Newborn.

A book manuscript I thought I was only half done writing suddenly came together into a draft. A draft that runs…maybe a little on the long side. I’d thought the book was so far from being done that I had started flirting with another manuscript I saw coming together, even though those poems feel more troubled to me, need more work.

I had been working/revising with a paper draft of the (good) poems, loosely thrown together in a haphazard order, when, while driving from Detroit to DC, the appropriate structure for the book struck me. For a month I kept that idea at a low boil in my head, and earlier this week I started putting the plan into action.

I retyped them into a new document page by page. It took about four hours. (Naturally, in the midst of this I had to eat dinner, play my guitar, etc, so it wasn’t four constant hours. But close.)

The exercise–retyping drafts–is one that I’ve come to find essential. I retype my poems from scratch several times throughout my writing process now. It helps me shake off any unnecessary words or phrases, like how transplanting a potted plant allows you to shake loose the old, unhealthy soil.

And when I feel cringe-y when typing something, I just cut it from the draft, even if it means putting myself on the spot to rewrite the ending or come up with something new for the piece.

There is something about working with the manuscript holistically, from the start to finish, that means the arc of the book is preserved and the language and diction remain fairly consistent. Of course, it also means I sometimes grasp at straws and throw in something that’s all wrong–but generally, it’s better than what was there and it’s closer to what it should be.

I printed the manuscript off and, for the last few days, I’ve felt like I’ve been in that aura of having-just-met-someone-you-really-like. I steal glances at the stack of pages on my desk. I flip through it gently, marveling at my turns of genius. I want to call people I know and say, “I think I’ve met the one!”

All of this, but I know after some time, the newness will wear off. We will slip back into our routines and, while we will still care for each other, it won’t ever be so perfect. I’m good with that. When the aura wears off, I can tinker with the poems again.

But for now, I’m enjoying the glow.

Two words

I was so eager to have Suzanne Frischkorn’s new book Girl on a Bridge that I accidentally ordered it twice!

And oddly, both packages arrived on the same day.

I’m keeping the one Suzanne signed to me, but I’d like to do a promotion to give away my other copy–FOR FREE!

Go to Facebook and find this post in my profile–then comment and tell me what you think the most beautiful combination of two words in the English language is.

“Cellar door” is excluded from consideration.

Love,
Charlie

Cosmic Coincidence

Last night at Story/Stereo, I discovered:


Tony and I wore the same shirt to the event. What are the odds? That has certainly never happened to me before.

In a related story, I saw one of the contestants on Ru Paul’s Drag Race wearing a sweater I own.


When Kathleen read from this collection, I suddenly recognized one of the pieces, “Conversation with a Sensualist,” as one Sarah Vap and I selected for Hayden’s Ferry Review in 2002.

Her new pieces from her manuscript-in-progress, Atomic City, are fantastic. Be on the look out for them.

To be in good company

is humbling.

Lambda Literary Award Nominees

Gay Poetry
* Breakfast with Thom Gunn, by Randall Mann (University of Chicago Press)
* The Brother Swimming Beneath Me, by Brent Goodman (Black Lawrence Press)
* The First Risk, by Charles Jensen (Lethe Press)
* Sweet Core Orchard, by Benjamin S. Grossberg (University of Tampa Press)
* What the Right Hand Knows, by Tom Healy (Four Way Books)

Congratulations to my fellow nominees!

Happy birthday, Arden!

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Today is Arden’s fourth birthday! In honor of the occasion, she asked that I share some of her impressive stats and fun trivia with you:

Name
Arden Lily Jensen

Nicknames
Arden Lily, Ardentina (as in “Don’t cry for me, Ardentina”), Ardenza (rhymes with “credenza”), Bug, Lady, Lil, Missy, Muffin, Muppet, My Boo, Nugget, Snugglebunny, Stinkerbell, Stinkerella

Astrological sign and dominant traits
Capricorn: can be hard-working and obedient but also stubborn when she wants something

Commands learned
10: Sit, lay down, stay, come here, shake, crate, get down, go to bed, up, kisses

Prefers
Larger, hairier dogs who are dominant

Dislikes
Knocking, door buzzers, chatter in the stairwell, poorly behaved children

Secret shame
Consistently sneaks in and eats cat food

Favorite treats
Rawhide chews with Omega-3 for sensitive skin, any kind of biscuit treat

Great accomplishment last year
Losing 6 pounds! Good job, lady.

And now, a trip down memory lane:

Arden 7
Her first day at home (7 weeks)

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After she learned to climb the stairs on her own.

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Cozied up during a chilly Arizona winter!

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Hanging out at home with dad.

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Showing off her Christmas parka and Pablo, her fake boyfriend until she chewed open his flank.

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Her first “glamour shot” (vaseline on the lens)

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Awww…who can go to work after seeing a face like that?

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Lounging in the summer sun at Grandma and Papa’s house while dad’s out of town.

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Still as “Offred” from her one-woman production of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

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Dressed for dinner the only time she’s been able to fly back to Phoenix to see Grandma and Papa.

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In DC with her new stepsister Kitty.

Happy birthday, beautiful!

My Favorite Albums of 2009

ALBUM OF THE YEAR


Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It’s Blitz
Music Math: New Order + Garbage / Smashing Pumpkins + Scissor Sisters
Best Tracks: “Zero,” “Heads Will Roll,” “Shame and Fortune,” “Hysteric”
Representative Lyrics: “Shake it like a ladder to the sun / Makes me feel like a madman on the run / Find it never, never far gone / So get your leather, leather, leather on on on on”
Notes: The new evolution of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is much more electropop than their last album. Veritable dance floor anthems are nestled among more lilting ballads, but the overarching connection seems to be the synthesizer and its many, many guises. Karen O’s voice sounds fantastic on this record.