<![CDATA[j. todd hawkins - Home]]>Sun, 21 Jan 2018 11:52:08 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Ghazal appears in Rattle: Poets Respond]]>Sun, 03 Dec 2017 08:00:00 GMThttp://jtoddhawkins.com/home/ghazal-appears-in-rattle-poets-respondPicture
Okay, I have been trying to break into Rattle for years and years now. It is a paying market, and one of the most selective in the world, routinely publishing U.S. poets laureate and other heavy-hitters. But even more important is that its editor, Tim Green, is doing things the right way for the right reasons. He is strongly against charging reading fees, insists on giving subscriptions and free chapbooks to people who pay to enter contests (which have ginormous prizes), encourages simultaneous submissions, and is an overal good guy from what I can tell from his rejection letters and social media presence. All that said, my aesthetic is not always a match with what Rattle does and the quality of my writing is typically not quite up to snuff with the top of their selection pool.

So, you can imagine how ecstatic I was when I received an acceptance for Rattle's online "news poetry" segmanet called Poets Respond. I submitted my first ghazal, a poem about a viral photo of a rhinocerous, and Tim liked it enough to pick it for this week's PR selection.  There is nothing quite like getting an acceptance letter that concludes, "Thanks again for sharing this great poem! Thousands of people will be reading it tomorrow morning."  It's something to be able to reach that many people and convey a sentiment that is so well received. Tim also gave me the opportunity to record audio of the piece, which you can listen to on the Rattle site. I am very grateful to Tim for the opportunity.

Anyway, here it is. I hope you enjoy it.

(Photo credit: Twitter/@biologistDan)

<![CDATA[Reading with Pandora's Box at Deep Vellum Books]]>Fri, 27 Oct 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://jtoddhawkins.com/home/reading-with-pandoras-box-at-deep-vellum-books
What a memorable night! On October 20, I read as part of the Pandora's Box Poetry Showcase at Deep Vellum Books in Dallas. It's a very high-energy reading series right in the heart of Deep Ellum, thanks to the charismatic Pandora's Box crew and the welcoming venue. Deep Vellum is a cool space with a marker on the facade commemorating Leadbelly's presence in the area. Needless to say, this old blues geek felt right at home. Met some new friends and connected with some old ones. Really enjoyed sharing the stage with Craig Nydick. To cap it all off we were treated to the Pandora's Box ever popular third annual breadcrumbs cycle of poems featuring Paul Koniecki, Christopher Soden, Gayle Reaves, Mark Nobel, Logen Cure, Lisa Huffaker (as read by Kendra Greene), Dan Collins, and Joe Milazzo (as read by Tom Farris). So much thanks to Gayle Reaves for the invitation and to Paul Koniecki, Dan Collins, and the rest of the crew and audience for making me feel so welcome.

What's more, my tribal media outlet was there to feature me and my new chapbook. It was truly an honor and a very humbling experience to be a voice for creative arts within the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and to share my vision and work with the rest of the tribal network. I hope I was able to reach a few aspiring Choctaw writers and perhaps motivate them to pursue their craft. Reporter Kendra Germany and  video tech Payton Guthrie did a fantastic job with the Chahta Stories segment here. I hope you enjoy it.
<![CDATA[Fantastic reading at Malvern Books]]>Mon, 18 Sep 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://jtoddhawkins.com/home/fantastic-reading-at-malvern-books
Wow! What a great event this past Sunday at Malvern Books.  Shan and I rolled into Austin on Saturday night, leaving D/FW right after I finished coaching our daughter's soccer game. Crazy to see how things have changed in our old stomping grounds. The little Crestview bungalow we owned around the time we were starting our life together has undergone some major renovation, and there were whole sections of town we didn't recognize. But the more things change, the more they, well, you know. Hoovers was still open and still serving amazing home-cooked fare. We stuffed ourselves, drove all around town reminiscing, and then headed back to the hotel for a Nightmare on Elm Street marathon into the wee hours.

Sunday morning found us consuming a liquid breakfast all Bukowski-style at Fuzzy's before heading to the reading at Malvern. I had never set foot in the store before, but had kept up with it on social media for a long time. What a terrific place. Great reading space, great staff, and a great selection of independent publications. They went all out to promote the event. I am very thankful for their hard work in helping me promote my little book.

The reading itself went well. Judy Jensen, who was recommended to me as a co-reader, opened things up and was brilliant, introducing a visual element to her series on Frida Kahlo by circulating pictures during the reading. Judy is so awesome: under her letterpress printing Float Press imprint, she made a stack of hand-numbered postcards commemorating the reading, using her 1908 Golding Jobber #6. They included my poem "West of Key West" and featured an awesome drawing of a ghost crab on the front and back. I am so grateful to her for this wonderful gesture. Next, dear friend and mentor Ken Fontenot followed up and read several fantastic pieces, some of which I recognized and some of which were new to my ears. It's always a delight and honor to share the stage with Ken. Then, I went on, reading several selections from the chapbook and a few new pieces such as my Ozzy Osbourne poem that is slated to appear in the forthcoming as-yet-unnamed anthology from Dos Gatos Press, the next installment in their Poetry of the Southwest series. I sold a few books, made some new friends, reconnected with some old friends, had a nice talk with Kurt Heinzelman (the former director of the UT Creative Writing Program), and even picked up a copy of Karla K. Morton's New and Selected Poems from the TCU Press Texas Poet Laureate series. We enjoyed some knock-out Larb Gai at Thai Kitchen before heading home.

Thanks to all who came out. For those who could not make it, check out the video graciously filmed by Malvern staff. I look forward to doing it all over again at my D/FW book launch at the Benbrook Public Library on October 13.

video of Judy Jensen at Malvern Books for the launch of J. Todd Hawkins's Ten Counties Away
video of Ken Fontentot at Malvern Books for the launch of J. Todd Hawkins's Ten Counties Away
video of Todd Hawkins at Malvern Books for the launch of his book Ten Counties Away

<![CDATA[Ten Counties Away officially released!!]]>Tue, 25 Jul 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://jtoddhawkins.com/home/ten-counties-away-officially-released
Yay! The day has finally come. My chapbook, Ten Counties Away is officially released from Finishing Line Press and available for purchase. Thanks so much to FLP and to cover artist Gable White for ensuring the final product looks amazing. Those of you who preordered a copy should be getting it in the coming weeks. If you missed out on the chance to preorder, you can certainly still get your hands on a copy.  Head over to amazon.com or  b&n.com or order directly through Finishing Line Press.  A third option, is to order directly through me, especially if you would like a signed copy.  Just drop me an e-mail and I will send you details.  A fourth is to come find me at one of my upcoming reading events.

The poems in this chapbook coalesce around a theme of history, especially that of the rural Southwest. I am humbled by all of the advanced praise this little book has received....

"This remarkable chapbook of only twenty-five poems is so variegated in both subject matter and highly demanding poetic forms that it carries the resonance of a full collection of poetry.  Hawkins’s imagery scintillates with freshness and originality: 'sugary stars,' 'the dawn, pill-bottle orange,' 'moonsick ghostcrabs,'  and 'the dry corn’s shriveled sigh.' Whether writing about Pecos Bill, a Jerry Bywaters masterpiece, graffiti, hurricanes, mustangs, Ghost Dancers, Blind Willie Johnson, or poignant reminiscences of childhood on a family ranch/farm, Hawkins demonstrates, time and time again, his mastery of skilled poetic craft."
    — Larry D. Thomas, Member of the Texas Institute of Letters & 2008 Texas Poet Laureate

"J. Todd Hawkins’s collection is a small treasury of unique insights, poignant love poems, and a couple of inventive combinations of prose and haiku-like epigrams. There are some very heartfelt personal poems here juxtaposing the sublimity of the human experience with the sometimes harsh reality of Texas land and seascapes. The poems are not only moving, they hold delightful surprises of language and metaphor. Hawkins is a poet who also has an admirable affinity for finding the small, little-known stories of our history, several of the nineteenth-century Southwest, to save in poems. Here is the way history should be written about, should be saved."
    — Dave Parsons, 2011 Texas Poet Laureate & author of Reaching For Longer Water

"From brother and sister runaways stealing a car to pole-dancing cabaret girls burned out at the end of a shift, from a one-legged tight-rope walker, doomed and falling, to rootless oil field girls, hitchhiking roadside—from the heartbreaking to the bizarre to the merely nameless—J. Todd Hawkins vividly imagines lives that drop out of memory, unremarked by historians. The images in Ten Counties Away will stun you and stay, like the evocative stillness of this passage from 'Ghost Dancers': 'The prairie softly / fades in snow / lost in whiteness—  / the bison also / lost, skulls clipped / clean by crows.' Drifters, con men, teenage pranksters, the bygone mustangs of Mustang Island—you’ll find them all here. And when you get to the last page, you’ll find yourself wishing for more."
    — David Meischen, co-editor of Wingbeats: Exercises and Practice in Poetry & co-founder of Dos Gatos Press

Stay tuned for information about my upcoming book launches. I look forward to celebrating the release at these launches with friends, family, and Texas poetry lovers.

<![CDATA[Poem in Your Pocket Day]]>Thu, 27 Apr 2017 02:22:07 GMThttp://jtoddhawkins.com/home/poem-in-your-pocket-dayNot only is it National Poetry Month, but April 27 is National Poem in Your Pocket Day!  Celebrate by selecting a poem, carrying it with you, and sharing it with others throughout the day at schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, and workplaces. Then, join the conversation on social media by posting a link or screenshot and on Twitter using the hashtag #pocketpoem. This year, the Academy of American Poets is also encouraging individuals to add the hashtag #SavetheNEA and/or #ThankYouNEA, as the poems on Poets.org and the Poem in Your Pocket Day resources they share are made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). 

Looking for a poem? I can help you out. Click below to download a copy of "West of Key West" originally published in Anthology Magazine and soon to reappear in my forthcoming chapbook Ten Counties Away.

Poem in Your Pocket Day was originally initiated in 2002 by the Office of the Mayor, in partnership with the New York City Departments of Cultural Affairs and Education, as part of the city’s National Poetry Month celebration. In 2008, the Academy of American Poets took the initiative to all fifty United States, encouraging individuals around the country to join in and channel their inner bard. In 2016, the League of Canadian Poets extended Poem in Your Pocket Day to Canada.

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<![CDATA[TEN COUNTIES AWAY to be released by Finishing Line Press on July 14 . . . available for preorders NOW thru May 19]]>Tue, 21 Mar 2017 17:50:29 GMThttp://jtoddhawkins.com/home/ten-counties-away-to-be-released-by-finishing-line-press-on-july-16-available-for-preorder-now-thru-may-19Picture
AWESOME NEWS!!!! I am thrilled to announce the publication of my poetry book, TEN COUNTIES AWAY, by Finishing Line Press. Starting TODAY, just in time for World Poetry Day, you can preorder my book through my publisher for just $14.99 plus $2.99 shipping.

This collection of 25 poems deals largely with the people, places, and history of Texas and the Southwest. Many of the pieces have appeared in anthologies and journals over the years, such as “Waiting Inland for the Hurricane,“ which was awarded the Texas Poetry Calendar Award by Cyrus Cassells and “Death Smells Like Cinnamon” from Dos Gatos Press’s recent anthology, Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems. I hope lovers of both poetry and this special region will enjoy my collection.

Ten Counties Away will not be released until July 14, but there are many advantages to preordering now. For one, you will be among the first to get the book when it’s released. Second, you will receive special discounted shipping. Finally, Finishing Line bases its press run decisions on presales, so the more presales generated, the more of these little babies will be turned loose in the world. Please consider reserving your copy today.

<![CDATA[Great Reading at Benbrook Public Library]]>Sat, 14 Jan 2017 08:00:00 GMThttp://jtoddhawkins.com/home/-great-reading-at-benbrook-public-libraryPicture
Last night, Shannon and I went to the final reading in support of the Dallas Poets Community’s new anthology of DFW poets titled Cattlemen and Cadillacs.  It was held at the Benbrook Public Library, which I thank for having us back after the first C&C reading there back in September.  As with the previous Benbrook reading, the lineup was awesome, and I was humbled to participate.  I enjoyed hearing Patricia Ferguson, Mike Baldwin, Michelle Hartman, Travis Blair, Ann Howells, and the others who attended.  And it was good to read a few new pieces of mine and try out some haibun I had never read publicly before. Haibun pose distinct reading challenges, and I plan on reading several at my upcoming feature in March, so it was good to get the chance to play with some methods.  Thanks too (again) to Ann, who edited the anthology and put these readings together, and to Susan Vogel, for hosting the event. 
Speaking of Ann Howells, I won one of the door prizes at the reading (whoo-hoo!) and was able to snag her latest collection, Under a Lone Star. It had been sitting on my Amazon wish list for months, but I hadn’t quite had the funds to move it into my shopping cart. So I was really glad to finally get a copy.  I highly recommend it. A collection of short, pithy verses, all using Texas as subject matter and each accompanied by a really nice illustration by J. Darrell Kirkley (who also did the cover art for Cattlemen & Cadillacs). Each piece is a treat. You’ll want to buy a couple of copies… it would make a terrific gift for poetry lovers and fans of the Lone Star State.
I look forward to having a chance to read at this well-supported venue again soon.

<![CDATA[Awesome Dallas Poet's Community "Cattlemen and Cadillacs" Reading in Benbrook Last Night]]>Sat, 10 Sep 2016 07:00:00 GMThttp://jtoddhawkins.com/home/awesome-dallas-poets-community-cattlemen-and-cadillacs-reading-in-benbrook-last-nightPicture
Terrific reading last night at the Benbrook Public Library in support of the new anthology of DFW poets titled Cattlemen and Cadillacs.  I brought out almost the whole crew: Shan, my son, and my parents. In fact, I think it was the first poetry reading my folks had ever been to. So, I’m glad that the event was so well attended and that the readers were of such a high caliber. Logen Cure, Travis Blair, Lewisville Poet Laureate Paul Holcomb, and many others were fantastic.  It was a great group and a fun event, and I enjoyed talking to folks afterwards about poetry, music, and the scene in DFW.
I also got my hands on my contributors copy of C&C.  It’s a very impressive anthology featuring a couple of Texas Poets Laureate and many other acclaimed local writers.  I really appreciate the work of the Dallas Poets Community and specifically editor Ann Howells in putting this collection together as well as their efforts to bring attention to the wealth of poetic talent in this part of state. The poetry circles in Austin, San Antonio, and Houston all receive a ton of (well-deserved) attention, and I’m glad a concerted effort is being made to shine a light on writers up here, too. Though it’s hard for me living out in the "provinces" of Southern Tarrant/Northern Johnson Counties, I’m looking forward to getting a little more connected with these folks in the future. I enjoy their words and what they are doing from an organizational standpoint.
Contact Ann Howells through the Dallas Poets Community to get your hands on one of these anthologies, and go looking for the publications of the individual contributors, because these poets are really leading the charge.

<![CDATA["Hill Country Hesperides" appears in the 2016 Texas Poetry Calendar]]>Tue, 14 Jul 2015 19:51:05 GMThttp://jtoddhawkins.com/home/hill-country-hesperides-published-in-the-2016-texas-poetry-calendarPicture
It may seem early to start thinking about 2016, but it's not too soon to get your hands on the 2016 Texas Poetry Calendar from Dos Gatos Press.  Hot off the press, the 2016 version of the calendar can be yours for a mere $14.95.  It makes a great gift for Texana-loving friends and family, particularly ex-pats who might need a little slice of the Lone Star State in their stocking come December. I just got my contributor's copy in the mail (sporting Jerry Hamby's great cover photo of the iconic Cadillac Ranch), and I've had a blast between its covers.  Early favorites are "White Irises" by Katherine Durham Oldmixion, "Ghost Story" by Lyman Grant, "Where the River Does Not Flow" by former Oklahoma Poet Laureate Carol Hamilton, and "There've Always Been Rattlesnakes," by 2015 Texas Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla.  I am very excited to once again have  work included in this project, and I look forward to reading with some of my fellow calendar poets at Half-Price Books in Dallas come early November.  Stay tuned for details on that event.

"Hill Country Hesperides" was a lot of fun to write. A piece inspired by one of my favorite watermelon-stealing stories (yes, I have a few), one shared among my barber and his co-barbers during a summer haircut in Austin many years ago. Like church sermons, barber shops have provided very rich source material for more than a few of my poems.  Maybe I should try to pull them all together for my next collection.... At any rate, I hope you enjoy it.

<![CDATA["Driving Elvis Back to His Room" and "Three Forks Store" published in Chiron Review]]>Thu, 02 Jul 2015 19:51:03 GMThttp://jtoddhawkins.com/home/driving-elvis-back-to-his-room-and-three-forks-store-published-in-chiron-reviewPicture
Good news! The Summer 2015 (#100) issue of Chiron Review is out and contains a couple of blues haibun of mine: "Driving Elvis Back to His Room" and "Three Forks Store." I'm humbled to have these appear in the renown Chiron Review, whose past contributors include Charles Bukowski, Jan Kerouac, and U.S. Poet Laureate William Stafford. The highlight of the issue is an interview with Avner Gvaryahu, a former Israeli paratrooper and commander of an elite sniper unit who now serves as Director of Public Outreach at Breaking the Silence. Grab a copy or start a subscription today. Available in perfect bound softcover or ebook versions.

Elvis might seem a little incongruous with some of the other personae featured in my blues haibun collection, but I think he's important to any story about Mississippi music.  I've always been intrigued by the early tours of Elvis with Scotty Moore, especially some of his ventures into my native Texas. The band would play an oil patch camp in East Texas or play a high school gym or American Legion Hall. Once they played Fort Worth in the afternoon and scooted over to Dallas to play that same evening. On the Fourth of July in 1955, they played Stephenville at 10:00 a.m., DeLeon in the afternoon, and Brownwood in the evening.  That's a hard-working band. Given the opulence and superstardom often associated with Elvis, I think it's important to remember these very humble beginnings. Envisioning these early performances, especially in light of what Elvis would become, seemed poetically rife. I repurposed this piece, originally set in Breckenridge, Texas, to take place after a 1955 Clarksdale, Mississippi, performance. It is told from the point of view of a nameless driver taking the King back to his rented room after the show.

"Three Forks Store" tells the story of a late night escape from a  hotel room to the alleged site of the juke joint where Robert Johnson was poisoned. There is nothing there for the speaker but a few artifacts and ghosts.