Gracious Strangers


Last night I gave around twenty-five rideshares in the grand city of Cedar Rapids. I amused myself by wondering what my passengers would think if I told them I’d been sleeping where they sat. While I keep the car in an orderly and clean condition, I’m sure the thought would be unsettling to some. I told one of my riders that I was from Milwaukee and she exclaimed that fact to be creepy, that I could be some traveling serial killer. If only I were in such a lucrative business.

The people of Iowa are engaging and warm. Can’t say as much for the wind. The juxtaposition of a dull landscape and vibrant citizens fascinates me. Perhaps the lack of natural wonder gives folks nothing to appreciate but each other. It’s alarming to say the least. I find myself put off at times by the lack of abrasiveness I encounter.

A friend called today saying she knew some people in Iowa City I could stay with for a spell. This friend always comes through at exactly the appropriate time and today is no exception. I spent the better part of the morning debating whether to spend my taxi money on an oil change or a much-needed place to finish setting NYMPH for print. Thanks to knowing wonderful people, I don’t have to decide. I can’t wait to see Denise’s vision become an actual book.

Today I’m writing from a place where they have regular-ass coffee and no one wearing wool. The contrast has me in high spirits as places with an air of intellectualism often inhibit my own.  Still haven’t met any actual Iowa poets, but have contacted one through the magic of the internet with hopes for guidance. For now, I’ll bask in the vacant landscapes and friendly citizens until I feel it’s time to embark for the next unknown.

Oh, Happy Ishtar!


Nelson > Kerouac


Everything has to be special. This coffeeshop in Iowa City has joined the ranks of so many unique mud-slingers of it’s time and refuses to produce it’s regular brew using a machine, instead pouring hot water from a pot through fresh grounds of your choice. This commitment to freshness is not detectable, but it does help cater to the individual attention tea drinkers have enjoyed for centuries. I truly don’t understand why anyone would want to do more work to produce the same result. Regardless, the work gets done, so I’m not sure why it’s so important for me to point out nuance just to set up this post.


The press calendar is somewhat empty until I have to arrive in Brooklyn mid-April for the release of Denise Jarrott’s NYMPH, so I find myself in Iowa both out of curiosity for it’s poetic connections and a desire to avoid being homeless in Milwaukee. Everything is easy here, including living out of one’s car.


In the sacred tradition of independent publishers, my rent check bounced a couple weeks ago after I decided it was more important to pay the authors whose work I’ve published than to maintain the security of housing I rarely use. The financial constraints of traveling and printing books had already led me to the decision of ditching the apartment by June, but the surprising lack of sales last month decided for me that the time to become a full-time poetry troubador was immediate.


I’ve never been to Iowa City before, and the strong tradition of excellent poetry associated with this place makes an excellent starting point for my quest of spreading the VA canon throughout the country. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the marvelous Prairie Lights Bookstore and dropping off some titles to Jan, the owner. Beyond that, I’ve lacked time to find writers or lit-focused events due to an insane amount of hours giving Lyft rides in order to accumulate the scratch needed to print NYMPH on time.


Some kind of festival is going on next week, something to do with missions, which feels appropriate enough, so I’m planning on sticking around to see what that’s all about before making my way somewhere between here and New York. Until then, I hope to become a bit more affected by the hopeful naivety and contentment emanating from this town and its residents. 


This is my first ever blog entry. I hope you enjoyed it.