How about we soften that a bit to just something more like "The Next Thing" or something. So the tagging that's going around asking questions about what people are working on next finally ended up tagging me (Though I have to admit it was more like "Who wants to be tagged?" and I said "I guess I do.") Now I get to go tag five people!
What is your working
title of your book (or story)?
Where did the idea come
from for the book?
was no idea, really, not at first. I sat
down one day after having written a lot of poems where I didn’t use the first
person, and I thought it might be nice to try a direct address to the reader, a
kind of pretend conversation or something.
Something about what was happening that day, full of the names and
places and dates, and what I thought about, what my views were on all manner of
what I thought over time, but on day one, I just sat down to write in the first
person, and I’d just finished re-reading John Cage’s SILENCE, so I put on an album of his compositions, titled In a Landscape. I titled my poem that, out of convenience, and
when I felt like that poem was over, I started another, and used the same
title, just to keep things simple. I was
several poems/sections in before I realized what I was doing.
the final say, it’s a book-length poem in 71 discrete sections, each titled “In
a Landscape,” and numbered and presented in compositional order (with a couple
shufflings due to bad book-keeping), and each composed while listening to that
album. I wrote mostly in the mornings, and then
added to and tinkered with them here and there over the last couple years. When I add something, I usually go ahead and
put in the new date.
What genre does your
book fall under?
(though one could call it memoir, or diary or essay, if one felt like thinking
of it that way)
Which actors would you
choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
it would be a documentary if it were filmed, I’d have us all play ourselves,
but maybe with stunt doubles for the ify parts.
“Actor re-creations.” Maybe Martin Freeman, the guy who plays Bilbo
Baggins in The Hobbit could play me,
but they’d have to thin his hair out a lot. He doesn't look anything like me, but he plays
What is the
one-sentence synopsis of your book?
person at middle age is thinking about children, friends, family, music, books,
films, love, embarrassment, the dead, God, and lunch, while trying not to make
Will your book be
self-published or represented by an agency? (if this applies - otherwise, make
up another question to answer!)
will come out through BOA in 2015
How long did it take
you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
2009 through December 2009
What other books would
you compare this story to within your genre?
Lowell’s Life Studies, because of the
theme? But that makes me sound like I’m
puffing myself up, so I’ll kind fo take it back but leave it in anyway. Other people are doing really interesting things
right now with stories and parts of autobiography in poetry: Kate Greenstreet, Craig
Morgan Teicher, just to name a couple.
But probably the book it has the most in common with is John Cage’s SILENCE, specifically his use of
autobiographical anecdotes here and there in a cut-up, methodically random
Who or what inspired
you to write this book?
was, I think, a direct reaction to working with G.C. Waldrep on the book Your Father on the Train of Ghosts,
which was collaborative, and written mostly in the second person. After that, I wanted to do something
completely different, as did he. This is
one of the things that ended up happening.
We both wrote book-length poems!
What else about your
book might pique the reader's interest?
some samples? Here are several sections
of the poem in one place, which maybe gives one a feeling for it:
then, as context: In late 2009, spilling over into 2010 and onward to now, I’ve
felt a bit splintered. As I’ve worked on
the autobiographical, essayistic, In a
Landscape, I’ve also taken little detours, culminating in three additional
manuscripts, and a collection of selected poems by Michael Benedikt that I’m
editing with Laura Boss, that I worked on during a period of forced
of my manuscripts is similar to the poems I wrote before Your Father on the Train of Ghosts, titled Radio Good Luck. The other
two are different, I think, than anything else I’ve published. The first is titled At Last the Festival Will Pay for Itself, and a little series of
those poems can be found here: