MONDAY JUNE 20 AT 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM

This will be my first feature in over two years – since before the pandemic & my cancer diagnosis

The Phoenix Reading Series

Also featuring: VIVIANA DUNCAN & the legendary JOHN S. HALL 

plus: Open Mic – come read your stuff & be a part of it!

Swift’s 34 E. 4th St., New York, NY


novel chapter

A few weeks after I graduated from the MFA poetry program at BC, I began writing something every night. I wasn’t sure what it was until after about a week of writing for an hour or two nightly when Melissa said to me as I was writing, “Are you writing a novel?” and I replied without thinking, “Yes” and kept on writing. A few years later I had a draft of a novel.

Here’s an excerpt in Making the Novel, a project curated by Eileen Tabios.

Excerpt from 



Books That Influenced Me

5] Peanuts, Charles M. Schulz

When asked once why Charlie Brown can’t ever win Schulz replied that winning isn’t funny. Like Chaplin and Emmett Kelly and centuries of performers who turned pain into laughter Good Ol’ Charlie Brown more than any other character in literature reaches that part of me that knows the only way to move past sorrow is not to get over it but to laugh your way through it. Undaunted, Charlie Brown never quits—always certain he’s going to kick that football this time and when it doesn’t happen he knows next year it will. I could never be Charlie Brown; I’m a quitter. I joined the Cub Scouts for the sole purpose of making a car to race in the Pinewood Derby; I lost the race and I quit. I tried gymnastics but I didn’t like tumbling around on a mat with a bunch of other kids so I quit. Horseback riding was fun at first but as the lessons progressed I didn’t like hitting the horse with the little whip, even though the instructor assured us it didn’t hurt the horse. I didn’t believe her and I quit. But every day in the funny pages I would encounter not only the ever persisting Charlie Brown (no one ever just calls him Charlie—it’s always Charlie Brown; even his little sister calls him Charlie Brown), I also followed the exploits of a host of characters whose development over the years and decades is among the most formidable I’ve ever encountered in my reading of literature: Sally Brown, Schroeder, Peppermint Patty and Marcie—the only ones who didn’t call him Charlie Brown (they called him Chuck and Charles, respectively)—and the Van Pelt siblings, Linus and Lucy. Then there were the secondary characters who were also well-developed in their limited time: Frieda, Violet and Shermy in the early years of the strip; Franklyn, Pig Pen, Rerun Van Pelt and Spike. So much has already been written about these characters, I don’t have anything to add to that. The impact Peanuts has had on me is mostly about my writing; after George Lucas and Emily Dickinson, Schulz’s work is the most influential in my experience. But not just in my writing, in life as well. The intense philosophical discussions the characters have led me in the direction to understanding the human condition and laid the groundwork for my later exploration of the Existentialist concept of the the Absurd. Peanuts more than any other fictional work I’ve ever encountered deals with that corny but essential question of existence: What is the meaning of life.

And of course there’s Snoopy and Woodstock. I could write a whole piece on Woodstock so I’ll leave him alone for now. But what can be said about Snoopy that hasn’t been said already? Snoopy knows what’s important: supper

Books That Influenced Me

4] Dictee, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha

I don’t know how to write about Dictee; I don’t know what it is

Is it a novel? is it fiction or poetry? some have called it a memoir, autobiography—

it’s nonfiction some of its subject matter suggests

it’s about joan of arc—the historical 

joan of arc or dryer’s joan of arc? 

—often categorized as a novel but what’s this greek

mythology stuff have to do with anything? 

historical documents; photographs; calligraphy;

diagrams; letters, handwritten & typed; some of it’s in French

& it’s definitely autobiographical (isn’t all writing autobiographical)

I can’t read French

& who is You Guan Soon? i didn’t know either—look her up

you’ll be a better person knowing who she is

Here’s something about her mother

it’s definitely autobiographical

but that shouldn’t matter

The author was raped and murdered a week after this

her first and only book was published; that matters

but certainly not in consideration of how one reads it

Or does it?

i’ve read it & will reread it probably right after I finish writing this

still probably won’t get, like I hear students saying

“I don’t get it”

Where did this idea that we always have to “get it” come from?

sometimes we just need to feel it

i read this & I feel it

someday maybe I’ll get it. Maybe not—

but i feel it

i feel it