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The latest issue of Interim

Eight or nine months ago, I posted an excerpt of a poem I was working on—a processing of sorts of my move from Las Vegas to San Salvador—and asked for advice on where I should submit it. The poem was eventually picked up by Interim, an old and respected literary journal based at UNLV, and it’s included in the latest issue. Titled “El Salvador” (or “The Savior”), the poem starts:

The rain broke.

Stars shone like stars.

The same Scorpius

that looked down on me

in the desert?

 

Fixed for millennia.

I migrated, in reverse,

from dawn to dusk.

 

The night—

so black it’s blue—

embraced me with amputated arms. …

 

You can read the rest of the poem, and the latest issue, here:

https://www.interimpoetics.org/

PS- A few of you read various drafts of the poem and provided feedback. Thank you! Also, a special thanks to Interim Editor Claudia Keelan and Assistant Editor Andrew S. Nicholson.

Book update

It took awhile, but I’ve found a home for my book about the people who survived the Las Vegas storm drains.

When I lived in Las Vegas, I wasn’t aware of Central Recovery Press. But my grad-school buddy Dan Hernandez got a job there, and I added CRP to my list of publishers that may be interested in the book project. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I’d ever contact them; I was confident I could place this book with an agent, or a publisher outside of Vegas. But that proved difficult and tedious, so I reached out to CRP, through Dan, and they were interested in the book. And the more I learned about them—a niche (addiction and recovery) that fits the book, a national distributor, competitive advances, etc.—the more interested I became. Finally, after several weeks of back and forth, I signed the contract.

The hope is that this book, tentatively titled Two Cops and a Cricket: Surviving the Las Vegas Storm Drains, will be published in the next year or so. I also hope that it will raise money and awareness for Shine a Light. (One-fourth of the money I make off the book will go to Shine a Light, and I will encourage CRP to contribute to the program as well).

As always, I will keep you all updated. And thanks again for your support!

A new poem

The Savior

The rain broke.
Stars shone like stars.
The same Scorpius
that looked down on me
in the desert?

Fixed for millennia;
I migrated, in reverse,
from dawn to dusk.

The night embraced me
with amputated arms. …

That’s the beginning of the second draft of a poem I’m working on. I guess the poem is a processing of sorts of my move from Las Vegas to San Salvador. If the next draft turns out well, I may submit it to small and mid-sized literary journals based out West (as they may be interested in the Vegas angle).

If there’s a lit journal you think I should consider, please let me know. (I’m out of the loop on that.) Gracias!

Special Collections update

As some of you may recall, before leaving Las Vegas I donated the notes and memorabilia from my first two books to UNLV’s Special Collections. They’ve sorted through the boxes and made the contents available to the public. Here’s a write-up on the collection, along with a few pics.

https://www.library.unlv.edu/whats_new_in_special_collections/2018/07/collection-highlight-matthew-o%E2%80%99brien-papers-tammi-kim.html

Book update

I finished the third (and perhaps final) draft of the tunnel survivors book. It’s a little more than 80,000 words. It could probably be trimmed a bit more, a few things shifted around, etc., but I’m pretty satisfied with this version.

The options now seem to be to let it sit for a bit and take one more whack at it or to pitch it immediately to agents and publishers. I’m leaning toward pitching it immediately, as I think I’ve done all I can with it (at least for now, without feedback from an editor or agent).

If you have thoughts on this, please share them. Also, if you know an agent or publisher that may be interested in survival stories from the Las Vegas storm drains, which bust myths and paint a larger picture of homelessness in America, let me know. (I may also reach out to some of you individually for advice.)

Thanks in advance!

Salud, El Salvador!

I’m at the airport in San Salvador, preparing to vacation in the States after a year of teaching in Central America. I can’t recall a year in which I’ve learned and been challenged more: a new job, culture, language, lifestyle, relationships. At times, I traveled so far out of my comfort zone I couldn’t remember its coordinates, which, of course, was part of the idea.

Salud, El Salvador, to an amazing primer año! I’m already anticipating the second one!

Book update

I finished and printed out a second draft of the tunnel survivors book. It’s solid, I think, and around 90,000 words, which is close to its “fighting weight.”

I’m in the process of editing the hard copy. I hope to finish the book in the next week or two and then start shopping it around. #ShineALight #TwoCopsAndACricket

Summer plans

I’ve solidified my itinerary for the summer: Las Vegas (June 18-23), Atlanta (June 23-July 1) and Ambergris Caye, Belize (for the month of July). (I’ll return to San Salvador around August 1.) Let’s get drinks, play blackjack, practice Spanish, workshop over coffee or tea, do outreach in the drains, go on a run or hike, play team trivia, snorkel or something!

PS- When you live behind towering, razor wire-topped walls guarded by vigilantes with guns, posting information like this isn’t a concern.