April 19, 2010

Update from the other side of Eyjafjallajökull

Our flights are canceling like dominoes and it's not clear when any of us will get back. Luckily, at least so far, none of us are stuck in airports. But Europe never seemed so big, and so much for a small world and all that. Boat?

No complaints, it could be way worse. As long as I'm Stateside, might as well enjoy the benefits of good bagels and Hulu.

April 14, 2010

Versal 8 Launch Party

Amsterdam is home to a vibrant literary world. On Saturday, 8 May, that world comes together to launch Versal's latest issue, the internationally-acclaimed annual print journal from our very own canals.

Versal started in 2002 as part of the broader "wordsinhere" project to create a literary community in Amsterdam which reached out to its international residents. Until 2007, wordsinhere produced one of Amsterdam's most successful literary evenings, The Open Stanza. It now focuses its non-profit and volunteer efforts on publishing Versal and organizing a broad program of writing workshops with local and visiting, published authors. wordsinhere also runs a bimonthly literary evening in Utrecht called Salon des Mots. Versal has received international praise for the quality of its writings and sense of design.

Versal 8, which will be officially released at the launch party on 8 May, is the largest issue of the journal to date. With widely celebrated poets like Chung Ho-seung, Laura Mullen and Brandon Shimoda, prose writers Kuzhali Manickavel and Selah Saterstrom, and artists Michael Genovese and Kerri Rosenstein, this issue once again breaks linguistic, national, and cultural borders to bring together the wide range of artistry happening in our contemporary milieu.

The launch party will celebrate not only the release of Versal 8 but also the vitality of the local, international literary community. The program includes American spoken word artist and writer June Melby (www.junemelby.com), who is joining us all the way from the States, local band Controllar (www.myspace.com/controllar), and DJs to boogie to.

And this year, Versal is opening up the stage for the "Local Mic Open Mic". Local writers are invited to sign up at the door for an open mic session during the night's festivities. Each writer is given 2 minutes to read a selection of their own work, and afterward the audience will be asked to choose its favorite. The winning writer will receive a free drink and one copy of a Versal, past or present.

Date: Saturday, 8 May
Place: Nachttheater Sugar Factory; Lijnbaansgracht 238, Amsterdam
Time: 20.00; doors open 19.00
Language: English
Entrance: 5 euros (ticket sales at the door)
Info: http://versal.wordsinhere.com

Versal is published annually by wordsinhere, and is available at local bookstores like the Athenaeum and The English Bookshop, as well as online at www.wordsinhere.com. wordsinhere is a community-focused literary organization.

April 12, 2010

Meeting you in the thick of it

A Monday recovery in Nashville, TN in the solace of my parents' acreage, still slightly reeling from the madness of three-plus days in the Denver AWP wormhole. I don't think I got more than a few hours' sleep at any given time, nor did I apparently manage to eat an actual meal, but the local stouts kept the carbs coming and clearly energy itself came from elsewhere. What an odd, odd place, AWP.

And because of that oddity or madness or, we barely had a chance to "blog" or "update", our Facebook pages and the Versal fan page going still as we went from place to place, person to person, table to table, book to book, reading to reading, to. And I can barely distinguish the days from each other, so telling you all about it now seems a failed exercise. If you have been to AWP, then you know how it is and won't want to read (more) about it; if you have never been, then a blog outlining the raucous timeline likely comes across as indulgent.

I didn't go with an agenda; I didn't have an AWP technique in hand. I barely kept to the vague schedule I'd laid out for myself. I didn't give my chapbook manuscript to anyone, I didn't meet anyone famous, and I didn't sleep with them either. I also did not dance at the dance party, though I did check it out and giggle for awhile. But I will say this, to anyone (you) out there. Meeting you, if I did, was the best part. For those days, Versal was not far away. Versal was right there, in the thick of it, meeting you: old friends, contributors, fellow editors, new writers. Something jumped in me every time you came up to the table and said, "Hey, you guys are great!" or whatever it is that you said that told me that you knew of our little project before I even gave you my spiel.

On Sunday, the Versal editors dispersed to various North American regions, all taking a few more days or weeks on the continent before heading back to Europe. Now I'm on my parents' porch in Tennessee, mulling over plans for the Versal 8 launch party (May 8!) and my girlfriend's 30th birthday. And also, now, it's spring, and as always, it is weird and wonderful.

April 07, 2010

hmm...that wasn't so hard...

Gearing up for the AWP conference

It’s 2010 and blogging is not something I’ve done before. Oh, I’ve been writing off and on – first keeping a journal and then writing fiction – for twenty or so years, but not blogging. So when my friends and colleagues at Versal asked me to contribute to the Versal blog and shepherd it for awhile, I agreed. It’s twentyten and I’ll try something new.

I work on Versal as one of the fiction editors, live most to half of each year in Amsterdam; the other three to six months I live in a warm, sunny climate – currently that is Burbank, CA USA. Somewhere on the Versal/wordsinhere website there’s a bio about me.

...ok, for the past few weeks I’ve had a case of blushing blog – unable to write much more than a couple pages because the argument I wanted to make here wasn’t clear, and I felt that just typing a bunch of random stuff wouldn’t work. Blogging doesn’t seem to be a thesis, however, and I suppose I should just get over the need for the argument to feel fully formed and get this up.

For now, I'll leave off the topic I had begun (another way to give me more time to flesh it out), to talk about the AWP conference, which starts tomorrow. Versal is going to be there, big time, with about six of its editors ranging about the grounds in Downtown Denver. It's going to be a hootenanny, and there will be more to say as it gets under way. For now, I hope to see you all there--either in the flesh or by video/energy feed.