me figure out how I could maintain the Future Tense website (after I finally got a decent computer) and then stopped going to literary events around town anymore, so I didn’t see him much. The last time I ran into him, he told me he had given up on writing and was starting to drum in bands again. I think he felt embarrassed because he hadn’t stuck to his writing and I probably felt embarrassed because I hadn’t kept in touch with him better. One thing I only learned this past week is that he had become obsessed with yo-yos. And he was even blogging about them (complete with numerous serious and detailed video reviews). There’s something very funny and fitting about that. But maybe those things were substitutes for other parts missing from his life–like family or romance or a clear mind. A neighbor said, that she heard him shout once, from inside his apartment, “Drumming and yo-yos are the only reasons I have to live.”

Paul was obsessive and fascinated by many things. His small basement apartment, where he lived the last ten years, was full of books, CDs, DVDs, and art. He loved Chris Ware comics, Steve Martin, William Burroughs, and Spalding Gray. He once played me a record by composer Steve Reich and we shared a love of Devo (the name Sniffy Linings came from a misheard Devo lyric).

Paul (left) and me at my birthday party in 2002, at Portland restaurant Poor Richard's.

Paul (left) and me at my birthday party in 2002, at Portland restaurant Poor Richard’s.

I admired Paul in a lot of ways. His readings were more like one-man shows or monologues. He helped and hyped-up the work of others. I like people who actually DO what they talk about and not just SAY they are going to do things. And Paul was a Do-er, a man with a lot of stuff going on and interesting writers and artists floating all through his self-made universe. His own books were full of conversational prose, playful and meditative and sometimes focusing on the weirdness of small details. He would sometimes perform in bath robes, for audiences in cafes, bars, and art galleries.

The last weeks of Paul’s life were full of struggle. In December of 2012, Paul was in a scooter accident that totaled the scooter he’d been restoring and separated his shoulder. He was in a dispute with his landlord and his saw his eviction as a final battle lost (his suicide of an intentional overdose–of what I’m not sure–came just hours before he was to be out of his apartment). He was terrified and having panic attacks about the prospect of being homeless. On top of that, he had also lost his mother and his cat in the last year. His suicide note said, “I’m just no longer able to continue suffering.”

A couple of nights ago, I went by his old apartment to see what it looked like–if there were flowers or memorials for him. There was one vase of flowers and a note nearby that said “Goodbye friend.” I saw a few old Sniffy Linings stickers stuck to his door, which looked like it had been broken down and then nailed back up and sealed shut. For some reason, I knocked on the door and waited a minute before walking back to my car.

If I could have said anything to Paul before he passed away, I would have told him thank you for all of his work, support, and enthusiasm. Not only for me and Future Tense, but for so many other writers that he championed. A person like Paul can affect so many people’s lives. It’s terrible and sad when they take their own. Paul Ash was 46 years old.

There will be a wake for Paul today (Saturday, February 16th) at Aalto Lounge at 4:00. 

Catch Up (ketchup)

It’s already February? I gotta catch y’all up on some stuff.

Besides doing the final edits on the great Chloe Caldwell book (out in April!) and doing some other Future Tense-related work (for instance, we’re now distributed by Small Press Distribution!), I’ve had some fun readings lately. I read at the If Not For Kidnap party on January 20th (congrats to INFK host Donald Dunbar for his recent Fence Poetry Prize) and then also at a fantastic Planned Parenthood event (which was reviewed the next day).

Reading at the Planned Parenthood benefit on 2/8/12. Photo by Andie Petkus

My next readings are gonna be pretty sweet too. I’ll be wandering around AWP in Chicago through the first weekend of March and reading at the Ear Eater reading series on March 3rd at 6pm at Beef & Brandy.   (also–I am on a panel about publishing fiction chapbooks at 9am the morning of the 2nd on the third floor of the Marquette Hilton.)

The following week, I’ll be back in Portland and reading at this cool event called SongStory. It’s on Wednesday, March 7th at the Someday Lounge. Other awesome readers include Lidia Yuknavitch and Gigi Little.

In other news, I had this essay about my experience with riot grrrl that was just published by Jewcy. This is an interesting piece that I actually wrote about two years ago after I found a letter from Bikini Kill’s iconic Kathleen Hanna that I had buried in a box of correspondence.

Kathleen Hanna’s spoken word single on Kill Rock Stars

I shopped the piece around a little to some music magazines but it never quite fit anywhere. It was going to be published by a Portland paper, but they sat on it for over a year (waiting for a slow news week perhaps) that I finally sent it elsewhere. Thanks to Jason Diamond for taking it on.

Now, to tie this all together with the title of the post, I will tell you my thoughts on ketchup (or catsup, which is how you say it with a lisp):

The only thing positive that I ever learned from my first girlfriend was the trick of mixing ketchup and mayonnaise to make a yummy french fry sauce. We’d go to Burger King and chomp down two or three orders of fries at a time. Since then, I’ve done “the mix” everywhere I go, from burger joints to fancy places with twelve dollar burgers. Thankfully, one of my favorite Portland burger places, Little Big Burger, already has that delightful sauce ready-made for the asking. Thanks, LBB.

The only other time I like ketchup is with fish-n-chips. I’ll always remember filling up those tiny paper cup things at Skippers whenever our family went there on Friday nights during Lent. All-you-can-eat fried fish dipped in ketchup is a wonderful thing.

Okay, folks and friends. Thanks for reading! This post was written while listening to various videos by Eleanor Friedberger, like this beauty.

A Weekend of I Remember

This weekend, over at the Future Tense Books Facebook page and also on the new I Remember fan page, you can post your own I Remember. I love the whole I Remember form and often have student do it when I teach workshops and visit classrooms. It’s a pretty great writing prompt that is easy to get into but has the power and potential to result in multi-faceted work.

During a recent workshop that I taught in Seattle, I told students that memory is more important than story when it comes to writing about your life. The pressure of building a “traditional” story (beginning, middle, and end) is often too much pressure when the fact is this: in real life things don’t often unfold that simply.

So go check it out over on the Facebook, or if you want do some tweeting about it, write your own 140 character or less I Remember with a hashtag of #Irememberbook so I can go find them all. This is all to help us get the word out about the remarkable new Future Tense release, I Remember by Shane Allison (which is inspired by the Joe Brainard 1970 book of the same name).

Book, me, giant cat

Thanks for participating!

In other news, the upcoming Chloe Caldwell book is now available for pre-order as well. We’re doing the final edits on that book as I type (seriously–the Google doc is open in another tab!).

And oh, hey–look! I have a new poem on Housefire. And I’m reading at If Not For Kidnap next Friday with Bryan Coffelt, Edward Mullany, and a special secret guest who may have been mentioned previously in this post!

See y’all soon!



2011 is Dead. Long Live 1997.

Hey–First off, I have new little stories at Unshod Quills and Hart House Review!

And since 2011 is just about over, I thought I should post a little year-end thingamajig. A few of my favorite things:

Novels: Donald Ray Pollack’s The Devil All the Time and Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers were both pretty kick-ass rough and tumble kind of novels and both steeped in a dark Americana style.

Mr. deWitt

Short story collection: How many times do I have to tell you. Lutz is a master. Divorcer simply destroys.

Memoir: Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy. So, yeah, it was all popular like ten years ago but I just finally read it and it’s pretty awesome. Some people say the Ann Patchett book, Truth & Beauty (about her friendship with Grealy) is even better. Can’t wait to read that one. I’m sad that Grealy is not around anymore.

Poetry: Gregory Sherl is the new leading man of the drug-addled emo poetry scene. Does that make it sound bad? I hope not. Because it’s beautiful. He’s also kind of like the Rob Pollard of the lit world now too–so many books coming out (including Monogamy Songs from Future Tense, summer 2012), so many words coming out of him.

Surprise Manuscript: Chloe Caldwell sent me a query in 2010 that piqued my interest enough to have her send me more stuff in 2011. In that short amount of time, her essays became even more powerful and I signed her on for a Future Tense release in spring of 2012. Legs Get Led Astray is gonna kick your butt and give you a heartache. Helping her edit her essays the past couple of months has been a constant thrill. She’s my favorite writer of personal essays. Watch out for her!

Movies: Oh, man. Has it been a shitty stretch of years for film? It feels like the quality of movies is down lately. I did really like Drive (like everyone else, I know) and Buck was great as well. My favorite DVD release was definitely Dogtooth, the strange and brilliant Greek film about a fucked-up family in a world all their own.

TV: There are many shows that I once really liked and have lost interest in (Dexter, Weeds, maybe even American Horror Story already) but the ones that have stayed awesome are Breaking Bad and Mad Men (in other words, the usual suspects). The saddest goodbye this year was for Friday Night Lights, one of the greatest and most realistic shows about small town living and family life to ever be on TV. Luckily though, FNL writer Jason Katims also does the AWESOME show Parenthood, which has a lot of the same great qualities of FNL. I never miss it–and yeah, I have a crush on Lauren Graham. So what?


Music: I feel like I got more and more behind on the music scene this year. I’m just not as on top of it as I used to be. I remember people would ask me, ten or fifteen years ago: How do you find out about all these cool bands that you listen to? I would usually answer that I hung out at listening stations a lot, had friends with record store jobs, and that I read a lot of music magazines (NME and Melody Maker, Copper Press, Spin, or whatever). Now my answer is: the library. I get stuff at the library all the time. Just recently, I snagged a CD by Sarah Jaffe, thinking it was my friend Sara Jaffe. It wasn’t, but now I have a new favorite singer. Also discovered this year: Ayvett Brothers, Blind Pilot, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and I got to interview The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy and Jenny Conlee for Relix Magazine, which was cool. My 17-year-old son has reached the point where he’s listening to all these weird bands I’ve never even heard of.

The Decemberists

There were a lot of other personal highlights in 2011 as well. Getting married to B. Frayn Masters in January was a beautiful moment that keeps turning into more beautiful moments.

Married Bliss Attack!

Now come on, 2012!

I’m reading at If Not For Kidnap on a special Friday night edition, January 20th. I’m joined by Bryan Coffelt, poet, designer, Future Tense co-hort, and 49ers fan. There will also be Edward Mullany, a musical guest, and a secret special surprise reader at this event. Not to mention booze. House readings: They’re the best.

Alright, folks. Have a great Christmas and New Year.



Kickstart My Heart!

Helloooo everyone,
Yesterday, I launched a Kickstarter fundraiser for my little press, Future Tense Books! Please check it out here and donate in the next 29 days if you can. Thanks to my co-editor and marketing man, Bryan Coffelt, for the snazzy video (and more will be posted in the coming weeks).

The only other times I’ve gotten outside money for my press was in 2003 and 2008, when I got small grants from Oregon Literary Arts, Inc.
Most of the time I’m just scraping together cash from my bookstore job or from smuggling drugs into Mexico. (Note: I have never been to Mexico or smuggled drugs)
So please donate–I mean the prizes alone are well worth your hard-earned cash! And help spread the word wherever you can. Thank you so much!