Category Archives: My Personal Canon

Dennis Carl Malott January 19, 1947. Died April 8, 2010.

Today would have been my father’s 69th birthday.

For years now, I’ve tried to write about him and about our relationship. The scrapped essays, blog posts, and fictional flights have piled up, but none of them have been read by anyone. They’ve all felt incomplete, or far too long and rambling.

I keep coming back to this line from John Berger’s novel, Once in Europa.

“Sometimes to refute a single sentence it is necessary to tell a life story.”



My father in the early 70’s. The photo was taken by my mother.


For me, the single sentence is this: My father and I didn’t get along. While it is true, it is also not the

whole and only story. It’s also not the story I want to be left with at the end of my own life; however, unknotting it, untangling the threads of it, will take telling a life story.


Perhaps even two or three life stories.




It’s probably not true for all fathers and sons, but since it’s true for my father and me, there must be others out there who have navigated similar rocky paths. All I can say with certainty is that there were things we wanted from each other and sometimes we failed to deliver those things because of fear or blindness or maybe even, after a while, spite. Those things, those emotional, spiritual, personal things are, I think where all the mystery lies.We, as a society, often think of men’s internal, emotional lives as simple and easy to understand. Even making jokes about it.



The truth, and the problem, is that men’s internal and emotional lives are not simple. If they were, the conflict between my father and me wouldn’t have lasted for twenty-five years, which was long enough that, by the end of his life, it was hard for us to figure out how it all started, how it continued, and, at times, how we were before.


I’m still working on understanding my father, and myself. Still trying to tell the life story that will refute our sentence.


My father and his sister, Helen.

The Outrider Podcast Episode 29 Lynn Sloan

In this episode I talk with author Lynn Sloan about the ghettoization of writers, the assumption of quiet domesticity, the fact that old white men aren’t alone on top of the great mountain of literature, and her years as a photographer, including her time in New York working for a major magazine that made a game out of sneaking a picture of naked breasts into each issue.

Lynn is the author of Principles of Navigation, out now from Fomite Press. Lynn has had short stories appear in such journals as Sou’wester, Nimrod, and Puerto Del Sol, and she has been nominated for the Pushcart Award. She’s also been a finalist for the Dana Award and the Katherine Anne Porter Prize. Before writing, she was a photographer whose fine art photographs had been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world. You can learn more about Lynn at her website and you can learn more about her publisher, Fomite, at

The Outrider Podcast is available on iTunes and Stitcher. You can also listen at my website (

The Outrider Podcast Episode 23: Taylor Mali

Today’s guest is Taylor Mali. We talk about long held family businesses, the purpose of language, how one ends up in Kansas, poetry slams, and jumping at the chance to be a full time poet.

Taylor is a four-time National Poetry Slam champion, the author of What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World, and three books of poetry What Learning Leaves, The Last Time As We Are, and the newly released Bouquet of Red Flags. You can read more about Taylor, find his books, and watch videos of some of his performances at this website . You can also check out his Youtube channel for the performance of “The Naked Gardener” recorded in-between the two halves of our conversation at the KATE Conference in Wichita, KS.

A special thanks to Kansas Association of Teachers of English for letting me crash the last day of their conference to steal an hour of Taylor’s time, and for graciously allowing me to also share lunch with a number of fine English teachers.

The Outrider Podcast is available on iTunes and Stitcher. You can also listen at my website (

Shoptalk #2 with Laura Hawley

This is the second installment of the Shoptalk series with Laura Hawley. We talk about her struggle with Lydia Davis, the travails of finding and keeping an agent, losing our way, and the further disintegration of my current project into disarray . . . But we still had a good time.

The Outrider Podcast is available on iTunes and Stitcher. You can also listen at my website (, or at the Eunoia Solstice website (