Some Thoughts as New York “Reopens”

 

The anger I’m feeling living through these catastrophic times is palpable but not consuming. The sadness I’ve felt has been enormous but not overwhelming. As New York prematurely “reopens,” I’m spending part of this morning reflecting about what happened over the past few months. While there has been and continues to be many things to be angry and sad about, to rebel against, etc., there are also many things to celebrate, praise, express gratitude for. To wit, all of the following happened during the lockdown, uprising, etc.:

My daughter and I started a singing duo, which we recently dubbed The Floating Bear. The past few weeks have found us recording covers of songs by Bob Dylan, David Ryan Harris, The Civil Wars, Chris Cornell, and more

We celebrated my girlfriend’s birthday with many of the birthday girl’s friends popping in virtually.

I hosted the inaugural Big Other Book Awards Ceremony, which featured readings by and conversation with Rae Armantrout, Norman Lock, Victoria Redel, and Arthur Sze.

I wrote a book of poems, which is less plague journal than plague itself, I hope. In any case, I also sent out a number of poems from this collection for publication consideration.

I made further progress on the YA novel I’m revising.

I made further progress on another novel and a smattering of short fictions.

I wrote a song, something I haven’t done in years.

I launched what eventually came to be called The Quentin Quarantino Report, which features largely satirical commentary on current events from a radical left perspective targeting conservatives, neoliberals, moderates, liberals, celebrities, and other slaves of the corporate death machine.

A literary agent has taken significant interest in my novel, which they called glorious, innovative, bold, brave, zany, comparing it favorably to work by Thomases Bernhard and Pynchon, and Joan Didion, and even in some ways to some of Bret Easton Ellis’s. I’m so rarely read, let alone so deeply, intelligently, and empathically, so you can imagine my delight. They haven’t signed me on as a client, yet, and I know it could still go either way, but things still look promising.

I wrote Big Other‘s first newsletter and sent it to about five thousand readers. Subscribe HERE.

I published work by the following writers in Big Other:
Will Alexander, Rosaire Appel, Rae Armantrout, Mike Corrao, Gillian Cummings, Tom De Beauchamp, Raymond de Borja, Andrew Joron, Hunter Liguore, Robert Lopez, Joe Milazzo, Lance Olsen, Elizabeth Robinson, Jacob Singer, Ken Sparling, Tyrone Williams, Peter Wortsman, and Carolyn Zaikowskii.

Peter Markus’s “This Boy’s Tongue,” which I published last year, was selected as a Best Small Fictions 2020 pick.

Tina May Hall’s “The Extinction Museum, Exhibits #357, 7, and 36″—which I published last year—was selected as one of Wigleaf‘s top 50 pieces of very short fiction on the web for 2020.

I produced four “Life During the Contagion” podcasts, which featured conversations with the following writers and/or musicians: Kurt Baumeister, Matthew Binder, Hieronymus A. Bogs, Rikki Ducornet, Carol Guess, Jeremiah Hosea, Hillary Leftwich, Robert Lopez, Brendan Lorber, Joe Milazzo, Antonio Nadal, Davis Schneiderman, Tony Trigilio, and Angela Woodward.

I expanded the scope of the podcast to include discussions about radical politics. My interview with renowned socialist economist Richard D. Wolff is the first step in this direction.

I made two playlists to help get you through the catastrophe(s):
Songs for the Contagion. And Songs for the Contagion 2.

I published a letter supporting the uprising against the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

In other words, I’m very fortunate to have experienced so much love, joy, and wonder. And I take none of this for granted.

 

Songs for the Contagion.

Here are my annotations to the playlist of songs I’ve compiled so far during the Covid-19 Pandemic, which might help get you through these dark days, and the dark days to come. They certainly help me.

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Heavy Feather Review Interviews Me!

John Madera's author photo

Check out Micah Zevin’s interview with me on the occasion of Big Other‘s tenth anniversary, published in Heavy Feather Review!

Here’s excerpt:

“The particular alienation we face now, especially as artists, as conscientious people generally, is increased, ironically, by our supposed interconnectedness, by technological connections engendering a disconnection that renders us worse than islands in some massive archipelago, worse than clouds quickly evaporating in electronic ether, but as nuts and bolts within the corporate death machine. Lately, people have been wearing out the already worn-out phrase ‘now more than ever,’ like ‘we need writers now more than ever,’ etc. But what ‘when’ didn’t need writers and other artists? Bad times? It’s always been bad. [Kathy] Acker said it years ago, and many others have said it before her throughout history. Making art in times of crisis is always challenging, sometimes seemingly impossible, but what time has been without crisis? And art—the making of it, the absorption of it—is one of the few things that help us understand the times, navigate through them, confront them; and sometimes, like a kind of miracle, it radically alters them, and us, for the better, for the stranger.”

New Fiction Published!

conj68a.jpgHappy to share that “The House That Jack Built,” a new fiction of mine, appears in Conjunctions:68, Inside Out: Architectures of Experience, alongside work by Robert Coover, Joyce Carol Oates, Lance Olsen, Nathaniel Mackey, Susan Daitch, Frederic Tuten, Joanna Scott, Andrew Mossin, Claude Simon, Louis Cancelmi, Cole Swensen, Robert Clark, Kathryn Davis, Elizabeth Robinson, Gabriel Blackwell, Monica Datta, Robert Kelly, Mary South, Brandon Hobson, Ryan Call, Ann Lauterbach, Can Xue, Karen Gernant, Chen Zeping, Matt Reeck, Lisa Horiuchi, Elaine Equi, G. C. Waldrep, Lawrence Lenhart, Mark Irwin, Justin Noga, Karen Hays, and Karen Heuler.