Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story
(on a postcard)

#226 Greg Santos: A Romantic and a Traditional Gentleman

Greg Santos was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1981. His birth parents were Cambodian, but he was adopted when he was 4 months old by his Spanish Mom and Portuguese Dad. Greg was an only child and had a happy childhood. His parents gave him so much love and support. The family lived on a cul-de-sac, had bonfires, ate s'mores, played hide-and-seek, and built snow forts. Greg traveled a lot with his parents when he was younger—Scotland, Egypt, Martinique, Spain, Portugal, England, France, Mexico, Italy, Greece—but he doesn’t remember as much about those places as he wishes. Also, Greg owned a pet rock, had Sea Monkeys, and an imaginary flea circus. As a teenager, after watching The X-Files, Greg wanted to be a paranormal investigator in the worst way. Once, Greg saw a UFO (he swears). After that, he started The Bureau for the Investigation of the Unexplained and made his hair look like David Duchovny's. When Greg was 16, his father died. That Halloween, Greg dressed up in white face paint and a black trench coat like The Crow. He went to school that way because he didn't know what else to do. He still misses his dad. Eventually, though, Greg found solace in art, music, poetry, and, especially, theater. The idea that he could be somebody else was comforting. In college, he majored in drama and minored in English. In college, Greg also met Maryn (he was sick at the time and she gave him tea). After that, they dated for 7 years. Greg is a romantic and a traditional gentleman (for instance, he makes an effort to wear shirts with collars). Greg loved acting, but, eventually, he realized that he didn't want to speak somebody else's words. So Greg went back to school for a second degree in creative writing, which is how he caught the poetry bug, which is what took him to The New School for his MFA. Poetry allows Greg to write down thoughts he wouldn’t say out loud and make them into art. Once, he took lessons on how to be a clown and a stuntman. Also, Greg collects wind-up toys, antique books, small erasers that look like things, and nearly anything to do with elephants. Greg knows the professional wrestling isn’t real, but he still watches it, which his wife doesn’t understand. That is, Greg and Maryn are married. She is brilliant and makes him laugh. She is a classical beauty and his best friend. Greg is the poetry editor of pax americana and works for the New Haven Reads Community Book Bank, which provides free books and free after school tutoring. It makes Greg happy that he gets to spread the gospel of poetry—writing, teaching, and editing. He loves his life and his Maryn.

[Update: Last summer, Greg Santos and his wife welcomed their first child, Rosemary, to the world. In the fall, they all moved to Paris, France, where Greg joined the editorial staff of the Paris-based literary journal, Upstairs at Duroc. The other great news is that Greg's debut poetry collection, The Emperor's Sofa, is now out from DC Books. You can also read his ebook, Thinking Things Through, which was published by Pangur Ban Party in 2009.]


The good Christopher Newgent did an awful interview with Andy Devine, which is how they do interviews at Vouched. So there's that. Also, Andy will be reading in the Vouched Presents reading series on January 15th with a killer lineup--Sean Lovelace, Aaron Burch, and Matt Bell. This announcement is brought to you as part of Being Andy Devine.


Joe Brainard on writing his great book, I Remember: "I am way, way up these days over a piece I'm writing ... I feel like I'm not really writing it but it is because of me that it is being written. I also feel that it is about everybody else as much as it is about me. And that pleases me. I mean, I feel like I am everybody. And it's a nice feeling." That's how I'm feeling these days. I hope you are too.

It Was a Good Year

Here is my year in words, by the numbers.

44 publications in magazines and anthologies.
20 interviews of other writers.
16 readings.
12 readings by my pseudonym, Andy Devine.
11 screenings of films.
10 interviews of me.
2 translations: Dear Everybody in Korean, How Much of Us There Was in Spanish.
1 documentary, 60 Writers/60 Places.
1 paperback, Dear Everybody.
1 book under a pseudonym, Andy Devine's Words.
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Andy Devine Does Teleportal

After reading in two places at once on November 14th (Champaign and NYC), Andy Devine needed a little recovery time, but Being Andy Devine, the national book tour for WORDS, just passed through Austin, Texas for the Teleportal Readings, which was part of the Indie Lit Roadshow. Many thanks to the wonderful Jess Sauer for organizing, and, as always, to brilliant Andy Devine for being Andy Devine. Here is Andy's reading from Teleportal, which had to be recorded in a van outside the venue because of legal reasons.

Andy Devine Does Teleportal... from Monofonus Press on Vimeo.


The National Indie Lit Roadshow

The Baltimore wing of the National Indie Lit Roadshow is an open house thingy that is sponsored by Monumental People and Publishing Genius and JMWW and probably some other book people. It's running at 24 East Mount Vernon Place between 11 and 8. There will be great book shopping, drinky drinks, cash money poker, and a couple reading samplers (at 2pm and 7pm). I'll be reading something brand new as part of the 2pm sampler and then running the poker game. Click on the flyer for bigger details.

Devine Remix

As I mentioned, below, Robert Kloss is doing a series of remixes at Necessary Fiction this month. Up today is the Andy Devine story, Plots, which is from WORDS, which Publishing Genius published earlier this year.

Being Andy Devine

After reading in two places at once on November 14th (Champaign and NYC), Andy Devine needed a little recovery time, but Being Andy Devine, the national book tour for WORDS, continues in Portland on December 9th at the Smalldoggies Reading Series--along with Tom De Beauchamp, Jackie Treiber, Michael Roberts, and musical guest Antique Summer. Thanks to Matty Byloos and Carrie Seitzinger for organizing and hosting.

#141 The Great Abundance of Steve Katz

Steve Katz was born in the Bronx in 1935 and grew up in Washington Heights. It was a classic NYC childhood—playing ball, chewing Double Bubble, and hanging out in the park. When he was 9, Steve says that he took his sled to the park across the street and noticed everybody looking up into the sky at a bright lozenge of light. He says that he became transfixed by it too and was transported up into that lozenge of light. He says that that 9-year-old boy is still up there in the light (quite content that he never grew old) and that the Steve Katz who is talking to me is the alias Steve Katz, who has written some books and screenplays. After that, Steve attended Cornell University where he met his wife who was beautiful, the rodeo queen of Winnemucca, and a great sculptor. In 1957, he worked for the forestry service as a lookout with his wife, the result of which was their first child. They lived in Italy in the late 50’s and early 60’s with their 3 sons until Steve felt like he was losing his language. (Language is an imperfect medium for representing whatever you think of as reality.) The family moved back to the US and Steve took a teaching job at Cornell. They were married 14 years and Steve’s girlfriend, after the separation helped with the divorce papers. Steve never liked going to school, but taught creative writing and literature at a number of universities until he retired from the University of Colorado in 2003. What else? One great thing he was happy he did was buy a place in Cape Breton in 1971, which was gorgeous and peaceful; he lived there in a tee-pee for many years until he built a cabin in 1988. Also, Steve says that your body gets ridiculous as you get older, but its self-destruction puts you closer to your spirit. Further, Steve was one of the founders of Fiction Collective. And the books? Steve has written and published continuously since the self-published novella, THE LESTRIAD in 1962—including THE EXAGGGERATIONS OF PETER PRINCE (3 g's intentional), SAW, WIER & POUCE, SWANNY’S WAYS, ANTONELLO’S LION, and KISSSSSS: A MISCELLANY. The critic, Jerome Klinkowitz, says he “…pushed innovation farther than any of his contemporaries.” Steve currently lives in Denver, Colorado, where he is working on his MEMOIRRHOIDS (pain in the ass memories), of which there will be 137 (which physicists call god’s number, the fine structure constant, as it appears in all transactions between matter and light), which includes an unresolved decimal.

[Update: Steve Katz just published Time's Wallet (Counterpath Press), a memoir written in 137 discrete pieces alled memoirrhoids.]

Necessary Fiction: Remix

Robert Kloss is doing a series of remixes at Necessary Fiction this month. Up today is my story -- "The Birds, the Light, Eating Breakfast, Getting Dressed, and How I Tried to Make It More of a Morning for My Wife" (which originally appeared in Open City #20 and is actually an except from HOW MUCH OF US THERE WAS, which Tyrant Books is bringing out in the spring) -- and then Robert's remix, which removes the context to create a different tone. I remix one of his later this month.

#155 Jason Stumpf Loves It All

Jason Stumpf was born in Cookeville, Tennessee. When Jason was 6, his father died, which was as hard as one might think and it shaped, consciously and unconsciously, all of his relationships and his sense of who he is. Jason’s mother did a wonderful job raising his sister and him. She tried to make sure that whatever limitations she faced did not keep Jason from being himself and pursuing his interests. The family house was not a sad place. It was very ordinary, which was all due to his mother. At 10, he began studying music—classical guitar and renaissance lute. Music seemed like a kind of magic, a secret language with its own form of writing. For high school, Jason went to McCallie, a boarding school on a scholarship, an all-male school that offered Jason incredible academic opportunities. He’s really grateful for that. It was a very different social atmosphere than what Jason came from. Kids were socially and politically very conservative and they had a lot of money. Within this environment, Jason had to figure out who he was. Being at McCallie forced him to grow up some. Jason started writing in high school and was immediately taken by the idea of writing as a process. In college, he realized that he was better suited to writing than music (writing is a creative process; musical performance doesn’t offer the same opportunities for revision). After college, Jason worked a variety of jobs: graveyard-shift employee at a Russell Stover’s factory (2 days), library assistant in a music library (1 year), library assistant in a rare book and manuscript collection (a little more than 1 year), graduate student at an MFA program (2 years), and adjunct professor of English at Providence College (4 years). In 2001, while Jason was working in the rare books collection, the library put on an exhibition to celebrate the release of James Merrill’s collected poems. Graduate students wrote catalogue articles for the exhibition and Margaret Avery Funkhouser co-wrote a piece on some wallpaper that Merrill had designed. Very soon after, Jason and Margaret both realized that they might be in love. One day, Jason kissed Margaret and they have been together ever since. Margaret is an incredibly serious person, but also goofy, creative, caring, talented, quiet, and spirited. Jason loves that Margaret is so many things. Being around her, he has fun. He learns a lot. Now Jason teaches English at the Walnut Hill School, an arts high school outside of Boston that is almost nothing like the boarding school he attended growing up. He feels fortunate to be teaching there. He feels fortunate to be the father of his one-year-old son, Jonas (an anagram of Jason). Everything about being a father is really tough, but Jason loves it all, even how hard it is.

[Update: Jason Stumpf just published his first book, A Cloud of Witnesses, which "is a verse-novel that is not in verse and isn't a novel."]

Kim Chinquee Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard): #248 Shya Scanlon

Shya Scanlon was born on July 29, 1975 in Augusta, Maine, and spent the first ten years of his life on a rural commune. This was the happiest time of his life: sheltered, idyllic, with nothing but fond memories. When he was ten, his family moved to Seattle, which was surreal and shocking, and he wasn’t prepared for the reality; he felt betrayed, and began to take it out on his brother Colin, these acts becoming his biggest regret. He was always very physical, until a mountain bike accident at 15, when he suffered a concussion and tests found a birth defect in his vertebrae. Surgery failed to correct the problem, and he wore a neck brace. He became more bookish, falling into an alternative crowd and writing, reading, doing drugs and smoking, petty crime: leading to a path of self-destruction. He felt above-the-law and kept spiraling. He dropped out of high school at the beginning of junior year, and when his parents were away on vacation, he broke into their car and drove to San Francisco, bought drugs, then drove to Rhode Island to sell them and make enough to fix the car, the excursion landing him in a juvenile detention center in Wisconsin. His parents’ response was a wake up call—Shya wasn’t in trouble, and he realized the impact he had on people he cared about, especially his brother, and he wanted to turn himself around. He eventually attended an alternative school, which provided him with the kind of opportunity he needed. He attended college in Indiana, but felt isolated and moved back to Seattle, where he studied German. He spent six months in Germany, but felt depressed and isolated, so eventually went back to Indiana and finished his degree at Earlham College. He picked up writing to be part of a girlfriend’s world, mostly poetry. At the end of college, he moved back to Seattle, stopped writing, then quit his job to write a book. He decided to move to New York, which meant for him a commitment to writing. He applied to Brown, lived in NY for a while, then met his girlfriend, Erin, who worked for Jane magazine. He was accepted to Brown, moved to Providence, and when Jane folded, Erin moved to Providence with him. He couldn’t deny the truth: her “amazing force of good,” her joy, and the vitality in everything she does. He lives with her now, and in NY again, where he writes and does freelance editing. He’s most proud of his decision to reorient his life path, and of his book Forecast, and hopes to someday make a living from his writing.

[Update: Shya Scanlon’s book of poems, In this alone impulse, is now available from Noemi Press and his first novel, Forecast, has officially launched. Plus, Shya is now co-editing Monkeybicycle and is the Fiction Reviews Editor at The Nervous Breakdown. Also, here's his YouTube channel.]

[Note: You can read Kim Chinquee's postcard life story here.]
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