Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Right now I am trying to put a lot of things into context.  This past week there has been a lot of death, dying, debate, heated arguments, and the like.  I am not entirely certain how I am supposed to be reacting to all of it.  I have stated some of my thoughts and opinions on Facebook, but that isn't the end of it---I really think tragedy lingers longer than all of that, and so I am left with not quite knowing who to talk to, or even what to say. 

I am sad.  I am angry.  I want a lot of thongs to simply go away or pretend they don't know me any more, because I am tired of them coming around again and again.  I want to play the "I don't know you" song to so many friends it frightens me, all their belly puffing and posturing, their lack of humanity.

Here is this.  It's a meme passed on to me by Collin Kelley.  I am not good about picking on other bloggers and asking them to post on this stuff, so I send it out to all of you---any of you who thinks these questions are thought provoking.  I think I was supposed to wait a week before posting my answers, but to tell the truth, I wanted  distraction for a few brief moments, so I went ahead and answered the questions now.  Here you go:

What is the title of your book? 

The book I just finished writing is going to be called, Hobble Creek Almanac.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

Hobble Creek Almanac is the close examination of how a small Utah town evolves and progresses through its 150+ year history.

What genre does your book fall under? 

Poetry.  However, I am trying to blur the lines between factual events and reporting of those events.

Where did the idea come from for the book? 

I got my idea from writing my first two chapbooks, which became the nucleus of my first full length poetry collection.  I had written about the landscape and maintained an elegiac stance in those poems.  I became aware I wanted to write about other people and their reaction to the land, and the best way to do that was to approach first from a historical perspective before moving again into personal narrative.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? 

I would say about 18 months in real time, though the idea has been fumbling around my head since 2008, when I finished my first book’s final edit.

Who or what inspired you to write this book? 

William Kloefkorn, David Lee, Gary Short.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 

I really have no idea.  19th Century Mormon-themed Landscape Meditation/Narrative hybrid isn’t an easy sell.  I have about four places I know I am submitting to.  If none of those places take it, I will have to re-group, which may take a year or so.  I will not enter in any contests, as my money would be wasted and I much prefer to support presses by buying books, so it may end up self-published.  I know the poems are solid, so I will worry less about the dying stigma of a self-published book.  I worry more about my lack of good editing skills than anything.

What other works would you compare this book to within your genre? 

I go for the biggies.  I think (or I would hope) my work resembles David Lee, William Kloefkorn, and the like.  I read a lot of Wendell Berry while structuring the manuscript, and one can only hope some of that rubs off.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie

I wouldn’t.  I would trust the director to cast the movie with the right people.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Footnotes.  Awesome, right?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Books I have been Re-reading

Queen of a Rainy Country   Linda Pastan

Traveling Light    Linda Pastan

The Singing Knives    Frank Stanford

Why Dogs Stopped Flying    Kenneth Brewer

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Book Review: Seth Brady Tucker's Mormon Boy

Mormon Boy
Seth Brady Tucker
66 pp., Elixir Press
ISBN: 978-1-932418-43-9

When I purchased Seth Tucker’s Mormon Boy, it was for a few obvious reasons.  I am Mormon, or used to be depending on who’s telling the stories, and I saw this title under a new releases list.  I was correct in that nobody names their poetry book thus unless he or she happens to have, or have had some connection to the Mormon community.  Seth has that connection, but when I found out he was a veteran of the First Gulf War, I was taken aback.  To have found a poet with similar connections to both Mormonism and the Army was like finding a long lost brother.  And while I identify with the poetry on those levels, I have no doubt any reader could just as easily find common ground on which to relate to this book.

Seth Tucker’s writing is expansive.  I do not merely means he writes about a lot of different subjects and covers a lot of ground, I am also talking about the physical world which his poems inhabit.  The book itself is larger than the typical poetry book because his lines are at times quite long, and receive the treatment they deserve by way of a larger presentation.  It is in these long lines where the reader begins to explore the expectations of Seth Tucker as author.  Here reside the complete thoughts of line, whole statements which refuse to be trimmed or wrangled into a false format simply for the sake of conformity.

In section one of Mormon Boy, Tucker takes on his experiences in the army and in the First Gulf War.  In a fine contrast from the poetry of Brian Turner, Seth has allowed time to permeate his memory and descriptions of his experiences.  The edges are softer than Turner’s war poetry, but in that softening come added wisdom and the wider net life after combat provides.  Neither one is superior in my experience, simply different.  Here in Mormon Boy, the reader will find more avenues by which to enter into the heart of the matter, and perhaps learn with a gentler touch.  This isn’t to say Seth’s poems about war have no impact.  Take these opening lines of the first poem of the book:

The Road to Baghdad

Is less a road than a floral
collection of spongy and soft
bodies, a gathering of the myriad

colors of nations—burnt umber,
puce, kiln red, olive drab, hot
steel.  It is a road that stretches

eternally into the ochre mocha
of horizon.  The road
to Baghdad has its own atmosphere

The reader must take on quite a lot in this first poem.  In that way, it mimic’s the soldier’s experience, being forced to take in a massive amount of information in an instant, making split-second decisions.  In those first three lines, there are several major decisions being made about content, image, line, and sound which Tucker commands so well as to make his choices seem casual.  Upon closer reading, it slowly becomes evident something more immense, more deliberate is taking place.

This deliberate series of choices comes through again in the long poem, “The Cold Logic of Farm Animals,” where Tucker creates a poem which defies homogeny.  Each new section takes on a different form, a different cosmetic appearance.  The stories are varied and dissimilar, but always keep the reader in rapt attention.  The section ends with a long prose poem which delivers the impact one almost shamefully wants when reading about war.

Section two turns lyrical, and we get to read about a great many different things.  That my favorite poem from this section is, “How to Look West From Mount Pleasant, Utah,” should not be a surprise to anyone.  There is something deeply elegiac in this poem which makes me think of my home town, which is not far from Mount Pleasant, Utah.  Of course, the poem is less a tutorial than it is an apostrophe, and hopefully (at least I hope) the poem is a way of talking to a much larger world. 

When I read the title poem, both of the third section and of the book,“Mormon Boy,” I am immediately mindful of the poet William Kloefkorn.  Not since Kloefkorn’s creation, Ludi jr., have I see a portrait of a young boy done so well.  The poem is masterful in its ability to draw the reader into the microcosm of a small boy’s world, both amazing and frightening.  I must here admit I identify with this poem on a deeply personal level.  On the surface, the poem is about a small boy on a paper route in winter, trudging through the snow, the duality of youthful indiscretion and knowing right from wrong.  But here, as everywhere else in this book, the poem is really a deeper discussion.  In the poems I can of course see the Mormon culture revealed, demanding hard work and commitment from even the youngest of children to a belief system they can hardly comprehend.   I see what will become the transition from this Mormon boy at age six, into something wholly different as he becomes an adult.  I begin to route for the little boy, and hope he makes it out intact.

In the final section of the book, Seth Tucker is triumphant.  The poems on this side of the book present a man who had survived to adulthood, in spite of the war he fought, and his previous fears that he has been fooling those around him.  There is elegy here, but rather than elegy setting the tone of this section with bright, silver cloud moments, it is the opposite.  There is a life to celebrate here, with the gentle reminder of occasional sadness.  We read about Tucker’s wife, Olivia, his passion for her, and we don’t get the feeling he is simply writing a poem for his wife.  The poems in this section reveal a sensual energy.  They are alive, knowing, and reveal how deliberate the orchestration of this book has been.   

These poems on the whole, present a biography of sorts.  I am reminded of Quentin Tarantino discussing how he orders the storyline in a film.  He says he doesn’t believe in flashbacks, that his ordering is his attempt to tell the story in the most interesting way possible.  Seth Tucker has done that here.  Beginning with the First Gulf War, Tucker is telling us he has essentially had three lives.  There is his life before the war, his life in the war, and then his life after the war.  The structure is easy to follow throughout the first three sections, but as with the format choices Tucker makes with many of his poems, the fourth section is a delightful wild card, which we must readjust our expectations.  The book works in and for all three of his lives as biography, place, time, and as a document of meaningful and visceral experience.  Seth Tucker has indeed contributed significantly to several themes and genres of writing with this single volume of poetry. 

Tucker lets the reader in on some of the most intimate aspects of his life and gives record as to how the world has shaped his growth. Every poem is a lesson which sparks insight into these contemporary times. While this book is an individual record, there is no doubt in my mind you will find a place to connect.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


I am proud to announce I have officially closed the book, literally, on my latest manuscript.  I am finished, all in, at the end of the road, spent, whole, and complete.  At 80 pages, this marks the end of my writing and 95% of all my editing responsibilities.  That remaining 5% will be the kind of fixes I see during the submission process and consist mostly of fixing awkward tenses or a misspent comma.  As the manuscript takes to the internet and the publishing world, I now send it off feeling as if everything which needs to be there is there.

* * *

Some numbers for those who think of such things:

I have, as of today, submitted poems from this manuscript 44 times to 42 different journals.

I have, as of today, had 19 poems from my manuscript accepted for publication.  This marks a record for me in my best publishing year so far.  19 poems in 8 different journals. 

The manuscript, with all end matter, clocks in at 80 pages, 46 poems, and 3 sections.

I have been actively writing this manuscript for approximately 18 months.

* * *

I have exactly four places to submit this manuscript to before I have to start looking around for more places.  I want to keep the batches small, not out of superstition, but because I would rather take my time sending it out into the world, and only to the places I think would really enjoy reading my manuscript.  I have already told you I will not be submitting to any contest, and I am going to stick to my guns.  No contests.  I really think my pathway leads in other directions.  There comes a time when we need to stand firm on an issue, and this one is mine.  For me, contests are a bad idea right from the beginning.  I would rather buy a book from a small press and be entertained with said book, than sit at home anxiously waiting for bad news.  And that's exactly what it would be.  I would be sitting around obsessing over semi-finalist and finalist lists, wondering who might be reading my poetry, which celebrity judge would be making the final call, and hating myself more each day.Researching individual presses suits me.  I am more than willing to pay a reading fee to a press I believe in and have spent some real time looking into and still coming up with nothing than I am entering any contest for free.  I do not think other people are bad for entering contests.  I am simply saying I am not built to handle that kid of stress.  

Time for me to go.  I will be certain to keep you updated as to how things go.  You will be among the first I tell anything.  I promise.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

In A Perfect World

In a perfect world, this would be the cover  photo to my book, Hobble Creek Almanac.  Featured in the photograph is the Blanchard Family.  On the left is Achilles Blanchard, who figures prominently into my book.  To his left is his father, Achilles Blanchard; his mother, Margaret Sylvia; and then his grandmother Margaret, who lived to be 106.  At his feet is a harp he made from a bicycle frame.  Both Ether (the father who played violin) and he were known for writing poems and songs.  The front portion of cabin in the background was actually moved from the Salt Lake Valley to Springville, and purportedly was the second cabin built after the Mormon arrival.   

Friday, November 9, 2012

One New Thing

Something I have noticed with my writing, the poetry manuscripts I have written, is that for each one, something new happens.  For my first book, Four Way Stop, it was the realization that I was actually writing a book.  In fact, I knew I was writing a chapbook---not a full length book.  For my second book, I was attempting to make the landscape the protagonist.  ---And so on.  With each book, I do something new.

Well for this book, I am also doing something I have never done before.  I am submitting poems for publication after the book is finished.  Now I am still making minor changes to the manuscript and to some poems here and there, but I am probably 98% finished, and it is only in the past little while I have been submitting the poems from this latest manuscript for consideration.  I don't know if anyone else has worked like this, but it is an odd sensation for me, knowing I have a manuscript finished and knowing most of the poems themselves are finished, but waiting until now to see if they are things other people will find interesting. 

And I have found publication for some, approximately 13 poems so far.  However, the anxiety I feel now over the poems I have making the rounds is a little different.  The poems are essentially finished, and where I might have had the chance to throw out a poem that is not working or start over, I am less prone to make that decision because I see the poem in its current state as something much more solid, immutable. 

I don't know if that is a good or bad thing, either.  You see, I have never been very good at telling my good poems from my bad poems.  If a poem gets finished, I am pretty happy with it because it survived my process of drafting, tinkering, explosion, and rebuilding.  It has made it through the gauntlet, so to speak.  I love my poems almost unconditionally, which is a little brazen, and certainly not always the wisest of all behaviors.  Poems can be dangerous if we love the wrong one too much.  The wrong poems can cloud our vision, warp our perception, make us snow-blind to our own faults, which certainly happens to me all too often.

So I hope this pattern of having written the entire manuscript before submitting poems for publications will be a one-off, or at least take an unspecified hiatus.  I want to go back to gathering momentum as I go.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My November 6th Political Post

A few months ago I made a promise to stop posting anything political on Facebook until Election Day.  Tonight, on the eve of the election, I have a few things to say, and I will be posting this message to Facebook first thing in the morning.  I hope my Facebook friends, both liberal and conservative are willing to read, and possibly share what I am about to say.

1.  I am voting for Barack Obama, and regardless of who wins, people in this nation should be okay with that, regardless of who they voted for.  I am not an idiot for voting my conscience and political ideals, I am an American.  More than that, I am a citizen of the United States of America.  I am a history teacher in a public school.  I served this nation in the U.S. Army, and I am a veteran of the First Gulf War.  I challenge anyone to question my patriotism or devotion to the ideals of this nation because I voted for Barack Obama.

2.  I read just now, how Billy Graham published a political statement where he urges Americans to vote for the candidate who espouses the idea of so-called traditional marriage and family values.  With all due respect to the Reverend Billy Graham, I too, believe in God, but here I must differ with him on this issue, as with many others.  Setting aside Graham's flip-flop regarding Mitt Romney and Mormons (of which I am), I disagree with his interpretation of God and Jesus.  The Jesus I learned about in Sunday School in the Mormon faith was the Jesus of Love, the Jesus of Justice, the Jesus of Compassion.  Marriage is a right duly granted to some in this nation, but not to others, and I think it's a gross injustice to allow something as highly subjective as the Bible determine for citizens of a nation which was founded on the principles of freedom, free from the constraints of religion, to define (and thereby deny) marriage. Either we are a nation interested in liberty, or we are not.  Reverend Graham concluded his statement with praying we remain one nation under God, but that motto was only instituted during the Communist Scare of the 1950's.  It was not any part of our official or original National vision.  I personally pray and work for a nation which considers all citizens entitled to the same rights and privileges as everyone else. Either we believe our Constitution was written with the intent to change with the needs of its people, or we do not.  Civil Union is not Marriage, and as long as marriage is denied to the people of this nation, then I cannot in good conscience take seriously any candidate who thinks denying marriage is okay.

3.  The same goes for women's rights.  When are we going to make it okay to be a woman in this nation?  When are women going to be afforded the same respect and pay as men?  With so many GOP men fumbling about God's Plan for Conception, Abortion, Legitimate Rape, Equal Pay, and Birth Control, it begs the question:  When are we as a nation going to stop listening to men about these issues and listen to what women have to say?  Any candidate, who feels the traditional role of family excludes women's input on the above issues cannot expect to receive my vote.  Ever.

4.  It's the Economy, Stupid.  Like it or not, I am swayed by the left when it comes to the economic state of our nation.  I admit my bias.  I believe President Obama has done the near impossible.  He literally helped to avoid another Great Depression.  He continued the policies started by G.W. Bush (but actually got people to pay their loans back) and stopped the economic free-fall the U.S. had started.  Think of this:

a)  The unemployment promises he made were based on inaccurate numbers.  we had the wrong numbers, which meant his estimates of what could be done were off.  This wasn't anyone's fault---not even G.W. Bush's.  However, the GOP, blindly following the TEA Party, seemed to blame it on President Obama.

b)  Congress actually said in public (Lindsay Graham) their first priority was to deny President Obama a second term.  Not jobs, not economic recovery.  Just refusing to work with the President.  The weight of that statement is simply staggering.  The Republicans in these past two sessions have yet to propose a single jobs bill.

c) Congress happily raised the debt ceiling dozens of times for G.W. Bush, but suddenly stopped when it came to President Obama, projecting to the American Public that the Deficit and the debt ceiling were essentially the same thing.  Way to exploit ignorance.

d) Mitt Romney has said many times his economic plan can get the U.S. Solvent in 8-10 years, attempting to map out a Paul Ryan presidency in the years to come.  However, he blames President Obama for not fixing anything to his satisfaction with the above conditions and struggles which were very real in the past four years.  This is basic hypocrisy.

e)  In spite of all of these problems, President Obama's attempts have started to help create jobs and reduce unemployment.  Solindra? I reject the premise.  Of the 65 companies which benefited from the same money Solindra did (which subsequently failed), 92% are still in business and solvent.  92%.  How do you like them apples?

5)  Foreign Policy.  There has been a lot of coverage of  Ambassador Stevens, who was killed in Libya.  That is problematic, and it is a true tragedy.  My question is this:  Where was the GOP outrage and cries for administration investigations for the dozens, yes dozens of consulate employees killed abroad under G.W. Bush's administration?  The fact is because it is an election year, we are hearing the GOP attack President Obama for something which happened a lot more times while President G.W. Bush was in office.  It is of course how the GOP plays the game.  [sideline: The GOP also plays itself up to be the Military's greatest friend, but G.W. Bush routinely reduced military and veteran's benefits.  Remember, I know because I am a veteran and I get letters telling me what my benefits are  and are not on a regular basis.]  So if I don't count that, I won't allow President Obama credit for Osama Bin Ladin.  It was, after all, a national effort and he simply happened to be in the White House when it happened.  So what can I say?  President Obama restored our international integrity.  Yes, he did.  He soooooo did.  A lot of nations and people of other nations like the U.S. again because President Obama does is not an arrogant shit-heel to them.  He proves the U.S. can enforce it's foreign policy without being ass-hats.

6)  Racism.  Let's face it.  Not all Republicans are racists and  I would not even go as far to say a very large percentage of republicans are racists, but you have to admit those people who are racists in this, the 21st Century, align themselves with the Republican Party by in large (if they are not even more to the extreme right on the political spectrum) and that is simply disturbing.  It says something very powerful about the Republican party for tolerating those people to be a part of their ranks.  And let's not forget the TEA Party consists of Republicans or people who think the GOP is not doing enough for them.  Why do I bring this up?  Because of all the many signs which equated President Obama with Hitler,The Joker, and labeled him a foreign national.  We simply have not moved as far as we need to, and I am not going to let this nation stagnate if I can at all help it.

So go ahead, those of you who disagree with me.  Tell me my devotion is less or misguided simply because my politics are different.  Challenge my patriotism because I am a liberal. Tell yourself I am not educated, or I have been duped if it makes you feel better.  But if my politics frighten you so, then maybe the problem isn't with me.  It would truly be unfortunate to lose friends over this, but if that is the price for my convictions, there's the door.  Show yourself out.

Friday, November 2, 2012


Right now I am reading Jeffrey Skinner's book, The 6.5 Practices of Moderately Successful Poets and I am struck by some advice he gives early on in the book. 

He states among other things:  Give Yourself Goals.  Have a plan.  I will edit a manuscript by this date

That last thing there is strange because I actually gave myself a goal to have written and be finished with a manuscript by the end of 2012.  I had given myself this deadline in order to capitalize on my energy and desire to write a manuscript detailing a lot of the stories I had heard about my home town while growing up, and many more on top of that. 

Wait.  That's not the strange part.  The strange part is that I ended up writing a book which was entirely different than the one I imagined.  My original idea was to explore the narrative poem, with small, lyric poems to be placed intermittently throughout the book.  What ended up happening is a book of lyric poetry with narrative elements in a good deal of the poems.

 As it turned out, the harder I squeezed my brain to wrap itself around the task of writing these narrative poems, the more I slipped into the groove of writing lyric poems.  I was, in effect, writing a book behind my own back.  In  the end I have a manuscript which will be ready to submit by January, 2013.  I can hardly wait to start gathering my stack of rejection slips and for that one special acceptance note.

More news soon on the publishing front, I am certain.  Trust me, it's good news.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Po-Biz: The Dreary

I have just spent the better part of the past two hours researching local (to Utah) presses and writing query letters on the off chance (really off chance) some of these smaller presses will be willing to take a chance by considering a poetry manuscript.  I know my chances are not that good, but this is the place I find myself because the book I have written has a much better chance of being appealing to people from the Utah area. 

So picture me, sitting here while my student have study hours (because we are on a testing schedule and half my student are testing during class) dutifully writing query letters aimed specifically at one press or the other.  The good news is I can honestly say all of the presses received a sincere letter.  One in particular, which likes to focus on the West and seems to be interested in Utah was a real pleasure to query to when all was said and done.  I even offered to send them a pdf of my manuscript even if they weren't interested in publishing poetry.  They just seemed to have a sincerity I liked.  Not to say the other places weren't sincere, but their focus seemed to be a really good fit. 

Besides, I don't really know how to write a 'form' query letter.  I just don't know how people do it.  I don't know whether it feels like cheating to do that, or if I really want to talk directly to the people on the other end of my giant e-mail machine, but I do.  I don't think it's a fear of form letters because I will write form submission letters when I have a really big push, but query letters seem to be a different animal altogether.  I think because when I write a query letter it's usually to a place not really comfortable with poetry publication and I see part of my job as putting them at ease as much as I can, convincing them I am not some holed  up writer who writes about his 'feelings.'  I am in a way, selling myself with query letters which doesn't happen with your standard submission letters.  Well, at least not mine.

It's got me thinking.  I may even have to amend my submission policy for Hobble Creek Review.  I may have to start insisting on cover letters.  I think it is becoming increasingly important to stress courtesy and manners among writers.  So many are entirely rude and cold with their submissions, expecting I will be thrilled that __________________ finally decided to submit a few poems.  A cover letter, even a mass produced cover letter requires some effort, some care.

Take care, those of you who still read blogs.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Coming Down off My Writer High

It's happening now. 

I am getting to the point where I am going to be able to see my poems as the raw material I need for a book. I am starting to see the flaws in my poems, the little imperfections which serve to annoy me rather than please me.  In short, I am falling out of love with my recent manuscript.

That's right.  When I first finished my manuscript I was still high on the contact buzz with writing a helluva lot of poems in a relatively short period of time.  I was floating.  I was a spaced out cowboy with no reference point to the earth.  I was absolutely convinced I was adding to the oeuvre of my lifes work with a bold, significant stroke.  This book was not going to be my opus, but it was going to be my announcement that my choice to write about rural America was not a whim, and certainly not a passing fancy.   

Now I still think what I have written is among my best writing ever, but I am getting more realistic.  I am starting to see my book from a more objective point of view, and I am beginning to reach my saturation point---that point where I can stop writing these kinds of poems in favor of new work and not feel as if I am neglecting my manuscript.  It is there where my poems will harden, sharpen, and run themselves through the crucible of the critical eye.

I have my manuscript out to several readers, and as they send back word, give me their impressions, I am able to accept what they say without automatic rejection.  The same goes for poems being sent out to journals.  I am doing the work that needs doing.  Even in the face of my mentor who asked about who my audience is supposed to be (because I am alienating those who would logically be my audience) I was able to say, "I am not interested in writing the book that can get published.  I am concerned with writing the book that needs to be written."  My thought?  Why can my book be both of those things?  And that is what I am going to find out in the coming months.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Update: Hobble Creek Almanac & other such nonsense

I have been plenty busy as of late.  Mostly, I have been busy with revisions to my manuscript.  A big "Thank You" goes out to the readers (to be named at a later date) who have really been kicking my butt to help make my poems their very best.  I have the good fortune to also have friends from my home town telling me to "keep it real" when talking about certain issues within historic context.

Major changes include: 

Getting rid of poems which are too prosaic.
Changing the tone and structure of some poems to reflect a more realistic attitude.
Writing a few new poems to put into context things not as of yet adequately stated.
Standardizing the formatting for consistency and best effect.
Spelling and punctuation (always, always spelling and punctuation).

I have also the pleasure of announcing to you nine of the poems in my collection have been accepted for publication---always a reason to celebrate.  I have hopes that at least 10-12 more poems will be accepted before I start submitting my manuscript, though I will not be submitting this manuscript to any contest.  As you are well aware, I am becoming less and less enchanted with the contest scene.  reading Fees are okay, but contests are losing their luster with me in many ways.

* * *

I just returned from my 25th high school reunion.  That makes me 43 years old for those of you who like to keep track of such things.  I had a really good time, as did my wife.  For those of you who are hesitant to attend any of your reunions, maybe you should look at them this way:  They are an evening out with people who started with the same set of experiences as you in a general way and have grown up with entirely divergent experiences.  They are excuses for having a good meal, and a drink or two (even though I don't drink) with some old friends.

I had a really great time talking to these people, many of whom (perhaps because of age) are not on Facebook or the like.  To tell the truth, I had such a great time with them, I wish I could get with many of them every year, not just every five years or so.  The world may have grown old and weary, but I have not, and my friends from high school have not either.  If any classmates are reading this, then let me say "Thank you" right here and now.  I had a great time and I owe that to you.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hurdles in Manuscript Construction: One Process

After I had written the poems in Town for the Trees, and established it as a manuscript.  I could hardly conceive there would come a time when I would (or even could) write more poems about my home town of Springville, Utah which would be truly new.  I felt there was no way for me to continue to use the town as a primary character in my poetry because I had written more than 50 or 60 poems about the town, and some 46 of those poems made it into the final version of the book.  There was just no way I could do it.  What I discovered is what happens after you write everything you think you can write on a particular subject.  What I did was write more poems.  A lot more poems.

My new manuscript, titled Hobble Creek Almanac, is another book written entirely about my home town of Springville.  As it stand right now, it's 44 poems and 74 pages of actual poetry.  That size will increase by about two poems.  Yes.  One year after my first book was published, I have another, entirely new book of poems ready to go. None of the poems written at the time I was writing my first book made it into this latest manuscript.  Those are the poems which made it into the manuscript.  As with my first, book, many poems did not make the final cut.

So how did this happen?  How did I go from not thinking myself capable of writing any more poems about a place to writing an entirely new book?  A few things happened which I think are relevant.  To start with, the poems I wrote for the first book were literally written over the course of a decade, and if anything, I am minimizing the time I spent writing them.  The other thing that happened was writing the first book expanded my scope, even if I wasn't immediately able to recognize it.

That scope which grew over the course of more than a decade.  Just like when I first started writing my poems back in college I did not realize I was in fact planting the seeds of a book length manuscript, I did not see the work in writing and shaping a book length manuscript  for the preparation it was establishing for another book.  That took a while.  My next project, after Town for the Trees, was a deeply jarring and disturbing manuscript, touching on all sorts of personal issues, which was unlike anything I had previously written.  It was a book of landscape poetry, but those poems were about my emotional landscape, the alienation between father and son, the loss of identity.  To say I was exorcising some demons from my system is certainly a safe and easy to prove statement.  Little did I realize while I was writing that book (which may or may not ever see the light of day in published form) my mind was at work on this second manuscript, contextualizing the world in terms of what I knew could still be said about my home town.

In this latest book, I began seeing a book expanding the history of my town, not merely the simpler themes of loss and separation explored in my first book.  Not that those themes are neglected in any way with my new book, but there is more to it.  I also had to let go of quite a few preconceived notions regarding the structure of what my original intentions were.  I doubt I would have been able to write this second book about my home town without the experience of writing the first.  Why? because the experience of writing the first one informed me about structure. 

You see, at first I thought I needed to write longer narrative poems to tell the stories of specific people and families from my home town.  I thought that would be the way to tell the history of my town.  The only real problem is I was wearing blinders as to the way to frame those narrative poems, based upon my mentor Dave Lee.  For anyone familiar with his work, you know what a masterful poet Dave is when it comes to the narrative poem.  I doubt anyone does it better than him, especially when it comes to his ear.  For a very long time I thought I had to write those sorts of poems, or poems like B.H. Fairchild---these expansive and sweeping descriptions, but I was wrong on both counts.  After struggling through a few failed attempts, I realized I had to make the poems mine.  And though you can hear hints of both Lee and Fairchild in my poems, the poems in the book is according to my own set of values within the narrative structure.  Coming to know I had that capability is the groundwork laid by writing the first book.  All of these poems in my head just waiting to come out were waiting for me to write them.

So what process did I use?  I found a structure first.  My first book had no sections. This latest book has three.  The first is about the first few years of settlement.  The second is structured as a series of persona poems, meant to be internal and external poems written by a real life-long resident of Springville.  It was important that I chose a person who was not my relative.  This connects back to the very real need of needing the ability to tell the truth and the freedom to lie.  I need to be able to tell the truth and lie certainly within the same book, and quite possibly within the same poem.  I needed to have a person/family to tell real stories and have them sit next to those I have fabricated entirely.  The third section is me trying to answer the difficult question of why my home down has such a strong hold on me.  I say difficult because I did not have an easy childhood or adolescence in my town, yet I am deeply in love with that place. 

I also was lucky ( I mean the hybrid of inspiration and preparation often associated with creative thinking) because family and town history is a passion held by quite a few people I know, including several relatives.  This meant I had access to books and documents not readily available to t5he general population which created several of the pathways as how to best lay out such a writing project such as this one.  I may not have told the stories I initially thought necessary or even related many of the details some people might think essential to writing such a book as the one I have, but I was in fact able to create a document I am proud of.

Then there are the footnotes and epigraphs.  Because I have always been a fan of the epigraph, there are plenty of them to be found: Two for each section, and a lot scattered throughout the book.  Some are real and some are not. Some of the footnotes are real and some are not.  This was essential for my process because again, I needed to feel free to walk in and out and even dance on the line between truth and lie.  I was not retelling a history, I was recreating a history.  And if any of you cannot conceive of a book of poetry filled with lies mingled in with truth, t hen I have to wonder why you are even interested in poetry at all.

I will tell you now in all honesty (you can trust me here) I was surprised by finishing the manuscript so suddenly.  Again, I think I have two more poems to be written, but I really did think up to about a week ago, I would still be making more poems for this book up until December, and have about 10-15 more pages than it does.  I was taken aback by the completeness of what I had, but everything felt right in the construction and in the length.  I know better than to keep pushing when things feel this good.  Now I still have plenty of work to do.  I am certain I will have a lot of revising to go through when my readers get finished picking the book apart, but the drafting is practically finished and I believe the biggest challenges are behind me, save the one where I get other people to believe in the manuscript enough to want to publish it.  If anyone has that one figured out, I'd like to know about it.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Theoretical Statement One

Poets do not write truth.  Poets do not reveal truth.  Poets manufacture truth.

Most poets probably hope this manufactured truth comes close to the actual truth, or perhaps even so closely mimics authentic truth it becomes indistinguishable from authentic truth to the casual observer, but it is not truth at all.  It is nothing more than dressed up fiction.  Poets may indeed want what they manufacture to become real truth, but that is a folly each and every poet buys into on day one.  All poets are busy creating a mythology hoping it will some day be classified as religion.

Friday, August 17, 2012

No More Contest Result Blues for me

Just to be clear.  I have not won a book contest.  This post is about why I won't be entering book contests for a very long time.

I won't be entering my manuscripts in contests this academic year, and quite possibly for a very long time after that.  Does that make me evil?  Does that make me a bad person?  Does that make me come off as somebody who thinks his shit doesn't stink or someone who thinks his poetry is just too *something* the presses won't get?  I don't know.  So for those who are able to write enough poems every year to always have a manuscript in play in the contest circuit, I am dropping out---not that any of you looked at me or my manuscripts as a threat.

I am not submitting my completed manuscript and I am not submitting my near completed manuscript to any book contests this year for some very obvious and some not so obvious reasons.  Here are a few I feel okay sharing with you.

1.  I have already sent my completed manuscript, Sailing This Nameless Ship, to every contest I care to send it to, and having been soundly rejected every time without so much as a comment or reaching a single "semi-finalist" (let alone finalist) benchmark, I have come to the conclusion that yes, I am writing poetry nobody wants to commit to at the book level.  Is it really bad poetry, or is it a matter of taste?  I would like to think it's a matter of taste, but I have to accept I am simply not that good of a poet.  So for now, and for a long time to come, Sailing This Nameless Ship is off the market.

2.  I do not have Life-supporter's Guilt.  I buy plenty of books, and have on at least three occasions, bought a press's entire catalog of chapbooks.  I do not feel a single stab of guilt or remorse when presses take time out of their day to tell me about how they are on the brink of disaster.  Want to read about disaster?  Go read about Foothills Publishing.  Michael Czarnecki's house burned down, with his entire inventory and a lifetime of private journals.  If I like your books, I will buy them.  I am just not really that enthusiastic to support your press via contests I have absolutely no chance of winning.

3.  I have absolutely no chance of winning 99% of the contests being conducted in the poetry world.  I don't write the kind of poetry which book contests want.  Presses who run book contests are looking for poets and poetry which will elevate them in status.  Contests want poetry and poets who are edgy, insinuate themselves into the conversation.  I am fine with the background.  My poetry is quiet for the most part, stays on the surface, doesn't play well with the established arc of contemporary poetry.  No, I am not claiming to be an innovator or some misunderstood genius. For the record, I am a competent poet at best.  I stand on the shoulders of giants, and if I get credit for anything, it might be in my choice of whose shoulders I stand upon to create my poetry.  I hear the word 'shallow' a lot, but I really don't care because it's really the only way I know how to write my poems, and I am fine with that.

4.  I don't feel like participating in the whole Reader Screen---Judge Round---Ranking euphoria contests support.  Did I make the cut?  Did my manuscript make it to the semi-finalist list?  How long will it take to hear about the Finalist list?  Is the rumor true---will they be publishing a second manuscript off the list?  Let's face it.  There is a weird vibe with poets.  We have a difficult time knowing our friends are our competition in some ways, and book contests have that in spades.  I can't count how many times I've had cryptic conversations where poets I know have been trying to find out whether I have sent a manuscript to this place or that, or have been trying to somehow keep me from learning about a certain contest.  I am already a little bit too manic when it comes to this I am just better off not asking all of the other questions which comes after those I just listed, the biggest being, Why didn't I get at least a mention on the semi-finalist list?

I'm finished for a while.  I want to give my new manuscript the opportunity to breath a while on its own and give it a chance to go through open submissions and rejections.  And here you thought I was going to talk about contest fees being too expensive.  Silly Rabbit.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Book Review: Amanda Auchter's The Wishing Tomb

The Wishing Tomb
Amanda Auchter
88 pp.,  Perugia Press
ISBN: 978-0-9794582-5-5

As a matter of course, I like to disclose my relationship with the author of the book I am reviewing.  I find it easier than trying to explain later how and why I came to write a positive review (you should all know by now I do not write negative reviews) for the book.  Too many people for my comfort try to make some sort of nepotistic connection, as if I expect the author in question to support my work in return of a favorable review.  That just isn't so.

I have known Amanda Auchter, or rather, I have had dealings with her since her early days editing Pebble Lake Review.  Amanda graciously accepted several of my poems for that publication, and those acceptances came at a point in my writing life when that acceptance made me feel as if a burden was being lifted off my shoulders.  Since then, I have followed her presence on line and of course now with the advent of Facebook, I have come to see pieces and fragments of her personal life, which always adds depth to my understanding of the work.

When setting out to write a book so focused on a theme, as The Wishing Tomb is, the reader comes to the book with certain expectations.  The reader expects to read about the topic at hand from the writer's perspective.  One expects certain sensibilities and perhaps the reader will rely upon past experiences with other similar projects.  When I heard the book of poems focused on the history of New Orleans I have to admit I was expecting something akin to B.H. Fairchild's work.  I was expecting more history than lyric, more sociology than image.  I am not saying Fairchild is lacking in these areas, but he does cut a wide swath with his poetry, and when I began to read The Wishing Tomb, I found something much more personal.

From the very beginning of the book, Auchter reveals her command of the single line of verse.  Her fragmented stanzas and lines is one of the best examples of confidence I have seen in any of my recent reading.  She is able to allow these utterances to stand by themselves, linger, and worm their way into the mind of the reader.  When I read the poem "Casket Girls," early on in the book, is when I realized I was in for something really exciting.  In a strangely anonymous persona poem, Auchter announces her intent on diving deep with the reader in tow.

We thought the water would never
end. Dark pools of stars
in our faces―

 Auchter spend the rest of the first section floating in and out of various persona poems and omniscient observation, slowly transitioning into poems constructed with beautifully written couplets and amazing single lines.  "American Plague" is another must-read-again poem in the first section of the book. 

Throughout the book, Auchter provides a roving pastoral of the city and its various places.  While these locations may be familiar to those who have knowledge of the city, the poet is able to bring a relevance to the reader (such as myself) who has no experience with the city.  For those unfamiliar with New Orleans, there is presented here simultaneously the city everyone knows and the city only the poet can describe.  The opening lines of the final poem, "Late Pastoral" read:

How beautiful this was in the beginning:
white mulberry, Indian corn, a source

without suffering, without crime.

The blue-white wall of sky above us
                                       and nothing for miles but water,
duckweed, Tupelo gum.  It is April . . .

By the end of the second section, Auchter has painted a mural of the city's history, both of familiar and obscure events.  I want to meet the characters and people behind these poems.  Here in the second section the reader finds the title poem.  It's straightforward address, as it takes the reader through a series of traditional/folkish rites, is a reminder of New Orleans' magic, that in this city, "Everything// becomes possible." 

If anything is predictable in this collection it is we know the third section will address the recent events and struggles within New Orleans.  However, by the time you have read the first two sections, you are prepared to enter the third section having a richer, more complete sense of what New Orleans is---certainly more informed than what many other writers provide when they write about Hurricane Katrina.  In fact, The Wishing Tomb can serve to inform most every other poem written about Hurricane Katrina. And being able to inform readers for an entire topic and specific subject matter is a wonderful side effect to contribute.  Here, "Fragments of an Aftermath" challenges conventional views of what happened in the weeks following Hurricane Katrina.

The Wishing Tomb is Amanda Auchter's second book of poems and as a poet I envy her confidence and command of the line; however, that isn't why you should read this book.  You need to read this book because it is wholly American in its focus and devotion.  You need to read this book because Auchter has created something whole, complete, and compelling.  You need to read this book so you look beneath the surface of New Orleans with rich and daring language taking you by the hand and leading the way.  The Wishing Tomb will not---cannot disappoint.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I am for Civil Rights: Why I don't accept the argument of those who oppose gay marriage

This post is written with the specific intent of being posted on Facebook.

Let me be very clear from the start.  I am in favor of gay marriage, and if you do not like it, then you have a choice to make.  You can state your opposition, you can remain silent, or you can simply stop being my friend.  Here's why:

1)  Gay marriage is not about a feeling to everyone.  For some of us (most importantly gay men and women) it is about civil rights.  It is about the 9th Amendment and the 14th Amendment.  If you choose to ignore those parts of The Constitution then you must at the very least accept you are in favor of legalizing discrimination.  It is discrimination just like it was discrimination to limit the rights of African-Americans.  And before you go there about choice versus nature, you know you are not going to get anywhere with that.  If homosexuality were a matter of choice, it would still be discrimination.  How?  Criminals make choices we don't agree with, and they are still afforded marriage rights. There are approximately 1400 Federal and state laws regarding marriage, which ignore or are written to be prejudicial against so-called civil unions, partnerships, and common law relationships.  What other 'feelings' present such a wide range of discriminatory laws? Further along the spectrum you must also accept the contradictory nature of religion in the U.S.  More specifically, I will ask you a question to illustrate my point. 

Why is it okay to erode the separation of church and state (in order to promote your religious philosophy) which would limit the rights of people with views in conflict of your own, but at the same time be wrong to expect religious organizations to pay taxes and adhere to a single, specific interpretation of religious values?  Of course you know the answer.  The first Amendment states no laws be enacted to discriminate against religious beliefs.  It also states by way of legal reciprocity that religions cannot dictate laws in the civil realm. 

2)  Gay marriage does not interfere with your ability to practice your religion or your life in any way.  How many people have been displaced because of gay marriage?  How many people have divorced or found themselves unwilling to marry in states where gay marriage is allowed?  How many churches have been destroyed because of gay marriage?  There has not been one single piece of evidence to prove any heterosexual person or couple who has suffered because of a gay marriage.  And don't give me that old, "My cousin . . ." , or "My friend in Kansas . . ." bullshit, either.  That old standby is pure myth and is all too often linked to purely fictitious propaganda.

3)  Your values are YOUR values, and in matters of civil rights, have no place in the discussion.
I am not going to change your mind, and you are not going to change mine.  Too many people who are against gay marriage continually bring up their "feelings" and feelings tend to be immutable.  Opponents to gay marriage do not rely upon facts or legal issues.  They base their opinion on religious texts and incorrectly assume several things 
            a)They assume the Bible is meant to be taken literally, when the literal interpretation of the Bible is a 19th Century convention.
            b)They cherry pick the arguments they want to make and say those parts of the Bible are meant to be lasting while other laws of Leviticus are simply guidelines relevant only to the Ancient Israelites, which is obviously hypocritical.  
            c) They assume everyone should accept and follow the same interpretation of the Bible, which is virtually impossible and contradictory to the Constitution.
            d) They assume the Bible should continue to be the basis for law in this nation, which is not only secular in nature, but is the very model of secular humanism from the period of Enlightenment, where people all around the world dreamed of a nation unfettered by the reach of religion.  This point is important because the vast majority of Christians believe the U.S. was founded by the auspice of God.  It cannot be both a secular nation to protect religious freedom AND a godless nation in need of religious rule.

4)  I am sick and tired of people saying they don't "hate" anyone.  Well, my wife said it best when she said, "You may not hate anyone, but you certainly don't like gay people."  That's the truth.  I am just extremely tired of people trying to justify their bigotry with their version of theology and rhetoric.  I get it.  You are opposed to gay marriage and you want us all to believe there is no hate in your hearts or minds when you support discrimination on this level and remain silent when it comes to gay bashing and violence against gays.  I get it.  We all get it.  I'm just not buying it.  Go sell it somewhere else.  Go sing it on the mountain, for all I care.  Just don't pester me with that idiotic justification any more. The simple truth as I see it is you are not in favor of some people having the opportunity to share their lives in a marriage and be equal to you.  Privately you can believe that, but in a pluralistic nation such as ours, your personal views should not be allowed to interfere with the rights of others.

I am standing my ground, so you have a choice to make.  I will accept every choice you do make, but you need to stop insisting I accept your arguments because there is nothing left to argue in my mind.  Accept my position (and all of its implications); reject my opinion and my arguments; say something or remain silent; decide to end our friendship.  It's your move, and I don't care if you think I am being ignorant or passive aggressive.  This is my position and I am not moving from it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I have a serious question.  I want to know how much poetry is tied to popularity and fad.  I am asking for some very serious reasons.

1) Collin Kelley has stated "good" is a matter of taste.

2)Anyone who denies the increase of poems placed before the first section (in what always seems to be a three sectioned book) and "Notes" pages in books, is just lying to make friends.

Which leads me to ask:  Why does it appear manuscripts are being chosen as if they have been matched up against some sort of checklist?

Three sections?  Check

Poem with personification of some exotic animal?  Check

A Notes page to explain regional or colloquial language?  Check

One poem at the beginning of section three which "breaks" the mold?  Check

At least two ghazals?  Check

One poem about god which does nothing to clarify the poet's position? Check

Not so Subliminal nod to Bob Hicok? Check.

. . . well, you get the point.

* * *

I am being serious.  Why?  Because I am writing yet another manuscript of landscape meditation, and I really am having a lot of fun writing it and quite proud of the poetry in it, but that will only get me so far if there aren't any editors out there who enjoy these poems, too.  I know going in I've got a fight on my hand, but it would make things a lot easier inf I could figure out what's going on.

When I write poems about pop culture and contemporary themes, I get a lot of poems accepted for publication, but when I write these landscape meditations, I go for months without any good news from editors.  I don't want to simply aim my writing where I know it will hit the mark and be accepted.  I want to write the poems I know which need to be written.  It just feels like what my wife said to me.  She told me what I am writing is simply not in style right now.  Now, I know I am no Wendell Berry or Dave Lee or Gary Short, but I can and do hold my own, and I do know a thing or two.

So, my original question stands.  How much of this thing is popularity and fads?  Am I just not finding the right venues?  What am I missing?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hobble Creek Review is now Up!

Hey, everyone!  Come on over to Hobble Creek Review and have a read.  Our latest issue is up and ready for everyone to have a look!  This issue features the following poets and writers:

Carol Berg                     
Will Cordeiro                   
Marilyn Haight              

Ruth Huber                     

M.J. Iuppa                      

Kathleen Kirk                 
Mercedes Lawry            

Leny Lianne                    

Linda Martin                     

Corey Mesler                    
Mark J. Mitchell                

Kimberly O'Connor         
Andrew Shields                  

Lauren Tivey  
Steve Wheat                 
Scott Wiggerman

* * *

I would also like you to consider submitting for our next issue, which is going to have a special section edited by Jeff Newberry, focusing on the Gulf Coast region.  So come on over and stay a while.  Pass the word if you read anything you like, and as always, let me know which poems in particular you like so I can pass on the word to the poets.  Hearing good things about one's writing is always helpful.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

What Bothers me (At the Moment)

A little while ago on Facebook, I asked for anyone wanting to debate me over the issues relevant to what has been going on in the world over the past few days, they do the following:

1. Bring facts, not rhetoric.
2. Organize your thoughts.
3. Learn how to stay on subject, and stick to specifics as opposed to generalizations.
4. Learn the basics of the more common logical fallacies.

I even provided a link to the skeptics guide.org, to read about common logical fallacies.

So why and I harping on this again?  Because I ran into a Ron Paul Supporter who came up with 26 reasons why President Obama is causing the downfall of the United States of America.  That's right.  President Obama is single-handedly responsible for America's downfall.  

Now before I list some of these gems of so-called political facts (most were in truth rhetoric) please let me be clear about this:  I am very much in favor of the loyal opposition.  I believe it is only natural to have political diagreements with their leaders.  I had them with President G.W. Bush and his administration, and I personally know a lot of people who do not agree with President Obama.  I am okay with that.  However, I am not okay with what is going on with most of the discussion about President Obama conducted by the most vocal conservatives.

For one, when trying to explain why President Obama represents the downfall of the U.S., it's best to avoid listing things the President did not accomplish, which you were against in the first place.  I am supposed to see your point, that the President, is for all intents and purposes, the worst thing for the U.S. because the President failed to do things you were against in the first place?  How does that work?  

For another thing, why is it whenever I ask for facts and figures, most of what I get is rhetoric and political bias?  We all know statistics can be manipulated, but they are a baseline, which promotes debate.  All rhetoric accomplishes is to burrow one's self deeper in, like a tick.  If you make a claim, give a source.  And by the way, I use quotes because I like the ideas behind them, but I do not use them as factual evidence and support for my arguments beyond demonstrating how other people think.  How is it you can trust your sources?  Look them up.  Do a little digging.  I realized a few days ago why talking about all of this stuff makes me so tired.  I try and do research when I bring up a point.  When somebody provides a quote or a "fact,"  I look it up to see the quote in context.  I read about that "fact" and try to see where else it leads.  I get criticized some times because it takes me a while to compose my response.  I have been told on more than one occasion I must be "reaching" or grasping at straws because it takes me a long time to respond.  Well, 1:  I am doing the work, and 2:  I am a poor typist.  Some people need to learn that a well thought out, reasoned response is a good thing, not a show of poor critical skills.

So here is a sampling of a few reasons why President Obama is the "downfall of the U.S."  f anyone wants the complete list (because I don't want anyone claiming I am just cherry picking here, send me a private message and I will send it to you as soon as possible.

1) Poor reaction to the BP Gulf Spill

2) Extending the Bush tax cuts

3) Guantanamo is still open (which I do think is disappointing)

5) Failure of the DREAM Act

14) Attacking John Boehner for smoking, even though Obama himself is a smoker

16) Giving a half a billion dollars to Solyndra, only to see them buckle up within a year

18) His $800+ billion stimulus, which was supposed to keep unemployment at seven percent, has not stopped it from rising to 9.1%

19) His $450 billion jobs plan is supposed to create a million jobs. Do the math, and that means government will spend $450,000 PER new job created. The private sector can hire ten workers for $450,000 - government possibly, perhaps hires one - maybe, and then only temporarily. Once the road or bridge is built, the worker is laid off. Herbert Hoover tried the same thing, using public works projects to spur employment - guess what, it didn't work. The Great Depression got worse. 

21) Wasting his first two years, with Democratic control of the House and Senate, on a controversial health care reform bill that squandered his popularity. He might have been better served to focus on the economy!

25) Having a cabinet and advisers full of people who do not pay their taxes, and who talk about the inspirational speeches of Mao.

26) One of his first acts as President over-turned the Mexico City policy, allowing the federal government to fund abortions performed in other countries. He enters office with an economy going over the cliff, but priority number one is opening federal funding to abortions performed overseas. That is not exactly my idea of getting our financial house in order.

* * *

This is what I am up against.  Where do you start?  When one side is tacitly allowed to list rhetoric as arguments without fact checking or providing sources, it gets annoying.  With a list of 26 items, it feels like some poor attempt at presenting what is hoped will be a wall of insurmountable arguments.  

I responded to all 26 in kind, with what I hoped was logical rhetoric, but it's time to start rejecting the premise of these kinds of so-called arguments without real evidence to back them up.  It's time to make these kinds of conservatives do the prep-work themselves.