Jim Harrison has passed on. Not too long ago he said “at my age you don’t think about the future because you don’t have one” but that is true only in the narrowest sense. His future is assured, because his words are still with us. I don’t think Jim really saw time as finite anyway. He was too busy experiencing life and thinking about how it felt and how to express the beauty of the world and all of us in it.
His novels are beautifully written and always humane. He loved people, but understood their foibles, failures and ultimate transcendence. He loved the natural world as only a person who lived in it can do.
I’m not sure there are too many writers like him anymore. Nor will there be.
Though best known for his fiction and essays (and large appetites), Jim was first and foremost a poet: “in poetry our motives are utterly similar to those who made cave paintings or petroglyphs, so that studying your own work of the past is to ruminate over artifacts, each one a signal, a remnant of a knot of perceptions that brings back to life who and what you were at that time, the past texture of what has to be termed as your ‘soul life’.”
His latest book of poems is Dead Man’s Float, published by Copper Canyon Press, in which this poem is found.
Warm enough here in Patagonia AZ to read
the new Mandelstam outside in my underpants
which is to say he was never warm enough
except in summer and he was without paper to write
and his belly was mostly empty most of the time
like that Mexican girl I picked up on a mountain road
the other day who couldn’t stop weeping. She had slept
out two nights in a sweater in below-freezing weather.
She had been headed to Los Angeles but the coyote
took her money and abandoned her in the wilderness.
Her shoes were in pieces and her feet bleeding.
I took her to town and bought her food. She got a ride
to Nogales. She told us in Spanish that she just wanted
to go home and sleep in her own bed. That’s what Mandelstam
wanted with mother in the kitchen fixing dinner. Everyone
wants this. Mandelstam said, “To be alone is to be alive.”
“Lost and looked in the sky’s asylum eye.” “What of
her nights?” Maybe she was watched by some of the fifty
or so birds I have in the yard now. When they want to
they just fly away. I gave them my yard and lots of food.
They smile strange bird smiles. She couldn’t fly away.
Neither can I though I’ve tried a lot lately to migrate
to the Camargue on my own wings. When they are married,
Mandelstam and the Mexican girl, in heaven they’ll tell
long stories of the horrors of life on earth ending each session
by chanting his beautiful poems that we did not deserve.
My good friend, long time publisher and poet Allan Kornblum passed away November 23, 2014. He was only 65, and will be missed by many. Coffee House Press, which he and Cinda Kornblum founded as the successor to the earlier and more informal Toothpaste Press, has been in Minneapolis for over 30 years now, and has become a hugely important literary organization in its local community and far beyond, with national and international reach.
Allan and I first met in the mid-seventies when we attended a range of small press bookfairs around the country, and we shared many interests, both in poetry and in book production. Toothpaste was an early participant in the tiny midwestern literary project I started in 1976 called Truck Distribution Service.
When I traveled to Iowa to sell independently published literary books to local bookstores, I would stay with Allan and Cinda in their house in West Branch (proudly known as the birthplace of Herbert Hoover). They taught me alot about the local literary community and history, and as Allan became more involved in letterpress printing, Allan beautifully produced books and ephemera for my Truck Press (and later for Jim Sitter’s Bookslinger, the successor to Truck Distribution, Allan turned out a long list of beautifully produced broadsides and small books). The list of great books published by Allan and Coffee House is pretty incredible. Visit the press’ website to learn more about what Allan and his colleagues have accomplished, and to see the vibrant work the now well-established nonprofit press is doing today. Some really excellent publishing is going on there, and has been for a long time; no better legacy for Allan could be imagined than the books this press produces.
In later years, we I did not see Allan much more than once a year at the annual booksellers’ conventions, but we kept in contact, did business together, and always shared news of each other’s work and family. I interviewed Allan for Writerscast as part of the Publishing Talks series as I think the history of independent publishing needs to be documented, and first hand accounts by those involved seem to me the best way to preserve some of the knowledge and experiences of an important era in publishing. You can listen to it here if you want to get a feel for Allan and his work.
One moment with Allan still stands out for me. Probably six or seven years ago, when Amazon was first promoting digital conversion of print books, they put on presentations to publishers and distributors to convince us to convert as many of our books as possible to digital formats. I was perhaps naively convinced aready that the reflowable ebook format would be a great boon to reading. But Allan stood up and asked the pointed question – “What happens to the carefully designed pages we create for our books in this new digital format?” The Amazon representative bluntly stated something to the effect that “designed pages don’t matter in our ebooks.” That answer did not satisfy Allan, and somewhat presciently, he told me that this lack of interest and concern for design would be a big problem for e-readers and e-reading. How right he was then, and sadly, his views then about ebook design matters are still meaningful today. As he knew so well, the interaction between the reader and the word is where the magic of reading comes alive.
As some of you may know, I am working with Frederator Studios on a digital publishing program called Frederator Books. We are experimenting in all sorts of ways, mostly doing creative new ebooks for kids of all ages. Frederator is the brainchild of long time media genius Fred Seibert. We did a video interview together in December 2013 and posted the unedited audio track to Soundclound. It’s a bit long and covers a lot of ground, but anyone interested in media and animation will find Fred’s conversation interesting and constructive. We talked about Fred’s background and experience in a long and innovative career, what Frederator is doing now and in the future, and also about what we are trying to do in digital publishing.
You can listen to the entire interview here. Sometime later in 2014, I will post an edited version of the interview at Writerscast also.
Frederator Studios was founded by Fred Seibert in 1998. Since then the company has produced 16 series & over 200 short films including The Fairly OddParents, Fanboy & Chum Chum, and Adventure Time. Our shows are on Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, Cartoon Network, and Channel Frederator. Frederator is in producing partnership with Sony Pictures Animation and YouTube.
Cartoon Hangover is the studio’s television channel distributed on YouTube, launched in November 2012. Pendleton Ward’s Bravest Warriors (developed by Breehn Burns, Will McRobb & Chris Viscardi) was the first hit series, followed by James Kochalka’s SuperF*ckers, and the Too Cool! Cartoons.
Frederator Networks’ pioneering Internet animation channels began in 2005 with Channel Frederator, and has expanded to include The Wubbcast, ReFrederator and Cartoon Hangover.
– See more here.
Here’s the “standard” Fred biography.
PennSound is an incredible project established by Al Filreis and Charles Bernstein with tremendous support from the University of Pennsylvania, collecting poetry in audio form from an incredible array of sources. There really isn’t anything like it anywhere. There are historical recordings, so many of which are fantastic and powerful, that it is almost impossible to know where to start. All the poets whose work matters to me are here. And there are many voices from the recent past and the present as well. You can spend hours on this site and of course you will never be able to experience the full range of what they have, there is just too much. And there is new work added or highlighted every day! Amazing. For anyone interested in the sound of writing, this is a site you must visit.
PennSound Daily is written by Michael S. Hennessey.
Want to read more?
- Control the number of PennSound Daily entries you’re viewing with the drop-down box at the top of the page, or
- visit the PennSound Daily archive.
You can subscribe to PennSound Daily with your favorite RSS feed reader. Or, use this link to add PennSound Daily to your Google Reader or iGoogle homepage.
If you are interested in self publishing (and who isn’t these days?), there are so many options and choices, it’s not so easy to figure out what your best pathway is. And it will differ depending on what kind of writing you do, how much you have published in the past, and what your goals are as a writer.
There are all kinds of resources for writers who want to self publish, and there is something new going on almost every day that could be useful, valuable or interesting to writers (and some publishers) in the universe of self publishing.
Since so much of my work relates to publishing and options for writers, I decided to follow new developments and doings in the self publishing arena, and highlight some of those I think will be most useful to writers. You can find my Self Publishing News on Tumblr. Please take a look, and if you like what you see, you can follow my posts pretty easily. I’ll be posting 3-5 times a week, depending on my workload and what kind of interesting news I can uncover. I hope you find this little site useful. Feel free to send links and news items my way whenever you find something you think is interesting or valuable to writers.
Coming soon: a new interview series focusing on Self Publishing How To. Video and audio interviews with experts and successful writers talking about what works and what doesn’t, always practical and useful information and ideas for writers and anyone who might be self publishing their work.
Just like millions of other Americans we were hammered pretty hard by this hurricane, in our small Connecticut town 99% of homes lost power, and as of today, September 2, still more than 55% of homes are without power. We got ours back last night, thankfully, but still do not have internet. Without a good connection, posting interviews is painfully difficult. I have several great interviews ready to post, next being with Dean Bakopoulos about his excellent novel My American Unhappiness. I hope to have a new Publishing Talks interview posted by next week also.
Our other big news is that Livewriters, our book and author video site, had its best traffic month in August, surpassing 70,000 unique visitors. We are posting ever more interesting interviews, readings and discussions with authors about their books there, plus featuring just about every book trailer there is. And if you want to enjoy a lively literary blog experience, visit Livewires, a fresh look at the literary landscape.
During the storm, I had plenty of time to read (print books by candlelight and flashlight, ebooks with the device’s own light) and am looking forward to talking to the authors of quite a few wonderful books, including My Green Manifesto, Just Bill, Confronting Collapse, and Duet.
My best wishes to all who suffered in and after the storm, and condolences to all those who died in it.
I have been posting two podcasts a week for the better part of the last year, which has been great fun. But with the summer in full swing, weather wonderful and plenty of work in the hopper, it looks like I may be posting slightly less frequently for the next couple of months. I’m not reading fewer books, but scheduling interviews seems to be more difficult in the summer too. And publishers and technologists take vacations! I do have some really good interviews coming along soon: Anna Lappe, Nick Mamatas, Dean Bakopoulos among other writers, and Kate Wilson of the great new kids publisher Nosy Crow for Publishing Talks. And there will be more.
I’ve also started a new website I hope you will visit – it’s called New Book Media (newbookmedia.com) featuring a long list of digital book events around the world, and a steady stream of news and information about the wildly expanding world of digital publishing. Livewriters.com now has more than 2500 book and author related videos, and is still the only website focused exclusively on video about books, along with an entertaining and original literary blog called LiveWires.
If you’ve read a great book lately I want to know about it. Direct message your recommendations to @writerscast.
Nina Sankovitch has been an inspiration for me. From October 2008 to October 2009 she read a book a day and wrote about it (intelligently and cogently) at her website ReadAllDay. Here’s what she says about why she did it: “I began my year in an effort to come to terms with the tragic death of my oldest sister, Anne-Marie, and to find purpose and meaning in my life. I called my year of reading The 365 Project.”
I’ve sent her some books to read and she has given me lots of suggestions for books I have read, and in some cases then interviewed authors for Writerscast. We’ve liked some of the same books, but judging from her site, she and I have very different reading interests. Knowing that has helped me choose some new directions, which I think is a great way to keep from falling into a reading rut.
Meanwhile, Nina’s year of reading adventure was discovered and written about by the New York Times and a number of other media outlets, and she even got a book deal. Her book is called Tolstoy and the Magic Chair: My year of magical reading will be published in June by Harper. I certainly plan to read it and interview her about it too. I’m jealous and dumbstruck with admiration for what she has done.
Anyway, the reason I am writing about Nina is because she has launched a redesigned website that I think is worth a visit. She is continuing to read and write reviews about books of all sizes and shapes – not every day of course, but more books than most people can read and write about intelligently. Here’s how she does it:
HOW TO READ All DAY
Always have a book with you.
Read while waiting.
Read while eating.
Read while exercising.
Read before bed.
Read before getting out of bed.
Read instead of updating FB.
Read instead of watching TV.
Read instead of vacuuming.
Read while vacuuming.
Read with a book group.
Read with your kid.
Read with your cat.
Read to your dog.
Read on a schedule.
Always have a book with you.
Thank you Nina!
Well not really. I’ve been posting author and book industry interviews at Writerscast now for just about two years, and while I like to feel that the work speaks for itself, I’ve often felt the need to share information and news with my (growing) audience. Aside from Twitter, which is lovely but oh-so-brief, there really has been no way for me to talk about matters related to the site and its content here.
By introducing this little section of Writerscast dubbed “Pipeline,” I can let you know when I come across interesting publishing related news, talk about books that may not be among those whose authors I interview, or just tell you when I am going on vacation and won’t be posting new interviews for a few days. I’ll spare you any thought pieces or pontifications about publishing here (saving that for www.booktrix.com.)
In Pipeline I can also tell you about some of the upcoming posts on Writerscast, or other sites I have discovered I think you should know about, information I hope will be helpful to everyone who visits this site.
For example, my next author interview is with Mickey Leigh about his memoir, I Slept with Joey Ramone. My next Publishing Talks interview is with the always interesting Rick Richter, who has founded a new digital publishing company called Ruckus Media. I think you will enjoy both of these talks.
Please feel free to email me, David Wilk, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your suggestions, comments, complaints, etc. are always welcome. Praise too, if you hear something you really like at Writerscast. I’m always looking for interesting people to interview, so let me know who is out there I should be talking to and how to reach them.
And for those of you, like me, buried in snow, just remember that spring is less than 60 days away!