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1000 Black Lines

:: digital coffee stains on the paper of the blogosphere ::


Flash fiction + Asheville = Flasheville.com

Flasheville published "Another Empty Glass" over the weekend.

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Woah, more stuff published

A poetry chapbook review I wrote will be published in next month's The Indie and an essay (expanded from this post) will be published in the next issue of Wander magazine. Again, no pay except braggin' rights.

I'm writing more chapbook reviews. Two reasons: one, it's a niche audience which no one seems to be covering and two, it promotes a side of literature that is often overlooked. Chapbooks are kind of like the alternative/punk music side of literature. If you have chapbooks you'd like me to review, then e-mail me.

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Do writers write for money? Plus where did all the bohemians go?

Last year almost 8,000 words I've written were published in three separate publications. I know, I know... it's a small amount. Atlantic Monthly publishes a single article with that word count. Among the published pieces include five poems and almost a dozen essays, reviews and articles. Not a bad for someone who is not a full-time writer.

This year, my desire is to double that (i.e. 16,000 to 20,000 words in six publications).

One poem has been published already! A poetry book review and poem will be published in two separate publications. Currently, I'm wrapping up final edits on an essay to be submitted later this week.

Not that I'm complaining, but none of these published works pay (except for publishing credits). Still, I must ask: do writers write for money? Or do they write because destiny dictates it?


On another note:
Thursday night I'll be attending Blind Date with Poetry at Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe. Michael Beadle is the featured poet. Blind Date with Poetry begins at 6:30 PM with a thirty-minute open mic (be there by 6 PM if you want to read because the sign up list fills quickly) and concludes with the featured poet reading from his or her work.

There's another open mic. . .
Later that night at Courtyard Gallery & Studio, from 8 to 11 PM hosted by Jarrett Leone. Sign up starts at 7:30pm. For all the beautiful souls who used to attend Beanstreets (before it expired) and Indigenous (before it went the way of the buffalo), Courtyard Open Mic is the place to be.

Last week I heard a preview of the Fringe Arts Festival, a maestro guitarist play a cover of an Arcade Fire and didge players performing their single-note drones.Several poets were in attendance as well.

Afterwards, I was invited to join some of the open mic-ers at Rosetta's Kitchen for food and brew. We sat around a table and discussed various topics from what happened to the poetry scene in Asheville to what's the difference between a language poet and a beat poet to Greenville, South Carolina's growing poetry scene to whether geography and spirituality are connected. I can't speak for the others but I enjoyed the gathering. I just need to remind myself not to drink a heavy porter when I have to work the next morning.

I'd hate to miss the Courtyard Open Mic, but two events in one night are tough for a guy who has to be up at 6 AM. Still, I'll try to be at both events.


And furthermore...
I've been updating the header art to this blog. Here's one preview of coming changes and here's another preview.

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Blog maintenance

In an effort to provide a well-focused blog, I am making changes to links and blogrolls. The reason behind this decision is simple: cater to everyone and blog becomes boring, cater to a niche audience and the right people will seek it.

You are the right people--salud!

Also, I will be updating the header art in order to reflect certain changes in my salon.

Making art with spills and splatters

All My Nights Turn Inside Out
Each year one of my many annual goals is to paint at least four new paintings (see right side panel for the last two years' results). Last year my paintings took on a dramatically different direction thanks to my four-year-old son. From what his pediatrician says, his drawings are a bit advanced for his age but by no means does this mean he is a child prodigy.

Still, his drawings of people capture my imaginations. Through his eyes I see that paintings of people don't need all the details of Rembrandt or Jan Vermeer van Delft to communicate. There's also innocence with mixing paint directly on the canvas that he really enjoys. Since he lacks complete understanding of Joseph Alber's interaction of colors, he doesn't realize that all colors fade to gray if you're not careful. And yet, gray can be a lovely background.

Retreat to the Stronghold
Happy accidents occurred and enhanced the experience of painting--a child's approach to painting; having fun. It's why I pursued the arts in high school and later at the university. Yet, there is a discipline to making art.

The first step to making art is designating time to produce it and committing to the task. Many of my former classmates from the university "played" and are currently busy with life and other matters of consequence. In the small book Art & Fear David Bayles and Ted Orland discuss this topic and offer a lucid observation--many art students pursue art making merely to achieve a degree and hang a senior art exhibit. In a recent essay, David Hollander states the same observation (regarding poets and writers): "The goal is not to get a degree." The goal of art making is to share your individual vision and that takes a life of discipline.

Curly Dreams of Yesterday
Last summer I read about some recently uncovered Pollack paintings ("Is This a Real Jackson Pollock?" May 29, 2005, Sunday by Randy Kennedy). I got goose pimples with excitement. Could it be true? Are there really undiscovered Pollock paintings? I was giddy as I read the article in The New York Times.

I wanted to spill paint everywhere. My son thought it was quite an exciting idea too. However, once the paint hit the canvas he had the urge to mix the paint into a gray soup. I compromised and let him work the backgrounds as I handled the main subject; copper creatures of imagination.

Some fathers, I am sure, have other ways of engaging their children in activity like trips to the park, hikes in the mountains or visits to apple festivals. I do all those things as well, but somehow making art with my four-year-old expressionist seems for more fulfilling.

I'm Putting on My Socks
During Colonial America, it is purported that children began practicing the trade of their father around the age of five. Meaning that if the father were a merchant then the son would accompany his father to the shop and be useful for one day he would be in charge of the family business. The son would even wear similar wardrobe of his father (i.e. a blacksmith's son dressed like his father and a farmer's son dressed like his father).

So, if you see a father and son with black bandanas wrapped around their skulls, wearing paint splattered jeans, and spilling paint on canvases to loudly played ska tunes--that would be us making art and making memories.

I don't know if I'll continue the spill and splatter approach to painting. If I do it will have to be refined quite a bit. My goal is still to produce a minimum of four paintings by the end of the year.

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The Blotter publishes poem

The Blotter published my poem, "The Last American Chestnut Tree," in the January issue.

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Narrative Non-Fiction Comics: part 4

Last week I sent the first installment of a narrative non-fiction comic strip storyline to an editor [read more about that here]. I just received an email from him this morning. He writes: "The comics are bitchin' good. Excellent work."

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Less blog, more quality

For the last 60 days I've been keeping a time management journal. This is partly due to new job responsibilities at work. However, I've also been keeping the journal for home life as well.

Interestingly, I found I could spend more time reading if I took the bus to work (45 minutes) versus driving to work (only takes me 15 minutes to drive to work, but no reading time). I am somewhat shocked to learn how much time I waste blogging. One week I logged almost 18 hours of blog time. Most weeks it's an average of 10 hours. Think how much writing I could accomplish if I spent more energy writing new poems and prose.

Silliman's resolution this year may be mine as well (though I am not as prolific as he)--less blog, more quality work.

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The World’s Fastest Readings

Just got back from the world's "second fastest reading" (according to Peter Turchi) at Malaprop's. Twelve MFA faculty members from Warren Wilson College read from their published work. Each member was given roughly three and half minutes to read.

Last year I attended the first Warren Wilson MFA faculty reading [read here and here.]. This year they scaled it back a bit; from 18 to 12 readers.

WLOS had a camera crew filming portions of the event. I guess Asheville residents may see it on channel 13 tonight (I don't own a television so I'll check AshVegas' blog to see if it was even aired).

Overall it was a good event. I must confess the first reader, whom I cannot recall, didn't attract my attention and my adult ADD kicked in and I started writing stream of consciously in my notebook. Adria Bernardi read an excerpt from her novel which brought me back to the event and Justin Grotz delivered a fine reading of fiction as well as Peter Turchi.

Somehow the poets didn't quite do it for me tonight. Maybe I'm overly critical of poets. Maybe the poets didn't want to be there tonight. However, the second to the last reader, Steve Orlen, read a single poem that worked; and worked well.

After the event, I chatted with a gentleman who hosts Malaprop's Blind Date with Poetry. He also happens to be one of the members of Eye For An Iris Press. With all the celebrated and award winning poets and writers gathered at Malaprop's, I spent the most time conversing with this gentleman.

There's something that has been preventing me from completing my application for the MFA program at Warren Wilson College. I thought it was simply intimidation, but I think it goes deeper than that. I can't put my finger on it right now, but I intend to explore it later.

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Recycling old magazines

If you've read one writing magazine, then you've pretty much read them all. Over the years I've collected stacks of magazines on "50 places to sell your first novel," "6 keys to dramatic dialogue," "how to get your book in editors' hands" and other such things. During the holidays I placed most of the old magazines in the recycling bin. Those magazines of merit I decided to bind--by hand.

I've never hand-bound a book before let alone five magazines that have been heavily dog-eared and highlighted. So I went to the library and later did some online research. My son watched as I sewed the books together. He really enjoyed the measuring of items and played delightfully with the scraps. He placed the scraps into a toy freight car and had his train deliver them to places near the salt and pepper shakers.

The gluing was a bit tricky as I don't have the proper bookbinding glue and the cloth I used was from an old work shirt that had seen better days. Using an old shirt distressed my son because, as he puts it, "I don't like change Daddy." However, putting the book together was like a 3-D puzzle which was quite and activity for a Saturday afternoon.

After looking at the completed book, I realize it turned out better than expected. Nothing pretty and I'm sure people in the book arts community might wag their heads at such an effort. Next time I'll do the end papers better and sewing the magazines together could have been done better as well.

Tonight, is the Warren Wilson MFA faculty reading at Malaprop's. I'll write about that later tonight.

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Poet Khalil Gibran

The poet Khalil Gibran was born in Bsharri, Lebanon on this day in 1883. He is most famously known for his slim book of 28 chapters, The Prophet.

It was that book that inspired a series of paintings I did a couple years ago [see right sidebar paintings "Pain," "Giving," "Marriage" and "Buying & Selling"]. The paintings I created were based both on his lyrical works as well as the illustrations that accompanied the manuscript.

Though The Prophet is his most well known book, there are others of note. The Broken Wings hauntingly begins: "My neighbors, you remember the dawn of youth with pleasure and regret it's passing; but I remember it like a prisoner..." I acquired an old used copy through Ebay and it has been a constant source of inspiration.

Another book that rests beside my laptop is The Storm which collects over a dozen short stories and poems including The Soul:
The Great God separated a soul from His own essence and fashioned beauty within her.
He gave her the mildness of the evening breezes, the fragrance of wildflowers, the gentleness of moonlight.
He gave her a cup of happiness and said, 'Drink of it only if you forget the past and are heedless of the future.'
He gave her a cup of sorrow and said, 'Drink of it and apprehend the essence of life's joy.'
He scattered within her love that will desert her at the first sigh of fulfillment and a sweetness that will desert her at the first world of pride.
From heave He sent down knowledge upon her to guide her on the paths of truth.
Deep within her He placed discernment to see what cannot be seen.
In her He created a yearning that flows with dreams and runs with spirits.
He clothed her with a robe of longing, woven by angels from rainbow threads.

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Warren Wilson MFA faculty Public Readings

The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College Public Schedule
Readings will begin at 8:15 pm in the Fellowship Hall behind the Chapel unless indicated otherwise.

READINGS - 8:15 pm
by MFA faculty and graduating students

Friday, January 6
Marianne Boruch, Peter Turchi, Mary Leader

Saturday, January 7
No readings on campus, but come to “The World’s Fastest Readings” by MFA faculty at Malaprop’s, 55 Haywood Street. Reception at 5:30 pm; readings start at 6:00 pm.

Sunday, January 8
Rick Barot, Wilton Barnhardt, Karen Brennan, Antonya Nelson, Eleanor Wilner

Monday, January 9
Brooks Haxton, C.J. Hribal, Martha Rhodes, Kevin Mcllvoy, Ellen Bryant Voigt

Tuesday, January 10
First night of graduating student readings: Scott Gould, Sandra Nadazdin, Tatjana Soli,
Rosalynde Vas Dias

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Something just arrived

Is it a gimmick? No. It's an inBubble Wrap package for me.

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The week before Christmas I announced that I won a book from inBubble Wrap (which is part of 800 CEO read) It arrived this afternoon.

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Funny thing about this whole thing is that I don't see myself as a CEO. But it's a book and I like to read a variety of subjects. Who knows, maybe I'll learn something I didn't know before.

What makes me chuckle (beside the silly title) is that cover design. It just screams corporate branding with the power red title which says "I'm in charge" as opposed to a power blue which says "I'm secure and confident." Notice the simple linear design? It suggests structure and order. Also, notice the "affordable" Xerox copied congratulation notice. That suggests a marketing team was absent during the meeting on how to present their free product.

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Narrative Non-Fiction Comics: part 3

The first installment is done. I'm a little bit nervous about sending it to the editor.

A couple months ago I began exploring the idea of literary comics; more specifically creative non-fiction comics [read more about that here].

I began sketching a 14-panel demo story [more details here] and showed the drawings to some other cartoonists at a monthly meeting. The narrative non-fiction comic strip was modestly received and they encouraged me on some drawing techniques.

Casually inspired by Harvey Pekar's American Splendor, Jessica Abel's Radio: An Illustrated Guide and Eddie Campbell's Alec McGarry, I began work on a narrative non-fiction comic strip storyline in five parts. Each strip, four panels, needed to be enough of a story to encourage a reader to come back next week. This would make it ideal for a weekly publication. The long term goal is weekly syndication (hah, stop laughing--everyone has dreams). The short term goal is a self-contained 5-page story.

Bitter Black Coffee, Issue 6, Summer 2005
The editor and publisher of a zine, Bitter Black Coffee, requested I put together this 5-page comic for an upcoming issue. In fact, the 14-panel demo story featured our intial meeting. So, this is a bit of a test run to see if I can complete something I started. We've been discussing this for over two months.

My personal goal (not the editor's) was to have all 20-panels drawn, lettered and inked by Thanksgiving. However, personal crisis, illness and a full time day job prevented me from meeting that deadline. So, I adapted and gave myself three more weeks. The week before Christmas all 20-panels (plus a few bonus ones) were completed and scanned and ready to send. Only one hitch (actually two)--I didn't have a name for the strip. Then I upgraded my laptop to Tiger and somehow lost the files I needed to email the editor. The naming of the comic strip still didn't come to me. The muse must be on vacation or holiday or something. Maybe she has the stomach flu like I had last week.

During the Christmas holiday I found myself flipping through a copy of Alec: How To Be An Artist and I thought of a working title. I told myself it was too simple and too silly, but I went with it. I haven't thought of anything else ingenious so the strip will be submitted with a working title. Maybe that's the whole Malcolm Gladwell thing about snap judgments and split-second decisions.

Last night I got the files ready to email. Tomorrow I submit the self-contained 5-page story to the editor and publisher of Bitter Black Coffee.

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Unpublished leftovers

These were to be posted last week (actually there was a lot of things I was planning to do last week), but a stomach flu hit the family *yuck* and I'm posting them today. These were done as a proposal/sample for a magazine. However, they were never published. Hope you enjoy holiday leftovers.

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:: Coffeehouse Junkie ::

10 years experience as a graphic designer and artist who has recently been promoted to management.

Publishes poetry, fiction and essays in obscure publications, eats critical theory articles for breakfast and digests ancient manuscripts for light reading.

Circumnavigates academia and is often found in dark corners of coffee shops writing in a note book.

Does not reply to comments, but reads every single one of them.

"Looking at 1000 Black Lines, the first impression you may to get is that of an old photocopied 'zine gone 21st century. Poems, essays, random journal entries, images and links to curious items of interest artfully litter the site.

Writer and graphic designer Matt Mulder launched the blog – a fusion of personal journal and professional portfolio... He began by linking to his articles, passing along writing tips, and posting poems ... from his published collection, Late Night Writing (Wasteland Press, 2004) – and curious readers began to take notice."
--Mountain Xpress

:: Regarding poetry from LATE NIGHT WRITING ::

"Feeling-good reading, almost like a Rimbaud sobering up with Miles Davis over tequila sunrises at Venice Beach on a windy September late afternoon."
--Pasckie Pascua, author of Vagrant Verses, Serpentine Summers

"These poems are for & of the quiet moments we mostly overlook & are doomed to lose, snapshots of what's been lost."
--Nate Pritts, author of The Happy Seasons

"Every time I read [Late Night Writing] I like it better. . . you paint word pictures, and I can see what you [see], and how you feel."
--Wayne P. James, poet

"I'm a big fan of the Late Night Writing... I can't tell you how many times I have enjoyed reading through this quality reading product. I really think this book will gain in popularity... When are you going to publish another book?"
--Coffeehouse Junkie's brother

:: LIT BIO ::

"A theory slut from Asheville--a true elite of the postmodernists."

"A New Products Manager ... from Asheville."
--The Blotter

"Has published one poetry chapbook--LATE NIGHT WRITING"