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Posts Tagged ‘NEWSPAPER BLACKOUT POEMS’


What your days look like

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

in any day there is some poetry

When my dad brought home girlfriends, my grandpa, rather obnoxiously, would quiz them from his arm chair. I’m told the first question was usually, “So, what’s your philosophy of life?” (I’m not sure what my mother answered.)

I was thinking of my grandpa last week when I was asked a similarly baffling and broad question during an interview: “What is your definition of success?”

I hemmed and hawed a bit, until I finally said, “I suppose success is your days looking the way you want them to look.”

Sounded okay, but after I said it, I wondered what the hell it meant.

“What do you want your days to look like?” is a question I ask myself whenever I’m trying to make a decision about what to do next. In fact, I believe that most questions about what to do with one’s life can be replaced by this question.

What career should I choose? Should I go back to school? Where should I live? Should I get married? Should I have kids? Should I get a dog? Should I take up the piano? 

“What do you want your days to look like?” forces you to imagine the day in, day out realities that making such choices will present you with.

Albert Camus once told a reporter, “One has to pass the time somehow.”  And how you pass the time, what your days look like, well, as Annie Dillard wrote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

Maybe success is just a matter of how the reality of the days match up to the ones in your imagination.

That’s not to say my ambitions these days are all that lofty. In 1851, Nathaniel Hawthorne, after spending the day with his five-year-old son, wrote in his journal, “We got rid of the day as well as we could.”

Whether that’s aiming too low or not, it sounds like success to me.

No Angel

Friday, August 29th, 2014

they said he was no angel / who is

Here you can see this poem being made:

Low overhead, revisited

Friday, July 4th, 2014

929140_793618534002418_1037021061_n

In today’s New York Times, a man said this about living in a 112-square-foot house: “It has maximized what I’m able to do with the young years of my life.” 

This is the big point I try to make when I speak to young people: “Keep your overhead low.”

The less you have to maintain, the more time you have to do what you want to do.

No words

Monday, June 30th, 2014

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Sometimes the words don’t come. That’s when I make pictures. (And vice versa.)

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Sentencing

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

sentences will be the death of me

I hate writing. What I really love is reading. I tell people I became a professional writer so I could be a professional reader. (Adam Phillips: “I had never had any desire to be a writer. I wanted to be a reader.”)

Mission Statement

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

I write what I want to read

Always circling the same obsessions, I’ll often make a poem months (or years) after that would’ve fit perfectly into one of my books. This one would’ve gone into chapter three of Steal Like An Artist (“Write the book you want to read.”) Originally, it was going to go, “I read what I want to read,” as a screw you to people who try to make you feel guilty about what you read, but I decided I couldn’t pass this one up.

New prints for sale from the archives

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

screenprint-agoraphobia (1)

We were digging in our flat files and found some extremely limited-edition prints that we pulled way back in 2010 at Texas State in San Marcos. The first is “Agoraphobia,” an edition of 18 screenprints. Here’s video of artist Curtis Miller pulling them:

The other print, “The Travelogue,” is a lithograph in an edition of 20:

travelogue-lithographs

Here’s a close-up of the raw image:

travelogue

Here’s video of Clif Riley working on them:

You can buy both in our shop.

A brief history of my newspaper blackout poems

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Every morning I try to pick up a newspaper and a Sharpie marker, and I make one of my newspaper blackout poems:

This is what one looks like after I scan it into Photoshop and play with the levels a bit:

in texas there is nothing but texas

(It’s sort of like if the CIA did haiku.)

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Newspaper Blackout finally available as an eBook

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Newspaper Blackout ebook

My first book, Newspaper Blackout, is now available as an eBook.

Word of caution: you need to have a reasonably large, preferably backlit screen to appreciate these things. If you just have an old Kindle or an eReader with a tiny screen, you’d be better off buying the paperback. (I haven’t tested every device, but I can say it looks really great in iBooks on an iPad. Maybe even better than on paper.)

ebook-screenshot

The eBook also contains some “deleted scenes”—a dozen or so poems that got cut from the original manuscript—and a new afterword.

How to get a Newspaper Blackout print for cheap

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

The holidays are coming up, which means that I’m getting a lot of email from folks who want to buy prints of my work to give as gifts.

Unfortunately, we won’t be selling prints until next year. (My wife Meg is working hard on planning the logistics—we’ll be selling signed, limited-edition screenprints of new and old poems.) Prints available now!

In the meantime, here’s how to get a cheap print:

1. Buy a copy of Newspaper Blackout and a regular ol’ 8×10 frame.

2. Razor out a poem you like.

3. Frame and enjoy!

If you’re desperate for a gift, you can also get a signed copy of Steal Like An Artist from Bookpeople here in Austin, Texas. They ship everywhere. Order one here.

If you’d like to know when prints are available, sign up for my weekly newsletter.

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