It’s been a while since I’ve written much about grackles or birds for that matter. Actually, it’s been a while since I’ve really done much blogging and in the intervening time, I’ve managed to forget to share some grackle-y goodness that came along earlier in the year.
First up, Eight Reasons Grackles Are Awesome, a Texas Monthly article from 2015. I’m proud to say that number eight “They’ve Inspired a poetry collection” is my book Birds Nobody Loves.
Next, a series of features on our local NPR affiliate KUT: A History of Austin’s Love-Hate Relationship with the Grackle which examines just that topic, and a two-part series of KUT’s ATXplained series that includes me reading from Birds Nobody Loves as reporter Mose Buchele delves into local grackle-lore: Part I: Why Do Grackles Flock to Grocery Store Parking Lots at Dusk and Part II: That Time UT Austin Waged a War on Grackles.
Around here, for many, grackles are a nuisance bird, but they’ve also become a bit of an unofficial mascot but without the PR that our bats get. Still, grackles are beautiful, fascinating birds and many of us couldn’t imagine Austin without them.
Chasing Headlights is the latest EP from Cwtch (vocals: Marie Craven/music: Paul Foster). The lyrics are remixed from poems in my collection Highway Sky. Needless to say, it’s a bit surreal to have one’s work reinterpreted like this. Surreal and wonderful.
My academic background is in film production and screenwriting so the idea of having my words interpreted and reimagined and ultimately produced into a different medium by other artists doesn’t seem at all unnatural to me. I know that it may be uncomfortable for many poets working with a model that strangely exalts poetry, but this kind of thing seems so right to me. It’s why I released the Highway Sky poems (and everything on this blog for that matter) under a creative commons license.
But then there’s music (which I do confess to exalting a wee bit), and listening to how my poems were remixed into Cwtch’s sound in Marie’s voice and with Paul’s music just blew me away. This work is haunting and beautiful, and I am truly honored and humbled and filled with gratitude to Marie and Paul for finding something in my writing worth building upon, for taking the time to do it, and for putting it out there.
You can listen to Chasing Headlights on Soundcloud or download for free (or pay as you wish) from Bandcamp. I hope you’ll check it out.
And here is the video Marie made last summer for “I Drove to the River”:
there’s a snowfield in my dreams
where tracks weave off toward winter
I imagine leaves
buried in distant snow
I wish I had them
I’d use them like someone
arrange them so I’d know
what I was thinking
a fire searching through books
in response to Dave Bonta’s “Ministry of Truth”
Here are two takes on my poem “For Gasoline” from my collection Highway Sky and made available for creative remix at the (now defunct) Poetry Storehouse.
In the first, Eduardo Yagüe translated the poem into Spanish and then made the video from the translation. The second is an English-language version (using the audio I’d provided to the Poetry Storehouse) that includes the text of Eduardo’s translation and was made by Javi Zurrón.
It’s a wonderful thing to see how other artists reinterpret one’s work in new and surprising ways. Thank you Eduardo for making this happen!
Update: 12.9.16: These videos are featured at Moving Poems today. Thank you, Dave.
acorns tap free rhythms
on a gray Prius
For those of you still coming ’round here, I’m excited to share some recent publication news:
“Coyote’s Bone” in Issue 6 of Zoomorphic
“Blown Away” in Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY
“Nicky Rose Driving South” in Crack the Spine Literary Magazine
Thanks to the editors of these fine journals for seeing fit to publish my work, and I hope you’ll check it out. And just because I’m still really proud of this one, if you haven’t already, I hope you’ll click over to White Knuckle Press and read my prose poem chapbook What Stranger Miracles.
This is the video for the Cwtch song “I Drove to the River” made by vocalist Marie Craven. The lyrics are based on my poem “God Bless Johnny Cash” from Highway Sky. You can also download “I Drove to the River” here, and I highly recommend Cwtch’s album Silver while you’re at it.
I’m excited to announce the publication of my prose poem chapbook What Stranger Miracles by White Knuckle Press, “publisher of online chapbooks of prose poems.” My sincerest thanks to editors Dale Wisely and Howie Good for agreeing to publish it, and to Dale for his care and attention to the design, which is just wonderful.
You can read What Stranger Miracles free online. I hope you’ll check it out. And be sure to look around at all the other work published by White Knuckle Press.
I was stunned speechless last night when I heard this lovely track made by Marie Craven and Paul Dementio working together as Cwtch. Stunned because the lyrics come from my poem “God Bless Johnny Cash” (from Highway Sky) and I am thrilled by what amazing music they have made with it and can’t wait to hear what comes next. This is what can come of Creative Commons and the sharing culture. Thank you Marie, Paul, and Cwtch. Now, have a listen.
Give you twenty bucks
for that old Ko-RE-an thang,
the pawn shop man drawled.
Horrified, I walked out. Tried to
hold tight to you, beautiful
blue first love stratclone guitar.
But the Ford’s tires were flat,
the bills were due, and you
never sang in my hands.
We just never connected
like I would with others, later,
with lower actions whose necks
felt better in my fumbling
hands. But beauty stutters
the lips, and you were ocean
midnight neon airport lights,
the color of the sounds I wanted.
But those thintread tires needed
changing. We said goodbye.
Sometimes I still try to find you.
We’ll reconnect on eBay, maybe
Craigslist. I poke my head
in some south Austin pawn shop
hoping you’re still around twenty
years later, that headstock nick
from the ceiling fan a story
only you and I will ever know.
This Is Not a Literary Journal: Ode to a Thing
I guess if you’re going to try to write to your own prompt, you might as well write one of the examples.