Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hollow Plastic Santa

Holiday red, frozen white snowmen, and flickering strings of lights lead us to a much darker truth around Christmas. Loneliness, achy or nostalgic memories, bad times, and ill fortune are overshadowed by the brilliant, effervescently cheerful atmosphere that stings our senses until we are soggy and numb to the pain.

In addition to enjoying the haunt of a large, hollow plastic Santa, I embrace a deeper meaning of Christmas. Loss, yearning, struggle,
somberness, and fighting to live can spark a flurry of spiritual snow in December. The Broadway musical Rent always comes to mind this time of year. This heartfelt story depicts the beauty of adversity, triumph, and transformation around New Year’s. The play celebrates life and sends a message of tolerance, compassion, and acceptance. That seems a lot like Christmas to me. Take a listen to one of my favorite songs from Rent.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Times Beach Giveaway

My friends at Times Beach are running a giveaway. They asked me for a few signed books, poems, and bookmarks for their promotional contests. Enter to win one of these cool items HERE. I really like the fresh, sprightly feel of Times Beach. Plus, the staff writers are awesome!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My PBS Interview Now on DVD

More great news! My featured interview on the PBS television series Roadtrip Nation is now on DVD. The show spotlights inspiring individuals who achieved their dreams by defining their own road in life. I am featured alongside actor Malcolm McDowell, star of Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange. Order your copy today!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Win a Rare First Edition Copy of Crumpled Paper Dolls

Win a hand signed, numbered, limited first edition copy of my first book Crumpled Paper Dolls: a New OrLeANs poet (2004). This rare, unique book is from the actual first print run of only 100 books. The book is straight from my personal collection.

These 100 books are different from any other in existence for various reasons:

First copies ever printed

Printing error (No cover lamination)

No retail price on back cover

My New Orleans P.O. Box printed on back cover

How to Enter

1. Connect with bookworms and writers by Liking the Matthew Nolan Facebook Fan Page

2. Post a review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

3. Copy the review and email it along with your name to aNewOrLeANspoet@aol.com

All three steps must be completed to qualify

Deadline for entry is August 1, 2011

One lucky winner will be announced on August 15, 2011

Feel free to share and repost this rare opportunity!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Big Brothers Big Sisters--Gender Discrimination

About a year ago, I thought of filling my thirtysomething void by mentoring a child with Big Brother Big Sister. I pondered the idea for a few years. As a social worker, I worked with children in a number of settings. I put in years of service at Head Start, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and eventually worked in adolescent psychiatry.

So, after years of putting it off, I began my warm-hearted research on how to become a big brother to a child in need. I googled Big Brother Big Sister and began navigating the cheerful multicultural photos and spirited messages on how I could change the life of a child while shaping the future of America. What could be more wholesome than Big Brother Big Sister? It conjures up all things wonderful about America's family values: reaching out to others, helping, volunteerism, empowerment of the vulnerable, making a difference, gender discrimination of men. Huh? Discrimination? Well, of straight men. The cross-gender Matching Policy basically says that a woman can mentor a boy, but a man cannot be matched with or mentor a girl. The Policy continues with an odd, illogical twist in the Non-Discrimination Policy which allows homosexuals to mentor children of the same sex if the parent approves.

So does this mean a gay man can't be matched with a little girl (because he is a man) but he can be matched with a little boy? Talk about logical fallacies! Let me be clear. I am not against homosexuals mentoring children. I am for anyone loving, mentoring, and edifying a child towards great things regardless of what private parts are between their legs. I have never seen a more clear case of sexism. It is unfortunate, especially in light of the benefits little girls stand to receive from good male mentorship. Benefits that will shape their experiences with men for a lifetime. If Big Brother Big Sister is implying, concluding, perpetuating that an adult male will sexually molest a girl, they are sensationalizing a horrific act by inciting propaganda that bears the likeness and hype of shark attacks. This fear creates more alienation and weirdness between men and children in a paranoid society where men are already absent in the family photo--a family made of girls.

Personally, my heart was broken when I read the policy of Big Brother Big Sister. I always imagined mentoring a girl. My background is eclectic. I can mentor traditional and nontraditional gender roles. I grew up hunting, fishing, and playing football. I also love Broadway, ballet, and poetry. I can fix a car and decorate my house. Many of my bad experiences with women are directly related to their bad experiences with men, whether it be a ex-boyfriend, stranger, or absent father. As a male, I wanted to make a positive difference in the life of a little girl who might one day be a wife to a husband. More men might step up to the plate if we remove the bogeyman, and give men a chance.

Read the inflammatory words in the Policy of a Big Brother Big Sister regional office. Through my online research, every regional office I found follows a similar version.

Friday, May 13, 2011

99 cent Book! 4th of July Sale!

In celebration of our great USA and the right to read and write controversial books through our First Amendment, eBook Exhuming Juliet is on sale for ONLY 99 CENTS now through the 4th of July! No special device required. All you need to read is FREE. Simply download the entire book on your computer or mobile device in seconds for less than one George Washington!

Feel free to share and repost this incredible offer!  

Check out more Sweet Deals!

Scholarly Review of My Books

It is an honor to share a feature article and remarkable scholarly review of my books by Dr. Penne J. Laubenthal, Swampland.com  Swampland is referred to as the “field guide to the cultural American South.” It covers all things Southern, including music, sports, food, travel, place, myth, history, literature, commerce, art, film, and architecture. In the RiverVue section, Laubenthal’s voice goes beyond the many facets of literature. She captures a unique Southern slice of life. Her pieces are a joy to read. I am pleased to share this review with all of you.

The title Crumpled Paper Dolls set the scene for many of the poems in the first volume. Women, in both volumes, are like dolls---paper or porcelain. They crumple or they shatter. They are like little girls, appearing to be innocent and promising eternal love, but are actually Lolitas (as in the poem "Mother Fries Chicken"), at first tempting and then betraying.
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Poetry Readings & Writing Tips!

Great news! My YouTube channel is up and running! Be the first to watch me read my poetry and discuss all things writing. Subscribe, friend me, like, and leave a comment on my new YouTube channel! Share your favorite videos :) See you at YouTube.com/aNewOrLeANspoet!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Creative Capital Professional Development

I was honored to be one of only a few artists in Louisiana to be selected for the Creative Capital Professional Development Program hosted by the Louisiana Division of Arts.  The benefits of this workshop reach far beyond "supporting the arts."  The workshop leaders present empirical data on artists and how their lives affect society, the economy, and themselves.  The stereotypes of free-thinking, far-out, disorganized artists are dismissed.  The intelligent, goal-oriented, commerce driven artist is empowered to stake his claim in the market.  The Creative Capital leaders bring respect to what artists do.  They taught me that poverty, suffering, and alienation are not an end result to the creative process.  Artists do not have to be outcasts, misfits, with cultural relevancy only.  We are key players in the economy and in politics. 

The workshop was a life-changing experience.  I would not recommend this program for an artist who is looking for simple inspiration or guidance in a feel-good setting.  The workshop is intense and geared towards radical change.  It is meant to deconstruct and reconstruct your identity in a short time.  The end result is an artist who takes his efforts seriously.  Forget about lofty inspirational quotes.  The program teaches concrete, systematic steps that equal financial success.  Time management, strategic planning, and organization skills are explored. 

It is time for the artist and the perception of the artist to be elevated.  It is time we start running our lives like what we do matters, how a business matters, how an organization matters, how academia matters.  Our talents, creativity, passions, and emotional outreach, as engrossing as they may be, should never overshadow our basic rights to live good, healthy, normal lives, with benefits, vacations, and financial and personal success like everyone else.  Our creative process deserves the reward.  These are the fundamental tenets that the Creative Capital Professional Development Program taught me.  I see my role as an artist in a totally different light. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Life of an Author

I haven't left the house in a while.  Being a writer is odd.  My work is in isolation both physically and mentally.  However, I must live on the outside in the most intense climates, canvas all human possibilities, experience the harshness, follow the sacrifice, prick and bleed the emotion in order to give an audience something worth reading.  The endless author/book/publishing projects pile up like cadavers needing to be buried.  The stink distracts me from the writing, going for a walk, or enjoying a carefree night.  My creativity lies somewhere under the rotting flesh of a book.  A "book" is a product.  It must sell just like a can of corn must sell.  So, promotion and publicity is a constant pressure.  A book is like a movie that never stops showing.  Even the most famous writers, celebrities, and political figures appear on Larry King or Late Night TV to promote their work.  A couple months ago I saw a painter on Jackson Square.  Tied to the iron fence next to his paintings was a jar that said, "Tip here if you 'like' my paintings."  It struck me how many times I have told an artist that I liked their work, but never bought a thing.  My complaint isn't with book sales.  It is with the relationship that exists between fame and poverty, social admiration and social isolation, brilliance and suffering.  I do not live a charmed life on top of a mountain where I sit in front of a fireplace with a pipe poking out from the corner of my mouth while I contemplate poetic thoughts.  I work my ass off more and more each year as I stay true to my dream to be and sustain being a published writer.  I opted out of the pension plan, 401k, dental insurance, homeownership, and having a family--a normal life.  I chose to be your poet.  Each year I gain more success while life becomes more sterile, more alienated, more disjointed.  People who I will never know about read my work, hear my story, watch me online or on TV.  I always say, "I have secret admirers, distant acquaintances, but only a handful of friends."     

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Living on the waters

Coast Guard helicopters circled over the Mardi Gras parades today.  It is a normal occurrence during Carnival, even before the storm.  They perform aerial security patrols.  Of course, seeing those orange buggies in the sky conjure up different thoughts than they did before Hurricane Katrina.  I remember seeing them before the storm and thinking, "Coast Guard?  What coast!  There are no beaches or oceans around here."  The possibility of a "typical" hurricane disaster didn't seem real to me.  We don't have a vast, scary, wave brewing sea to look over!  We have levees!  I have to drive three hours to go hang out at the beach!  Sure, you can look over the lake and the Mississippi River, but that serene squiggly stretch of water conjures up innocent boyish images of Mark Twain, riverboats, and frog catchin'.  It still doesn't feel like I live on the Gulf of Mexico.  I will see a seagull and say, "Where did that come from!"  It feels like I live in a bathtub.  Now, when the St. Patrick's Day parade rolls around and I get hit in the head with a bar of Irish Spring soap, then I am reminded of where home is!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mardi Gras Season

Yesterday Krewe du Vieux invigorated the spirit of Carnival. There were fantastical costumes, cheering crowds, loud vibrations from marching bands. I was not there. I stayed at home and deciphered food coupons then ventured to the grocery store:
Oscar Mayer Bacon 16 oz. Sale Price 2/$8-$1 Register Rewards Good on next purchase=Like paying 2/$7. See coupon for exclusions and limitations.
When did life become so strange? My life is "like" a life. I eat food without tasting the flavors. I feel the textures. Applesauce, mushy, smooth tiny beads finding their way into the small pockets inside my mouth. I feel the cold metal spoon as it leaves my puckered lips. The toughness of French bread is no match as my shark teeth bite hard and pull against the resistance of a loaf. Food enters my body like coins in a parking meter. Standing outside the store I see the streetcar packed so tight.  The passengers look like one solid color from the blended colors of each person piled together. New Orleans feels less gritty tonight, more polished. The storm gave us a wash. The air smells cleaner now. I can't tell a tourist from a native anymore. The girls are too young. Their ponytails are too tight. My memories, too distant. Behind the store are new condos where the projects used to be before the storm. Back then I used to buy candy for the little black kids. Once, at Christmas, I brought my old computer up to the store and gave it to the first kid I saw. I stand in line at Walgreens. The register goes "beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep." Mardi Gras season is here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day roosts at my doorstep on an empty concrete slab where my front door freely swings over sandy cement.  Chocolate candy wrappers wisp against each other in my hand.  The teeth hurt.  My eyes stare funny and dead, two hard candies, butterscotch.  The years stole the cinnamon from them.  Love.  An orgy of lust.  The healing hands of Jesus.  Red.  Red.  Red.  Crinkled red.  Cardboard red.  Red tissue paper.  Blood red.  Sweet, crimson red.  Pink girls begging for the red.  Girls spend fortunes on baking powder, baker’s chocolate squares, brown sugar, cocoa, flour—only to use them once.  They leave me and my home.  All that remains are these vials, boxes, and canisters of poison.  I hold a tiny, cold glass bottle of vanilla extract in my hand.  I try to read what it is used for.  I walk to the door and put on the chain lock.