Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dig: The Film

As noted in this space a while back, director Joshua Caldwell has renewed his option to make a film based on my one-act play "Dig," which was produced in June at the Old Red Lion Theatre in London. Preserving the central conflict of the original, Joshua has clothed the narrative with a new set of details in the screenplay, and he will be making the film as a new work of art in its own right, as described on his blog Hollywood Bound and Down.

At this point Joshua has nailed down locations in Southern California and has finished casting. The leads will be Mark Margolis, who has appeared in numerous films, among them The Wrestler, and Aaron Himelstein, whose credits feature appearances on television series such as House M.D. and films including Fast Food Nation and High Fidelity.

The adaptation of "Dig" is what Joshua has called a "passion project" that will be shown largely on the film festival circuit. As such, it won't be making anyone rich, and as a matter of fact he is continuing to seek backers for post-production expenses.

Through the magic of Kickstarter, anyone can become such a backer by pledging $1 or more to the short film adaptation of "Dig". In the last two days $796 has been pledged to the total of $6,000 needed by 4:09 p.m. EST on November 24, the day before Thanksgiving. Pledges of various sizes entitle backers to premiums that range from acknowledgments in the credits to a private screening with the cast and crew to the opportunity to appear as a featured extra. Larger backers can even be listed as Associate Producer or Executive Producer. So far the project has 19 backers, including author Duane Swierczynski, whose book The Wheelman I have read and can wholeheartedly recommend.

I invite you to make a pledge to the short film adaptation of "Dig" if you are at all able, and please pass this information along if you aren't. Joshua works like a dog, and he has been a consummate professional in his dealings with me. Backing this project will mean being involved in an early stage of what promises to be a remarkable career.

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Poem in Zócalo Public Square

I am pleased to note that my previously unpublished poem "Debt" appears on Zócalo Public Square, a Los Angeles-based but wide-ranging web site that serves as a platform for both online and in-person discussions of public and social affairs, including a series of upcoming events with prominent speakers in their respective fields.

My poem briefly questions the use of the expression "The wolf is at the door" to talk about debt. In short, wolves shouldn't be talked about that way. Accompanying the poem is a magnificent wolf photograph taken by Doug Brown.

I am by no means the only person in the arts to have an interest in wolves. Perhaps the most prominent advocate of wolves among artists is French pianist Hélène Grimaud, who co-founded the Wolf Conservation Center and continues to spend time there.

Watch this space for further news in the near future. I soon hope to make announcements on a couple of fronts.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Poems in "Dogs Singing: A Tribute Anthology"

Virtually anyone who knows me is aware that my non-literary enthusiasms include dogs. In fact, it would be fair to say that many of my favorite people go about on four feet. I have also grown increasingly interested in dog and other animal welfare issues.

Sometimes, though, enthusiasms cross paths, and I have ended up writing poems about dogs. Some of those poems have succeeded.

I am thus greatly pleased to note that two of those poems, "Aubade" and "Policy", will appear in Dogs Singing: A Tribute Anthology, forthcoming in November from Ireland-based and internationally known press Salmon Poetry.

I first met Jessie Lendennie, Salmon's publisher and the editor of this anthology, in early 2004. I was wandering through the Book Fair at the Chicago AWP Conference and stopped at the Salmon table, where we ended up talking about, well, dogs.

To mix animal metaphors for a moment, I am a very small fish in this anthology's pond. Far better-known writers in Dogs Singing include but are not limited to Kelly Cherry, Stephen Dobyns, Jane Hirshfield, Maxine Kumin, Les Murray, Alicia Ostriker, Richard Peabody and C.K. Williams.

The poets included are not being compensated for their work. Instead, proceeds will be donated to canine welfare organizations in Ireland.

With the holidays not all that far away, Dogs Singing would make a wonderful present for the dog and/or poetry lover in your life, and maybe for yourself.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Settling for Beauty and Lessons of Publishing

Timing may not be everything, but it counts for a lot, especially in promoting books.

I learned this the hard way with my first two collections of poetry. The first, The Hypothetical Landscape, was published as part of the Quarterly Review of Literature Poetry Series in 1999 and is presently out of print. (I may see what I can do to change that.) At the time the book came out, though, I was working two part-time jobs with no benefits and was in no position to attempt a book tour or any other major promotional efforts. Nor did it help that I wasn't hooked into the academic networks that lead to of readings and events.

I did not make the same mistakes when my second collection, Settling for Beauty, was published in 2005. I can't even say that I made new and different mistakes. But I did learn one valuable lesson: if you are publishing a book and planning a wedding from a distance, and doing all that while working full-time, something has to give.

For me, like the vast majority of people, not working was not an option. Even less of an option was changing wedding plans. So fully promoting Settling for Beauty gave way at the time, and I have no regrets about that, per Edith Piaf, especially now that I am about to celebrate my fifth anniversary with the wonderful Paula Van Lare.

There won't be quite as much on my plate when it's time to promote my forthcoming book of essays; there will be more to come on that. Things should also be similarly tranquil when my third and fourth collections of poetry come out. In a moment of guarded optimism I say "when" rather than "if" because one of the two manuscripts, a collection of formal verse, has been a finalist in two contests.

But for now I hope to give at least a little attention to Settling for Beauty. If you follow the link you can see a few sample poems. Another poem in the collection appeared on Verse Daily.

Virtually any writer is going to look back on older work and think of how it could be better. I am no exception. Still, new poems (and essays and fiction, among other things) need to be written, and time is short.

In any event, I am still very fond of that book, and I think the linked samples will give you an idea of why you might become fond of it as well. You are welcome to let me know what you think.

The title of that book, in case you don't feel like scrolling up, is Settling for Beauty.

Monday, October 4, 2010

New Poem in Verse Wisconsin

Having recently interviewed in this space a couple of authors I am also grateful to call my friends, I will use today's post to mention the publication of a new poem of my own.

Based on actual events of several decades ago, my poem "First Memory, Wisconsin Dells" appears in the current issue of Verse Wisconsin, edited by Sarah Busse and Wendy Vardaman.

I don't write or publish much directly autobiographical poetry these days, because whatever strengths I have lie largely elsewhere, but now and then opportunities present themselves.

I will be saying more about my publishing history and future in the days ahead. Please check back if you are curious.