Wednesday, January 16, 2019

new digs...

Since the tumblr platform is a little ridiculous and overzealous in it's porn-seeking bots and post flagging (and somehow thought that this radio ocularia collage was on the level of Jenna Jamison)  Since I don't want to have to appeal every 5 minutes if I have a nude statue in a collage, I've decided to migrate all the stuff currently hosted on Tumblr over to blogger sites.  I've loved blogger since I moved to this space in 2005, but so much fancy (and free) design capabilities are available now. (our Crypto Soc. and A of R Pages are blogger pages.)  So I'm working on moving my personal portfolio page, and dgp's general info pages over to this platform in the next few weeks.  (the shop itself is hosted elsewhere and won't be changing, just how you get directed from the domain to there will be different.)

I thought about doing this for efficiency sake a few months ago, so had a blank site ready to go, but I spent last night migrating the necessary content over to the new page and it's looking rather spiffy...This is basically one arm that comes off my domain itself for my own writing and art projects, so it includes links to books, published works, interviews, reviews, and such..

see the results here...

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

writing & art bits | January

The last few hours of 2018 brought this interview/publisher profile in the Kenyon Review (courtesy of Kristina Marie Darling), wherein I discuss literary citizenship, the benefits of editorial work for writers, and how to change the world one book at a time.

Preparations are nigh on the Mansion anthology of Slender Man inspired writings (due in February), in which I have a few pieces from my own project, necessary violence.  (and look for that project itself, complete with accompanying artwork from Becky Webster later this year.)

You can still get pieces of the swallow series into your mailbox on a weekly basis (I took a break for the holidays, but watch for the next installment this Friday)  This particular series is the final piece in the  puzzle that is a new longer book manuscript, FEED.

Some poems from the science of impossible objects have made their way into the brand new edition of Birdfeast.

The very first object in the Books & Objects series of 2019 will be debuting next week--a sweet little accordian book of the animals postcards.  They are available by subscription, but I will also make a few standalone copies available in the shop.

Monday, January 14, 2019

going analog

Over the past couple of years, I've been working more digitally than not when it comes to collages. Since I spend a great deal of time in front of a computer for all other sorts of reasons, it make sense that some artmaking would happen.  I do a lot of cover designs and library graphic work working with photo editing software, and many times, something I do will spark a new series of collages (for example, last years murder mystery poster led to the hunger palace collages, which then led to the cryptotaxonomy zine pieces. I like the neatness and exactness of working digitally, as well as being able to use the entire internet as your toolbox in terms of images..need a creepy doll's head?  A toy horse?  and octopus?  Google and ye shall receive.  My collages also wind up neater--no wayward scissors or glue smears or random cat footprints.  I've been saving my analog efforts for things like painting and printmaking, but doing most of my collage on the screen. 

Paper is different.  You have to work with what you have. But as we talked about after last year's Art on the Cheap panel, sometimes this leads you places you might not otherwise go. Over the holiday break, I cut into a stack of Time magazines from the 1960's which I knew would be ripe with clippable things and while it feels limiting in some ways, I think those limitations cause me to actually be more creative with what I do have.  Perhaps the closest analogy I think of is writing poems with formal constraints and how much magic can happen that wouldn't otherwise. So I'm collaging and I don't have a shoe, but I have a breadbox or a vacuum cleaner or a woman's head.  What happens when you put all these things together.? When you have to put these things together because there really isn't anything else on the table in front of you?

Sunday, January 13, 2019

glamorous decay

One summer in the mid-90's, I spent the entire three months reading Faulkner and Hemingway in front of a fan to keep cool. In a fiction workshop the previous semester, the instructor, who was a rude mansplainy alumni dude had set these two up as dichotomies--you were either a Faulkner or a Hemingway and your style was either short, brisk and to the point, or long and rambling.  About midway through the semester, he decided that I was definitely more Faulkner-like and said that I would make a far better poet than a fiction writer.  I was annoyed at the time, but I wish I could say he was wrong.  My exploits in fiction, from what I remember,  were mostly loosely structured stories conveyed by long rambling beautiful sentences you would get entirely lost in and lose track of the plot.  Sort of like a poem.

That summer I set out to see what he was talking about. It was ungodly hot and occasionally the power at my parents' house would fail and you'd find me outside on the deck with a candle for light, spread out on a sheet as dusk came around, headphones blasting Mazzy Star in my ears still reading to escape the heat inside the house. While I find Hemingway highly problematic, I was less exacting in those years, so I read A Moveable Feast at least twice--and longed to be in that "Paris in the twenties" world. So very different from my 90's midwestern world, which did not seem ripe for offering much in the ways of culture or interest.   Sure, there were my classes--where I was studying writers and taking workshops--and there were near weekly trips to the Barnes & Noble with my sister, where we would load up on all the midlist cast-off bargain books.  There were plays--those I participated and worked on for the college and in the community.  There was a tiny professional theatre long since closed downtown and yearly Shakespeare at the community college we attended in the fall.  But it all felt very short of scratching the itch that reading something like Hemingway forged.  I wanted more.

Last week, I stumbled upon this Lit Hub piece and giggled at it's accuracy (as someone who feels my literary expectations were forged by Hemingway and his ilk, and as someone who loves the aesthetics, if not the prices, of Anthropologie.) I used to get the catalog proper, but now settle for occasionally browsing their instagram.  While I can neither afford, nor fit into their clothes, there is still something appealing about the visuals, but it never occurred to me that this desire for a certain picturesque could have it's roots in my interpretation of what that "writing lifestyle" looks like. Perhaps the only familiar counterpoint to the modernists might be my beloved Sylvia, who also forged in my head a certain sort of literary life, but hers was mired first in college and Oxford and then in her country house, and then tragically ending in the Yeats apartment.  This world was filled with writing and babies and romantic treachery, but in many ways was a continuation of that Hemingway legacy, which no doubt formed her as much as it forms writers today.  This was probably also true of the Beats, and perhaps even moreso since they were mostly men, bent on that certain spirit of boho heroism ala Hemingway.

And if we ourselves have interalized that ideal literary life as writers--culture has done so tenfold--movies, television( see Lives of the Poets )  Even recently I was watching that delightfully creepy series YOU, where the female lead is a poetry MFA student, and things like that always seem, at best, like a slightly askew reflection of what being a writer is actually like. In this case a little more believable (the struggle to balance a social life with creative life, imposter syndrome, always money problems). But still a little off in its depiction of how "fame" in the lit world works.

Indeed, if the culture at large were asked to imagine a poet, they would not see most of us with our day jobs and our piles of unvanquished laundry but moreso the traveling flaneuse, who never had to work to earn money, but somehow it was always available. Who had long, winding days to sleep til the afternoon and then bang away at a typewriter til night, when we would then hang out at readings and bars and carouse with other writers until dawn.  We wouldn't have children, or electric bills, or anything getting in the way of our brilliance.  And yet, I don't think I've ever met the sort of writer, even the highly successful ones who actually earn money from writing, whose life would even begin to approach the one the world would imagine for us. Ditto on the general assumptions made about writers, poets especially,  My favorite being the highschool acquaintance I ran into at a wedding about a decade later who,  when he found out I was a poet, jokingly asked "Why? Are you depressed?" Or the ex who read my first book and asked if I had ever contemplated suicide (seriously, the fever almanac is not that dark, honey)

Nevertheless, the fantasy, while untenable, is still a beautiful one. I guess I'm totally okay if you like to picture me roaming about the house all day, bottle of tequila in hand waiting for inspiration to strike.  I do have plenty of peeling plaster (my apartment needs a paint job stat) and more than a few flowing, whsipy sundresses worthy of an Anthropologie catalog...But more often my writing happens lately in a flurry of moments while I'm waiting for books to print in the studio, scrolling idly through instagram,  and sucking my iced latte through a straw.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

32 and 44...

Everyone on the Facebooks is doing that thing where you post your oldest profile pic and your newest and there's supposed to be some weird slightly ageist skirting comparison of how you looked then versus how you look now. Nevertheless, offensive language aside, I was curious and did it and it got me thinking about time.  I don't think I look different physically all that much..the first profile pic I actually used my face for was already a few years old when I posted it, from around 2006-2007 (I didn't have a smart phone until 2014, so selfies weren't my thing and I just didn't have many photos I liked. )

So what you have is a girl (she feels like a girl) of around 32, probably so drawn looking because of her the demands of working full time and tackling an MFA program I was never having much of a good time in.  Add in a disastrous relationship with someone it took years to untangle from (someone who was married and a supreme sociopath / compulsive liar).  The press was a couple years old and gaining steam and I was on the verge of my first book coming out, but just as adrift in this thing called poetry as I ever am.  If you'd asked me then, I would have told you I was happy, but comparatively, I look back and think I was foolish to think so.

Fast forward to a couple years back when my current pic was taken.  Not only am I a few pounds lighter and a few shades blonder, but, at least then, I was pretty happy and I believe that happiness more (granted this was pre-Trump era and before my mom got sick--both things that have made the past two years a bit rougher. )   I've written several more books, moved into the studio and finished the MFA. Better clothes, better relationship, a few more cats. All in all, things have worked out pretty well for that 32 year old now on the crest of 45.  I don't mind aging in itself (it's more the weird disconnect between how you feel on the inside vs.  what is happening on the outside.  I worry I will forever feel like I'm 25 and be walking around in an 80 year old's body (if I'm lucky).

Thursday, January 10, 2019

more is more is more

With all the Marie Kondo mania happening on social media, I sometimes can't hep thinking that while I like things neat and visually appealing at home where I relax, I also tend to ascribe to the " more is more" philosophy than the opposite.  I've known about the Art of Tidying Up book for awhile, and have been trying to fold my cardigans neatly and upright and have mosly been unsuccessfull. . I am usually a careful weeder. Also a careful buyer--and am pretty specific in my tastes, whether its my dishware and kitchen utensils or my shoes.

About 5 years ago I did a major deep clean on the apartment, emptying drawers and cabinets and actually, things have been pretty smooth and unchaotic since  (though for some reason, I seem to suffer a genetic predisposition to a messy linen closet. Half used shampoos and scented lotions abound and the next thing you know you cant open it without an avalanche of towels and toilet paper hitting you in the head. )  While at times there might be clothes strewn around the bedroom, cat hair on the floor, and paper stacks on my desk, otherwise my apartment is pretty well organized with a place for everything (whether it finds it's way to that place immediately is up for grabs.).

A couple years back, I attempted to weed the poetry bookshelves and tossed out a lot of random AWP acquired freebies and books by po-biz creepers and people I don't like (either their personality or their work.) My fiction shelves still need a good organizing, but I keep mostly things I really want to read again at some point and borrow the rest from the library.  On the Netflix show, I would get a little anxious when people took on books, especially since, for us writerly types, books are more sentimental than happenstance. I'd easily give up the small dvd collection in my tv cabinet, or even the 200+ of cd's I haven't listened to in years before I would start in on the books. So I'll keep my bulky copy of The Critical Tradition procured in grad school.  The copy of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof from the sixties I bought at a flea market.  My crumbly first edition of Anais Nin's Delta of Venus bought my very first foray at the Printer's Row Book Fair. When I look at an old copy of The Sound and the Fury, I remember reading all his work one hot college summer seated in front of a fan I kept lugging room to room and even outside.

I do try to get rid of things I don't want expeditiously and don't let them linger--gifts that missed the mark. Random giveaways. things that re temporarily functional but sort of ugly. Promotional mugs, for example go in the trash pretty quickly.  But then again, one of my least favorite things my mother ever gave me 20 years ago, a ridiculously pricey Longaberger tea basket is a humorous solace now daily in her really you never know what you should keep or will need in the future. I am this way about art supplies most since the very thing I toss tends to be the thing about a month later I really desperately need and have to start over. So I am especially hesitant there.

In the very first episode of the show, the woman in the bad marriage piles her clothes on her bed and is aghast at how much she has and I laughed and thought "Hah!'  I could never do this, mostly since the clothes would submerge the bed and I might not find it for years.  It would take far more time and energy than I have. But every season, I'm good at tossing out what is damaged or ill fitting or just not that flattering when I switch things out.  By the end of the year, I've tossed at least a fraction of what I own  Clothes, perhaps even more than books, are my major vice and where I spend lot of my my tiny disposable income, usually on sale or thrifting, but my wardrobe is stored in about 4 large underbed bins of seasonal  things, a rack of dresses, a closet filled with skirts, blouses, shoes, and unmentionables. Plus three drawers of sweaters in the hallway built-in.  I do wear all of it..not always often, but I try to make sure I use things at least once a season, more if it's something I paid a lot for (the Ralph Lauren leopard dress gets a lot of wear.).  Some of my faves come out 4-5 times a year.  And I am totally okay with this.  Yes, obviously no one needs that many coats, but I paid for and carefully chose ever single one, Why should I be made guilty for the bit of joy they give me (espc. since they are my winter coping mechanism--and far, far better than self-medicating with too much chocolate and alcohol).?

What broke my heart was the people who gave up portions of collections they obviously put work into procuring--the baseball card guy and his wife with her love of Christmas The younger dude with all his sneakers. No, you don't need them, but do you WANT them?  It's one thing to get rid of random lidless tupperware and mugs from your bank, but a treasured collection is a very different animal. My two biggest collections outside of books and clothes are my vintage bags and midcentury dishes. While my dishes perish to occasional breakage anyway, I'm less attached.  But if you tried to take away a beaded purse, you'd be prying from my cold dead fingers.

I've usually agreed with the people who say it's easy for the bougier among us to worship the "less is more" because, well, if they throw something out they find they need later, it's easy to replace it. Also, it's real easy to be neat if you're boring and have as much personality as a white sock--ie no pesky collections or interests clogging up your closets and shelves. . As for me,  I'm keeping my stuff, becuase I wouldn't exactly have brought it into my home if it didn't bring me joy.  And it certainly wouldn't have stayed...

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

breton's birthday

Over the past few years, we've done a few different things in the Library centered around Andre Breton's Birthday mid-February to celebrate the father of surrealis, or maybe more surrealism in general.  The first year, we had a big installation on the first floor about Surrealism with interactive collages  collages and cross-out writing opportunities.  Last year, a reading with some MFA poetry & prose students and a collage making station on the 1st Floor.  This year, we are doing a reading of Surrealist Love Letters on Valentines Day that should be great fun. I'm hoping to round up some features readers and do an open-mic the second half of the the evening.

While my tastes run more toward Dali and Cornell in terms of Surrealists, I usually try to highlight work beyond Breton himself--with displays and info on all of the Surrealists, including the women, many of who never get their proper due. Also, art from today with it's roots in Surrealism--whether visual or literary.