A DAY OF HIGHS AND LOWS: I've been following -- as I'm sure most people have -- the shooting massacre at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. At this writing there is 33 dead, including the gunman. While his identity isn't known, chances are it's a student who somehow got his hands on a rifle or handgun. After Columbine, you would think this country had learned something. We need to begin -- again -- a serious discussion on gun control, and fuck the NRA, Charlton Heston and all the other gun nuts out there. Remember right after Columbine when Charlton went on his rant that they would pull his gun from "his cold, dead hands"? Heston and his ilk argue that the right to bear arms is their Constitutional right, protected by the Second Amendment, blah, blah, blah. I'm guessing the founding fathers had no idea there would be Glocks, AK-47s and other hand cannons. Just wait...in a day or so we're gonna find out this was some kid who was able to get his hands on an automatic weapon, probably some kind of assault rifle. Senseless tragedy.

Cormac McCarthy's novel The Road won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction today, as did my friend Natasha Trethewey for her excellent poetry collection Native Guard. I have new found faith in the Pulitzer. As I mentioned in a previous post, I read The Road in one sitting (only interrupted by boarding the plane from LA to Atlanta). It's a grim tale of a father and son traveling in post-apocalyptic America trying to reach the coast. The landscape is charred and gray and a nuclear winter has left the planet in a permanent, ashen haze. The spare, poetic language describing the devastation and the love of a father and son is moving and elegiac. I want to write much more about how much this novel has touched me, but I'm still processing it. I've never been a big fan of McCarthy, but this is such a change of style and subject, it proves that he's an extremely versatile writer. Hell, Oprah selected The Road for her book club, but god only knows what the housewife set will make of this bleak, uncompromising work.

If you haven't read Natasha's Native Guard get thee to Amazon or your nearest bookstore. I remember when Natasha showed me the galley of the book more than a year ago and read some of the work at Java Monkey Speaks. I predicted then that these poems -- which revolve around her mother, growing up in a mixed race home in Mississippi and the history of her homestate -- would lead her to many prizes. The Pulitzer is the ultimate. Congrats, Natasha! I also heard today that Melissa Range, who read at Poetry at Portfolio Center for me earlier this month, has won a Discovery/The Nation Award in Poetry! Way to go, Melissa!

In my own poetic world, I did first drafts of three new poems over the weekend, all inspired by my trip west. I also found out that my poem "Go Somewhere With Me" was selected by The Private Press in the UK for its next David Lynch-inspired anthology, which will be published later this year. The Private Press and Half Empty/Half Full Press in the US published A Slice of Cherry Pie last year to great acclaim. I was thrilled to be included in that anthology and honored to be selected for the second. The new anthology will contain poems in response to Lynch's films Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway. My poetry buddy Karen Head also had a poem selected. I'll post up ordering info as soon as I get it.

This afternoon I found out that After the Poison was one of 10 finalists for MiPOesia's chapbook "un-competition." Editor Jenni Russell said they had received more than 100 manuscripts and narrowed it down to 10. Christine Hamm's Children Having Trouble With Meat (what a great title!) was selected for publication. I'm happy to have been a finalist. It also makes me think that After the Poison has legs. This chapbook is full of political poems, covering everything from Bush stealing the election to Hurricane Katrina. They don't really have a place in Wake, but I'm encouraged to submit the chap elsewhere.


Anonymous said…
CNN said this morning it was an Asian kid with two handguns and one was a 9mm. He was wearing an ammo vest full of clips. He might have been an exchange student. Where does a foreign student get a gun and ammo vest full of clips? That makes me feel safe.

Congrats on your poetry successes.

rae said…

Congrats on the poetry front! The gun control thing is such a mess. I don't know what to think anymore - there are so many people out there who shouldn't have guns but do and where does that leave the rest of us. I think, as a society, we have come completely undone, emotionally. When I heard the news I was saddened but not as shocked as I feel I should have been and that scares me.
Collin said…
Good question, Gav. He had a receipt for a Glock in his bag. So how does a foreigner come into the country and legally purhcase a firearm???
Rupert said…
Natasha wins a Pulitzer! omg X 10 . . . and she read at Java Monkey . . . whoa . . . just wrote Kodac
Definitely keep submitting that chapbook! I am just beginning The Road (about 30 pages in) and am so pleased it won, and that you give it a rave. I will look forward to finishing it. And I will definitely pick up Tretheway's book.
jenni said…
Definately keep submitting the chap. It is political, and it needs a bigger audience. I wish we could've published all of the final ten -- each one was worthy imo. I'll check out these Pulitzer winners. Thanks for the heads up.
Christine said…
I'd love to see some of the poems in your chapbook. The title sounds quite interesting. Let me know when it finds a publisher! (sounds like it should be soon!)
Collin said…
Hi Christine. Congratulations on having your chap selected. I'm looking forward to reading it! I'm making a list of possible places to send the chapbook, so I'll keep you posted. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)

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