• Furious Lullaby (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry)
    Furious Lullaby (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry)
  • Names Above Houses (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry)
    Names Above Houses (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry)
  • A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry
    A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry

  • Requiem for the Orchard (Akron Series in Poetry)
    Requiem for the Orchard (Akron Series in Poetry)


Oliver's work can also be found in the following anthologies.

  • Tilting the Continent: Southeast Asian American Writing
    Tilting the Continent: Southeast Asian American Writing
  • Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation
    Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation
  • Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond
    Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond
  • From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great
    From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great

Entries in Camera (3)


Spent some time with Shane McCrae's Mule this morning, and it broke my heart. I'll be writing a review/endorsement of it at greater length, for The Lit Pub later this month. I'll say a few things about it--syntactically, it requires some close listening, but shouldn't all conversations that are worthwhile?


Concerning my own work, I spent all morning watching Sportscenter and thinking about my "Nocturne" manuscript. I've come to a certain limit of understanding about the project. I've come to the realization that the "Camera" prose poems that I had written are not a part of the labyrinth sequence at all. Nor are they a part of the "Dear Empire" series. Rather, they are collaborations with the "Nocturne" series. I've realized this as I've continued to work on more ekphrastic poems dealing with the grotesque and the monstrous.

Pouring over photography books like The Body, A Morning's Work, The Bone House, and a lot of Rosamund Purcell's pieces, I've pieced together some correlation between the earlier war "Nocturnes" and what's taking place in the newer work. And somehow, the "Camera" poems seem to be the transitional scaffolding necessary to make this manuscript "go."

Now, I have to contemplate just how they'll coincide in sequence, which is a whole other narrative. In many ways these poems have been a meditation on control. And what I mean by that is that the ekphrastic writing process can be dominated by the image and so the writer must exert their own control on the work. What captivates me about writing in this mode is my struggle to reiterate the image's action without duplicating the image too faithfully.

My understanding of the ekphrastic is that the written work should never be an imitation of the influence. An attempt at imitation will always result in the written work's failure.


Speaking of homage . . .

August Group Writing and Other Musings

Once again I'm writing everyday for a month. In my case, I'm going to take weekends off, but I'll also try to write an extra poem here and there to make up for my weekend breaks. I'm still working on the "Labyrinth" series, and I'm trying to get to 25 poems to see where I'm at. I'm also going to try to carve up some more "Dear Empire" and "Nocturne" poems.

Truth be told, I have no idea where these poems are going. I'm just writing them and they're coming to me rather quickly. I don't know how they work adjacent to one another, since I have yet to sort them out into a rough manuscript of sorts. A few folks have asked me for copies of the manuscript to read for manuscript exchanges and, frankly at this stage I think if I gave them this manuscript it would be an unfair exchange because there IS no shape to this manuscript and the poor reader would be doing far too much work. I'm having a difficult time conceptualizing what these entities are. I'm now certain that the "Camera" and "Labyrinth" poems are separate from the "Dear Empire" poems. There's just no way I can successfully transition from one voice/style to the other in a graceful and articulate manner. This is a good problem to have, but it is still a problem. Essentially, I'm dealing with two separate manuscripts. So as I rambled on above, it seems I'm trying to write myself through these sequences to find an arc.

The "Nocturnes," which I'll be dipping into once in awhile, are the verse pieces and I haven't written that many . . . maybe fifteen or so. I hope to have a few more to gauge where to go next. I plan on continuing the poem-a-day through the end of September, so I'll evaluate from there.



I like the idea of carving a poem. There's a joke about the violin maker. The violin maker was asked how he creates a violin from a piece of wood. His response--it's easy. I just take out whatever isn't a violin.


Currently reading Mei-mei Berseenbrugge's I Love Artists: New and Selected Poems. Years ago, I had the pleasure of introducing Mei-mei during the Asian American Writers' Workshop poetry festival. I had no idea who she was. So I did what any person would do and "Googled" her. I think I wasn't equipped to read her work back then, but I did write a good introduction. Now, however, she knocks my socks off. I love her introspection. So much of her work is about the artistic process--not just writing but painting, sculpting, dance. Wow.


The work on the vegetable garden is stalled because the ground isn't level. I need to borrow my neighbor's Bobcat to scratch out a flatter plot. Here it is:


The plot actually goes back a ways. It just doesn't look as large here. In fact, the size of what's been plowed is actually much more than what Meredith or I envisioned for our garden. We may have to build a shed or something . . .


Current Spin:




The Manuscript I'm Working On So Far:

I've been doing some curatorial work this evening. In this current concept of a manuscript, I have approxmately 108 poems. The question is order and weather the Camera and Labyrinth poems truly fit. If you're curious, here are the titles:


Camera 1.doc

Camera 2.doc
Camera 3.doc
Camera 4.doc
Camera 5.doc
Camera 6.doc
Camera 7.doc
Camera 8.doc
Camera 9.doc
Camera 10.doc
Camera 11.doc
Camera 12.doc
Camera 13.doc
Camera 14.doc
Camera 15.doc
Dear Empire [these are your assemblies].doc
Dear Empire [these are your asylums].doc
Dear Empire [these are your banners].doc
Dear Empire [these are your battlefields].doc
Dear Empire [these are your beasts].doc
Dear Empire [these are your birds].doc
Dear Empire [these are your boardwalks].doc
Dear Empire [these are your bridges].doc
Dear Empire [these are your canyons].doc
Dear Empire [these are your capital cities].doc
Dear Empire [these are your coffee people].doc
Dear Empire [these are your countries].docx
Dear Empire [these are your dead].doc
Dear Empire [these are your dissidents].doc
Dear Empire [these are your docks].doc
Dear Empire [these are your engines].doc
Dear Empire [these are your evenings].doc
Dear Empire [these are your followers].doc
Dear Empire [these are your foundries].doc
Dear Empire [these are your goods].doc
Dear Empire [these are your hagiographers].doc
Dear Empire [these are your holy places].doc
Dear Empire [these are your horizons].doc
Dear Empire [these are your inquests].doc
Dear Empire [these are your interstates].doc
Dear Empire [these are your maps].doc
Dear Empire [these are your meadows].doc
Dear Empire [these are your mercies].doc
Dear Empire [these are your monuments].doc
Dear Empire [these are your murders].doc
Dear Empire [these are your nights].doc
Dear Empire [these are your nurseries].doc
Dear Empire [these are your orders].doc
Dear Empire [these are your parks].doc
Dear Empire [these are your pastures].doc
Dear Empire [these are your plains].doc
Dear Empire [these are your processions].doc
Dear Empire [these are your questions].doc
Dear Empire [these are your radio towers].doc
Dear Empire [these are your ramparts].doc
Dear Empire [these are your refugees].doc
Dear Empire [these are your salt flats].doc
Dear Empire [these are your scribes].doc
Dear Empire [these are your skies].doc
Dear Empire [these are your springs].doc
Dear Empire [these are your squares].doc
Dear Empire [these are your stables].doc
Dear Empire [these are your structures].doc
Dear Empire [these are your subjects].doc
Dear Empire [these are your sugar men].doc
Dear Empire [these are your volcanoes].doc
Dear Empire [these are your winters].doc
Dear Empire [these are your witnesses].doc
Dear Empire [this is your aftermath].doc
Dear Empire [this is your art].doc
Dear Empire [this is your beastiary].doc
Dear Empire [this is your breeze].doc
Dear Empire [this is your church].doc
Dear Empire [this is your city].doc
Dear Empire [this is your light].doc
Dear Empire [this is your Oceania].doc
Dear Empire [this is your Photo in the absence of flowers].doc
Dear Empire [this is your photo].doc
Dear Empire [this is your product].doc
Dear Empire [this is your purview].doc
Dear Empire [this is your rival].doc
Dear Empire [this is your sanitarium].doc
Dear Empire [this is your subject].doc
Dear Empire [this is your tomb].doc
Dear Empire [this is your tremor].doc
Dear Empire [this is your wall].doc
Dear Empire [this is your weather].doc
Dear Empire [this is your window].doc
Dear Empire [thse are your phantoms].doc
Dear Empire[these are your dissidents].docx
Dear Empire[these are your spires].doc
Labyrinth 1.doc
Labyrinth 2.doc
Labyrinth 3.doc
Labyrinth 4.doc
Labyrinth 5.doc
Labyrinth 6.doc
Labyrinth 7.doc
Labyrinth 8.doc
Labyrinth 9.doc
Labyrinth 10.doc
Labyrinth 11.doc
Labyrinth 12.doc
Labyrinth 13.doc
Labyrinth 14.doc

Labyrinth 15.doc


Honestly, I'm thinking the Camera and Labyrinth sequences are their own thing together. So that leaves 78 "Dear Empire" poems. It's not a problem for me to write them. It's a problem for me to figure out a way to end the project, and it might just be that I don't finish this thing . . . ever.


Current Spin: