News & Updates
First: Happy birthday, mom!
Second: My podcast has been up and available for a few days, but, considering the only way we experience things is through continuous documentation of our vanity, I'm just now "announcing" it here in the News & Updates area. So yeah, go to "Podcast" up above and listen to the rambling conversation that occurred between me and one Jason Witherow over drinks at the wonderful Cunneen's Bar in not-always-wonderful Rogers Park. Big thanks to Jeff Wornhoff for recording, producing, and making the theme music. If anyone feels inclined to join me as a guest on future podcasts, send me a message and you'll likely get an okay. Or not. Roll them dice.
Third: I wrote a few reviews on the "Dig" section of this here bitch. I reviewed two books and my neighborhood. So that's new. More to come, probably.
Fourth: My poem "Mud" is published by The Penn Review and you can read it here. It's a poem about... aw, fuck it. Read it and figure it out, if you care. People explaining their poems are a drag.
My review of Francesco Pacifico's new novel Class is up at Three Percent. The book is worth a read though I have to admit that I was, at times, ready to throw it against a wall. I mean that in the best way.
Hello. It's July now. Summer in Chicago is a series of rainstorms that deeply upset my dog. And the 4th of July fireworks that I knew at age four were stupid. Blow up shit to prove your patriotism. That's the USA for ya.
In other non-news, I started a new page on the site called "Dig" that will serve as the review wing of this here enterprise. Reviews will be more personal than the reviews I publish over at Three Percent or other venues. Meaning that these will be reviews of whatever I want to review. Books. Music. Films. Food. Whatever I like. It's sort of a blog but a focused one as opposed to the Flotsam page which is where my more rambling blog-like writing goes to retire. If this is confusing, well, so is life and we're all trying our best with that, right? Anyway, what's the internet for if not to add random thoughts on things that matter to a few individuals. Whatever fills the void.
Other pages might be added soon because I've got more to do with this site. It's getting to the point where there will be about 10 specific places to go beyond the Welcome page. Seems like a good round number.
In other bullshit, I went to Boston recently. (That may be the subject of the first review.) Here's a picture of me in a hotel in Cambridge enjoying room booze. Always get room booze. Those hotel bars are a goddamn rip off.
To celebrate (er?) I'm posting this very short story I wrote that is part of a longer thing I was working on, but here's the micro version CLICK RIGHT HERE! Thanks and all to the good folks at Silver Birch Press for once again deeming my scribblings worthy.
In the contemporary literary culture, this sort of thing is called flash fiction, I think. I don't know for sure. Flash fiction seems to be a lot of things, though I understand it as very short fiction. Sort of like stories for the Twitter generation, though I'm sure there are Twitter stories that are shorter than mine because we're all giddy in our devolution. I am sure there are purists of the flash fiction genre who will scoff at my submission, but I'm so past caring about these genre distinctions that I can't get it up to give a good goddamn.
Hello whomever. The Wild Word published a couple of my poems and they look like this. These are poems titled “Domesticity I” and “Domesticity III” from which one may surmise that “Domesticity II” was not picked up, which is okay, it’s not for everyone, and really neither are these, but I like them. The first is old(ish) and an attempt at sticking to a pattern while the second is less smart-ass and more sincerely repentant and seeks to be sweet without being cloying. And that’s about all the news I have. How are you?
My review of C.K. Williams' last book, Falling Ill, has been published by Rain Taxi Review. It's print only, no online link, so you'll have to buy the thing (and go here to do that) if you care to see my thoughts on the dying poems of an American master.
I'm working on a series of poems connected loosely by a theme I'll not mention at the moment. One of them was picked up by Silver Birch Press as part of their Lost and Found series and can be read here.
The poem is based on a true(ish) story and features a nice picture of Rade Šerbedžija from Batman Begins, though savvy filmgoers will know his work from Before the Rain. There's no reason for me to state that, but I like seeing the old guy connected to me, even this loosely.
Five of my (let’s call them) poems have been published by Full of Crow, a staggering amount to be published at one time, which suggests that maybe the good folks at Full of Crow are full of something else, or that they are desperately in need of anything that approximates poetry.
These were submitted last year and might have been published in the fall of 2016, but the editor got sick, delayed, etc. Sometime after I sent them out, I reviewed all my poems and made some changes and cuts. Two of these poems have been deleted from my flash drive; I’d decided that they were so rotten they need never be revised. Another has been rewritten as a prose poem. Another has been expanded and the remaining poem has been edited a bit. In short: none of these, as published, are in the state that I want them to be, but there they are on the interwebby.
I’m not unhappy about this, but I do feel like there’s a lesson here: Do not submit anything, Vince, until you’re sure it’s done. Of course, the work is never done, so I suppose I’ll never be too happy with any of this shit.
The poems are oddly laid out, which is not a dig at Full of Crow so much as an observation. Small details make or break a poem, and these break in many small places.
As a sort of follow up to my interview on This is Writing, I’ve provided this guest blog that is a recommendation of five books I hold dear. Confined to five picks, I was unable to add Three Trapped Tigers and Vilnius Poker and The Sound and the Fury and The Color of Summer and Cosmicomics and a ton of others, but I chose these five carefully, so go ahead and click here to read them. See if you can catch the grammar error!
My latest review for Three Percent is up. This one focuses on Kyn Taniya’s Radio: Wireless Poem in Thirteen Messages and can be read by clicking right the hell here.
There’s a typo in this review that is bugging the shit out of me. My own oversight, of course, and my editor will hopefully fix it soon, but rather than shy away from the thing, I’m calling attention to it to demonstrate to anyone bothering to read this that, despite being the best writer I know, I’m far from perfect. Plus, I’m not the best writer I know.
The review is more an excuse to discuss poetry in translation and what a laborious “fool's errand” that can be. And I thought it right to focus on poetry again, as I seem to be living in an era where prose holds sway. While I’m not about to start a genre war, I do seem to be in the poetry trenches at the moment. Oh well, here’s to fighting the good fight.
I’m the featured interview on This is Writing. Just thought I’d share the link, which looks like this: LINK!
A while back I got notification that my poem about St. Joseph’s Day (called “St. Joseph’s Day” no less) was to be published in an anthology. The publisher could not raise sufficient funds to provide contributors with copies. Subsequently, I never claimed one, being a cheap bastard and all. But the book is currently on sale at Amazon, which is nice, and while I’m tempted to buy a copy, I’m saving up to purchase Bottom’s Dream instead ($70 at the Seminary-Coop).
If you want to read my poem, you can preview it on the Amazon link here. The poem is on page three. I like it, but not as much as a plate of pasta and gravy con sardi.
It’s Election Day. I wanted to place “Thank fucking god” after the last sentence, but it seems odd to be celebrating the mere fact that this shit is nearing its conclusion. There’s, frankly, nothing to celebrate. I plan to avoid the media as much as I can today and focus on the stack of midterm papers I’m still wading through.
But I did decide to go online long enough to share a bit of news: my review of Matías Celedón’s book The Subsidiary is up on Three Percent. Click your clicker here to read my take on this oddity.
Okay, going to stick my head back into the sand.
My poem “Fight” is up and available for reading here, but the good folks at Subprimal Poetry Art also let me send them an audio file of me reading over the music of Jeff’s Solo Band, so go ahead and listen if reading proves too taxing. Anyone who’s been to this site before (all three of you) will recall that other pieces of my so-called genius were put to music by Jeff (and are still up under “Sounds”). As was the case last time, the music bests the words. How true, always.
The poem itself is dedicated to someone important, though it serves as well to take the piss out of Dylan Thomas—great poet, wonderful short story writer, author of Under Milk Wood, which is essential reading—mostly because I am done with his famous “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight”, which Hollywood has decided is the only poem ever written.
Poem up on These Fragile Lilacs, an online journal. This is a poem to the stepfather, partially because I owe him (he gave to the Belfast fund) and because I’ve written poems to/about my mom, my dad, my grandfather, and my wife but never composed anything with the stepdad in mind. He’s a great guy and deserves better than my half-assed efforts.
The journal/PDF looks nice. This is somewhat affirming considering I’ve been rejected again and again this month, like a fat sci-fi geek trying to get a dance at the freshman mixer. I’ve uttered the shortest sentence I can think of (“I quit!”) at least a dozen times and somehow managed to wake up today, read another rejection letter, and continue to update this site in the vain hope that my literary stabs in the dark find some meat.
Beckett wrote “I can’t go on. I’ll go on” and, in doing so, nailed the human experience.
My poem to Jim Harrison “All These Women” was just published in the most recent issue of MUSH/MUM, a very odd journal that looks lovely as a PDF download (which is rare). Go here to do just that (my poem is on page 21 but the issue is worth reading, despite being otherwise Francone free).
When Jim Harrison died, I wrote the poem, having first reread Letters to Yesenin, Harrison's book of prose poems that are about as good as prose poems get. I’ve always liked Harrison the poet, a lot more than Harrison the novelist. A tough bastard, that guy. RIP.
Here’s the blog recap of the Two Cookie event from last week along with a photo of me reading next to a total stranger who volunteered to help me with my short story “The Alderman” (a path to the published version is on the links page of this here site). Good times were had, and cookies.
Recently unearthed photos of me at the Aspidistra circa 1996. Oh to be young again. Actually, no—not interested. My forties are treating me infinitely better, though I do miss drinking on the job.
I forgot about this, but a few days back I was a featured poet on a website called Featured Poets which you can check out here. Fame is sure to be mine any second now.
The before-mentioned reading at Two Cookie Minimum has an official Facebook event page that looks like this.
I’ll be reading a short story and enjoying my cookies. Let’s hang, why not?
The good folks (specifically Theo Anderson) at Storied Chicago were nice enough to feature Like a Dog on their website today. Take a look at it and everything they’re up to by clicking right... here!
A year ago I was sitting in a café in Evanston drinking coffee and eating a disappointing macaroon. I was also reading Frank O’Hara and Kenneth Koch, those New York School poets. Paper and pen were within reach, so I dashed off some terrible imitations of those masters.
The imitations made their way into a Word document later that night and then, after seeing a call for submissions, into an email to some editors. And a year later, well after I forgot about the submission, they are printed in a small chapbook style journal called Silicon Heart. I have cut both of those poems from my ongoing manuscript—they are pretty lousy—but it’s nice to see that they live on in another form.
The journal (or “zine” as the editors call it) is nice looking. I don’t see that they have much of an Internet presence (this is the first issue), so there’s nothing to link to. And the poems are not good anyway. But I suppose this counts as news. Slightly more uplifting than Hillary Clinton’s pick for running mate.
Another poem up on Silver Birch, this one called “Giant” written about my father. Go here to read the thing.
There’s a new page on the website, which you should be able to see by lifting your eyes a bit. It’s called “Sounds” and features just that: the sounds of my lovely wife and I reading from my book and from some poems. The recording of these readings was done by Jeff Wornhoff of Jeff’s Solo Band (click here to visit his site, dig his music, and worship at the altar). He also provided the music that underscores these recitals.
And the music is pretty goddamn great. I mean, I like my words, I love LO’s reading of them, and I especially love Queequeg’s bark and occasional heavy breathing, but Jeff’s music is the star. Moody, dark, gorgeous.
Who knows, maybe more audio will find its way to the site someday, but these are currently making my day.
Looks like I have a poem in this anthology available from Amazon. I have not gotten a contributor copy so I don’t know if my poem is laid out nicely or if the journal is of high quality or anything, really.
The poem is called “St. Joseph’s Day” and it is maybe not my best work, but it got accepted, which makes me wonder if the good folks at Birdsong were looking to gather submissions from poets in order to sell them copies of the anthology. If so, I’m not taking the bait, but go ahead and see for yourself.
Actually, they're just a small emerging press that can't send us contributors copies. I know what my poem looks like, so I'll likely be okay not seeing my name in print this time. But by all means, shell out for a copy if you're curious.
It’s thundering in Chicago. Poor dogs are shivering all over the city.
I’m back from Belfast and ready to detox. No more Guinness or whiskey for a week. Tea. Egg whites. Avocado. Grapefruit juice. Exercise.
In other news, I’ll be reading at the Two Cookie Minimum reading event on August 9, 2016 at the Comfort Station in Logan Square, 2579 N. Milwaukee Ave, 8:00 PM. Might read from the memoir or maybe a short story. Still considering, but the event should prove to be fun even if there is no booze. Will there be booze? Not sure. More on that soon.
My poem “Italian Deli, 1983” is up on poems2g0’s website (read it here). A short poem that was originally two adjectives and one adverb longer, but the editors had the good sense to rein my shit in. Print copies are available for free in cities that are not my own.
This poem is a shout out to a little grocery store/deli I used to love going to as a kid, even though the things behind the glass kind of spooked me. My mouth is watering. Must go now.
My poem “Tandem Bike” (click here to read it) was published on the website of Silver Birch Press along with a nice little explanatory note and one of the Miller’s Pub pictures that make me look so goddamn cool. That’s a pint of Stiegl Radler in front of me, a good summer drink, though I was chasing it with a Jameson neat.
The poem itself is a bit of imagination about my parents sharing a bicycle built for two. An easy metaphor, but I like it.
In other news, the Belfast crowd funding thing is over. Thanks to all who gave. The rest of you are dead to me.
To be serious, I felt really odd doing a crowd funding campaign, but people convinced me that this is the way of the 21st century. It seems weird to stand on my corner of cyberspace with a cup and a PLEASE GIVE sign, but there I was, cup in hand, sob story for the asking. Some gave publically, some privately, and all are in line for various forms of thank you. My housing and part of my tuition are covered. My tickets have been purchased. Soon I’m off to see what comes of this.
The big news round these parts, by which I mean my life, is that I will be flying to Belfast, Northern Ireland in late June to work with some of the finest living poets, including Ciaran Carson, whose book Belfast Confetti remains a top ten favorite. I submitted some poems to Queen’s University Belfast as entry to their summer school workshop. Lo and behold, they accepted me, so it’s off I go.
I started a silly crowd funding campaign because apparently that is what one does in the 21st century, as obnoxious as such a thing inherently is. I’ve raised a bit, and thanks to all who have publically and privately helped. The end result is to work on poems, but I want to put some together, along with photos, as an E-book. We’ll see if that plan comes to anything.
My essay on why I read poetry even though so much of it is bad is up on Trish Hopkinson’s blog (to view it click anywhere in this parenthetical). I ramble about how the search for good poetry is akin to the search for god, both requiring a lot of faith in the face of so much disappointment. Read and… enjoy?
No, that wasn’t awkward, reading from my book in front of my students and coworkers. Not at all. (That was sarcasm, in case you're wondering.) And no, that is not vodka I’m swilling. Just plain old water that only sort of lubricated the pipes and allowed me to more or less not stumble through what may have been the best section of Like a Dog to read to that particular audience, though in retrospect I should’ve stuck to my original plan and read from Finnegans Wake.
While not a public event (I don’t think), I’ll be reading from my book this coming Tuesday at Roosevelt University. Most of my people know about this, but if you are the hypothetical stranger who has somehow discovered me and wants to hear some drinking/working stories, feel free to let me know and I’ll totally invite you. But yeah, expecting only my coworkers and some of the RU community to witness my vainglory.
Another publication to shill: Kind of a Hurricane Press has decided to include my poem "Christmas in Chicago" in their holiday themed anthology. To buy a copy and read my little piece of genius, click here. The poem is a sort of sequel to an older poem that, even though it was published in a small journal, I have since pitched. I had the idea that I would write a series of Christmas poems, none of them celebratory in nature, but the seed yielded bitter fruit. Nevertheless, I like this recent poem, though I admit it is pretty bitter. Not sure why, but there it is.
My short story "She Took My Dreams" has been been published by the good folks at Wolves Magazine. Click here to read it. I wrote this about 7 or 8 years back, buried it, rediscovered it, submitted it, collected a pile of rejections, thought of chucking it, decided it was good and maybe just in need of a spit-shine, worked some on it, resubmitted again and again and, lo and behold, it got picked up. I know when to quit on a piece of writing and when there's potential. You may read it and decide I ought to have quit on this story, and you're likely right, but you're also wrong. Anyway, I can be stubborn when I like something I've written and I like this story, as strange as it is. Savvy readers may see the influence of Albee's Zoo Story, which is closer to my intention than Forrest Gump, but the genre of guy sits on public bench and meets oddball is indeed one that I thought I might add to.
Local book club discusses my opus. Good things were said, I'm told. Seems I've managed to spread the word a bit. Next up: my manifesto. Then: world domination.
Welcome to 2016. So far, this has been a rotten year. But things are looking... up? Why not-- let's use that cliche. No real updates. The book is out. I sold some copies. Had a few release celebrations. Working on a few readings, but so far fame and fortune have eluded me. Not giving up yet, and really I have no one else to blame but me, a lowly writer trying to foist literacy on a largely uncaring society. In the meantime, I'm writing a new thing that may someday be a big thing, at least to me.
The book is out. Get an electronic or print copy by clicking here. Here’s hoping the hype was justified.
In preparation for the publication of my opus, I have edited a very old piece of writing dealing with my time at the Aspidistra Bookshop, my former place of employ and the setting for much of the second section of my memoir (coming in a week and half, huzzah!). Thanks be to mi esposa for finding much of this in an email from 2003. I would have lost this piece of writing otherwise, which is fine-- I have the actual memoir to house most of my memories of the old store, but still, some of this struck me as worth preserving. Anyway, I created a new page, called FLOTSAM, dedicated to this and other odd material. Perhaps I’ll add more wreckage as it floats to the surface.
The promo video for the book is done. It's me hanging at some haunts featured in the book, talking a bit too much, looking a wee bit nervous. Enjoy? (Thanks be to Vow Media for doing such a great job. Hit them up for your next wedding and/or party.)
As the galleys get edited on the memoir, my previous life as a poet gets a small resurrection. Tanka Journal has published my tanka poem. Get your copy here. Looks like a beauty.
Yay, content! More pages have been added to this site in anticipation of the memoir's publication, still scheduled for this Halloween. It'll be a monster of some kind. Edits are nearly complete. I'm awaiting my place at the grown up's table.
The interview from last night's show on WGN Radio was a lot of fun. Listen here to a very sleep deprived me talk about the book, writing, and Chicago: http://wgnradio.com/2015/07/03/like-a-dog-vince-francones-story-of-his-lifes-work-and-the-dichotomy-of-chicagos-north-and-south-sides/
This is the first bit of news: I will be on the radio (AM 720 WGM) this evening in Chicago. If you are awake at 2:00 AM (technically tomorrow morning, 7/3/2015), you can hear me chat with Jen Bosworth. We'll discuss the coming book (stay tuned) and anything else worth discussing after the bars close.
FAQ RE: My Book
1. When is it due to be published?
11/1/2015, I believe. Stay tuned here for info on how to order.
2. Are there swear words?
On every page.
3. Is there sex?
I’m too shy to write dirty stuff, though there’s a bit of it and some suggestions of nasty play, but it’s pretty PG. Save for the excessive swear words.
4. Are there dogs in the book?
Not a one.
5. What’s with the title?
It’s a simile.
6. Will I like the book?
Depends. I can’t expect anyone to like it. But I’ve gotten some nice feedback. Will you like it? Who knows—maybe not. It’s pretty much a rambling collection of work stories and drunk tales, self-important youth stories finished with jaded middle-age me in academia and lawyerland. I wouldn’t be surprised if you found it bitter and solipsistic.
7. I know you. Am I in the book?
Maybe. I changed some names, not all. And I wrote a few people out of the book. Don’t be offended either way. And it’s not like I felt the need to adequately represent anyone. Not my job.
8. Who the hell do you think you are writing a goddamn book?
I am the exact opposite of Jonathan Franzen. Let that determine your interest in my work.
I hope that settles things. I’ll happily answer or ignore any other questions as I see fit. Thank you for your time.