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Infante's Inferno

Feb. 19th, 2014

07:59 am - IT'S ALIVE!!! Popping my head up before I disappear again for a few days ...

Gearing up to head out of here for a couple days. If you want to catch me tonight, I'll be down in NYC for the latest sestina shindig:

Reading for "The Incredible Sestina Anthology"
With Paul Muldoon, Scott Edward Anderson, Patricia Carlin, Victor D. Infante, Jason Schneiderman. Hosted by Daniel Nester.
NYU Bookstore
726 Broadway
New York, NY, 10003
6 p.m. Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Then, we're going to do something different and spend time with friends for a couple days. Because wow this winter was turning us into hermits, When I get back, it's mostly work, work, work. Now that my computer problems are resolved, time to get back to Radius and all the writing I was putting off.

Oh! And Saturday I'm reviewing Audra McDonald at the Hanover Theatre, which I'm rather excited about.

***

OK, some things happened while I was computer impaired. For instance, Radius published Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz's I’ve Got a Freaking Song In My Heart, So Come On, Let’s Go: Some Reflections on Maggie Estep.

Over on Telegram.com, I reviewed the latest from 33 Leaves and Andrew Scandal, and compiled a list of awesome love songs by local musicians. It was a Valentine's column, of course, but the songs are pretty much good year round.

Feb. 11th, 2014

09:10 am - Last Night in Cambridge, and Other Lost Tales ...

I've been a bit out of touch lately, between being busy and my computer slowly dying. Working to resolve the latter, but for the next week or so, I'll be spotty online. If you need me, best to call or text. Also, this is putting me even further behind on any work I do from home, including Radius. Hopefully, will be all tranistioned to a new machine ASAP.

Last night I read in the sestina anthology reading at Middlesex lounge in Cambridge, and I'll admit, I was a tad cocnerned about the turnout beforehand, as we were in a nontradiional poetry venue up against a couple fantastic readings. Turned out I needn't have fretted. We had a mostly full house, and the reading itself was marvelous. The lineup for this one was myself, Jade Sylvan, Meg Kearney, Michael Costello, Stephen Burt and Ravi Shankar, hosted by Daniel Nester. It was a great combination of voices.

One of the great thigns about this book is that the writers in it are all from wildly different worlds, which breaks up the danger of monotony from a book that's ... well ... all sestinas. They all read radically different. (For my part, I've been enjoying myself covering Anis Mojgani's "They Raised Violins." It kills every reading, and it's a blast exposing a writer as amazing as Anis to audiences who are largely unfamilair. But the real showstopper has been Jade's "real-life people slash sestinas," which have included pairings of Fitzgerald/Hemingway and Tolkein/Lewis. They've killed at both readings.

The next reading up, for me at least, is back in New York:

Reading for "The Incredible Sestina Anthology"
With Paul Muldoon, Scott Edward Anderson, Patricia Carlin, Victor D. Infante, Jason Schneiderman. Hosted by Daniel Nester.
NYU Bookstore
726 Broadway
New York, NY, 10003
6 p.m. Wednesday, February 19, 2014

There's more I've missed, I'm sure, but now I have to go get ready for work ...

Feb. 5th, 2014

07:27 am - 42

Harmless

Mostly harmless.

Feb. 1st, 2014

06:11 am - Off to New York City ..

Early morning for a Saturday. Headed to NYC for this:

New York Launch Reading of "The Incredible Sestina Anthology"
With David Lehman, Marilyn Nelson, Sharon Mesmer, Sparrow, Jade Sylvan, Victor D. Infante, Patricia Carlin, Ned Rust, Sharon Dolin, Scott Edward Anderson, Jason Schneiderman, Jeanne Marie Beaumont, Brendan Lorber. Hosted by Daniel Nester.
Poets House
Ten River Terrace (at Murray Street)
New York, NY 10282
Subway: 1, 2, 3, A or C lines to Chambers Street Station
3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014

Hope to see some of you there!

In the meantime, the feedback I've been getting on the Why We Should Suffer For This excerpts up on Amethyst Arsenic has been great. Will be jumping into the next draft in the next week or so. Hoping it will be the last one, but we'll see.

All right. Need more coffee ...

Jan. 31st, 2014

11:09 am - Rest in Peace, Dave Henshaw

I was saddened to hear about Dave Henshaw's passing the other day. I worked with Dave at the Telegram, when we were both working the copy desk, but I had actually met him very briefly years before -- the first time I lived in New England. I had just moved here and was figuring out what to do with myself, and began doing what everybody does when they find themselves back at tabula rasa: I began trying on everything I'd ever done previously, including acting. I had given up acting after a successful run as Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing. I found myself at a pivot point, and had to make a decision on a direction. I chose writing. And for the most part, I never regretted that choice.

But then, here I was in New England, with no job and no real direction. I knew people in the poetry scene, of course, but that's kind of a small pool to rebuild a life on. So ... acting. Why not give it a tumble again? I saw the the Barre Players were holding an audition for The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) -- a show I love and know well. So, naturally, I botched the audition something fierce. I left terribly defeated.

Anyway, years later, after I'd moved back to California and then back again to New England, I found myself working at the Telegram, nights on the copy desk, with the requisite cast of colorful characters that nights in a newsroom seem to attract.Dave was one of the copy editors working there at the time, and after a few weeks of wondering where I'd seen him before, I realized he was at that audition, the one where I embarrassed myself enough to swear off theater again.

Dave didn't remember the incident, which goes to show that things that are embarrassing to you are often inconsequential to other people, which is a lesson worth remembering. And if that's a strange story to memorialize Dave on, well ... I suppose they all are. Dave was a nice man, mildly theatrical, even in everyday life. He was erudite and literate, and a joy to talk to about books and theater (although sometimes it was hard to get him to stop talking :) One night, Dave and I thoroughly annoyed our colleagues by quoting tracts of Shakespeare and Yeats back at each other.

He was a nice man, and his presence has been missed at the office since his retirement. He's missed now.

Jan. 28th, 2014

08:10 am - 'Why We Should Suffer For This' excerpts in 'Amethyst Arsenic'

The new issue of Amethyst Arsenic is online, with the first published excepts from my work-in-progress, Why We Should Suffer For This, alongside poems by Chad Parenteau, Aaron Samuels, Judith Skillman and others. I was honored that editor Samantha Milowsky solicited them after hearing me read pieces at The Outlaw Stage, although I confess it feels a bit odd publishing excerpts from a thing before I'm entirely done writing it. Moreover -- and I encountered this at the reading Friday -- having to edit it down in such a way that it's basically cohesive and makes some sense to a reader demands some hard decisions. Here, we're only following one of the book's threads, and only following it so far. I favored sections from the early part of the book that most resembled poems, as that's a format both the journal's readers and whatever ones I bring to the party are familiar with. The sacrifice, of course, was narrative. But what are you gonna do? In any case, I'm happy to see it up there, and I hope people enjoy.

*****

Next up on the agenda:

New York Launch Reading of "The Incredible Sestina Anthology"
With David Lehman, Marilyn Nelson, Sharon Mesmer, Sparrow, Jade Sylvan, Victor D. Infante, Patricia Carlin, Ned Rust, Sharon Dolin, Scott Edward Anderson, Jason Schneiderman, Jeanne Marie Beaumont, Brendan Lorber. Hosted by Daniel Nester.
Poets House
Ten River Terrace (at Murray Street)
New York, NY 10282
Subway: 1, 2, 3, A or C lines to Chambers Street Station
3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014

Looking forward to this: An eclectic mix of poets representing an absolutely fantastic book. If you happen to be in NYC this weekend, come visit!

***

I wrote a light column for Pop Culture Notebook on the way people look at the Grammy Awards. Couldn't really comment on the ceremony itself, as I skipped it this year, but mostly, I just think people expect too much from what's mostly a trifle. Far more important -- and saddening -- was the news this morning that Pete Seegar has died. At age 94, that's perhaps not entirely surprising, but he was vital and active pretty much right up until the end. Still, his importance as both a songwriter and an activist is immense, and when I heard the news, it was hard not to feel like something was suddenly missing from the world.

Jan. 26th, 2014

07:25 pm - A Toast To All The Lassies

I'd been excited about the Hangover Hour's Robert Burns night at Nick's Bar and Restaurant for a while now. My intention was to have a few drinks, eat some haggis, and sit back and have a good time. Wasn't even planning on reading.

Then, at about noon, Dave Macpherson tells me that one of the traditions of a Burns Night is "A Toast To All the Lassies," and asks me if I can come up with something. I say "sure," even though the show is at 5 p.m.

After a suggestion  from Lea, this is what I came up with:

A Toast to All the Lassies

This is a toast to all the Lassies. For their heroics. Their inspiration. For pulling our asses out of the fire when we get into trouble. The ones who sounded the alarm any time that Timmy was in danger.

When he’d fallen into abandoned mine shafts, off cliffs, into rivers and lakes, into quicksand, but never the well

Because Timmy never actually did fall in the well, no matter how incompetent that stupid kid was. But this isn’t about him.

This is a toast to all the Lassies.

To Pal, the first and greatest of the Lassies, who stole a female dog’s role because she wouldn’t enter raging river rapids for the sake of a scene. Pal, who was rewarded for his bravery by spending the rest of his career a canine Joan Collins ...

To Pal, who lived to the ripe old age of 18, and to his son, Lassie Junior, and his grandsons, Spook and Baby, and their descendents Mire and Hey Hey, Boy and Howard, and most recently Junior — ten generations of mostly male dogs: Hollywood’s first drag queen dynasty.

To the Lassie that we never speak of, the dog who replaced Howard in the 1997 TV show, the first ever who wasn’t a descendant of Pal’s, whose career was short lived when fan outcry caused him to be replaced by Hey Hey II, and whose name appears to have been stricken from all records.

To whoever it is that names a dog “Hey Hey.”

To Mason, who also wasn’t descended from Pal, cursing his performance in the 2005 moviee, even though it was kind of cool that he was co-starring with a human who’s last name was also Mason. That sort of subtlety is lost on the critics.

To Mason’s stunt double Dakota, who did all the work and got even less credit.

And lastly, to Lassie’s direct descendents Bailey, Laddie, Sydney, Honey and Lil Lass,  who abandoned the family business to become therapy dogs, and Rusty, who now works for The Red Cross and comforted victims on 9-11 — these dogs who put their family’s fame to noble use. And to Phoenix and all the rest of Pal’s descendents, working the circuit and putting in public appearances, waiting for their time in the spotlight, waiting to bark when someone needs rescuing. But not from a well. That would be stupid.

Jan. 25th, 2014

10:52 am - Last night at Worcester Storytellers ...

Goodness gracious, that was a fun show. So terribly, terribly pleased with how the whole reading shook out, even though my being recently sick has evidently done a number on my voice. Sustaining it for a half an hour was a lot more work than usual. No matter. Seeing people crowd into that tiny bookstore was immensely rewarding, and the reaction afterward was humbling. Between that, and a nice note I had waiting for me in my email box from one of the tough-as-nails editors I had read the most recent draft, I'm mightily encourage to push forward with turning this manuscript into a book.

Next up, a sample of work from Why We Should Suffer For This will appear in the next issue of Amethyst Arsenic, which will be out any day now. I also recently got word that my poem The Curious Call will appear in the "Best of Poetry Crush" anthology, Book of Crushes, and my short story Unwinding the Crash will appear in the November issue of PoeticDiversity. Very pleased to be in both. Oh! And my poem Drunk Dialing the Paris Review, will be in the soon-to-come-out comedy issue of Barrelhouse, which was evidently delayed a bit.

**

If you're in Worcester, and want to stop and pick up a copy of my book, City of Insomnia, you can find it on the shelves at both Annie's Book Stop and That's Entertainment. Both stores are staffed great people who support local literature, so please support them! Also, if you're falling a little short and can't buy it -- been there, brother -- you can actually check it out from the Worcester Public Library! Well ... sort of. The Worcester branch has a copy, but they don't let it leave the building, because it would be difficult to replace. But the Marlboro branch has a copy in circulation, which you can check out from anywhere in the state through inter-library loan! Libraries are amazing. It's easy to take them for granted, but you only need to scratch the surface of what they do for their community to see how valuable they are. 

***

My "Song to get You Through the Weekend" on Pop Culture Notebook is "'Episode 15 — The Girl Who Was Death,’ by Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling.

Enjoy!

Jan. 24th, 2014

09:10 am - TONIGHT!!!! Victor reads at Annies Book Stop in Worcester!

Terribly excited and nervous about the reading tonight. It'll be the first full feature of material from my work-in-progress, Why We Should Suffer For This. While I've read most of it in pieces (and relative seclusion) at the Outlaw Stage, this will be the first test of how well it hangs together, and will inform what I need to do in the next draft. Nowhere to run to, baby. Nowhere to hide.

Worcester Storytellers
Annie's Book Stop
65 James St.
Worcester, MA, 01603
7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, 2014
Hosted by Kristina England

Hope to see you there!

***

In other news, I feel like I'm behind and out-of-touch on everything. I presume that will pass when I get busy next month. Mostly, I've just been hunkered down the past few weeks. Still, things happened. Over in Radus, for example, the talented Marc Olmsted has a couple musings on William S. Burroughs.

Meanwhile, back at the Telegram, I've been blown away by what a good year it's been for local and regional music, particularly the new albums by The Curtis Mayflower and Anda Volley, and the new music videos from Anastasia Markov and The October Accord. And now I'm hearing there's a new video from Do  Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling. Hmmmm ....

Jan. 7th, 2014

12:06 am - That "10 Albums That Stay With You" meme ...

Someone tagged me in that "10 Albums That Stay With You" meme on Facebook. I don't actually remember who, because it was weeks ago, but in any case, I didn't respond at first because I have a poem that kind of responds to that already, "Portrait of an Adolescence in Record Reviews." But not many people have really seen that one, and anyway, I've been thinking about it.

So here, in no particular order, are 10 albums that have stayed with me ever since I've heard them. Maybe they'll help you understand something about me. Maybe you'll pick one of them up. Maybe you'll be amused for 30 seconds and move on. Nonetheless, here they are:

1.) "Los Angeles," by X: This is probably the perfect distillation of how I felt as a teenager in Southern California. That scream of a place that you love and which makes you crazy, how that rage builds up under your skin. For my money, a nearly perfect album.

2.) "Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea," by P.J. Harvey: Another album that's near perfection for me. Also: I was in need of help/Heading to black out/'Til someone told me run on in honey/Before somebody blows your goddam' brains out. Oh goodness gracious, yes.

3.) "... And Out Come the Wolves," by Rancid: Somethin' struck me funny when we ran out of money/Where do you go now when your only 15?/With the music execution and the talk of revolution/it bleeds in me and it goes...

4.) "Little Earthquakes," by Tori Amos: She goes off into space a bit much these days, but this is one of the most brutally emotional albums I've ever listened to.

5.) "Wheels of Fire," by Cream: I think this one will surprise a few people, but it was pretty much the gateway album to classic rock for me in my early teens.

6.) Purple Rain," by Prince and the Revolution: I could joke about it, but this album gets to me in ways that few others do. Once you cut past the melodrama and ... well ... Prince-ness, there's something raw about it, a vulnerable, wounded masculinity.

7.) "Double Fantasy," by John Lennon and Yoko Ono: Pretty sure I stole this from my mom when I was a kid. At first, I loved the Lennon songs and hated the Yoko ones, but over time, I've come to understand that the dissonance and tonal clash is part of the overall work of art. Also, "Watching the Wheels" is the song that haunts me when I find I'm doing things for the wrong reasons. I just had to let it go ...

8.) "Speaking in Tongues," by Talking Heads: Probably a placeholder for the entire Talking Heads collection, but as a studio album, this one is my favorite. No visible means of support/and you have not seen nothing yet ...

9.) "Disintegration," by the Cure: Such a beautiful album, everything is pitch perfect ... melancholy, beautiful, devolving into madness then back into beauty. Gorgeous.

10.) "Ghosts in the Machine," by The Police: "Omegaman," "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic," "Invisible Sun" ... This one always takes me back.

And there we are. Please, feel free to do one yourself!

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