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As some of you might personally be able to attest, it’s been a serious challenge attempting to write anything these past few months. On the one hand, it feels frivolous to write about make-believe people in make-believe scenarios while actual human beings are dying preventable deaths all around us (be they at the hands of police and federal agents or in the grips of COVID-19). On the other hand, to write about the here-and-now happenings of our world seems an equally impossible task: what positive use could such a document be in this moment when it’s already so easy to get trapped in a negative feedback loop of bad news compounding upon bad news? Since mid-March, these concerns have kept me from completing (and, in many cases, starting) so much of the work I so desperately want to create.

Yet in the midst of this dystopian summer, I found a workaround addressing both these challenges. This past June, for the first time in my life, I began keeping a daily journal—composed in formally identical declarative sentences—as a record, not only the events of the world that were on and affecting my mind, but also my domestic observations of home, of family, the creatures in my yard, the blooms erupting throughout the garden. In a season of isolation and upheaval, it in many ways helped to keep my brain from total dissolution into quaking depression. And now, with that months’ record now complete, I am launching a Kickstarter campaign in support of the limited publication of June of 2020: a quarantine journal, with all profits being donated to Black Girl in Maine, a social-justice blog founded by writer, educator, and activist Shay Stewart-Bouley. While my skill has always been the construction of narratives that allow the reader to feel what it’s like to experience the characters’ experiences, Shay’s talent lies in taking the complex abstractions of social justice and explaining them in a way that is not only immediate and concrete, but also grounded in the experiences of both herself and her audience (in other words, she takes the cultural phenomenon at large and makes it directly relevant to you and your life). She has an ability that I lack. So I’m using my abilities to help support her and her work.

If this sounds like the sort of literature-for-a-cause you’re natively interested in, please consider contributing to this campaign. There are various reward levels, from hardbound to paperback to e-book editions of the journal, so even if you can only chip in five dollars, you’ll nevertheless receive some token of gratitude in return. Each book will be signed, numbered, and limited to the exact number of contributors to this campaign (meaning if only four people are in for the hardbound edition, only four hardbound copies will ever be printed). In addition, we’ll be making personalized video-readings for certain reward levels, as well as (and this one makes me really excited) staging a COVID-safe live reading in the garden where so much of the journal’s grounding meditation takes place.

For the sake of total transparency, the Kickstarter page also includes rough breakdowns of how each contribution will be divided and allocated depending on the reward level, and in case there’s any worry or doubt: every cent that does not go into the production of June of 2020 will be passed on to Black Girl in Maine (which is to say, I will not profit from this campaign at all).

To learn more about Black Girl in Maine and the work of Shay Stewart-Bouley, please visit blackgirlinmaine.com (and be sure to watch her TEDx Talk “Inequality, Injustice…Infection”). If you have any questions or concerns about the project, please do not hesitate in reaching out to me. And since Kickstarter runs on an all-or-nothing model (meaning if I do not reach my funding goal by midnight on August 21st, the entire enterprise is a bust), please share this with anyone you think might be interested.

Mid-Year Update

In my perennial laissez-faire approach to self-promotion and website maintenance, several noteworthy publications have come and gone this wretched year without my personal publicist and marketing team (i.e.: me) remarking much upon them. So to make up for said slacking, here is a pithy list of what stories, poems, essays, art, and music have been published where and how you can find them:

  • A Fox in Tall Grass,” a brief personal essay about my mother’s death, appeared in the January issue of El Chapo Review, which can be read for free online.
  • Saline,” a micro-fiction about domesticity and recovery, was long-listed for Reflex Fiction’s spring flash contest and can also be read free online.
  • Sister of Dog Fear (Wash & Sleep Journal, ’72-’74),” another sort of study of domesticity and solitude, appeared in the spring issue of the Arkansas International, which—in a magnanimous gesture resultant from the pandemic—was made available for free online (physical copies, however, can be ordered directly from the publisher).
  • Thomas,” a rare instance of my poetic voice, was read on Maine Public Radio by our state poet laureate, Stuart Kestenbaum, as part of his ongoing Poems from Here series (the text can also be read on Maine Public’s website).
  • Still Point Art Gallery in Brunswick, Maine, featured three of my digital prints (“Mary,” “Strider,” and “Crickets”) in their summer (which, due to the pandemic, equals “online”) exhibition, Making a Mark, as well as one print (“Mary”) in their print journal, Still Point Arts Quarterly, available both online as a free PDF as well as a physical book purchased from the publisher.
  • Waiting for Tampopo,” an ekphrastic poem inspired by the triptych “Kylum” by Murray Hantman, appeared in Megan Grumbling’s weekly column Deep Water in the Portland Press Herald/Sunday Telegram.
  • Sulfur,” a flash fiction piece about living alone with a chicken, appeared in the summer issue of The London Reader, which can be downloaded for free or purchased directly from the publisher.
  • Four Roads :: Losing Drafts, a new EP by my chamber group The Plaster Cramp, features translations of songs by Dean Thornton, Scott Sell, Ben Trickey, and Brandon Schmitt, all proceeds of which are being donated to the Grassroots Law Project.
  • Scott Sell has released two digital cassingles—Endless Tall Boys and Midwest Mess (sales of the latter of which are also being donated to the Grassroots Law Project)—that feature various production and session-musician work by me, including my first ever recorded performances on the clarinet.

This all in addition to Bare Portland’s performances of [STORAGE], written collaboratively with Christina W. Richardson and Marissa Sophia Schneiderman, as well as eight episodes of Quarantine Story Time, the totality of which can be stream in reverse chronology here.

As always, thank you for reading, thank you for watching, thank you for listening, thank you for sharing with anyone you think might care, thank you for staying safe and staying aware in this terrifying time.

Watch the Season Finale of *Quarantine Story Time*

To conclude our first two-month run of shows, Episode Eight of Quarantine Story Time features an exploration of influence, both in how outside forces helped shape the stories, and how outside forces influence the lives of others. Also, music by Brandon Schmitt (of Delta Sierra) and perhaps one-too-many references to songs by Joan of Arc.

Starting this week, QST will be going on a short hiatus while Genevieve and I rest and reassess what we want from this program, how we can make it better, how it can most effectively do what it wants to do. This might mean continuing as a live-stream, as a podcast, or as some other as-yet unconsidered format.

Until then, if you’ve enjoyed the program so far and would like to contribute to the fund to help sustain us in this extenuating era of human stupid, you can make a one-time or ongoing donation here. You can also buy signed copies of Blue of the World, Our Shadows’ Voice, In the Mines, and The Opposite of Prayer directly from my personal cache of books (the new Tenth-Anniversary Edition of White Horses, Brand New Moon, To Sleep as Animals, and Cream River can also be ordered from their respective publishers). And if you have any input on how the future of QST might look, please feel free to reach out and share your thoughts.

It’s been a pleasure to produce this show for you. We look forward to sharing more stories very soon.

Watch Episode Seven of *Quarantine Story Time* PLUS SPECIAL NEWS

As the third and final installment in our mandated Horse Month series, Episode Seven of Quarantine Story Time is “No Actual Horses,” which is an oblique reference to my first book, the novella-as-mosaic White Horses, originally published in 2010 by Nada Publishing and which, for many of these intervening years, has been out of print.

It is because of this book’s long-term unavailability—in addition to a handful of other, more personal reasons—that I have decided to release a tenth-anniversary edition of White Horses, complete with new artwork, a new layout, a new introductory essay (wherein I explain some of my convoluted personal history with the text), and also a handful of corrections that update and tighten the narrative’s language while also honoring the voice and intentions of the younger Douglas who original conceived and composed these coalescent fragments. It actually comes as something of a relief, that this book once again has a chance at a continued public life. I hope some of you feel the same way.

(Also, if you place your order before April 29th, you can receive a 30% discount by applying the coupon code GIVEBKS3RT at checkout.)

If you enjoy the program, are in a fiscally stable position, and want to show your appreciation, you can purchase a signed copies of Blue of the World, Our Shadows’ Voice, In the Mines, and The Opposite of Prayer, as well as leave a one-time “tip” in acknowledgement and appreciation of this installment of Quarantine Story Time. You are also free to contact me directly here.

Episode Eight of Quarantine Story Time—which will be both a Viewers’ Choice episode and also our season finale—will live-stream at 7:30 PM this coming Monday, May 4th.

Watch Episode Six of *Quarantine Story Time*

As the second installment in our mandated Horse Month series, Episode Six of Quarantine Story Time is “Ghost Horses,” featuring ghosts, horses, and horse named Ghost. Also: a resuscitating beetle, the birth of a foal, and a very dead bird.

If you enjoy the program, are in a fiscally stable position, and want to show your appreciation, you can purchase a signed copies of Blue of the World, Our Shadows’ Voice, In the Mines, and The Opposite of Prayer, as well as leave a one-time “tip” in acknowledgement and appreciation of this installment of Quarantine Story Time. You are also free to contact me directly here.

Episode Seven of Quarantine Story Time—*No Actual Horses Horses*—will live-stream at 7:30 PM this coming Monday, April 27th.

Watch Episode Five of *Quarantine Story Time*

Episode Five of Quarantine Story Time, as the first installment of Horse Month, is “Mythic Horses,” featuring fantastical equids and equids of fantastical landscapes. Also: a man screaming at a shower head, a story by Jacob Cholak, and music by Scott Sell.

If you enjoy the program, are in a fiscally stable position, and want to show your appreciation, you can purchase a signed copies of Blue of the World, Our Shadows’ Voice, In the Mines, and The Opposite of Prayer, as well as leave a one-time “tip” in acknowledgement and appreciation of this installment of Quarantine Story Time. You are also free to contact me directly here.

Episode Six of Quarantine Story Time—*Ghost Horses*—will live-stream at 7:30 PM this coming Monday, April 20th.

Watch Episode Four of *Quarantine Story Time*

Episode Four of Quarantine Story Time features work selected on the basis of viewer request and suggestion, investigating the concept of joy. Alongside the stories “Saline” and “Arena,” co-producer and domestic partner Genevieve Johnson shares passages from her personal journal. Also included in this episode: platonic prison romance, Angela Merkel, and (due to problems with our audio thwarting last week’s Pre-Show Music Time) a reprise sampling from Dean Thornton’s new album, We’re Glad You’re Here.

Also, because shelter-in-place orders have been extended in all parts of the US, Quarantine Story Time will continue for another (at least) four episodes all produced and performed under the banner of Horse Month, based on the unusual frequency of horses appearing throughout my fiction.

If you enjoy the program, are in a fiscally stable position, and want to show your appreciation, you can purchase a signed copies of Blue of the World, Our Shadows’ Voice, In the Mines, and The Opposite of Prayer, as well as leave a one-time “tip” in acknowledgement and appreciation of this installment of Quarantine Story Time. You are also free to contact me directly here.

Episode Five of Quarantine Story Time—*Mythic Horses*—will live-stream at 7:30 PM this coming Monday, April 13th.

Watch Episode Three of *Quarantine Story Time*

Episode Three of Quarantine Story Time features brand new, unpublished fiction, as well as an excerpt from Megan Grumbling‘s libretto Persephone in the Late Anthropocene, the full document of which will be published this fall by Acre Books. Also included in this episode: an alternate apocalypse, the most arresting blue eyes, and new music from Dean Thornton’s new album, We’re Glad You’re Here.

If you enjoy the program and are in the rare position of maintaining a stable income during this viral crisis, you can purchase a signed copies of Blue of the World, Our Shadows’ Voice, In the Mines, and The Opposite of Prayer, as well as leave a one-time “tip” in acknowledgement and appreciation of this installment of Quarantine Story Time. You are also free to contact me directly here.

Episode Four of Quarantine Story Time—featuring work based on audience request—will live-stream at 7:30 PM this coming Monday, April 6th.

Watch Episode Two of *Quarantine Story Time*

Episode Two of Quarantine Story Time features readings from Blue of the World, a collection of stories published by Tailwinds Press in April of last year, as well as a piece of flash fiction by Meghan Lamb from her new collection All of Your Most Private Places, out this month through Spork Press. Also included in this episode: 90s Brazilian metal, a sneezing dog, and songs by The Plaster Cramp.

[Unfortunately, due to high server traffic, the last two minutes of the program did not live-stream or record. We’re very sorry, for it was really just the best thing ever. Blame YouTube.]

If you enjoy the program and are in the rare position of maintaining a stable income during this viral crisis, you can purchase a signed copy of Blue of the World (as well as Our Shadows’ Voice, In the Mines, and The Opposite of Prayer) and/or leave a one-time “tip” in acknowledgement and appreciation of this installment of Quarantine Story Time. You are also free to contact me directly here.

Episode Three of Quarantine Story Time—featuring selections of new, unpublished work—will live-stream at 7:30 PM this coming Monday, March 30th.

Watch Episode One of *Quarantine Story Time* Now.

Episode One of Quarantine Story Time features readings from Our Shadows’ Voice, a novel published by Fomite Press this past November, as well as an excerpt from [STORAGE], the play I co-authored with Christina W. Richardson and Marissa Sophia Schneiderman, which was produced this month by Bare Portland.

If you are in a financially-secure enough position to provide support during this confusing, trying time, you can purchase a signed copy of Our Shadows’ Voice (as well as Blue of the World, In the Mines, and The Opposite of Prayer) and/or leave a one-time “tip” in acknowledgement and appreciation of this installment of Quarantine Story Time. You are also free to contact me directly here.

Episode Two of Quarantine Story Time will live-stream at 7:30 PM this Monday, March 23rd.