I Am Big. It's the Pictures That Got Small

for those wonderful people out there in the dark

06 July 2008

Bill Studebaker

Very sad news received about Idaho poet William Studebaker having drowned in a kayak accident. Bill was one of those countless "minor" poets who are the best teachers, promoters, and practitioners of the craft. Of Idaho poets, he's right up there on my list of influences very early in my development (Rick Ardinger, Charles David Wright, Maggie Ward, too).

Bill was born in Salmon, Idaho, became very well known as an expert kayaker and outdoorsman (the photo here looks like generic hardscrabble southern Idaho, maybe just outside the City of Rocks), and he was an institution at the College of Southern Idaho, teaching for 30 years at a junior college.

With Ron McFarland, he had edited the only literary anthology of Idaho poetry, covering a 100 years of work. He also enabled the growth of many young poets, some of whom have gone far and wide from Idaho.

For me, he wrote a very enthusiastic, generous letter in support of my first book to be published by the University of Idaho press. That press had never before published an individual book of poetry, but they were intrigued by the subject matter of the mining disaster. The editors, however, felt completely out of their element judging the quality of the poetry. It would have been easy for Bill to have written a mean-spirited commentary, to prevent someone else getting a foothold not available to him, especially some young punk who had abandoned the state and who had only lately returned, a sorry stray coming home with his tail between his legs. Bill's statement was not just an argument for my particular manuscript, but it was something about the viability and necessity of poetry to address the deepest and darkest veins of grief, greed, and redemption. It was a big-hearted afffirmation of poetry itself. Bill's letter is something I'll keep in my own small treasures.

17 June 2008

Cyd Charisse

"That Cyd — when you've danced with her, you stay danced with."
--Fred Astaire

13 May 2008


A bit taken aback by the news of Robert Rauschenberg's death.

He lived here in Lee County, on Captiva Island, for the last 38 years, and while he had been in frail health, he still managed to be very active in the community and making public appearances. I had the good fortune of meeting him about a half dozen times, almost always at art openings, usually at the local community college that houses the Robert Rauschenberg Art Gallery. The last few times, he appeared in a wheelchair, but he made sure to make himself available to everyone, all at this so-not-New-York venue, and he always seemed touched when people expressed their praise and admiration for his work.

He also was extraordinary in his support for a local center for abused women as well as various environmental causes, and of course, in support of many fine young artists. He truly made a home here in Southwest Florida, a task of no small feat, as I continue to try to find my own ways of taking root. His graciousness has been a marvel to me. I know my friend Kat Epple, who collaborated with Bob, is remembering their friendship today, and I am wishing her all the comfort and peace that I know she is finding in those memories. She is one of hundreds that he has supported, been so generous with.

02 April 2008

Gods & Money: Ka-ching, Baby!

Just got an e-mail from Kevin Walzer, saying that WordTech Editions will be publishing my next book of poetry, Gods & Money in June, 2010.

20 March 2008

Five Years and One Day and Counting

About George W. Bush's speech yesterday, which proclaimed victory in Iraq, I was most taken by this statement:
"In Iraq, we are witnessing the first large-scale Arab uprising against Osama Bin Laden. And the significance of this development cannot be overstated."
Evidently, when those same Iraqi militias were working with the Syrian or Iranian or Saudi elements, they were not a part of an uprising against the United States. Only after we have successfully bribed or coerced them, after they have gotten tired of their own in-fighting, and after they see an opportunity for political power and influence, these Iraqi militias are now doing our bidding and taking it to Bin Laden.

Evidently, someone's anti-Islamofascist-freedom-fighter is someone else's bitch.

Of course, I was under the impression that in fact there had been an earlier and genuine and rather large-scale uprising specifically against Bin Laden and his associates: remember Afghanistan?

14 March 2008

The Greatest College Football Game

For those of you who've truly followed this blog, which I began posting almost three years ago, my original intent was to discuss contemporary American poetry and Boise State football, my feeble attempt at making this the least read blog on the internet. So today, I'll offer a little taste of Bronco football.

Carson and I were lucky enough to make it to the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. Here, for your viewing pleasure, assuming you have three hours, is that game:

If it's not for you, I can live with that. I am large. I contain multitudes. Walt Whitman, I am sure, would love to lie with Chris Petersen, Jared Zabranski, Ryan Clady, Korey Hall, Jerard Rabb, and Ian Johnson.