Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Message form My Publisher

According to my stats this week, I'm big in Georgia, little do they know I have spent my life refusing to recognize their current flag
A message from J.S. Graustein from Folded Word Press she told me to spread. She mentions my work. Also, happy new year's eve and new year's day, and new year's year to everyone out there.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ben Nardolilli's 350th Post

Check out five poems of mine posted at blue & yellow dog. Oh, and I have three poems up at Crack the Spine. Get yourself some literary chiropractic care.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gary Busey Endorses Newt Gingrich For President!

Well, now Newt definitely has my vote. Anybody who can stand up to Meatloaf deserves to have their opinions respected! I can't wait for the day my opinion about politics counts. This best attention I can get for now is three poems in A-Minor Magazine (don't worry, it's safe for work).

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hospitals and Popsicles

Come one, come all, the Nardolilli poetry show continues unabated. Sorry for the lack of updates. I have been somewhat employed the past few weeks. Occupied with an occupation you could say. However, before you start sending me congratulatory boxes of chocolate (or maybe afterwards) it's just a temp job, for now. Maybe the temporary status will prove to be temporary in and of itself. Who knows? Anyway, here are tonight's acts. In the first ring we have the latest edition of Guerrilla Pamphlets. In the second ring we have Scissors and Spackle. Finally, in ring number three is the latest edition of Sparkbright. Odds are you will probably find the work of Howie Good somewhere in there as well.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Promises of Light, Promises of Poems, Promises of Light Poems?

Four poems of mine are up at Flowers and Vortexes, a literary production of the Promise of Light community.  They're all on one page, so scroll on down.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Discovery

Turns out I had poems published in Ygdrasil this whole time. I had no idea. Maybe the acceptance got lost in my spam filter or else I was told and completely forgot. Either way, here are five poems from June 2010. What a crazy time it was, sinkholes, air strikes, oil spills, riots in Kyrgyzstan, and the World Cup in South Africa.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A New Novel, New Poems, New Numbers, A New November?

Prepare yourselves for a rather long post. But I have pictures for this one. I have some poems up at Eunoia Review. Six actually. Here they are:

"Recollections and Mathematics"

"The Great Bataan Dance"


"Your Old Fashioned Tirade" 

"The One Chief Task"

"Cenotaph Reflections"

I hope you enjoy them. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. I recently finished a short novel of roughly 56,000 words. I named it after a park in Arlington which is named after a lie. I was writing it as part of Nanowrimo, also known as National Novel Writing Month. It started on November 1st,  and is still going on. I just finished early, because hey, what else have I got to do with my time? I think I might still try to go to some of the events in the DC area for it. Even though I registered and am officially part of the community, I haven't participated much, which is probably why I was able to finish so early. That and the fact I'm unemployed and living in my parent's basement on the periphery of everything.

On a related note, I just passed the 4,000,000 word mark. Some sort of celebration is in order. I know, let's make a bunch of charts and graphs! Here's what the situation was in the summer of 2008, the last time I took notice of the milestone:

I kept it at fairly constant rate it seems. Here is what an updated version of this chart looks like:

As you can see, my productivity started to increased during the end of 2010. Two things happened around this time. The first was that I was laid off and the second was that I took an extended vacation in Montclair, New Jersey. Now, let's see if there's been any shift in the kind of things I write. The breakdown, in terms of percentage in 2008 was this:

Obviously, fiction was overwhelmingly dominant. Non-fiction was a distant second. Let's see if I've changed what kinds of things I write and if so, by how much:

It seems the shares for poetry and non-fiction have declined, while poetry has grown immensely. Fiction has also lost a little share as well. It makes sense if we examine the number of pages of poetry I have produced. This chart however only takes into accounted poems that are not part of any other collection:

As you can see there was a spike in late 2008, which probably put the growth of poetry over the over genres.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


On behalf of a friend working at the Brooklyn Review: 

Dear Poets,

“The Brooklyn Review,” formerly available only in print, has now expanded into a multimedia publication, with both a print and an online presence. We're currently reviewing submissions, and invite you to submit up to three poems—including any unique, cross-genre work that has yet to see the light of publication.

With this first multimedia issue, we'll also be filming interviews with writers and artists from each genre represented by “The Brooklyn Review,” including poets. Video-footage of these interviews will be accessible on our website. Solicitations for interviews will be sent out shortly.

Aside from poetry, “The Brooklyn Review” considers submissions in the following genres: fiction, creative nonfiction, drama, photography, artwork, short films, and multimedia works. If you know anyone who might wish to contribute to our publication, please spread the word.

For more information about “The Brooklyn Review,” including submission details, please visit our website:

Queries? Contact me either here on Facebook,
or at:

Jeffrey Grunthaner
Assistant Poetry Ed.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Nanowrimo and Infinite Chest

The novel I am working on for NaNoWriMo (like Qaddafi, there are many ways to write it) is coming along. I am adding large piles of words to it daily. My only fear is that November 30th will come and I will still have much more to write about. It seems every day there are new scenes, asides, observations, conversations, and descriptions that I want to add. I guess it serves me right for not planning it out much before starting. No matter what happens, it has put me over the 4,000,000 word mark for everything that I've written. That comes out to roughly 16,000 pages (at 250 words per page).

Poems continue to be published. I have one for all you premed students. It appeared a couple months ago in CHEST: the Journal of the American College of Chest Physicians. I submitted one and it was published. That's right folks, I was published in a peer-reviewed journal! Despite the title of the magazine, I assure you it is completely clean and is not about ogling breasts.

I also have poems in the first issue of S/Word, this one, this one, and this one.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

National Novel Writing Month Is Here

Or NaNoWriMo for short. This November writers across the Anglosphere will work to churn out a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month. The event has been going on for several years. It's not too late to get started if you've been looking for an excuse to get writing on the tome you've always wanted to write. There are events, forums, emails, tips, and classes for those who want them as part of the experience. This is the first time I will be participating officially. I have written novels before (thought none have been published yet) and some during the month of November. But none of them were written entirely within the 30 day period as stipulated per the rules.  Now I am writing away on my work and have 2,210 words to my credit, a decent start. My plan is to produce a short, picaresque novel that functions as a thinly veiled retelling of my burned out days here in Arlington, Virginia.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Poetry In My Bare Hands

I have a short poem up in the first issue of Bare Hands Poetry. Five lines people, five lines.

Another poem up at Literary Kicks. Truth be told, I like the response posted below better than the original.

Ever wonder what would happen if atheists ruled America? Apparently s4ms0nr and John Hodgman know.

Things I'm listening to at the moment: Department of Eagles, Roxy Music, Cat Power, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Fela Kuti, and Wye Oak.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Poetry In the Brooklyner and Other News

Hello all, some updates from the very sedate files of Mr. Nardolilli:

I have three poems up in the Brooklyner. Read one of them here, another here, and the last one in this place.

Here's a link to a project centered on the life of little known counterculture figure Shig Murao that presents his life and work. He was the one who was actually arrested for selling Allen Ginsberg's Howl. Unfortunately his role was not depicted in the recent film based on the famous censorship trial, even though he was a defendant along with Lawrence Ferlinghetti (whose last name the spellchecker recognizes, boy is Google Chrome one hep cat!). I reviewed the film when it first came out a year ago.  Besides Howl, Shig was involved with City Lights bookstore, the San Francisco renaissance, and was an early zine publisher. In addition he was also a survivor of the Japanese internment and Allen Ginsberg lived out of his closet. A pretty interesting life all around. 

Oh, and I was nominated for a Pushcart for a poem in my poetry chapbook.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Don't Hide the Madness

My Mother once asked me what the definition of a "tool" was. She wasn't talking about hammers and levers, but the use of the word to describe a person. At the time I had trouble explaining it to her, but recent events have given me plenty to show her what a tool is even if I can't explicitly tell her.

Here is example #1: The Man In The White Shirt

Example #2: The Grown Man In The Costume

Example #3: The Man Defending A Lack Of Philanthropy By Claiming That A Billionaire "Gave" Us All A Good Time.

Example #4: These people (also a good example of false consciousness

On a completely unrelated note, I have supplied my intellectual labors and creative endeavors for free to Catapult to Mars and The Plebian Rag.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Up New Poems

Three new poems published online, which means that now I can't say they've never been published before. Please, violate them with your eyes, like the octopus in the above picture is doing with that poor man at the computer. I have a poem up at Etcetera, work at Welcome to Wherever, and some lines in the first issue of the Magic Lantern Review. Reading them one after the other might make you wonder if they were written by the same person. The Magic Lantern poem is an imagist-inspired work based on a picture I saw on Unhappy Hipsters. The poem in Welcome to Wherever is simple free verse. Meanwhile the work at Etcetera is an Adventist cut-up.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Why Should the Aged Eagle Stretch its Wings?

There is an Oktoberfest for new poems by me online this week. Something for everybody, as long as they are literate. First, I have a poem up in Welcome to Wherever. Sleet Magazine has also decided they like my words and here's a link to some. Two sites have posted multiple poems of mine. MungBeing, which has been a generous, welcoming home for me, has four of my works, all of them dealing with the theme of costumes. You can read them here, in this place, at this site, and by clicking on this link. Last but not the least, Everyday Other Things has posted a series of poems I write in response to the picture posted on top of them.

In other news, I am putting my other blog on hiatus. The project's not going anywhere, beacuse well, I'm not going anywhere either.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Guerilla Catapults

Two new poems for you all to read. Here is one in Catapult to Mars and another in Guerrilla Pamphlets. Hope you enjoy them.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New York, I'm Coming to See You

This Friday, I will be arriving in Manhattan, either by blimp or the bus. I'm trying to figure out which one is safer. Unfortunately, the autogryo (which is not an edible Greek car) is all booked until next Wednesday. I will be in New York City until Monday. Hopefully I will get to see some of you all to celebrate the opening of my 26th year on earth, which will happen on the 24th. A quarter century done...

As always, there are literary updates. An important announcement of mine is up at w5ran. There are also some poems of mine up at Drunken Absurdity. The hits just keep coming! And don't forget about my chapbook, which is still for sale at Folded Word.

Also, be careful what you parody, it might just be appropriated. Here are two videos, the first making fun of Levi's "Go Forth" ads by using Charles Bukowski's Dinosauria, We.

As one YouTube commenter wrote, it takes away the aftertaste of the original. However, the people at Levi's must have wised up. Look what they wrought:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Carcinogenic Poetry

That's a pretty cool symbol, don't you think so? It means something is carcinogenic. How about that? When you come to my blog you learn something new. I keep trying to convince the judge this is my community service and the priest that it is my penance. But neither of them budge in the robes. Anyway, here is a poem of mine from Carcinogenic Poetry. It may prove to be a historical record in time, written during the last gasp of the Bowery as a berth for the wreckage of unlucky New Yorkers to dock in.

Other than that, I have decided to return to my first novel and rewrite it so that it is no longer a series of journal entries but is a tale told from the first person, full of sound and fury, signifying everything. The title business for my deeds is still up in the air. The current title is "Everything with Wings Is Restless" which might be too long despite its poetic nature. My fear is it may sound Extremely Cloying and Incredibly False as well. I have a few other ideas: The Daybreak Boys, American Spring, Combination of the Two, and Trimalchio in West Egg.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Chapbooks Are Here! The Chapbooks Are Here!

The physical copies of my chapbook "Common Symptoms of an Enduring Chill Explained," have arrived and are ready for sale and distribution. Just look at them! I think I am going to print these pictures, cut them out, and put them in my wallet to show people when they ask me if I have children. This is probably as close as I'm going to get.

Here's a close-up view of the book. Look at the nice rendering of my name. LOOK AT IT!

And here is an inside look inside the chapbook. As you can see, it is part of a limited run. So get your books while supplies last. There will also be an e-book version for you to purchase, in case a fifteen page book is too big for you to carry.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Apparently Blogger Considers Puerto Rico an Independent Country

But that's not what's important right now. What is, are three poems roaming loose on the Internet without regard to proper rhyme or meter.  There's one at Uptown Mosaic Magazine, which is based on one morning I spent at the IHOP in Ballston. Dead Snakes also has a poem of mine slithering on its site.  Also, I wrote a little something on the website Literary Kicks, which might be hard to understand since it seems the picture I was referring to was taken off the site.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Remembrance and Reflection on Remembrance and Reflection

Sunday I went down to the Smithsonian with my parents. After navigating through a small, colorful protest, we parked by the Department of Agriculture and walked over to the Museum of American History. Our space was near a curious stretch of C Street which is largely empty on the weekends and is mostly occupied by government office buildings that sit like giant file cabinets over entire city blocks. After making our way through the last humid dregs of summer, we arrived at the museum for their temporary exhibit of artifacts related to the attacks of September 11th.

There was already a line to see the exhibit when we go there. It snaked out from the room, past the museum's famous dollhouse, and along the entrance to the exhibit on the American presidency. Since it was a temporary exhibition and did not receive much fanfare, I was surprised at the turnout. Perhaps it was higher because the Washington Monument was closed because the cracks it incurred from the recent earthquake. I could not tell if the crowd was made up mostly of tourists or locals who were interested in remembering the day's carnage.

It was a forty-five minute wait to get inside. To pass the time we had a brochure filled with a few interesting stories but once that was done, there was the inevitable discussion of where we were that day, what we were thinking, and the ways in which the country has changed since then, almost all for the worst. There was little else to do or look at. The walls around us were white and free of any interesting artifacts under glass or captions dripping with information. Someone opened a door reserved for employees and I got a brief behind the scenes glimpse of the museum's inner workings.

Finally, we got to the exhibit itself. The display was a sort of dress rehearsal for future exhibits about 9/11, particularly the museum specially devoted to the day in New York City. Once I went inside, it seemed like I was in a macabre convention. The objects were not protected or covered up in any way. Instead, they were spread out on tables for people to breathe on and photograph, however they could not be touched. But it was the overall design that stood out for me. Above us was a chandelier and dividing the tables of artifacts were large gray curtains with placards attached to them. The signs announced what city they came from. The overall effect was like being at a conference, with booths set up by companies to show off their latest products.

Just like a conference, there were too many people taking pictures. I realized that they were the ones who were holding up the line. Without them, people would have able to go through much quicker. I found it strange that so many people felt the desire to photograph everything on display. The attacks of 9/11 were some of the most visually documented events in human history. Anybody wielding a camera in the room would have seen the images already, playing over and over again or seeing them frozen in magazines, books, and websites. I had never seen any reaction quite like this, people were even taking pictures of pictures that were on display.

Is this how we cope with this fissure in our history and smooth it out? Is this how we try and get back to the shared experience we lost after those attacks? Is this how we pray collectively for the souls of the dead in a secular society? Or is it a way to claim some small slice of victimhood or solidarity with those directly affected by the events? I am not sure, but I do believe it would have been better to let no pictures be taken and let people stand without any barriers or frames between the common objects twisted and dented into relics. If nothing else, it would have gotten the line moving and allowed people easier access to the tables.

For some reason, they had a set up for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Of course, people took pictures of this well, objects that can be seen in any airport. Here though, they were unique, no one was being forced to go through them. Perhaps the crowd photographing the machines and empty uniforms got a real pleasure out of capturing the sets of our security theater as if they were Fonzie's jacket or Archie Bunker's chair. Maybe they were motivated by a fantasy looking out onto the display: here is what the world would be like if 9/11 had not happened, a whole safety apparatus going unused.

The TSA display was strange for other reasons, chief among them I mentioned before: everything being shown could be seen in action across the country. What was special about the artifacts then? They had no story behind them, were owned by nobody famous, and were far from unique. Visitors could even see the ubiquitous gray bins we put our lives into (I wonder if some boom town has popped up since September 11th to supply them). The area did not even need to show us how people used to live by putting the former mundane on display, because this mundane is still a bane of our existence.

The expected reaction to all this was supposed to be sadness. The museum had even set up Kleenex boxes in strategic positions to deal with the rush of sorrows they imagined inducing in the visitors. However, there were some moments of unintentional hilarity. By the exit, a theater had been set up to show a film about people's memories of the event and its aftermath. Former New York City mayor Giuliani was among those interviewed and for the most part he spoke with the usual platitudes. But things went in a bizarre direction when he talked about being unable to really think about the attacks until he was receiving a colonoscopy. I had to stifle a laugh.

Besides being a dress rehearsal for future exhibits about 9/11, it was also a way to prepare for all future museum exhibits, a way to see how artifacts from our current events will be treated and displayed when they eventually become regarded as part of the distant past. The major issue that future museums for our current events will have to tackle is the nature of the artifacts themselves. In an era of mass manufactured items that are otherwise disposable, what will make anything special and worthy enough to be put on display? Walking around the 9/11 exhibit, I mistakenly thought that the Kleenex boxes were part of the attacks when they were actually meant for those passing through.

In previous eras, most things were handmade and crafted individually, giving them a unique character. A Roman vase or Sumerian pot does not have to be directly connected to an important event or person in order to warrant preservation. Even after the start of the industrial era, there was still a certain rarity to the factory made items, since national and global standardization has not yet set in. Items also were more likely to become damaged and when thrown away, lost for good. If they survived and were passed down, they were treasured keepsakes and heirlooms. But our plastic age has changed all that. The objects around us are more or less the same and they endure in the background of our lives much longer. If one wants to see how people lived in the 1970s, a trip to the thrift store or a grandparent's house can often educate just as well as a museum could.

The solution seemed to be laid out in that room inside the Museum of American History. Here were items from everyday life that were given a new significance: the flight attendant button from an airplane, a calculator, a post card, an officer's badge, a squeegee, and a travel brochure. All of them were common enough but because they were damaged by an historical event they became artifacts. In the museum of the future, this wear and tear will become more and more essential. While a Greek marble can be celebrated for being clean and whole, today's objects will have to be broken and dirty. In the absence of bodies, their damages will come to stand in for them and represent a given historical trauma. They will serve to physically remind those in the future how the everyday flow of events was twisted, burned, and broken not only in the September 11th attacks, but in all subsequent wars, coups, famines, and disasters.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

View All Images

I had a lengthy poem of mine just published in Quail Bell, which has featured poems by me before and some short fiction as well.  This work was based off some pictures the editor, Christine Stoddard, showed me. They were taken by Stephen Palke. Each stanza corresponds to a photograph from the set. Start with the first one and then go to the bottom. Once there, go from the left to the right through both rows. I started simply projection and eventually took on the view of a hypothetical photographer who might have taken these pictures. If anything I wrote makes the real photographer look bad, I grant him permission to take pictures of people who look like they might have written other poems of mine.

Also, I stumbled upon some poems of mine on what appears to be an Italian website. Che Bella!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Welcome September 2011!

Enjoy yourselves some poetry and prose, all on me. First up, is a poem of mine in The River. Heyday Magazine's latest issue will have my work in it, so be on the lookout for that. Five poems of mine are also up at Vintage Poetry. Visitors from that site have been coming here so repay the favor and check them out from here.

In non-Nardolilli related news, my muse Jeff Grunthaner has published some poems in Unlikely Stories. Apparently they are pretty racy. I can't seem to access the site at the library.

I also have a short story to read at Eastown Fiction. Just in case you don't like poetry that doesn't rhyme. For you all there is a post up at my other blog as well. A few thoughts on Septembers past and present, that's all.

Friday, August 26, 2011

An Earthquake Story and a Poem

Well, in case you couldn't tell I survived the Mineral, Virginia Earthquake of 2011. It was the first one I ever felt. There have been others rumbling under me before, but they all passed by without me noticing, including this earthquake's aftershock. Part of the reason I noticed this one was it's size but also it's timing. I was wide awake when the earthquake struck. It caught me while I was working. Yes, working. But before you assume I have managed to stumble upon a cash flow and can start giving money out to your Kickstarter campaign, let me tell you it was just a temporary job.

When the earthquake hit Arlington, I was performing my civic duty as a poll worker for the Democratic primary. From 5 AM to 9 PM I was at my old stomping grounds, Arlington Traditional School. It was an interesting experience to get a behind the scenes look at how our democracy functions but the earthquake certainly made it all the more memorable. When things began shaking, I was standing in the gym, minding my own business. At first I heard the windows rattle and saw the rafters and basketball nets vibrating. My initial though was that there was construction going on outside. The shaking continued and I grew annoyed, even as a realized what was going on.

I understood intuitively that it was an earthquake right before I had a clear idea formed in my head. The dissonance made me briefly want to yell at the earth and tell the ground to knock it off before I grew really angry. A second later, the word earthquake flashed in my head and I ran out the door for safety in case things started to fall to pieces. Luckily only a few bits of plaster, a tennis ball, and a paper airplane fell to the ground. Even our voting machines were unharmed and remained powered. If the had been damaged or shut off I don't know what we would have done. All of us campaign workers looked through our books to see what procedures were in place for an earthquake, but this being Virginia, there was no plan.

Things have now returned to normal quickly enough for us to worry about the next natural disaster, Hurricane Irene. Unlike the earthquake, we know it is coming towards us. Since this might be the last chance to post before we lose electricity, here is a poem of mine in 22 Magazine.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Three Poems in Shadow...Fiction?

Don't be fooled by the name. Three poems of mine are up in the current issue of Shadow Fiction, which is also its very first issue as well. Glad to be a pioneer! 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Happy Belated Birthday, Bukowski

Sometimes I get the strange urge to throw certain terms into Google and search for them. I suppose it is a projection of my psyche at the time. A writer could keep a record of them and they could create a sort of portrait, like an artist throwing paint against a canvas or a wall. Often I just type in "Jew," which must make me a secret Hebrew or paranoid Aryan, or perhaps both. Either way I'm part of a chosen people. Maybe I just find it amusing that it is one of the only search terms that comes with a warning when you type it in. I guess having an explanation backfires in a way though, it makes Google appear to be part of the massive worldwide Zionist conspiracy (which I believe has something to do with replacing fish sticks with gefilte fish.)

Not to sound like too much of a weirdo, I will throw in terms such as "Italy," "Italian," "Beatnik," and "Jack Chick" for good measure as well. I also throw in the last names of writers and poets to see what I come up with, often appending their surnames with phrases such as "alcohol," "booze," "sex," or "scansion." The other day I had Bukowski on the mind and maybe it was the alignment of the planets, but it turned out that it was his birthday. Charles Bukowski died in 1994 and would be 91 if he were alive today. I doubt he could ever have made it this far, but the fact he got to his seventies was quite a feat considering the, ahem, liquid diet he adhered to.

Nevertheless, after typing in his name, I found a lot of interesting material on Bukowski that has recently been released on the Internet. Some of it consciously posted because of the birthday, but much of it probably accidentalClearly the planets are at work, not just on me, but others as well. YouTube has a few new videos that are either about Bukowski or else feature him in some way and give a fascinating glimpse into the writer and his world. First, someone has posted an early reading of Bukowski at Bellevue College in Washington. Through the grainy footage we seen him before he became well-known.

In this documentary from Taylor Hackford in 1973, a different Bukowski shows up on film. Here is the Bukowski that emerged from the success of his first novel Post Office, full of swagger, confidence, and completely absorbed by his public persona and reputation. The film traces Bukowski from LA to San Francisco, where he gives a reading put on Lawrence Ferlinghetti. If nothing else, it is a fascinating glimpse of the underground West Coast poetry scene in the early 1970s, after the rise and fall of the San Francisco Renaissance but before the Slam poetry revolution.   

Lastly, I came across a documentary that Bukowski narrated some time in the 1980s about the "best hotel on skid row." While Bukowski never spent much time on Skid Row, despite the legends, he was certainly familiar enough with it.  Even though he never makes an appearance, the documentary shows the kind of people and places who populate much of his work. I think it's an interesting idea that could be utilized more often, having a writer or any other kind of artist, narrating a documentary about the world that inspired them and informed their work, without making any specific reference to themselves.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back in Arlington

Just returned from a trip to Philadelphia to move my sister back before she resumes another year at Temple University. I haven't been to the city since I was eleven and went to go see the ancient artifacts at the  University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Needless to say, I didn't see much of the city then. This time was different, since my sister lives away from the Center City, I got to go around the residential neighborhoods. I got to see the good and bad of what the city had to offer. At times you feel like an archaeologist in America's inner cities, seeing beautiful buildings that have decayed and are empty, or that once held the headquarters of powerful companies and now are home to boutiques and bars. 

It made me wonder if the chic parts of Brooklyn once looked like this before they were redeveloped a decade or so ago. I know there are still plenty of bad neighborhoods, but those most of them were never built up with hotels and tall buildings that were then abandoned. I guess it was what the Lower East Side probably resembled in the early 1990s. If such places that were once written off can be brought back to life, perhaps there is hope for Philadelphia, which was once America's largest city, important enough that we had the national bank there. Things are trickling in, to be sure, and it's loss of people has stabilized somewhat, but the city still has 500,000 people less than in 1950.

The infrastructure is there, the history, the culture, the location, but the jobs have to return. It's the same all over the country, in Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and in other places. To be sure, the jobs need to return all over the country, but in the inner cities of the Rust Belt they will do the most good, as the economics of suburban sprawl have become unsustainable. If nothing else happens, I suppose the rust belt holds the cards when the inevitable energy crisis comes along and we can no longer import everything from China and run our air conditioners in the Sun Belt 24/7. 

Anyways, the trip is probably the last interesting thing that will happen to me for the rest of the summer. Other updates of note, I had a poem published in Word Salad and have been quoted here by Benjamin C. KrauseHopefully it will not be the last time anyone finds my maxims memorable. Also, happy 30th anniversary to my parents Michael and Pamela Nardolilli, Kansas City's most beautiful couple of 1981.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Funeral Parlors and Facial Hair

Part two of my short story Chaplinesque is up at Squawk Back. It was serialized and this was the final half of the tale. Here is the link to the first part and the second. Another poem is up at Literary Kicks, and it even has poetic responses written underneath.

I also wrote a new post up at my other blog. Hopefully I will get a job soon so I can have something else to write about. I'd like to have the money so I can start writing about looking for an apartment.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Genre Writer Accepts Himself

No, it's not me, it's author Will Lavender. In his piece up at Salon, Mr. Lavender tells the story of his conversion from being a failed writer of literary fiction to a successfully published author of thrillers. Along the way, he had to disabuse himself of those pretensions which held him back from creating works that were enjoyable to both write and read. It is a valuable lesson for any aspiring writer who is not only trying to find their voice, but also what kind of story to share with the world. Lavender's journey is about finding one's true style and coming to terms with what one makes, not worrying about what critical opinion because the writing itself can grant great pleasure.

I do have an very distant and indirect relationship with Will Lavender, in the fall of 2007, I interned at Folio Literary Management. At the time, they were representing his first novel, Obedience.  In a strange set of coincidences, this essay of his was published at the same time that I saw a recent Jeopardy question that involved another Folio author, Garth Stein, and his novel The Art of Racing in the Rain. While I interned at the agency, I remember a lengthy telephone conversation between Lavender and his agent. Even after having published a thriller, he was still unsure about the direction he wanted to go with his writing and just which genre he wanted to write in. The agent suggested that switching genres was a risky move since he had created a brand for himself as a writer of thrillers.

It is clear that Lavender has accepted the fact that what he truly wants to write are thrillers. Before his conversion, he was trying to become the next great literary light, but was more concerned with looking the part than actually producing anything of literary merit. According to him, his own writing was stale as in was merely an imitation of other figures that he admired. He claims he was a wannabe John Ashbery at one point (it's not clear, but I suppose he wanted to be a poet before he wrote literary fiction) and then was a "Michael Chabon lite." He found nothing worthwhile in what he was writing and it was hard for him to find something original to say.

This changed once he began reading thrillers, a genre of work that he had previously dismissed as light, fluffy, and disposable. Lavender began to enjoy the writing and started to change his own style to create the kind of writing he enjoyed reading the most, which turned out not to be literary after all. Now that he has completed and published two thrillers, he seems he has found his calling. He no longer writes literary fiction and does not mind it either, another sign that writing thrillers is what he ought to be doing. A literary writer would view such work as a distraction from more serious pursuits, just as Lavender realized his previous "highbrow" writing was a detour that lead him away from what he was better suited to produce.

Yet, despite coming to terms with what he was meant to write, Lavender does shows a certain uneasiness from working in with thrillers, and he feels a need to justify his switch by claiming genre fiction isn't really different from literary fiction at all. But the way he does it only has the effect of reinforcing the divide between literary and genre fiction. He defends the literary merits of thrillers on one hands while at the same time he attacks the literary establishment, which revels in those merits, for denigrating literature written for the sake of entertainment. If he was a genre writer completely satisfied with his choice, he would not bother making such defenses. All Lavender would need to say is that he came to see nothing wrong with writing books to entertain. Instead, he tries to make a case that genre thrillers can be art.

Lavender does not really spend much time creating a reasoned defense of this position. It is simply something that has to be true to him so he can feel justified in writing thrillers. He certainly finds them enjoyable and uses the pleasure they produce as a defense of their artistic merit (calling such experiences "transcendent").  But this is not enough and perhaps if allowed to write a longer piece, he would be able to elaborate. Similar defenses for the role of feeling in aesthetic judgment have been made. Indeed, the very term "aesthetics" is derived from the Greek word aisthetikos, which in turn comes from the phrase "I feel/perceive/sense."

In his essay, Will Lavender should be showing the world how he is handling the apparent divide between literary an genre fiction in his own writing. This is how it seems he is truly coming to terms with being a genre writer while maintaining his literary background. Even if these interests no longer produce outright aspirations, they still permeate and enrich his work, which in turn helps him stand out from the typical run-of-the-mill thriller writers. For instance, Obedience, his first novel, is a murder mystery set within the confines of a class on logic and reasoning, which helps to bring a philosophical element into the work. Meanwhile, in his latest novel, Dominance, he plays with ideas of authorship itself and the line between fiction and reality.

He does raise many good points in the essay about how the basics of storytelling, plot development, and character are often overlooked by literary writers in favor of experimentation that may end up just alienating the reader. In addition, he discusses how the line between genre and literary fiction is more blurred than we think, with both sides learning from the other. The modernist experiments in prose writing pushed out florid Victorian expression and created the prevailing style in genre fiction today, while writers such as Paul Auster mix elements of noir with literary concerns and ideas. Even a crime novel like Mario Puzo's The Godfather has plenty in common with a sprawling 19th century work than one might think, with dozens of minor characters having their own subplots. Beginning with a quote by Balzac also helps to add to its literary heft.

From the tone of the piece, I wonder if Lavender really has accepted himself as a genre writer, rather than accepting that what he wants to write is genre fiction. I think this is an important distinction to make, if one believes there are separate categories for literary and genre writers. In this case, to come to terms with being a genre writer means not having to worry about whether or not one is making art and to focus on good stories instead. If the result is hailed as art, it is a happy accident, but not the primary objective. Genre writers understand what they do and what effect their genre produces. They have no illusions. Likewise, literary writers know that what they create is often going to be difficult for others to read and do not expect to land a major motion picture deal. Again, if it happens for them, it is a pleasant surprise.

I think part of the problem is that the idea of a work being either "literary" or "genre" is misplaced, as if these are two mutually incompatible spheres. I think it is more productive to see literary fiction existing across all genres, especially since most genres have their root in the work of literary icons. It is not a matter of crossing the literary with a particular genre, which is how Lavender seems to view his work, but bringing it out instead. Poe helped develop horror and mystery while romance and so-called chick-lit would be radically different without the legacy of Austen. It would help end the prejudice against seeing a whole stream of writing as incapable of doing anything literary because it is grounded in a genre. I know it is especially problematic when giving writers of science-fiction their due, but is true for any given genre. Hopefully, as book selling moves increasingly online the current division,  which was as much a product of retailing as anything else, will be erased in favor of a more expansive view of what can be literary or not.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Goodbye July, Long Live August

A few more poetry links to help herald in the coming of this new month. I have a poem in the current issue of Red Ochre Lit. Meanwhile, Anobium is no longer taking pre-orders, but they are still being sold with my words inside them. Thematic Literary Magazine also has some of my work up in the July issue. The theme of it is independence. I should be near the front of that one.

If you just want to read my words without downloading and/or paying, I put something up at Literary Kicks.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mustaches, Whiskey, Funeral Homes, and Karl Marx

Two new links to post for all of you guys to check out. The first is a short story of mine called "Chaplinesque,"   the name of which some of you might recognize. It is currently up at the Squawk Back. This is my first serialized piece of fiction. Part two will be shown later.

If you're in the mood for a whole piece and nothing cut in half like Solomon's baby (which could also be the name of a literary journal), you can view a poem of mine up at Samizdat.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Can There Be a Five Albums Test for Writers?

A new topic for discussion in music, or should I say, a new metric for discussions, has appeared for people to use in debating the merits of various bands and artists. This is the five albums test, developed by Steven Hyden over at the AV Club. The idea is that in addition to the two present ways of rating musical groups (popularity and critical consensus) there is a third way, seeing if a group (or a solo musician) produced a run of five great albums back to back. Now, why five instead of four or six? Mr. Hyden explains why:

"First of all, it’s a nice round number, and nice round numbers are helpful for arbitrary (but fun!) discussions about music. Second, it just feels right, perhaps because there’s a handy parallel with TV shows, which generally have to survive for five seasons in order to reach 100 episodes, which is the magic number for syndication."

He admits there are limitations to the system and he does not intend for it to be the only way of looking at a group, especially since many musicians and groups who are otherwise great fail to make five good albums in a row. Or they may not make albums at all and focus on singles (or symphonies) instead. A good example of groups that pass the test as mentioned in the article are The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. Others are open for debate, such as the Rolling Stones or Bob Dylan.

The idea has spread into other quarters and at Salon, Matt Zoller Seitz has tried to use a similar criteria for movie actors and actresses. However, his test does not use albums as a standard, but performances in films. One actor he cites for delivering five great performances in a row is Robert De Niro (three of them being Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers, and Little Fockers). So far, I have not come across any other uses of the test, but I have been thinking how it may or may not apply to literature and what that says about the differences between writing and making music.

A major problem with trying to use such a standard with writers is that there are so many variables to consider, the least of all being someone's subjective taste. First of all, writers produce so many different kinds of products and finding a standard to measure them by is difficult. The novel might seem like a logical choice for judging, but this would exclude playwrights, poets, essayists, and short story writers, along with anyone who worked in multiple formats. How can a strict novelist be compared with someone who may have put out two novels and half a dozen short story collections?

Perhaps each group could be separated, the novelists in one camp, the short story writers in another and so on (though the problem of figures like Flannery O'Connor or George Orwell would remain). Even then, trying to compare five items in a row would still be difficult. Short stories are especially problematic since they often appear together in different orders depending on the collections they are in, an order that might not reflect when they were first written and first published. Poetry suffers from the same issue, since a poet will often come out with several books that combine their previously released works. While the same often happens in music, most artists will release their songs in a general chronological order. Works from decades apart are usually not released for the first time next to one another.

Timing, which is crucial to the five albums or five performances test, simply cannot be used when comparing the quality of different writers. Often there are pieces produced between great works or before them and only released posthumously, more often than not because the authors never felt they were good enough. Did the recent publication of And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks mean that the critical judgment of Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs had to be immediately reassessed, even though it came out years before they published anything else? So much that writers produce gets rewritten from its original and what is not published often languishes until resurrected later. How is such material supposed to fit in a writer's oeuvre? The only comparable situation one finds in music are rare albums such as Brian Wilson's Smile.

Adding to this are the problems of prolificacy and length. A writer may write only two or three novels that are incredibly long while another one produces a dozen or more that are only a hundred or so pages long. Can they be compared? Should a write be measured not by five works but by five hundred pages of combined good material instead? I suppose this is the premise behind the Viking Portable Library, which is the perfect way to compare Joyce and Faulkner when you are raiding the coast of England.  But this approach allows short story writers a greater range to showcase their work and truncates all that novelists have to present to the world.

Poetry adds further problems. The first of which is the issue of collection and collation mentioned above. Poems are often written at different times and combined with one another in various forms. Some poets release books that then are combined into collected works, while others just publish in journals and come out with a collected works much later. Some poets produce books with poems that are thematically linked and structurally entwined, approximating the way the songs on a great album work together, but usually this does not happen. A five poem test might suffice at first glance, but while this would work in comparing Eliot to Ginsberg or Plath, poets like Whitman, Berryman, or Pound would have trouble competing. They released books that were almost like cathedrals of paper and ink, each small poem contributing to an overall effect.

In the future, the five albums test might become obsolete as well, as new methods of producing and disseminating music make the genre more reflective of the way literature is produced, in bits and pieces that are often packaged together out of pragmatic rather than artistic concerns. Even when artistry and craft are behind the decisions of how to market pieces together, these outputs will shift as the three minute song continues to lose dominance. Songs are already released by themselves, in several versions of varying lengths, this trend will grow. Soon, having different lyrics over different tunes will become more common. Even who plays the music may shift. One group of musicians will not be viewed as producing the "original" and all others producing "covers."

We have seen a situation like this before though, and people still compare the musicians and composers who worked then, asking who was better, Beethoven or Mozart?

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Poem I Think I Forgot to Post

I published a poem at Mouse Tales Press a few months ago, well, here it is for your reading pleasure.

Also, I wrote an essay on writing at my other blog I Don't Wanna Be A Manchild.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Best of Poetry in the Corner Club Press Issue 3

The most recent issue of of the Corner Club Press is out, and I'm in it. Not only that, I was selected to be the best poet for it.

I also have a poem I wrote at Dr. Hurley's Snake Oil Cure in response to the slide above.

My friend Lisa Marie Basile is raising money for her Patasola Press, which is focused on improving the presence of women in poetry. Here's the link to her project on Kickstarter

Saturday, July 9, 2011



Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Three Cheers for Three Line Poetry

A small poem of mine, only three lines long, is up at Three Line Poetry. Dig around for me, I'm in there in issue 3. Also, I noticed that Grover Cleveland is shaped a lot like the Penguin from Batman Returns, albeit with a mustache. Maybe it's just me. Perhaps he would be the Penguin's sidekick: the Walrus.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Moment for James Garfield

While you all are busy celebrating Independence Day here in the United States, Bahia, or Belarus, take a moment to reflect on poor old James Abram Garfield, who was shot on this date in 1881 by Charles Guiteau.

Apparently, Garfield (who had the second shortest presidency after William Henry Harrison) would've been one of our better presidents if he had lived. Nevertheless, he appointed more Supreme Court Justices than presidents Carter, Taylor, or Johnson. President Garfield argued for a bi-metal monetary system, modernizing agriculture, educating the electorate, and greater civil rights for African Americans. He also proposed civil service reform to decrease the number of jobs filled due to political patronage. However it was not until his assassination that these reforms would get the necessary push to be passed. Charles Guiteau, who had expected a job in the government for supporting the Republican Party's nominee, took out his frustrations by shooting Garfield. The president would later die of his wounds on September 19th.  

Before being featured in the musical Assassins, Charlie inspired a folk song about his exploits:

On an unrelated note, today is also the 140th anniversary of the fall of Rome to the Italian Army.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Pandora Failures

Readers of this blog might wonder if I do anything other than write poetry all day and send it off to places. Well, if you've been reading my other blog, you know that I've been braving the Internet to find myself work, up against limited opportunities and treacherous scammers. But let it be known, that I do have interests other than poetry and writing. One of these is music, not writing or performing it, just listening to it. A couple of months ago I wrote about my attempt to listen to the 1,001 albums considered by some to be the definitive listening experience before one dies.

Now that I've finished that project, I listen mostly to Pandora. For those of you who don't know, Pandora is an internet radio station that uses the music genome project to match a listener up with songs they would like based on what they have previously enjoyed. Most of the time it works well. Rather than finding music at random or playing what is popular, Pandora guides me through songs that are selected just for me. Through it I've discovered John Fahey, Starfucker,  Charlie Poole, and Royksopp, among others. However, the system isn't perfect. I spend a lot of my Pandora time listening to funk and I think I may have exhausted the system's capabilities. Either that, or some weird reverse Affirmative Action is taking place. Interspersed between songs by Parliament and Funkadelic is music by Hall & Oates or Steely Dan.

The main issue with the system though, are the ads. Now, I understand there is no such thing as a free lunch and Pandora has to support itself somehow. However, if a company is trying to support itself with ads, I think it should be concerned with which stations are playing what. While the music is personalized, there does not seem to be any concern with finding out the right demographic that would actually use the particular good or service being offered. If Pandora is going to grow and bring in more revenue, it is going to have to target better. That won't solve the quality of the ads, but what can you do? Radio advertising is always terrible. Without access to images or much of the listener's time, advertisers on the radio have to hook a person's attention quickly, often by means of a jingle that worms itself into the brain. The effect is like being backstage and listening in to the shittiest vaudeville acts you can find.

Nevertheless, from pandora's point of view, the targeting is more important.  While there are people who have a variety of musical tastes and have patterns of consumption that are hard to track (i.e. me), most people's spending habits and musical tastes can be correlated one way or another. Instead, Pandora sends out ads indiscriminately in hopes of hitting someone who might buy something. It is the same strategy used by cicadas when they emerge after years in the ground as a huge brood of slow flying meals for other animals. Sometimes that ads aren't simply misplaced, they seem to run counter to what the fan base of a given artist is probably like.

Now maybe I am just unfairly going into stereotypes. But I would like to think that the fans of eccentric American guitarist John Fahey are not on the lookout for a body spray that will make them smell just like Carmelo Anthony. Nor do I think the marines will find new recruits by playing ads in between songs by Joanna Newsom. I could be wrong though. But there are some ads that are plainly misplaced. At one point, I kept getting commercials for a service that would offer me deals on all the best places to dine, shop, and visit in Boston. I can't imagine why a company would pay for such advertising that would be broadcast to the rest of the country. Maybe it was planted by the FBI and it was a way to entice Whitey Bulger out of hiding by getting him to come back to Boston for a good deal.

Then there are the iced tea ads for Turkey Hill Iced Tea that come on my funk station. Of course, there is nothing unfunky about iced tea, but the voice of the man they use is irritating and creepy. When he says the word "cold" he drags it such a way that instead of feeling refreshing, it reminds one of Siberia and gulags.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Touch Me in Touch Poetry

Three poems of mine are up in Touch Poetry magazine. Go ahead and check them out. They are right in the front of the magazine. Read about urban experiences involving the Chinatown bus, New Jersey, pollution, and people passing out information on street corners. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Happy Birthday to Josie Alycia Plumey!

...or as the spellchecker wants to call her: Josie Asocial Plumes. This blogpost is dedicated to her. Also, I have a poem up at Dr. Hurley's Snake Oil Cure. It is titled "A Werner Projection," and is based on the type of map pictured above, probably the sexiest projection there is right after Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Defense of Manischewitz Wine

A new poem of mine is up at A Bad Penny Review. For all of you who like the sweet stuff and don't sweat it when other people make fun of you for it, here is the verse you've been waiting for. Bonus points and the tip of my glass if you can identify the source of the quote at the top.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Job Hunt Resumes

I have now returned back to Arlington, Virginia from Italy. It was an interesting experience.

We got into the mood as you can see and really absorbed the local culture and customs. We were determined to fit in and not look like tourists. I even got into a debate with Nietzschean aquatic nymph. Or maybe it was Mark Twain.

And then the former pope John Paul II knocked some sense into me.

I thought it was for this at first:

I didn't care if the Colosseum really held Rome together. But it turns out he was angry with me for being slothful, one of the seven deadly sins. So, I made my confession and swore to find employment of the gainful nature.

You can read about the vow here at my side project, I Don't Want to Be a Manchild.

On an unrelated note, here is a poem by Tom Savage I found amusing. If any of you readers want to send me things to check out and post, whether by you or your loved ones, let me know. I'm always looking to add content.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

First Chapbook Published!

But hopefully not the last. Check out the details on my blog I Don't Want to Be a Manchild. The work is titled: Common Symptoms of an Enduring Chill Explained.

Here it is, isn't it a thing of beauty? If you would like to purchase a copy of the first ever volume of my poems to be printed, you can go to this link. Here you can see it being made.

Oh, and I have a poem in this issue of Fade Poetry.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Best American Writing

For May/June 2011 at least. I've been travelling up and down the middle of Italy and have a backlog of new links to post for stories and poems.
Here is a short story from Pink Eye Lemonade about global warming and protests.

I was part of a project at Super Arrow that involved creating a persona and corresponding with it. I was a crazy dying/delirious poet and I spoke with another writer who pretended to be a train conductor from Chicagoland. Neither of us knew the other.

At Poetry Super Highway, I was poet of the week with a poem about America.

UCity Review generously published two of my poems.  

The Stone Hobo has a poem of mine as well as AUDIO that will let you listen to me reading it. I'm a multimedia artist now!