The Republic of August

August is the most serene, restful time of the year. The days become slightly cooler and drier, and the sun crouches lower in the sky, giving a day-long impression of late afternoon. The lightning bugs are fading away and the air is dozy with the drone of locusts, fat with vegetation. The living is easy and so is the daydreaming: one’s animal senses are at ease because of the benign, savannah-like climate and the bounty in the fields. This is when the best crops of the year begin to roll in: I’ve been gorging myself on local watermelons, blueberries, peaches, corn and heirloom tomatoes. It feels like I haven’t seen a piece of meat in weeks. I’m a model citizen of the Republic of August, burning my passport as I write this. Pass me the olive oil.

The August daydreaming has been very fruitful indeed of late: during my Portland visit, I spent an afternoon inside of an isolation tank–something I’ve wanted to try since I was a kid. I won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say that my brain bore fruit: I saw the “glimmer”, and I want to see more. I’m hooked.

It’s been a busy summer, and I’ve been catching up on assignments since my return from Portland (an announcement from Tin House should be coming shortly about the posters). Promoting the Whitman book has kept me confined in cities for the better part of the season, so I’ve been trying to squeeze in some much-needed wanderings deep in the Pine Barrens before summer begins its final decline. I’ve managed to take in some of the late summer orchids, so this season hasn’t been a complete wash for me as far as bushwhacking goes.

I’m relishing this lull before September arrives and my calendar fills up once more. I have some Whitman-related events coming up, but for the moment I’m fixing my gaze on the next book project. I’m working up notes on four or five possible directions; we’ll see if one or two of them forms a gravitational field over the coming weeks, or if a publisher will take an interest in any of them. I’ve long anticipated that I may have to stratify my output among commercial publishers, small indie presses, and self-publishing, so this might be the point when I begin to explore crowdsourcing options for my less commercial books. We’ll see. I’m excited about what the winter may bring this year.

Much to my detriment, I always try to embark on a new course every time: most people like “brands” and a savvy artist will repeat themselves until people catch on. I’m more interested in exploration, seeing if I can pull something off: if I know I can do it, I tend to lose interest. I could bang out one kind of book fifty times, but the prospect of doing so bores me to death.  (Obviously I’m not very savvy.)

I might eventually revisit previous projects from a fresh angle, but at the moment I feel like I’m still staking out territory, working out just what it is I do particularly well (I’m a bit late to the game and so I have to conduct my education in public). If and when I manage to stake a claim, I’ll deepen my investigations. Until then, I’m wandering in the brambles and following my nose into the dark woods, looking for that elusive glimmer.

Portland, Posters

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I’ve been in Portland the last few days, living in the bungalow next to Tin House. Yesterday I completed the signing and numbering of all the limited edition (150) screenprints, which will be available for sale at my presentation 7:30 tonight (Aug 1) at  Ampersand Gallery & Books (2916 NE Alberta Street, Suite B). I anticipate an announcement about the posters very soon, so keep checking the Tin House site.

Portland Bound

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Just a reminder that I’ll be flying out to the lush, misty wilds of Portland next week to visit my friends at Tin House and to conduct a couple events:

Thu., JULY 31st: Song of Myself marathon reading at IPRC

Fri., AUG. 1st: Slide lecture and Q&A at Ampersand Gallery and Books

I’ll also be signing and numbering the screenprinted posters (see image above) that Tin House has made from my artwork. They’ll be available for sale via Tin House after next week.

There may be a few other events in the offing, so stay tuned. Hope to meet some of you next week!

More to come

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I’m taking a short hiatus from book-related events to recharge and tend to some commercial projects (we need to keep the lights on around here). Some new events are listed on the Events page, and more are coming. Stay tuned.

Across the Brooklyns

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My whirlwind tour of independent bookshops in Brooklyn yesterday ended at Brooklyn Bridge Park, where NYU professor Karen Karbiener has been hosting an annual marathon reading of “Song of Myself” for the past eleven years. I want to thank her for so graciously including me: I was honored. Some truly wonderful readings took place yesterday. As people read, I could see the corresponding image from my book, which was a curious experience.

Here’s a list of Brooklyn independent booksellers who have signed copies of Whitman Illuminated for sale: Spoonbill and Sugartown, Greenlight, and Bookcourt.

The fantastic folks at Word in Greenpoint (hi Katie and Jenn!) are currently out of copies, but they will be restocking soon–and they are the only shop that had my tee shirts and book bags on display for sale. (The guys at Word have been such huge supporters of my book. I’m going to do my best to come back to sign their copies, if I can. Besides, I really like Greenpoint: it’s like a cross between Port Richmond and Eagle Rock.)

My thanks to Katie and Jenn at Word, Susan at Spoonbill, Jarrod and Sam at Greenlight, and Sarah and Lauren at Bookcourt.