The National’s High Violet came out a week after my feature in Delray Beach (and subsequent emotional break down). I wasn’t sure what to expect. Alligator was rich, dense, somewhat esoteric lyrically. Boxer had more weight, but something lacked behind the words. After being let down with the opening song, “Terrible Love”, every song on High Violet punched, slapped, kicked me in places already tender. The song though that hit hardest, that I identified with the most was “Conversation 16”, especially:

I’m a confident liar
Had my head in the oven so you’d know where I’ll be
I’ll try to be more romantic
I want to believe in everything you believe
But I was less than amazing
Do not know what all the troubles are for

This (and “Slipping Husband” from The National’s second album) became my sad bastard anthem for this time period, being a failed husband and all.

Three years later, there’s a new album by The National and I’m in a different place emotionally and geographically. Trouble Will Find Me indulges a good deal of my inner sad bastard, but not the way High Violet turned me into a heavy bag. This is good. This is progress.


It’s that time of year where Write Bloody has its annual manuscript contest, where the finalists compete to make the final cut and get a book published. It’s also that time of year where poets within the slam community bitch publicly about the method in which Write Bloody chooses to run its manuscript contest. This was response to one Facebook status of such bitchery regarding the video aspect of the contest.

Publishing is a business and typically, presses that predominantly publish poetry don’t stay open for long. Write Bloody seems to have created a business model that allows them to continue to publish mostly poetry. They want to ensure their authors will return on the enormous investment the press is putting down on them. This aspect of the contest allows them to do that.

I have no qualms with the way they run their contest. I was humbled to be a finalist in 2011, and the editing it made me do got my MS in the shape it needed to eventually find a good home. Yes, it’s good to create art, but if art is going to be a means of which to obtain currency, then it needs to be viable, the author needs to be able to promote, to perform if they are going to tour. The only way to really influence the brand is to not buy it, not say anything about it; bitching about the brand is just another means of promotion.


My prose reading series, There Will Be Words, turned two yesterday. Running it has been a blast. I get to select the authors. I get to prevent bad writing from being heard. It’s a win all around. You should come to one some time.


I read my prose poem “#careertipsforgirls – Farrah Abraham” over at Voicemail Poems. You can listen here.

I have a poem about flowers over at Escape Into Life, which you can read here.

Also, I’ll be here in a few weeks.




Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. […] of my reluctance towards the new album came from my emotional connection to High Violet. I was loving all the songs that were released (and I could identify with “Demons” a […]


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About J. Bradley

J. Bradley's is a Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominated writer whose work has appeared in numerous literary journals including decomP, Hobart, and Prairie Schooner. He was the Interviews Editor of PANK, the Flash Fiction Editor of NAP, and the Web Editor of Monkeybicycle. He is the author of the poetry collection Dodging Traffic (Ampersand Books, 2009), the novella Bodies Made of Smoke (HOUSEFIRE, 2012), and the graphic poetry collection The Bones of Us (YesYes Books, 2014), illustrated by Adam Scott Mazer. He is the curator of the Central Florida reading series There Will Be Words and lives at

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