Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Pt. 2
[Click HERE to see Part 1 of this little photo journey through my late-winter and spring thus far.]
So, Aleister Crowley convinced me —— I’m going with the 3-sylabble + 2-sylabble combo: Christopher Robley (at least when I publish poems). It has a certain galloping quality, don’t you think?
But why would I start going by my given name all of the sudden? To be snobby? (It IS poetry, after all. But no, no.) The real reason is — I’ve wanted people to call me Christopher for a while. But you can’t just phone the folks you’ve known for years and say “hey, I’m Christopher now.”
I couldn’t, at least.
So when I started to submit poems to literary publications for the first time last year, the time seemed right for reinvention. (Is it really reinvention if the name is on your birth certificate?)
So, about those publications…
No, I’m not in any of those. Wishful thinking! I did have poems accepted by some great journals, though: Prairie Schooner, RHINO, Pacifica Literary Review, Arsenic Lobster, and others.
Here’s the 2013 issue of RHINO, which I just received yesterday in the mail:
And here’s a tiny slanted look at my poem:
This summer, 2 of my poems will appear in one of my favorite literary journals, Prairie Schooner. Here’s a sneak-peak at that cover:
A few months back, a new literary review — The Pacifica Literary Review — launched its inaugural issue:
And a quiet little sonnet of mine made its first appearance, too:
Anyway, the writing and submissions continue, with fingers crossed. It’s exciting and freeing and scary and all that other stuff to have a 2nd artistic ambition take on a life of its own alongside my music. But what the hell. I figure I can bounce between them to avoid burn-out.
Here’s me at my writing desk, trying to ward off burn-out with acupuncture needles in my ears (thanks, Lauren):
Speaking of Lauren (my partner), she and I took a trip down to the AWP Conference in Boston in March. It was incredible — 3 days of non-stop poetry readings and panels. Plus every press, journal, and review you can think of squished into one convention center. Then add 10,000 lit-geeks. Then add snow:
(The view across Boylston from the Hynes Convention Center).
And here’s the view from our hotel room before heading out to a poetry reading/concert hosted by Wave Books and Dead Oceans:
And lastly, last night, I gave a reading at Mayo Street Arts in Portland, Maine with 4 other writers. It was the launch party for The Cafe Review’s spring issue. I was nerrrrrvous, but managed to shake the rust off once I got going.
Here’s a picture of the cover of that issue of The Cafe Review (in which I reviewed Brenda Shaughnessy’s powerful new collection Our Andromeda):
So that’s been my year-so-far in poetry; poetry, where the pleasures are immense and the rewards are few.
If you enjoy my music, I hope you’ll humor me on this poetry ride. And if you’re a poetry fan, please forgive me for the whole pop music thang. I can’t help it. The devil gets in your feet and you just can’t keep from dancing.
How’s this for the latest possible notice? I’m going to be taking part in a poetry reading/launch-party for the Cafe Review’s spring issue — tonight at Mayo Street Arts!
Here’s some details:
Join The Cafe Review family and friends for a community launch party to celebrate the journal’s spring issue, which features a cover by local artist Ed King. Co-hosted with the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, the celebration will include brief readings, live music, and a raffling-off of Ed’s fantastic cover art.
Doors at 6:30pm/ Show at 7:00pm
I’m pretty sure we’ll be doing shotgun readings: 4 or 5 poets — 5 to 8 minutes per. Plus raffles, music, and THIS stage, which looks like something out of Mr. Roger’s Land-of-Make-Believe. If you’re in Maine, maybe see you there!
Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Pt. 1
I had grand plans for a series of blog posts throughout the late Winter and Spring — one about my trip to Folk Alliance, one about mixing my album, one about some gigs, one about poetry.
But time accelerates the more you lean into it. So I put together a series of Instagram photo diaries for you instead (with captions to prove I’ve not been idle).
First off, this is what the view from my kitchen looked like for almost 4 months. (The lake has finally thawed).
Yes. Cabin Fever! So it was great to get out of town for a bit and head to sunny, warm, tropical … Toronto?
What you can’t see between all those twinkling lights is the same damn snow that’d been falling in New England. I’m not sure why the good people who throw the International Folk Alliance Conference every year decided that Canada in February was a smart move — (they could’ve picked Austin, San Diego, Key West!) —but it ended up being a great time as always.
Folk Alliance is five days of non-stop music from 9am to 4am, with hundreds of concerts, a few films, and dozens of panels every single day. Wake, repeat.
On the down-side of things, I was so worried about this …
… that I didn’t check on the condition of my guitar immediately upon de-boarding.
I finally opened up the case once I’d gotten through Custons and saw this:
A long crack along the grain on the body of my guitar. Boo!
Remember that song “United Breaks Guitars?” It’s unfortunately still true. And they still don’t give two shits about it.
Despite my best attempts, they ain’t gonna do a thing for me — so the search for a good guitar repairman in Maine begins.
(If you want to read more about the misadventures of my guitar on two United flights to Canada, read THIS).
Anyway, the thing still played — so the shows went on. All five of ‘em. (A couple of my showcases started at 2am).
Here are the postcards I printed with my showcase schedule:
Folk Alliance is a love-fest for all kinds of Americana, country, Bluegrass, blues, folk-pop, and singer-songwriter fans and artists. Thousands of people take over a hotel for a week, drink Red Bull so they can stay awake until sunrise, and burn themselves to nothing. It’s really mad.
And inspiring — as the quality of the musicianship is incredible. Many of the best acts in the States and Canada attend, and they perform without any amplification for lucky little crowds of people squeezed into upstairs hotel rooms (with the beds removed) — like this:
That’s Birds of Chicago. Check ‘em out. They’re great.
As you might imagine, it ain’t for the claustrophobic. The hallways, rooms, stairwells, and elevators are packed — unless it’s 4am on the 11th floor. Someone apparently doesn’t need their bass.
During the days I worked the booth at the trade show for CD Baby, where we had a cardboard cutout of one of my favorite songwriters (and an extremely awesome person in general) — Mary Gauthier.
Here she is: Fake plastic Mary, or Faux-Shay.
While I was there, I also spoke on a panel about music marketing and social media — because, according to this issue of Indie Mag which arrived in the mail just before I left for Folk Alliance, I know something about those topics. (For any readers of the DIY Musician Blog — “do as I say, not as I do!”)
The talk went well, and then we all got tacos.
What else happened at Folk Alliance? Oh, I fought off a cold the whole time. The hotel was so dry that some of the luthiers exhibiting their guitars decided to go home early, afraid that their instruments might crack. I hung out a bunch with Mike Meadows of Swan Percussion and Molly King from CD Baby. Ate sushi. Played music. Saw Judy Collins. Searched in vain for wi-fi. Found it. Lost it. Flew home.
Were you there? What’d you do? Who’d you see? Lemme know in the comments section below, yo!
Over the holidays I did an interview that was just featured in the newest issue of Indie Mag.
Let’s go cray-cray
Editor Reign Lee says: “Underneath the witticisms and the considerable prose, lies a lucid seeker with a poignant understanding of what music’s all about and what’s needed in the music world today. We decided to let his invaluable observations run rampant in this issue. Yes, sometimes it is better when the lunatics run the asylum.”
Step onto my funnyfarm, won’t you?
Check out the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Indie Mag:
I also did a quick interview for Riley & Ryan’s Modern Music Marketing Blog — where they asked eleven people the same two questions about… modern music marketing. Check it out HERE.
If you’ve got any thoughts on the interviews (—blog debate, anyone?—), let me know in the comments section below.
A warm swell like a wine-buzz went through me when I saw the email from editor Kwame Dawes. 2 of my poems have been accepted for publication in Prairie Schooner, a staple in the world of American poetry since 1926.
I’d like to say that I’d be writing no matter what (and I would be!) — and that such things don’t really matter (and they don’t!) — but c’mon; lemme sup on whatever small validations I can. It might have to sustain me for a while.
I’ll keep you posted on the publication schedule. I’m guessing fall of next year or later.
When it comes to heating up bottles of milk, changing diapers, and reading Frank O’Hara to Esmé (my 2-month old) — I’ve got the shift that runs until about 2 or 3am.
One night last weekend after she’d settled into a nice milk-coma, I decided I’d play around on a few of those create-your-own-comic-strip sites (it’s quieter than playing the guitar).
Amphetamine Vending Machine: a collection of stock s-illustrations, arranged BY and FOR the sleep-deprived.
Check ‘em out HERE.
And if you have any funny, absurd, pointed, or touching ideas that’d fit into 3 frames, let me know on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments section below.. I’ll whip up a comic for you one late night, upload it to the site, and credit you in the post.
Your very own Amphetamine Vending Machine!
An intimate listening room; a solo set of durable indie-pop and dark, fractured folk; good food; and home by 11pm! (Assuming you’re not driving up from NYC or anything).
January 11th, 2013 — Chris Robley at Blue — 8 to 9:30pm
Admission is free, but with several forceful passing-rounds of the collection plate.
The first 10 people in the door get full-color posters to prove they were there in the thick of things.