Two recent online pubs and a summer conference!

Yep, it’s that laziest/most inevitable of writers’ blog posts: popping up after a long absence only to present a boring list of recent writerly accomplishments. But! I spent all afternoon on a redesign of this here website which I’d been putting off since 2018, so I’m feeling pretty good about myself at the moment.

Screenshot of The Summerset Review - masthead and Table of Contents

First the publications. I had one of my Pepys erasures in The Summerset Review, Summer 2023 issue. It was one that I had shared as a screenshot on social media, where the editor saw it and contacted me. This is obviously not the norm—most literary magazines still insist that all submissions be complete web virgins, despite the crying need for editors to do the opposite and actively hunt down good internet content, because lord knows none of the rest of us have the time. But knowing the situation, I haven’t bothered to submit the erasures anywhere since I’m hardly going to stop posting them to Via Negativa. Like the online Pepys Diary I draw from and link to every day, these are free cultural works available for reprint and remix by whomever, whenever.

Drfting Sands cover with  a photo of egrets taking flight from a marsh

I was pleased to land a new haibun in one of the few journals devoted to the genre, Drifting Sands—Issue 22, July 2023 [PDF]. I think this is the second time I’ve submitted there, and both times they took the submission immediately, so cheers to them.

That appeared a few days after the Haiku North America conference, which I am just now realizing I should talk about as well. Except come to think of it I did already post about it on Moving Poems Magazine, where you can read the text of my talk and then click through to watch the haibun videopoetry festival I presented there for a rapt or at least politely not dozing audience of haiku poets at a grand old 19th-century library in Cincinnati. I do not do conferences the way one is supposed to, staying up till the wee hours and skipping sessions to schmooze. Nope, I was laser-focused on surviving my own presentation (mission somehow accomplished, despite an air delay) and then enjoying the rest of the conference exactly the way I wanted to in my anti-social way, which meant attending the nerdiest talks, browsing the book sale slowly at least four times, talking to as many old women as possible because they have the best stories, walking around town aimlessly taking pictures because I am a flaneur first and foremost, avoiding alcohol, going to bed early, and getting lots of sleep. Didn’t quite succeed on that last one, but I did better than I’ve ever done before at a conference or festival.

It was wonderful to get to meet and listen to some of the best poets working in the genre, but that’s the nature of small conferences, I guess. I mean, I was actively avoiding doing the whole access thing altogether, and my first morning there I step into an elevator and strike up a conversation with the editor of the leading journal in the space. Crazy! But appropriate for the English-language haiku community, which I’ve found to be very egalitarian, reminded regularly by the results of their many contests, which are always run blind, that anyone can and frequently does win top honors. Beginner’s mind is prized rather than condescended to. A very interesting subculture.

I was going to say something about the new Dear Human at the Edge of Time anthology I’m in, but maybe I’ll save that for another post as it is getting perilously close to my bedtime. I’m probably not quite done tinkering with the website, but I think the design will stay, and definitely the new site architecture with a re-conceptualization from pages about books and videopoem cycles with the blog on the front page, to a portfolio arranged as a visual array of different projects, both completed (those books and videopoem cycles) and ongoing (Pepys erasure project, walking poems, The Morning Porch, the poetry blogging digest). I just think that’s a far better way of presenting myself online. This particular theme will probably age out in about five years, though, at which point I’ll have to knuckle down and learn how to use the new sitewide editor on WordPress (replacing the customizer which I’ve honestly always hated) because, I say to myself, guys even more challenged than me figure this stuff out. It’s just boring and fiddly. Which is why I put this redesign off for five damn years.

Two new pages for Pandemic Season, Pepys erasure project

still from the haibun video Public Relations

This feels like one of those essays that school teachers used to require on the first day back: What Did I Do On Summer Vacation? Because I’ve been on vacation from this blog since last spring, it seems. Damn.

Well, mainly I moped, like everyone else in this goddamned covidious shitstorm. But I did make a lot of videopoems, as well as continue to plug along with (almost) daily erasure poems. So today I was all set to create a new page for the Videopoetry section of the website on my just-concluded (I think) video haibun collection Pandemic Season, only to find that I’d already done so back in July. Oops. Since it embeds the whole Vimeo showcase for the collection, which is 24 videopoems long, that will do for now. Currently I’m giving it a rest so I can go back and look at it with fresh eyes in a couple of months, and decide whether I want to mess with any of the films, make a book out of them, or just let it be. For now, the series archive at Via Negativa is probably a better way to engage with the collection, since there’s a transcript of each as well as extensive process notes.

I didn’t get to be a complete slacker today, though. Seven years after starting the Pepys Diary erasure project at VN, it finally occurred to me that maybe that deserved its own page here. Among other things, it gave me an excuse to highlight a few videopoems made with texts from the project. Check it out.

(I initially created a project page, experimenting with a custom content type designed for use in a portfolio-style site, because I still tell myself that one day I’m going to re-design this website to foreground a portfolio of projects, rather than continuing to pigeon-hole work by medium, print vs. video. But that seems unlikely to happen any time soon. Bizarrely, though, the project page auto-posted to Twitter, while the page-page did not. All of which is way more geekiness than either reader of this blog probably cares about. Sorry.)

New page on how I make poems and why I blog

I’ve just added a new artist’s statement of sorts, though unlike most such documents it focuses less on what I’m making and why, and more on how I’m making it. Perhaps it’s really more of an apologia. In the top navigation bar, it’s a drop-down link under the About Me page. Here’s how it starts:

My approach to writing focuses neither on product nor on process but on daily practice. What am I going to make today? What am I going to do right now? Is re-writing yesterday’s effort ever as important as going for a walk or reading a book to prime the creative pump anew?

I go on to argue for the vitality of the quotidian, admit to the addictive nature of creative immersion, mention that making poetry entails more than just writing for me, and conclude with some thoughts about why blogging has become so central to all this. Check it out (and if you have any feedback, feel free to comment on this post or drop me a line).

A note to email subscribers

email avalancheMy apologies to everyone who signed up for an email subscription to this site and is accustomed to getting maybe a dozen emails a year. As you’ve no doubt just been surprised and/or irritated to discover, I’ve begun archiving my Facebook links and Twitter posts in a bid to gain more control over my social media content. I was so proud of myself for getting that set up correctly, all siloed off from the main index page, I completely forgot that I’ve been encouraging people to subscribe to everything by email with a sidebar widget. But then when I did remember last night, I was thinking I probably only had three or four subscribers anyway. Imagine my surprise to see that there were 37!

My guess is that most of you signed up for the brewing-related posts. If that’s the case, I’d encourage you to unsubscribe from the emails and add the RSS feed for the brewing category to your favorite feed reader. (Beer geeks all do feed readers, right?) If there’s enough interest, however, I would be willing to set up an email newsletter via Feedburner or Mailchimp for the brewing posts. Please leave a comment (or, you know, email) if you’d be interested in that.

New Videos page

I’ve added a top-level page here to display a sampling of videopoems made for my own work, including my on-going series in support of Breakdown: Banjo Poems, and seven films by the Belgian musician and videopoet Swoon (Marc Neys). Given my attitude that the print version of a poem is not necessarily the last word, I think it’s important for my author website to include such a section right next to, and therefore symbolically on a par with, the Books page on the main navigation menu. (Also, I’m damned proud of those Swoon videopoems!)

I’m using a plugin that should re-size the videos to fit whatever screen you’re using. Please let me know if things aren’t displaying correctly.


For years I dithered about whether to register this domain. Then two years ago, another Dave Bonta made things simple for me by registering it himself. Since he’s an author too, and is doing good work by promoting small-scale solar power, I didn’t begrudge him that. Then last week it occurred to me to see what he was up to, only to find that the domain was no longer in use. On a whim I went ahead and registered it, then contacted the previous owner to make sure he hadn’t let it go accidently. I don’t think he’ll mind if I share part of his very genial response:

I originally got the Dave Bonta website for my books, New Green Home Solutions and New Solar Home.

It was part of the deal I made with my co-author, Steve Snyder. I let it lapse after a couple of years (as the books became older) so I would be happy to have you take it over, since it was more about published works than solar. I actually have another blog, Green Guru, Dave Bonta that allows me to pontificate on RE [renewable energy] issues (and facebook, etc, where I never get the time to update anyway…) so I am happy to let you have the other. As a poet, it makes sense that you would have it.

Nice guy, right? But the question remains: given that Via Negativa is already my home base on the open web, what do I really need this site for? I’ve always been sort of opposed to the notion of building a personal brand. I guess I figure that if Via Negativa ever morphs into a full-fledged group blog, it would be good to have this in reserve. In the meantime, I suppose I’ll go ahead and set up a books page. Beyond that, I’m not sure. Maybe some homebrewing recipes, or other things that don’t quite fit on any of my other sites? If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments.