"Good doesn't always look like how you imagine it," Benjamin Percy writes in The Dark Net. "Sometimes it cusses and wears a leather jacket and motorcycle boots and chain smokes. Sometimes it deals a little on the side. Sometimes it kills."
Percy's book, a vampire novel that is simultaneously about the dangers of the Internet, tells the story of demons who flow into the world through a virus propagated on the Dark Net (where dangerous and illegal stuff takes place on the Internet).
Somehow this gravel-voiced writer (have a listen here) manages to take a genre novel and imbue it with cheeky literary significance -- in the book there are debates about God, good and evil, as well as a frightening sense that our society is headed towards calamity by our over-reliance on insecure Internet connections. Holy public policy, Batman!
Percy is coming to Cleveland Public Library as part of its Writers and Readers series in collaboration with Literary Cleveland on Fri.-Sat. Aug. 3rd-4th.
Don't you just love the holidays? It's a season where we get to use otherwise quaint, defunct words like "merriment." Depending on what you're into, that could mean candy canes or spiced alcoholic beverages.
Anyway, this Saturday, Dec. 9th from 3-5 pm, I'll be signing copies of my poetry chapbook The Shape of Home at Gypsy Beans. I'll be there with neighborhood authors John G., Justin Glanville and others. Come by and say hi!
But wait, there's more: across the street the Gordon Square Art Space will be selling signed copies of The Shape of Home along with other artists' work. Go read "Tales to Demystify" by John G., his comic about navigating Gordon Square in a wheelchair. It's wrenching, funny and artful.
Finishing Line Press nominated a poem from my 2017 poetry chapbook The Shape of Home for a Pushcart Prize. Here's the full list of works nominated by FLP:
The Shape of Home by Lee Chilcote: “Catching Sunfish”
Becoming Trans-Parent, One Family’s Journey of Gender Transition by Annette Langlois Grunseth: “Becoming Trans-Parent”
Gas & Food, No Lodging by Devi S. Laskar: “The All-Saints, GA, Overeaters Support Group”
Landscape of The Wait by Jami Macarty: “Aground”
Dipped in Black Water by Kate Peper: “Saved”
Brief Immensity by Jeanine Stevens: “V Shapes against Blue”
They also nominated my book for the Society of Midland Authors Award in Poetry. The winners will be announced in 2018.
According to the website, "Since 1957, the Society has presented annual awards for the best books written by Midwestern authors. Notable winners of the juried competition have included Saul Bellow, Kurt Vonnegut, Studs Terkel, Gwendolyn Brooks, Mike Royko, Jane Smiley, Dempsey Travis, Leon Forrest, William Maxwell, Louise Erdrich, Scott Turow, Alex Kotlowitz, Aleksandar Hemon, Stuart Dybek, Roger Ebert and many more."
For more information visit their website: http://midlandauthors.com.
Last month, I was invited to the Eastside Reading Series at Coffee and ( ) by Detroit writer Aubri Adkins. The coffee shop, which is totally worth a visit, is in the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood where every other brick house is vacant. Aubri and her husband moved to Detroit from Chicago and bought one that had been vacant six years and now they're fixing it up. She has a great story about the homeless guy she found living there when they were days away from closing.
While we in the neighborhood, Katherine and I had lunch at Rose's Fine Foods on Jefferson and took a stroll through the neighborhood park, which is in disrepair but pretty. We took these pics at the spot where the Detroit River empties out into Lake St. Clair. We never made it to Belle Isle because we ran out of time.
Good crowd, the other readers were fun to listen to, and I sold a couple books. Afterwards, Detroit writer Kelly Fordon put us up at her house and entertained us by showing us Hamtramck and bringing us to the Public Pool art space. If you brought a potluck dish, you can read for two minutes. Since we came with Kelly and she brought some awesome Middle Eastern food, I got to read my poem "In Medias Res."
The next morning, I got up early and walked along Lake St. Clair. After coffee and breakfast with Kelly, we checked out the Diego Rivera murals at the DIA before having brunch with Uncle Mike and his wife Amy at the Grey Ghost. We wanted to stay longer, but were grateful for our quick 24 hours in Detroit. After brunch, we headed home to pick up the kids at my parents' house.
Awhile back my poem "Mid-Winter at the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve" was accepted by the lit journal Enizagam (magazine spelled backwards). Enizagam is this rad journal published by the Oakland School for the Arts ... yes, a high school puts it out and the editors are all students. This week, I received the beautiful Issue 11 in the mail and was looking forward to digging into it. It fell open to my poem, because the staff had put in a bunch of sticky notes with handwritten comments on what they liked about the piece.
"Imagery was spot on! The language in this piece is beautiful."
"Your command of language is inspiring!"
"'Frozen in mid-crash' is such a nice line. Really strong piece."
"Such an original description of nature."
How's that for an ego boost? Thanks, Enizagam!
To find out more about the journal, check out their website here and find them on FB here. Purchase a copy of Issue 11 here.
On Sunday, after a really wonderful camping trip to Headwaters Park in Geauga County with the family, I started watching Manchester By the Sea, which is now free with Amazon Prime. I remember being warned by friends that this is a depressing movie, and thinking, "Oh, I should really go see that." While the movie is really dark and I found myself in tears several times, its spiritual uplift lies in the notion that human beings continue to live and love others even when they're completely broken by tragedy and can never be whole. It's also about adults doing childish things and later regretting them, and that really struck home with me, the late-bloomer who never got a real job until I was 25 (which is young for the millenials, who still live at home and are on their parents' health insurance until they're 26 -- thanks, Obama). From a narrative standpoint, the movie is full of tragic, mundane, and often grotesquely silly scenes in which nothing much happens. In fact, the narrative ends much like it begins, with Lee Chandler working as a handyman in a Boston apartment building. Except he's experienced a small kind of liberation from his grief by helping his nephew through his dad's death and getting him settled with a new family. I love this quote from A.O. Scott in the New York Times: "Mr. Lonergan isn’t trafficking in bittersweet sitcom beats. He’s after a kind of realism rarely found in recent American movies, which often seem to think that audiences will be confused or offended when the silly and the serious collide onscreen."