Friday, December 10, 2010

New Poem

Just heard that my poem, "Vacuum Activity," has been accepted for publication in Indiana Review. Details to follow!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


After downloading TweetDeck for my computer, I'm officially addicted to Twitter. I imagine if I ever get a smart (read: modern) phone that has things like—oh, I don't know, the Internet—it'll get even worse.

I don't necessarily think that Twitter has revolutionized or will revolutionize social media, grassroots organization, or literature in general, but I do think that it opens up a lot of interesting possibilities for the written word, particularly poetry. While I've so far only really used it to tweet links to electronic versions of my poems on the Internet, I'd like to eventually use it to incorporate media from Facebook and YouTube, tweet poems directly, or participate in on-line poetry events.

For example: tonight I'll be taking part in 32poems' poet party on Twitter (you can follow via the #poetparty hashtag). There'll be a Q&A segment going on for about an hour, and I'm actually really looking forward to being asked questions about poetry, communicating/commiserating with other poets, and (somewhat selfishly) earning a measure of exposure and getting the opportunity to network with poets, literary magazine editors, and independent booksellers.

I really like the immediacy of Twitter: the ability to reach writers all over the globe, the "timely updates," and the more-or-less real-time conversations. It's sort of like sending and receiving text messages to the whole world at times, but ultimately I think the access to a greater literary community it permits is definitely worth it.

So, if you have time tonight: #poetparty, Twitter, 9:00 pm est!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

After Adam (Poem)

This poem first appeared in the spring 2010 issue of the Colorado Review and was reprinted in Vivisection.

After Adam

A stillness over the face
      of the water. Cranes remain
motionless. The air settles,

      colonizes the bowed spines
of pine, of cedar, of oak.
      The trees exhale, unheard in

the wide silence of the world.
      For once there are no voices,
humanity gone, as through

      a mirror, looking over
his shoulder as he goes, &
      vanishing down the many

paths to the world after men
      & the heavens fear neither
skyscrapers nor zeppelins.

      His fires burn out. Only the
stars are radioactive,
      trillions—the bubble image

of a thousand galaxies
      reflected & vanishing
in the distance, through mirrors.

      Who could look on that & not
weep, not tear his clothes, his hair?
      Creation, so much larger

than we’d feared. Yes, then, better
      none remain, the garden of
the earth dimming toward twilight,

      shadows over the deep, the
partial darkness of water:
      & man, asleep, dreaming of air.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Two O'Clock And All Is Well

Finally, the long-promised update on my mfa experience thus far—

For those not familiar, New York University's mfa program is (full-time) two classes per semester for four semesters. Four workshops are required and no more than one workshop can be taken in one semester; further, at least one craft course is required, although up to four craft courses can be taken for credit toward the degree so long as they're all taught by different instructors.

In short: if you're enrolled full-time, you have to take four workshops in four different semesters, as well as at least one craft course. The remaining three courses can be craft courses, but needn't be. You can take any graduate-level course as long as both the creative writing program and the department in which that course is offered approve. Being a big fan of intellectual cross-pollination and interdisciplinary work, this was a huge draw for me when I was applying last year.

Also, before I get into specifics: I'm enrolled full-time and working full-time, so it's definitely possible to earn your mfa at nyu without quitting (or precluding the possibility of) a full-time job.


This semester I'm taking a poetry workshop with Breyten Breytenbach and a craft course with Anne Carson. Breyten's workshop has helped me tremendously with my writing in the nine weeks I've been attending. My cohort is tremendously talented and helpful, Breyten is a fantastic workshop leader (as well as an attentive reader and incisive critic), and the workshop environment (complete with deadlines! Real deadlines!) has revitalized my writing schedule, despite my being fairly regimented in the years between my undergraduate and graduate writing classes.

Anne's craft course is an interesting animal: highly collaborative, chiefly performative, and very much hands-off in terms of instruction. I think I've only written one or two poems for her class so far, but the class has 1.) gotten me to work closely with other writers, which I've never done before, and 2.) forced me to think in ways I generally don't via exposure to other artists' creative processes. Both have been, I think, healthy for me as a writer, though I suspect I have yet to realize the full benefit of the course, which may take months or even years. I've also learned a thing or two about other artistic disciplines (performance art, painting, dance, theater, &c), which has also been to my advantage.

The program in general hosts a reading series and a number of literary events throughout the semester and academic year; I've had the pleasure of introducing poets such as Howard Altmann and D. Nurkse, attending events co-sponsored with The Academy of American Poets, and working on the graduate creative writing program's literary journal, Washington Square Review.

I love the program at New York University so far and am tremendously glad I decided to attend; if anyone has any questions about the program, please don't hesitate to leave a comment here or e-mail me at eric [døt] q [døt] weinstein [åt] gmail [døt] com, and I'll be happy to answer them as best I can.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Forthcoming Poem

Just got the good word that my poem, "Debridement," will be appearing in a future issue of Prairie Schooner (most likely sometime in 2011; details TK)!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Next Reading

I'll be reading as part of the EARSHOT reading series at 7:30 pm on Friday, December 3rd at Rose Live Music in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (map here).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Updates, &c

No updates (yet) re: Black Warrior Review. Alack!

The mfa goes well. Details TK, hopefully.

Vivisection comes out in just over a week, which is really exciting.

The ms for my first full-length collection is circulating among myriad book prizes, which is a little stressful. Hopefully good news TK in the coming months.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


New work forthcoming in Black Warrior Review. Details to come!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Next Reading

My next reading will be at Pacific Standard Bar in Brooklyn, NY, as part of the Chin Music Reading Series.

When: Thursday, September 30, at 7:00 pm.

Where: 82 Fourth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217 (Map here.)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Poets & Writers Listing

I've added my listing to the Directory of Writers; you can find it here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I just learned from Ander Monson that my collection, Vivisection, is the winner of the 2010 New Michigan Press/diagram chapbook competition! Needless to say, I'm thrilled. NMP made the announcement today on their website, and the book is slotted for release in 2010 (likely late fall/winter, but I haven't talked to NMP about it so I'm not completely sure). With any luck, it'll be ready in time for the holidays.

More to come!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Next Reading

It's been awhile since I've done a reading—I think my last one was in the fall, as part of the Best New Poets reading series (my poem, "Diagnosis," was in the 2009 anthology). We did readings at a number of venues across New York, and I'm glad to be returning to KGB Bar on the 22nd for another reading. Joining me will be the immensely talented Adam Eaglin, who I worked with at Duke and who earned his mfa at Boston University while studying with Robert Pinsky and Louise Glück.

So, in short:

Eric Weinstein & Adam Eaglin
Thursday, July 22nd, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Map here.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

American Hybrid

I've been reading Cole Swensen's and David St. John's American Hybrid recently, and one of the most interesting concepts in the anthology is that contemporary American poetics has largely moved beyond the concept of the "school"; that is, the reason we don't have our own modern-day Black Mountain Poets or Beats or Romantics is because today's poetry borrows so liberally from so many different—often contradictory—traditions that attempting to classify poets into schools and circles is complicated at best and completely futile at worst. That is to say, there are no more (or relatively few) "purebreds"; we're all mutts now.

The anthology does a lot of things right, chief among which is including work by Harryette Mullen, who just won Poets & Writers' Jackson Poetry Prize and whose Sleeping with the Dictionary is among my favorite poetry collections. Some of my other favorites whose work appears include Ralph Angel, Rae Armantrout, John Ashbery, Mary Jo Bang, D.A. Powell, Bin Ramke, Donald Revell, C.D. Wright, Charles Wright, and Dean Young.

In fact, I'm off to read more of the anthology now. Review possibly to follow.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thoughts on the MFA

First: I just realized I inadvertently stole Amy King's blog subtitle when I created multitudes. Two weeks out of the gate, and I already need to rethink the name of this place. Quel fromage.

I'll be starting the mfa program at NYU in the fall, and while I'm absolutely excited, I'm also a little nervous. Most of my friends in college were engineers, and I've only recently become moderately comfortable identifying and labeling myself as a poet. I've never really spent time with other poets, and while I've always done well in undergraduate workshops, I think I viewed them as being populated by college students with an interest in creative writing/poetry rather than... poets-in-training? I'm not sure if that makes sense, but I do wonder whether the mfa experience will be a little intimidating at first.

It's also been awhile since my reading and writing habits have been externally structured or formalized in any way, so I'm really interested to see how my writing evolves simply as a result of my being required to read certain texts, write certain (amounts of) material, and come prepared to discuss and dissect poetry a couple of times a week. Will I realize my writing is improving as it happens, or will it be a few months before I start to notice it? Will I see an increase in the number of poems I have accepted for publication? How long before I manage to land a book deal? &c, &c. I know a lot of this depends on me (hard work, ability, attention to craft, and so on), but there are a number of x-factors involved (including, but not limited to, dumb luck) and I'm just really curious as to where I'll be in May 2012.

Assuming the world doesn't end before then, that is.

Monday, May 3, 2010

School of Quietude vs. Post-Avant

Ron Silliman, via his blog, has identified a schism in contemporary American poetry: that between the "School of Quietude," a nod to Poe that seemingly identifies poets who are needlessly and overly conservative in their poetic aesthetics, and the "Post-Avants," poets who are doing fresh, new work in their respective poetic circles (e.g. Language Poetry). As the story goes, the former have been systematically disenfranchising the latter for the last couple of centuries (at least), and this is one of the most pervasive and little-known crises in the literary world.

I hesitate to even employ these terms, since I fear they lend credence to an imaginary (or, at the very least, useless) dichotomy. (Before I continue: I've never seen them used in any academic text or discourse outside the Internet.) Indeed, much like Chevy Chase's character on Community attempting to coin the new slang term "streets ahead", Silliman's ham-fisted attempt to divide the poetry world into two factions—one subjugating the other—comes off as contrived and somewhat pathetic rather than helpful or effective. Worse yet, unlike Chase's character, Silliman makes no effort whatsoever to define what, exactly, his new terms mean.

What I (think I) know about them is as follows:

School of Quietude

• The phrase (an oblique reference to Poe, as mentioned above) was coined by Silliman and seems to be defined as "the subset of American poetry that Ron Silliman does not like."
• Most, if not all, confessional poets fall under this heading, as do all Poets Laureate of the United States (see below).
TriQuarterly and Southern Review both publish(ed) predominantly SoQ poetry.


• This phrase was also coined by Silliman and seems to be defined as "the subset of American poetry that Ron Silliman likes."
• I assume the phrase "post-avant" means "post-avant-garde," but am not sure whether this is being equated with post-postmodernism.

In all honesty, I think this whole "debate" is a lot of smoke & mirrors/wheel re-invention/purposeless re-branding, &c on Silliman's part, since 1.) no one (including, most notably, Silliman himself) has produced a definition of either term, and 2.) there's no more common way of legitimizing oneself in the art world than by arbitrarily defining who is on the cutting edge of capital-"A" Art and who is not, then defining oneself and one's associates into the former circle.

He must have some metric for separating SoQ from PA, though, or else he wouldn't be able to make the determination that current PLOTUS Kay Ryan is "the 47th consecutive School of Quietude poet to hold the position in its 71 year history." Some speculate that the SoQ folks descend from Thoreau, and the rest (which include PA), Walt Whitman. The clearest working definitions I've found are that SoQ is pretty much everyone ("the establishment"), and PA is the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets (like Silliman) and anyone whose poetry is "experimental" (in my opinion) to the point of nonsense (Whitman excluded). To make matters worse, Silliman has apparently also allowed for a "third way," the "Elliptical Poets," whose membership and aesthetic are even more obscure.

In short: I'm not interested in Silliman and his poetics per se, but I do want to know if there's something interesting he's trying to get at by constructing this School-of-Quietude-versus-Post-Avant dichotomy.

If—to borrow from Jason Quackenbush—"one construction of the School of Quietude is that it is 'those poets who hold the purse strings and tend to promote work that is familiar rather than work that is good,'" then Silliman's construct may be meaningful, but not particularly useful; that bad poetry by famous poets is published all the time is not news, and the theory that their work is legitimized by the academy and not by a public that, by and large, never reads poetry is not really that surprising. When you have a group as insular as American poetry that so few people (relatively speaking) really care about, of course you're going to have these kinds of power struggles and political agendas. I'm just not convinced the controversy, insofar as it exists, is as one-sided as Silliman seems to think.