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.
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.
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.