What’s your latest creative project?

My new book is titled, Letters to My City. It’s a mix of essays and poems about Los Angeles and beyond.

The UCLA PhD candidate in History, Peter Chesney offers this synopsis on the book: “A street poet and a tour guide, through L.A. places and L.A. letters, Mike Sonksen means it when he says he’s going to share authority with folks at the grassroots in this multicultural city. Mike delivers on his promise and more, amplifying voices I for one might never have heard without him. That and he taught me, a critic of car culture, that an ethical manner of reading space, even as you drive through it, is possible. Props to a man who does the hard work of listening to the sound of the city!”

The Riots were the week before my prom
A month & a half before my graduation
Southern California was a time bomb

Race relations warring like Vietnam
My crew more like the United Nations
The Riots were the week before my prom

So Cal needed mindfulness like Thich Nhat Hanh
Multicultural coalitions for communication
Southern California was a time bomb

Control

By Bud Smith

Short Story

Good Luck: Episode Forty-Eight

 

The postman nailed a note on my front door. The box out by the road was frozen shut.  He couldn’t deliver. I had to do something about it. I didn’t do nothing about it. 

I saw envelopes had been tossed on the ground outside where I’d thrown rock salt and a slush puddle had formed. Then it was the coldest night of the year, froze it all. Then what?

What I shouldn’t have done was what I did, chop the mailbox off its post, drag it into the kitchen, but that’s what I did. Thawed it out in the sink while I drank my drink in the same clothes as yesterday as yesterday as yesterday as yesterday.  

Inside the mailbox, I found a surprise. The Hawaiian shirt I’d given Sadie, returned to sender. Little glowing volcanos. The get well card was in the pocket, with a personal message, You’re good man, don’t ever doubt it. 

Of course I’m going to doubt it, Sadie. I was born to doubt it.

 

i wrote a book called Killing Donald Barthelme. i didn’t mean to. i didn’t really mean to write a book. what I wanted was to reveal my darkest secrets and in turn receive applause. i wanted to write about one thing while actually writing about something else. i thought writing about how donald barthelme was bad would somehow set me free. but it turns out that when i told publishers i had a book about donald barthelme, they actually wanted a book about donald barthelme. and in the editing process they got rid of my winks and nudges to the reader: they reduced the book to what it said it was. and it came out. it was advertised though not reviewed in the new york review of books. my mom called and said dad was sick. i said, “what kind of sick?” mom said, “i don’t know, sick. the doctor wants to see him for another test. it’s probably nothing…” i said, “should i call him?” she said, “no, no. he doesn’t know i’m calling you. i don’t think he wants you to know, he doesn’t want you to worry.” i said, “do you want me to worry, mom?” then she cried and said, “shit. lorenzo. no. i don’t want you to worry. what are you even trying to say? you think i like this? you think i’m happy?” i said sorry but was thinking, “none of this is supposed to happen.” i published a book. after you publish a book, you’re an author, not a person and you don’t have to handle people problems anymore. after i published my book my mom wasn’t supposed to call me at all. my dad was supposed to send me hand-written notes saying, “congratulations, son. i’m proud of you.”

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Zulema Renee Summerfield. Her debut novel, Every Other Weekend, is available in trade paperback from Back Bay Books.

 

Summerfield holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, and her work has appeared in a number of literary journals. She is also the author of a book of flash fiction, Everything Faces All Ways At Once (Fourteen Hills Press).

In addition to her writing, Summerfield is an educator and creative coach and is one half of Thoughts & Feelings. She lives in Portland, Oregon, where she is at work on a collection of short stories and a new novel.

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Dear Abigail and Other Stories and Writing, Written are, arguably, two separate books. That’s what Amazon would say. Ostensibly the late wife in the former is Abigail and the man’s name is Philip while the late wife in the latter is Eleanor and the man’s name is Charles. In truth, these two collections are twin contributions to the canon of late-stage Dixon who has for years deeply and productively lingered on the single theme of writing loss.

 

The stories in both books catalogue Dixon’s grief and yearning in the wake of widowerhood and age. He knows what Donald Barthelme meant when he wrote “Revolves the stage machinery away from me, away from me.” Melancholy and anxiety tint the day-to-day doings of his overlapping stand-ins. He goes to the Y. He takes the dust cover off his typewriter. He puts it back on. He eats sandwiches and drinks coffee at diners. He talks to his daughter (or daughters). He wonders about getting a new girlfriend. He tries to write. He tries to sleep. He dreams about his wife. He writes it down. He remembers when he wrote it down the other day. He writes down remembering writing it down. These aren’t stories in the traditional sense (beginning, middle, end) but sites of feeling which you can visit like monuments. His sentences are organized into obelisks.

I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

Self

By Bud Smith

Short Story

Good Luck: Episode Forty-Seven

 

On the rush to the hospital we detoured for cigarettes and I locked the keys to the Chrysler in the ignition while the Chrysler was running.

You can’t go anywhere without cigarettes. You can’t. I don’t care. If somebody had shot me in the head and not Margaret, I’d have asked the EMTs to pitstop at the 7-Eleven to get me smokes. Okay?

Okay. I was drunker than I’d ever been coming out of the store. Sadie and I had been trying to set a personal best/worst/best. And I was high too. I could have been anybody. I tried the door handle and realized my error. Everything has always been an error with me. Well, whoever I was, I’ve been a lot of people since my mother died. Whoever I was, all I’ve ever done is fuck up.

Elizabeth Cantwell is the guest. Her new poetry collection, All the Emergency-Type Structures, is available from Inlandia Institute.

 

Cantwell lives in Claremont, CA, where she teaches Humanities at The Webb Schools. She has a B.A. from Yale University and a Ph.D. in Literature & Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of journals, including DIAGRAM, The Cincinnati Review, The Los Angeles Review, Hobart, and The Missouri Review.

Her first book of poems, Nights I Let The Tiger Get You (Black Lawrence Press, 2014), was a finalist for the 2012 Hudson Prize; she is also the author of a chapbook, Premonitions (Grey Book Press, 2014).

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I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Adam Popescu. His debut novel, Nima, is available from Unnamed Press.

 

Popescu is a writer and journalist whose work has appeared in The New York TimesWashington PostBloomberg BusinessweekVanity FairNational GeographicPlayboyFast CompanyScientific AmericanOutside, The GuardianNew ScientistLos Angeles Magazine, and others.

In 2018, Popescu spent weeks in Ladakhin search of snow leopards in India’s Himalayas, sailed to the edge of the globe in the Russian High Arctic and into the deceptively placid Pacific waters of the Galapagos, on assignment for Bloomberg, the Washington Post and New York Times. A year later, he returned to Ladakh and saw a leopard with the naked eye.

Popescu holds a master’s degree in journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, and a BA in creative writing from Pitzer College. He lives in Los Angeles.

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The Editor

By Bud Smith

Short Story

Good Luck: Episode Forty-Six

 

The editor rushed into the mold-reeking business center, up the stairs, past the massage therapist, past the office full of young people making cold calls, selling extended vehicle warranties. 

His shiny shoes sunk into the filthy carpet. He wore new dress pants and a dress shirt. His hair was slicked back. He carried an Armani briefcase in his left hand. 

He was late for an editorial meeting. 

Out of the two thousand submissions, some lucky winner would receive $10,000 and receive publication in the novel you’re reading right here.

 

Adam O’Fallon Price is the author of two novels: The Grand Tour (Doubleday, 2016) and most recently The Hotel Neversink (Tin House, 2019). We recently discussed the joys and difficulties of writing a poly-vocal story, which takes place in a New England resort. The Neversink resort is at once a character, an atmosphere, and a stage that allows for a host of characters to change, stifle, murder, love, and defeat one another. 

 

Randal O’Wain: One of my favorite aspects of The Hotel Neversink is the little moments of reflection that each character presents throughout the book. As when Jeanie thinks, “My father was not an easy man. But why should people be easy? It is a cherished lie of the modern world, of America, that everything should be good and easy, as though comfort were a moral condition.” To maintain this level of interiority without sounding overtly authorial, one, I assume, must know the characters very well. Talk to me about the process of inhabiting so many different perspectives, thoughts, and feelings. How did you go about writing and structuring this novel?

 

Adam O’Fallon Price: The novel began as the story about one of the main characters, Len, when he’s trying to keep the hotel open in the mid-eighties and dealing with the Polish Policeman’s League, who was running amok. This story came from a man I met when we lived in upstate New York, the husband of my wife’s boss, who had grown up in Brooklyn in the forties, and gone to Catskills resorts for thirty plus years. He’d seen the rise, heyday, and demise of the whole institution, and was a wealth of these incredible stories. So after I wrote that one, and maybe a couple of others, it became clear that the hotel itself was a mainspring that could power so many different stories and voices. And in a weird way, I think occupying this space suggested different characters and different character perspectives. The hotel as seen by a young girl would be radically different from the hotel as seen by the hotel detective. I think always having the hotel there as a shared, immutable feature of life, gave me something solid and objective against which I could imagine all these different subjective experiences. I think the hotel gave me a way in to character perspectives that I would not have otherwise had, or had as easily.

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Robin Page. Her debut novel, Small Silent Things, is available from Harper Perennial.

Page was raised in Cincinnati and has degrees from UCLA and UC Irvine’s MFA program. She is married, has two daughters, and lives in Los Angeles.

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Support the show at Patreon or via PayPal.

 

Cum hitting the psoriasis on my elbow made my elbow sting. His ex had psoriasis too, maybe that was his type. I found out she had psoriasis from her blog and I’d scrolled through the entire blog all the way back to the beginning. I asked him to say goodbye to me before he went to work but he didn’t, he left the room quickly when his alarm went off and didn’t return. I had work later in the day at my new job. I hated it but also I’ve hated every job I’ve ever had. I never managed to find one I didn’t hate, I just fantasized about getting into a car accident and being able to sue someone or else starting a petting zoo with my ex-boyfriend as a way to make money instead.