Books
  • 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)

Anthologies

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
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Entries in labyrinth (77)

A Note About the Labyrinth

Out of curiosity, I went back to the files to check when the first "Labyrinth" poem was composed. I started writing them at the end of April. April 22nd, to be exact. And I remember what stirred the writing of the poems. I had heard David Welch read at the Slash Pine poetry festival, and I really liked the voice of his stuff. It reminded me of the rabbits in David Lynch's Inland Empire.

 

A bizarre thing to think of, I know, but it's true. And for some reason, THAT association made me think of the Theseus myth.

So what's all this have to do with the prose poems? I think the tonal inflection of David's poem reminded me of something that I had been wanting to reproduce on paper. Hearing him adjusted my writerly urge to work out this prose poetic sequence and now, I'm 38 poems in. I think I'll keep going until it's roughly a chap-book. I haven't decided whether the boy is Theseus or not. I haven't decided much of anything, only the tonal quality of the writing. So far, hitting that note's been a lot of fun.

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A brief break from the rain will have me in the seat of my lawn mower shortly.

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Current Spin:

 

Process Journal 10-4 (twofer Tuesday)

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Welcome, October

I'm back from my various comings and goings. I had a wonderful reading at Willamette University. A big thank you to Scott Nadelson and the rest of the English Department. You were all wonderful hosts and your students were lovely!

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Sabbatical feels weird. It feels like I'm forgetting something. Like I've left something on the roof of my car, driven into town, and realized that I had left a carton of milk from the grocery store miles after it was too late.

I feel strangely unsettled. I've been working. I've been working very hard. I've completed one project, I'm at the mid-way point of another, and I've been busily writing reviews. But still . . . I think I miss the face time with students. The comraderie in the hallways with my colleagues. I miss checking my mailbox. I miss the little things.

I've been getting department e-mails about this and that and I totally feel left out of the conversation. And you know what . . . school's only been in session for less than two weeks.

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Speaking of finished projects, I "finished" my "Dear Empire" prose poems project . . . at least for now. I went ahead and sent it to my publisher to see what she thinks. Off the top of my head, it may be too long. It's 101 pages in length--and that's just the poetry content. The front matter, etc. adds another 7 pages.

Last week, I was working against a deadline. I wanted to finish working on the project before I left for Oregon because I didn't want to think about it anymore. I can't imagine what more I could do with it at this point. What I found was the work was coming too easy and therefore, my judgment of the work felt impaired. I couldn't figure out whether what I was writing was any good and therefore I ended up hating everything. So that's when I realized that my judgment of the work was drastically impaired and that I needed new eyes on it.

Now, what I'm excited about are the Labyrinth poems and the Nocturnes. I feel like I need to jettison the "Camera" poems that I currently have in the Nocturnes collection because of their abrupt stylistic shift. We'll see what comes of it.

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Happy that some more "Labyrinth" poems got taken over the weekend. I need to be better about sending work out. I've been far more interested in generating work than disseminating it.

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I'm in the process of reading Patrick Rosal's new book Boneshepherds for my next review on The Lit Pub. So far, it's fantastic. I'm really intrigued by its architecture, which is much different than the other stuff I've read of Patrick's.

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Current Spin:

Process Journal 10-3

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Process Journal 9-30

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Understandings

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?

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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.

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Speaking of homage . . .

Process Journal 9-19

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Process Journal 9-16

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