Thursday, July 18, 2019

writing & art bits | july edition

*I have a couple of pieces (including one of the eleanor & the tiny machines pieces and one older catalogue collage) in the latest issue of Radar Poetry, fast becoming of my favorite places combining writing and visual art.  Check out the new issue here. (you can also see some of the exquisite damage written and visual pieces in the previous issue.)

*The latest Tupelo Quarterly dropped on Monday and features 5 pieces from the [licorice, laudaum] project (aka, my HH Holmes series.).  So much research went into the project , it's great to see the elements together for the first time here in all their weird little glory. 

*As mentioned below, I am taking part in an interview series with a host of other editors & publishers at The Nasiona Magazine, the first part of which landed on Monday. 

* work is beginning on the next books & objects offering coming around the bend, the poets zodiac, which needs a little tightening up, but is finally (finally!) finished. It's going to be a tiny little guide-book sized project that should be absolutely lovely. 

*This month, I am working on rounding out my artist statement series, which is turning out to be delightfully meta as one would expect.  My fave part so far is  this bit:

"The poem won’t shut up until you take it home. Until you shove it beneath the bathtub’s surface a few times for effect.  Neglect is the poem’s best weapon. All night, it will moan and pretend it’s coming, but by morning will be nothing but a few strands of hair on the pillow you used to smother it." 

Once that series winds down at the end of this month..I intend to do some more work on my woefully neglected unusual creatures project.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

dgp cover love | white space

some recent and upcoming cover designs, all if which are keeping it pretty simple in terms of space and color.......

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

vattemare award for creativity in libraries

My Monday morning started off with some exciting news that me and my co-hort, Jennifer Sauzer had scored the 2nd Annual Vattemare Award for Creativity in Libraries for our work with Aesthetics of Research.  Given that it's sometimes been bumpy road in the early days, this felt really good, and really excellent timing since we are working on some other writing projects devoted to our efforts, both about A of R  and curated learning in general,  that we will begin submitting for publication soon. Also helpful as we work on some more classroom-connected projects this coming academic year.

The proposal for the Vattemare included a general summary of our mission and some of our ongoing series and initiatives.

read more here... 

(incidently the prize is named after a famous ventriloquist/librarian, which seems an odd, but appropriate combo..)

Monday, July 15, 2019

interview @ The Nasiona Magazine

I am super-excited to be amongst the selection of awesome presses answering some questions over at The Nasiona Magazine about submissions, manuscripts, and other relevant topics..

"I love a book that can take a completely ordinary subject matter and stylistically turn it on its ear. I also really love quirky & weird subject matter. I love surrealism, the supernatural, pop culture mash-ups, science-inspired writing. Found and appropriated texts. I always say that I love those sorts of manuscripts that take the reader to weird places, but with such authority, you have no choice but to follow." 

read part 1 here..

Sunday, July 14, 2019

curvy girl fashion | early autumn wish list

Considering I only switched out my spring clothes for my summer options a couple weeks ago, it is perhaps a bit too early to be looking toward fall, but I'm cheating just a little.  I was thinking this morning that late July is always when that magical, back to school issue of Seventeen magazine showed up filled with all of it's fall-fashion magic.  It does not help that I've been bingeing season three of Stranger Things and so freakin nostalgic for my youth of neon-lined malls. All of which is giving me a summer sort of restlessness and excited back to school shopping vibes.  (and the best thing about working in academia is still being excited for every school-year start even as an adult, so I usually buy a few new clothes and some random school supplies every September. )

But nevertheless, I already thinking about jackets and sweater dresses, even though we actually have had some heat out there finally especially since I've spent the morning with some plus-size haul videos on YouTube that have me thinking about fashiony things. There are some colors I keep seeing that are jumping out at me in summer offerings that I see carrying well into fall, especially since I always have this weird span of time in September where it's still warm enough for summer dresses, but am anxious to get into fall clothes.


There is so much mustard in stores this year for summer--also other shades of buttery yellows, of which I now have way too much in my closet.  Fall is looking to be no different.  They're a little tricky sometimes, because there is a variation of mustard that looks terrible against my skin, but the warmer ones tend to fare well.  The above Old Navy one caught my eye and I will probably get it since I'm loving the delicate floral.

Dusty Pink

This is a color that works really well for my skin but I never encounter it quite enough. I'm not sold on the neckline of this particular Old Navy dress, so it's not a sure thing (too high and I feel like it will make my boobs look frumpy).   But that color is making it super tempting to try..esp with those leaopard flats.

Forest Green

I've been unusually obsessed with dark green, and even bought a velvety green ottoman for the studio  (mostly as an incentive to keep the damn place tidier. )  When my hair was darker, this was a color I loved, but it still works even when I'm blonder.   It's actually a color that works in every season, being bith naturey and holiday-ish.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019


At first, I walked out of the theatre not sure what to say about this movie.  I was super excited going in, but was fully prepared for it to fall short.  After all, with all the hype around Ari Aster's Heredity, I did not like it as much as some of my friends--thinking it definitely was a beautiful work of art in terms of impending gloom and camerawork, but thought the family trauma was more than enough even without the supernatural element that felt tacked on at the end.  The very thing that was wrong about that film, Aster did right in this one, centering the dissolution of a toxic relationship as the main source of horror, but setting it amidst the sunlight dappled beauty of a creepy Kinfolk catalog aesthetic.

In fact, there is less of the supernatural in this one, than there is the general horror of much folklore.  Very little happens that is not human directed--sacrifices, spellcasting, fertility rights.  But at the same time, there are spots of gore that jump out so strongly and starlingly becuase they are in broad daylight and paced exactly right.  So much so that you might forget you are in a horror movie, or can't quite figure out if you're in a horror movie, which contributes to the viewers disorientation as much as the characters.  It is, like Heredity, very much a meditation on trauma and grief, and the main actresses' struggle with a personal tragedy had my heart in my throat the entire movie (the closest thing I can think of recently that had this effect was Haunting of Hull House.)  Also, the dynamics of isolation and community, however fucked up. And the boyfriend, is ultimately every bad relationship you ever had, who meets a weirdly satisfying end. 

But so much can be said about the visual feast of this movie--from that unbearable bright beauty of the clearing to the visual representations of much of what happens in the film--the iconography, the illustrations. Unlike most horror, everything happens in the daylight, which becomes oppressive in its own right. As someone who most appreciates the beautiful cast against the terrifying, this movie hit all the right buttons, and some I did not even know existed.

notes & things | 07/09/2019

And just like that, we have bitten a chunk out of July.

I've been away from work and away from the studio the past 5 days or so, so re-entry is proving to be a bit rough.  There was the 4th--spent mostly just hiding from the crowds, eating takeout ribs and battling the heat in my apartment.  Then Friday hijinks, which included seeing the amazeballs Midsommer (more on this in another post) and karaoke at the Uptown Lounge. Then I was off to Rockford for some day drinking (a bit too much day drinking) and some thrifting yesterday. It's not much of a vacation, but a little bit never hurts.  I now realize that once we hit the 4th, it's a swift forward roll down into fall, so perhaps I should absorb as much summer as I can.

Otherwise, there is studio tidying, the unending saga, but still too much chaos to try for an open studio this week.  I realize I am failing in my goals to make one happen this summer, but I can use the extra work time on Fridays since I get out of the library earlier that day.   I finalized a bunch of new books before the holiday, so those are on the agenda this week and some more order filling in the task of catching up, which seems impossible sometimes.  I feel like the last two years have been an uphill slant for all kinds of reasons and I'd like a little bit of leveling off. I am also set to dip my toes into the new pool of submissions for next year and looking forward to reading so much goodness.

We've hit a welcome spate of milder days, which are a relief after a few steamy muggy ones in which my apartment failed to cool down over night, which made sleeping well difficult with no A/C..  It seemed summer would never arrive, and for a couple days there it did in spades. Ideally, I like a low-humidity 80 tops, and some cooler nights in the 60's. I always grow tired of the blazing sun, the humidity, the crowds, around mid-July and long for September/early October. I also start to long for my more productive studio hours at the top of the day when my brain is still fresh.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

exquisite damage and the suburban gothic

This weekend, I am working through some more fine tuning edits on exquisite damage, which is mostly done, but needed a little distance to iron out some rough spots.  This week, I also am planning a couple more collages to accompany the text portions.  I started the project thinking about my love of the horror genre, of the gothic, particularly a more suburban, midwest gothic that plays such a central role in many horror classics (Halloween and It Follows come immediately to mind.)  The sort of things that lurk at the edges of the world we think we know. It's origins are similar, but it's manifestations different from purely rural gothic--theres a thicker gloss on it all--a variation between the perception and the reality.

I worked with something similar in the shared properties of water and stars--that dark shadow sitting squat under suburbia, but this project is more personal and grounded in my experience as a child who loved horror and grew up in the 70's & 80's. Last spring, one of the speakers at the pop culture conference on horror touched on the definition of the gothic--how even in the Victorian ages, it's appeal lie in a safe way to transcend the relative safety of the middle class.  If we were comfortable--not in actual danger--we sought out ways to experience similar danger from a a safe remove.

When I was a teen, I had all these romantic fantasies that involved whatever boy I was crushing on at the time saving me from something--a disaster, a plague, a plane crash. the apocalypse.  It was a twisted princess fantasy I suppose--the prize not so much security, but survival.

"Sometimes, I'm swimming and there's a body, floating bloated in the water. I scream and the man who saves me gets to have me.  Which is pretty much the plot to everything."

The rush of being afraid, that rush of endorphins was similar to that of love.  Or at least my fevered teenage mind thought so.

And of course, imagined fears only go so far in touching on the REAL fears of suburbia--kidnappings, rapes, school shootings. (less prevalent, of course, in my years, but viewable in the lens now.)  But even these need a safe distance--survivors of actual trauma do not always like horror (with a few exceptions). All the urban legends we think we're are afraid of vs. the very real things there are to be frightened of. 

What I wound up with is a series of vignettes mixed with personal experience, something not quite just prose poems, not quite lyric essay, also something that, by presence of myself as "writer" addressing you, as a " reader" becomes a little bit meta.--an echo to victorian gothicism.  The visual elements are a nod to midcentury style--lots of detritus like floral wallpaper, shampoos ads, television sets, and creepy basement seances. 

Eventually, I intend for them all to be a zine project, and the text fragments themselves to be part of my longer dark county manuscript. In the meantime, for a peak into this series, some links:

* (w/ accompanying artwork)

5 things you might not know about me

1. When I was a kid, we spent pretty much every weekend in Wisconsin, where my grandmother had an RV in a campground/resort.  My aunt & uncle owned a slot nearby, so those particular weekends were a mess of extended family and a whirl of activity--most of which was me following my older cousins around trying to be as cool as they were. (Outside of my sister, virtually no one was my age on that side of the fam.)   Other camping trips included visiting my grandfather up in Black River Falls, as well as many camping trips my parents took us on our own to various places.  Me & my sister spent a lot of time on my dad's fishing boat and in a terrible little canvas pup tent freaking out about daddy long legs, but it was glorious fun.  Contrary to what you might expect of my city dwelling heart, I really like camping, but require only two things:  1) showers 2.)a comfy air mattress.  Otherwise, I am good.  I am not even scared of daddy long legs anymore once I learned they weren't really spiders.

2. In 3rd grade, I won the upper grades spelling bee and had the first taste of ambition and success that made me crave it more.  I had sort of stumbled through the lower grades, sometimes getting in trouble for not doing, or failing to do my reading homework right. Even though I was an early & adept reader, I hated grammar homework with a passion, and spent many lunch hours trapped inside as punishment for not doing what I was supposed to. I don't remember 1st & 2nd being hard, but I was struggling in the 3rd. When I won the spelling bee, my teacher, who had written me off as just an idiot, suddenly decided I was smart but maybe was having trouble seeing the board.  I seriously think I may have thrown my eye test out of spite, though, and spent 4th grade in glasses I really didn't need (ditched completely when we moved the next year, by which time I was one of the top readers in my class regardless with near perfect vision at my 5th grade physical. I found I liked being rewarded as a word person, and it sort of formed my identity.

3. I played the clarinet in junior high,  Or I should say I was very mediocre and never practiced the clarinet, but somehow still wound up in the concert band in 8th grade. I remember very little of how to read music today, but I was decent at it then. I, of course, went in wanting to play the flute, but they were in high demand and would have had to rent it outside the school, which wasn't going to happen.  Thus, the clarinet.  I basically spent two years eyeing the cello players thinking I should have joined the orchestra instead of the band, but we did do concerts on occasion, and once, well to an Illinois-wide competition (where we lost, mostly becuaue I was not the only one that  I mostly spent my weekends, blowing off my practice and watching Svengoolie with an an existential dread of Monday.

4. My senior year of high school, I somehow wound up in an acting class filled with freshmen (I had planned to take a zoology course, but it conflicted with something else important. When the counselor called me over the summer to ask what I wanted to do, he rambled off theatre and I said sure). I wound up LOVING it and quickly got a decent role in the fall play.  For a hot minute, I was determined to be a Broadway star, spurred by a class field trip in to see Les Miz at the Auditorium, and this learned every single word from the score--and could sing it even now in its entirely.  (as well as my second fave, Into the Woods.)  Becuase I left high school determined to become  scientist, I figured that would never happen, but a couple years later I wound up back in the theater--mostly working backstage--lights, costumes, stage managing, and it formed my social group in those years.  I wound up adding Theatre as a minor to my English Major and vaguely entertained the notion of writing plays (which has not yet happened, but, hey, who knows?)

5. As mentioned above, I went off to college thinking I wanted to be a marine biologist--mostly since I had a charismatic AP Bio teacher who made it seem really exciting, strong opinions about saving the earth (as witnessed by my preachy editorials in the high school paper) and a best friend who was also into environmental causes (and actually did become a scientist/teacher!) While I probably just really liked the idea of swimming with dolphins (oh boy, did I love dolphins!) and living near the ocean, I decided to attend UNC-Wilmington, where I soon confirmed that I have the math skills of a 7th grader and that I should stick with words. I think that semester was valuable in that it cast me into the world and gave me a stereotypical college experience with dorms and frat parties,  but I was sort of relieved when I landed back at RC and its staid liberal artsyness.  I really should never have allowed my inner mermaid to make my career plans.  Lesson learned.