Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tis the Reason in the Age of Season

Ahhh, what a nice stretch.

This one of those weekends when a writer locks himself in his room, opens his laptop, contemplates root canals (actually writes poetry about root canals that feature tooth rape, which, incidentily will remain hidden in the malee of his laptop files because he finds the metaphor inappropriate), drinks coffee, finger-tongues the latest loose filling, muses about old friends, freezes his toes off because Gas in Philadelphia is hysterically expensive, and works works works on okay literature while reading really good literature (damn you Scott Fitz and your constant illumination of everyone else's ineptitude).

It's one of those weekends, but a good one. The semester winds down, and I'm at the tail end of finishing the latest draft of my newest novel: Permanent for Now. It's going good and I'm proud of how it's turning out. I have to say that there are some significant flaws, but I am confident I will exorcize them Satan-style by the new year, when I plan on shopping this elegant bastard. I'll always love my first novel, because it was a first. I'm sure you're sick of hearing authors compare their literary output as offspring, but not being a father, I can only imagine it this way. And Into the Everything feels like a first born. That expectation, the pain of carrying and pushing, the raising, the letting it go. With the new book, there's a lot more writing for the sake of telling a good story. There's no chip on my shoulder, no needing to prove to the world that I am a novelist. In a lot of ways, the new book is loads better than the first because of it. Also, in three years, I think I've become a better writer.

We'll have to see what other people think.

Also, my travel column in Toujours Magazine is a reality. You can read my first entry about Christmas in Ethiopia at My piece starts on pg. 67.

So, back to the books, to the poems, to the holy teeth.

Friday, October 7, 2011

It's Real, Yo.

I just wanted to share with you all, briefly, a link to my most recent publication. Though not my first dive into Creative Non-fiction, it is my first to be published (permit me to give a shout-out to Too Tough for Tetherball, a short non-fiction piece of mine that was accepted and would have been my first published just before the magazine went the way of 90s comedians with coke issues). So, without further such misfortune, I present; Two Gents on a Church Lawn.

This is indeed non-fiction, so if you think I'm a terrible person, remember that elements of creativity leak into non-fiction; however, if you think I rule because of this than it's 100% accurate, just ask Jonathan Fry.

You'll find my buddy Ismar and I running around DC getting into all kinds of trouble. I always intend on making my writing literary and somber, but with my non-fiction, for some reason, it always ends up being humorous. Go figure. At any rate, let me know what you think. I'll be off trying to find yet another home for Tetherball.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How Jeff Mark is Like Jay-Z

We both sell out.


Officially, Into the Everything's first run is completely sold out. This comes from a long list of wonderful friends and family who supported my maiden endeavor into longform prose (I don't have delusions of grandeur over here; I'm pretty well aware that only maybe 50 strangers have ITE on their shelves).

I'm not exactly sure how many books were part of the first run, but the words "sold out" certainly have a pleasant ring to them, yes? Now, don't worry, Punkin is printing a second run of the book sometime soon, just in time for my television appearance on CCPTV (Philly comcast 53) this Fall. So any literary slackers will have opportunity to make up for your shameful summer of tanning over reading.

In unrelated news, this Fall I am working on a second draft for a new novel that has taken me the last couple of years to research and write. It's a huge departure from Into the Everything, which, in a lot of ways is solopsistic and nubile. I wrote ITE when I was 25 so I'm hoping that being so near 30, that rough Nick Carroway decade, my writing style has changed (nee improved). More news to follow in that regard.

There's also a collection of poems in the works, just to see if there's any market interest.

Until next time, adieu crew. Jay-Z and Jay-Mark out.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

La La Land

So, I'm back from California and dare I say the literary scene there was almost more receptive than my home base of Philadelphia. A huge thank you goes out to Meghan BOB out in LA for single-handedly setting up the book reading and inviting all of the beautiful people in LA to attend. Also, thanks to Vlad the Retailer (cool, huh?) for the venue space and hospitality.

I am so humbled by the enthusiasm of the LA crowd and all my terrific friends (old and new) who showed up to a little book reading by a little author from a little town on the other side of the country. (editor's note: I'm not so little, and Philly's quite big too; it was for affect, people).

I actually kind of miss CA. Don't tell the Atlantic I said so.

Some more readings coming up, including one at my home base at CCP this week. There's also in the works a television interview deal down in the First State. Hmm.


Friday, August 12, 2011



It's been a bit since I was able to sit at this virtual vocal platform and update the wide world on my little happenings. In fact, one of the reasons I've been so long away at this little endeavor is because I've been out seeing the wide world. This summer, I've been to Iceland, Seattle, Maine, Nova Scotia, and soon to be SF&LA, for a tiny book tour.

But, for now, I am home. I published a poem this summer in a literary magazine called Certain Circuits. I'm sorry I didn't announce the publication here, but the magazine is sold out. But on a related, fantastic note: the magazine is sold out. As an act of contrition, I'll repost the poem presently (rights have, after all, reverted to me):

The Ends of Friends Knotting

The Monicas slope to ocean and
blot out the sun like a napkined coffee spill of
and every other contradiction.

I am so wetly licked salty
hit and hit and laughing it all,
the ocean motion womb-like wonderful.

Marigold birds stutter the old songs,
keeping the world at wing's length,
and dodge boldly the heads and hats and hearts of men
for gourmet bread crumbs
and catcalls of favor from their flock.

I'm whisked away on my back to old friends admiring
from shore, our lives now countryland between two oceans,
but our memories are roads,
and I am gallons and gallons and gallons of gas
and yellow lines of hello, un-byes, clinked
glass—blood warm blue molasses.

Breast stroke breast exposed,
I swim to us penitent, brickyard brittle,
my eyes at the misty mountains
glowing orange-yellow,
Lot's salt wife curious,
a hundred dead cats—and ask
to hold hands.
Fingers ribbons dancing.

So green, the gleam of recognition,
until we realize that every sour song now gone
are all the moments of our cherished Champagne toasts,
childhoods, and comfort company.
Green mind-reading translucent oceans on a beach towel, waiting for
the timely turned tide.

We approach, with the Monicas chasing the sun,
touch lips, and lumber all the years with
our old unearthed hatchets;
the fools we'll always be gladly.

And I feel like the scoundrel who doesn't want to be one.


In a related note, I've dabbled in Creative Non-Fiction recently. One of my pieces, "Too Tough for Tetherball" was accepted by SmashCake Magazine. Another "Two Gents on A Church Lawn" was recently accepted by Specter Magazine. I suppose people like my real life more than my fake life. Both are awaiting publication; I'll try to be better at posting when they can be got.

Seems like 2011 was a good publishing year. I've also begun working for TouJours magazine, writing articles that will eventually transfer into travel narratives. I'm thinking of calling the column: Songs of the Open Road, after my fav Whitman poem about travel.

At any rate, I promise to try and see you soon.

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Moveable Feast

Book sales are steady, and I am very grateful to those who have purchased a copy of the book. Please feel free to give me a shout and let me know what you think whenever you get a chance.

In a related note, the book is availble for review on, at
Let's get those five stars shining bright.

I'll be doing some readings in the upcoming months. It would be great to see some folks there:

April 9th:
Certain Circuits
Eris Temple Artspace (52nd and Cedar, Philadelphia)
(Certain Circuits is also publishing a few poems of mine in their latest edition)

April 13:
Faculty Showcase
The Community College of Philadelphia
Coffeehouse (Winnett Building)

May 10th:
The Painted Bride Art Center (230 Vine St. Philadelphia)
with author Kelly McQuain

Also, Origivation magazine has been serializing a short story of mine for the past few months and into the foreseeable future (it's a long one), so check out "Sophi"; if you want to know anything about South Philly, here's the perception from one So Phil resident whose love-love relationship with the area is as steady as it is complete. Check it out, but remember that the link takes you to the third installment, so you'll have to cycle back a few issues to get the whole thing. (By and by, check out the great illustrations of my story by Jillian Kesselman, the same artist who drew Into the Everything's cover).

Looks like I have my hands full; but I am really enjoying meeting people who are interested in reading my work, whether it be for general amicable reasons of friendship or family, or because you may have heard something you liked. Regardless, it goes, and it goes well.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Birds Dive

Tuesday came and went and I must say, the distractions of everyday life, which may have covertly acted to distract an otherwise pinnacle moment of my life, almost prevented me from noticing that Into the Everything was finally released.

That isn't to say I was unaware that my book would be published, nor that it was now possible that this important venture could potentially make it into the hands of dear readers, just that, well, it was quiet. Like all thunderstorms, the ensuing calm is somehow more silent.

But here it is, born to the world. And I'm a proud papa. Amy, my publisher, presented me with the cute slim volume in baby blue and purple pastels, with my mug on the back, and inside, were words words words that I uttered a ways back. They live between covers and give me a sort of nostalgic and ethereal joy. In my bedroom, 50 copies tower like sentries, waiting to be exposed.

I don't know if this is the beginning of my writing career or the only glimmer of it, but I do know that as of right now, a part of me has been donated to a part of the world. And that, my friends, tickles.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Punkin House: Into the Everything : Jeff Mark Available Today

Punkin House: Into the Everything : Jeff Mark Available Today: "Happy release day to our friend Jeff Mark!!! Today his book, Into the Everything, is finally available after months and months of formatti..."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Things Fall Together

It's astonishing how a process takes shape. Three years ago I sat down to write Into the Everything in a chaotic whirlwind of eight months that produced the first, imperfect, and roughly double-the-size draft. The manuscript went though an editing process that lasted two years before I sent query letters for potential publication.

After hooking up with Punkin House, there was the obligatory months of artwork, formatting, and further editing; but I am content to say, that it is finally over. Today, I signed off on what I hope to be the finished, error-free manuscript that will go to print this monday for the release on the 22nd. I feel winded, proud, and perhaps mostly, relieved. For a book that I started three years ago, I feel ready to finally put it to rest, while the world experiences it for the first time. It's strange to feel so distant from it. I am not the same person who penned it, nor am I the same writer. I have gone on to write other manuscripts, novels, poems, etc. Looking back on this book, I feel a wonderful sort of nostalgia and fondness for the person that I was, ignorant and arrogant and ready to take on such a grand tribulation to become...a novelist.

I don't make any assumptions that the book will be read too far beyond my circle of friends. But I am inspired by Larry in Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge, who wrote a novel based on his "loaf"ing and wandering throughout the world, published it, and sent it only to his friends, who he desired to have read and love him through his words.

I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Zero Day Blue Jay

It's snowy here on the East Coast and February is coming, bringing with it (among other things) my birthday and the release of Into the Everything. Today, because my school has closed down due to "inclement weather," I decided to take a walk in the snow, come home, and read "Seymour, an Introduction," the last short story by J. D. Salinger that I've yet to read.

I am ponderous, as tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of J.D. Salinger's death, leaving behind sixty years of unanswered questions and hopefully, a large bibliography of posthumous releases.

But what makes me so ponderous on that anniversary eve is what made J.D. Salinger so reclusive, especially considering his wholesale success as a writer in the 50s. Perhaps it was just that, the wholesale success, that made him forfeit all of his acclaim for a preferred life of unending solitude (ending only at his end).

As I copy edit Into the Everything time and time again, choose book design images, and pose for photos, I can't help but understand, to an extent how Salinger felt pre-hermitage. After all, I never wrote a word to see myself on a back cover. I never moaned over an incomplete sentence just to have my work reviewed on any sort of grand scale. In short, I have to admit that I'm somewhat uncomfortable with the whole publishing thing. Ask my publisher, and you'll soon be told at how difficult I was with contract negotiations.

Ever since finishing ITE, and looking to query and publish, I've felt a bit unfaithful. Perhaps to my craft, or the esoteric concept of being an "artist." My goal was never to be commercial, to earn money from my love for writing. Of course, of course-of-course-of-course I am happy that my book now has the potential to make it into the hands of readers. That is, in a way, what I write for. Still, marketing, blogging, dust jacket blurbs; they make me uncomfortable.

I couldn't even write my author's bio (thanks Billy). In short, the publication of the novel I spent so much blood on is thrilling; Feb 22nd couldn't come fast enough, but now I feel I must acclimate to this new part of the old world: that of a published writer. A brand. A businessman. At the wolf's mouth.

I don't mean to compare myself to Salinger in any way; that would be a gross misstatement. Still, if you ever get a chance to read my book, hopefully you'll be met with the me of three years ago, when I wrote the book starving in a small Philadelphia apartment, happy as Hell because I had the dexterity to type, and in compete ignorance of the potential of the future.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Home Sweet Home

I suppose a "Welcome" is in order to the flagship maiden voyage of this blog. I am not a proficient blogger, so hopefully any training as a "writer" will make up for ineptitudes in my forced-luddite composition. (Down with Apple).

I have been home from Ethiopia for a few weeks now and am drafting a fictitious/non-fiction (which my colleague says, makes it fiction) story about my experience. This is also my vessel to tie myself to sanity while I embark on a new world of publishing Into the Everything, the daunting concept of marketing it, and crossing my fingers that it will be received with joy. That's the apex of what I hope for. Land Ho!

Look for the book Feb 22nd.
Come see me read a chapter and sign on the 25th at Moonstone at Robbin's Books in Philly. I may not be wealthy enough to buy you a drink after, but I'll be glad enough to clink your glass.