Word Wednesday


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No better day to start my new weekly language post, which I’m calling “Word Wednesday” (and which is really just going to be a place for me and other like-minded folks (students, teachers, writers, everyone and anyone basically) to riff about words and sentences with currency in the arts, culture, and politics) than on the day that that great poet Yogi Berra passed away. Not only did I grow up with him as the namesake of my favorite cartoon character, but I used his last name for the ghoulish protagonist in my first short story, written in 3rd grade for Mrs. Roach, called “Gravedigger Blues.” (His name was “Paul Berra.” Clever, right?)

To kick off ‪#‎wordwednesday‬, I’m going to share my favorite Yogi-Berra-ism that Yogi Berra never ism-ed. Rather, it was said by an old Italian guy whom I worked with one summer when I was roofing my way through school and toward melanoma-ed shoulders who once said the following to me when I came back from doing the lunch run with the wrong sandwich: “Hey, kid, that just goes to show: You can lead a gift horse to water, but you can’t look in its mouth.” I think Mr. Berra would have approved. If there’s a heaven for those guys, I hope they’re being introduced to each other as I type these words.

If anyone has any other Yogi-Berra-isms to share for #wordwednesday, whether uttered by Mr. Berra or not, please share the word wealth.



Enroll in my grammar course at The New School in NYC, called Tools, Not Rules.


Hosting Small Press Night at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, NYC, Thurs., July 30, 2015, 7 PM

Excited to be hosting this HWthis Thursday evening. It’s a great treat for me both because my own story collection came out from an independent publisher, the incredible BOA Editions, and because I get to introduce and listen to a night of poetry from three great independent presses, Sarabande BooksSibling Rivalry Press, and Saturnalia Books. With readings by Kathleen OssipDavid Tomas MartinezRalph Hamilton, and Debbie Kuan.

Join us in celebrating small presses in general and these independent publishers and authors in particular, this Thursday, 7 PM, at Housing Works, 126 Crosby St, NYC.


Speaking on 2015 Writer’s Digest Annual Conference panel, Sat. Aug. 1st, 2015, 2:20-3:20 PM


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Incredibly honored and excited to participate in the 2015 Writer’s Digest Annual Conference.

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 9.13.15 AMI’ll be speaking on a panel titled “HOW, WHEN & WHY TO SWITCH WRITING GENRES,” to be moderated by the brilliant and amazing Susan Shapiro, featuring such talented writers, agents, and editors as Caroline LeavittNaomi Rosenblatt, Seth Kugal, Daniel Menaker, Ayesha Pande. 

Join us!

Saturday, August 1st, 2:20-3:20 PM. “No matter how much you love journalism, fiction, nonfiction, YA, self-help or poetry, it can only benefit you to stretch your literary muscles and make more money by publishing in a different arena (or two.) For example, John Updike wrote short stories, novels, essays, art criticism and he even drew his own New Yorker illustrations! Moderated by an author of 10 books (who reinvents herself every 5 years), this panel includes top literary agents, book editors and bestselling authors who will reveal the secrets of successful reinvention and why you might want to consider moonlighting too.”

NYC Literary Life

Last night I attended the excellent Franklin Park Reading Series and said excuse me to over a hundred people; I stepped back and made way for bar staff and bar-goers a hundred and fifty-eight times; I failed to say hello to the very person I had really wanted to say hello to; I drank broken glass (long story: I actually took the piece out of my mouth from my tongue to show the bartender, who was super sweet about it all); I got rained on and waited forever for the subway and then tried to read a book on the train while the person sitting next to me ate the entire meal she had bought before boarding that train, taking time to dip each french fry into one of the many, many small plastic ramekins that contained a green gelatinous stuff that she said was avacado-mayo, which, she told me, she loved. She had been starving since this morning, she said. She used wobbly black plastic cutlery to cut into a medium-rare burger and dense onions and tomatoes, but only half the bun. Yet, earlier that night, I had heard some of the very best writing read aloud that I’d heard in a while, read by some of the most engaging and talented people I had heard read in a while, and so tonight I am going to do it all over again. Because that’s my choice — and it feels good, that choice. Tonight I will be attending the LIC Reading Series, to see Megan Abbott and Mark Doten and Lisa Marie Basile, and to be charmed by the grand host Catherine LaSota. I will bring an umbrella and I will arrive early and I will look at the rim of my stout’s pint glass before I lower my mouth to sip. https://www.facebook.com/events/1569081553365526/Queens-Future

Reading at launch party for “A Book of Uncommon Prayer” anthology at Housing Works, NYC, Tues., May 19, 2015, 7 PM


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I’m so ABookofUncommonPrayer-MVollmer-coverexcited to be reading alongside some of my favorite writers, as we celebrate the release of “A Book of Uncommon Prayer,” an anthology of everyday invocations by 64 authors, edited by Matthew Vollmer, published by Outpost 19.

Join us at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, Tues., May 19, 7pm, for a launch party and brief readings by Jaime Clarke, Christy Crutchfield, Catherine Lacey, J. Robert Lennon, Ariel Lown Lewiton, Robert LopezCourtney Maum, Rick Moody, Dawn Raffel, Joseph Salvatore, Benjamin Samuel and more. Hosted by J. Robert Lennon.


Reading to launch the LIC Reading Series in Queens, this Tuesday, April 14th, 8PM


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Had to enlist a fellow Queens resident to pose for this backboard on Northern Blvd. deep in the heart of our fair borough. For on this coming Tuesday, April 14th, at 8pm,Queens-Future I’ll be reading along with two other talented Queens residents to launch a new monthly reading series in Long Island City, Queens. In the lovely carriage house in the back of LIC Bar (45-58 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, NY 11101), the LIC Reading Series will be hosting readings by Bill Cheng, Audrey Dimola, and yours truly. The event is FREE! And there will be books for sale from Astoria Bookshop, and drinks for sale by the awesome LIC Bar bartenders. There will be some other hijinks, as well. Join us!

Great thanks to Catherine LaSota!


— in Queens, New York.

Two readings: The Center for Fiction & Epiphany Magazine, Tuesday, Dec. 2nd; and Pratt Institute Writers’ Forum, Wednesday, Dec. 3rd

I’m honored and grateful to announce two public readings I’ll be giving this week. Tomorrow night, Dec. 2nd, I’ll be reading at 6:30 PM at The Center for Fiction, a national treasure for writers and readers alike. The event celebrates the release of the newest issue of Epiphany Magazine, in which a new short story of mine appears. And on Wednesday, Dec. 3rd, I’ll be reading at Pratt Institute Writers’ Forum, as part of a reading series that includes some of my favorite authors: Lev GrossmanTea Obreht, Jenny Offill, and Patricia Smith. That event takes place at 12:30 PM in Engineering 307. A warm thanks to Gina Zucker at Pratt for the invitation and the support.

Hope some of you can attend.

Click either event for more info:

The Center for Fiction, Tuesday, Dec. 2nd, at 6:30 PM

Pratt Institute Writers’ Forum, Wednesday, Dec. 3rd, at 12:30 PM


Visiting writer at the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University’s MFA Program (Oct. 2–Oct. 7, 2014)

Really excited to travel to Spokane, WA, next week where I’ll be a visiting writer at the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University.

Visiting Writer

My book is being taught in the MFA program there, and I’ll get to meet the students and instructors, teach a writing workshop, give a talk on book criticism, read from my work, and spend some time with the good folks out in that part of the country.

Grateful for the invite and for the warm support.