Wednesday, September 19, 2018

singing into the void

This article and it's giant, sad whale made me think not of solitude and loneliness, though those are a very clear distinction (especially if you're the type of person, like me, who sometimes feels lonelier in crowds than I ever do alone) but more so poetry and audience and maybe even this blog a little bit. Since the days of commenting on blogs are long gone, sometimes blogging over here when everyone has moved onto the greener pastures of social media feels a little like that whale.   In a way, it's freeing, to write when you feel that no one may be reading at all.  Or maybe someone will read it because of some weird search term on google for "sad whale" and find it years from now.  Or decades (I'm assuming the internet's memory may outlast all of us unless there is an apocalypse.)

Poetry feels this way too sometimes.  there's sharing work--there's publishing in journals and the like--there are even book publications, but it's hard to guage how much of what you put out there actually reaches it's intended audience. Or any audience at all.  Books sell, sometimes you get feedback, but for the amount of stuff that goes out into the world, so much lands in silence. I think about my ideal reader sometimes, and he/she is a fuzzy construct.  Maybe he/she doesn't exist except in my head.  Maybe I am always just slinging things into the void and hoping they hit some sort of mark.

It's also amusing to me, and a little sad, to think of this giant thing, a very obvious thing, gigantic in size moving through ocean and going pretty much unnoticed, which is how poetry in general feels sometimes. You somehow have to know where to look for it, but there it is.  Very obvious and very immense.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

war of the worlds

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One of my first great book love affairs (after my pre-literate raggedy black checkered Mother Goose, my kindegarten Beatrix Potter set obsession, but before I discovered Judy Blume or horror novels) was a pink-covered Children's Illustrated Classics version of War of the Worlds.  Like the Potter set, part of this was the tactile bookness of the set--their compact little squareness, the way they fit tightly in a box.  I believe there were two sets in my possession, most likely Christmas gifts from my parents. I loved they way they felt to be held--so grown-up after years of Little Golden Books.  And I devoured most of them--Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Swiss Family Robinson (though admittedly I remember finding Tale of Two Cities boring enough to abandon--not much has changed, my dislike of Dickens continued through grad school.)

I loved the way they looked lined up on the shelf headboard of my top bunk bed of the room I shared with my sister. They were the first books I owned that were entirely mine (my sister being not yet old enough to read,  so no sharing was necessary.)  In my 6 or 7 year old head, it seemed important to have bookshelves even just one, especially since after my Dad's bookshelf in the living room always seemed so grown-up and mysterious but which was really just half-filled with  a lot of books about and my mother's cookbooks. My dad is still a big reader, but the books usually wind up in piles of newpapers, magazines, and other ephemera and never on the shelf.  Probably genetic. 

But War of the Worlds was the only one I kept steadily re-reading,kept coming back to.  Lying on that top bunk on weekends, I distinctly remember the pinkness of the cover how it felt and smelled, but the actual illustrations are murky in my memory.  Even then, apocalyptic visions fascinated me.  It elicited the same frisson I get re-reading The Stand or watching Cloverfield.  I'm not sure how to explain it.

In doing a little research for our Book to Art endeavors this term, I uncovered some amazing illustrations done by a Brazilian artist in 1906. Apparently HG Well's wasn't happy with the original first complete edition and had commissioned a second artist for this edition (it had been serialized initially, in America, in Cosmo of all places. )

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I also did not know that Edward Gorey had illustrated a version in the 1960's.  One of the great things about the book is that it has been retold so many times--so many movies and comics and artistic renderings that it makes very fertile ground as a Book to Art choice--especially since it appeals to artists in so many genres--film, tv, writing, illustration, and, of course, radio. I have a book coming through ILL about the ill-fated broadcast and the controversy over whether it was the mad panic that the media would have had everyone believe (esp. in this modern era of so much fake news.) I'm hoping our end result for the year will be some sort of comic book or zine with images and text, so we'll see how it plays out.

Monday, September 17, 2018

notes & things | 09/17/18

Throughout the afternoon, the cicadas are noisy enough that they are creeping into poems, including today's draft of a taurus piece. (there were already goats and a wooden cow, so I figured what the hell.)  But the fall light, I feel it, even though it was muggy and humid. Soon the trees will start changing and dropping and I feel like I am ready for it  Have been longing for it moreso than other years.

I spent some time Saturday while I was working sending out submissions from the Slender Man pieces and sending some other creative pieces I owed people. (including what looks to be an awesome tarot-inspired collab project from Jane Flett and for which the above is my contribution.) I was also finally able to scan in some of the botanicals that I've had sitting on the shelf behind my desk for moths--some of them part of florographia, some just for fun. (and florographia is still at this point, a loose miasma of text and image that is still just all over the place, so we'll see what happens.) Also, some new zodiac prints that are coming along nicely...(see below)

This week, we are getting ready for our first fall Book to Art meeting with this year's title, War of the Worlds (and for which I am determined to do some research on in the next couple of days (more on that soon.)  It will dovetail nicely with our spring focus topic on mass delusions and confusions.  We are also beginning to look through submissions for the Beautiful Monstrosities exhibit and sending out responses this week. So far, things look amazing and I am excited to work out what we can fit on the walls. 

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with Alice Bolin's DEAD GIRLS:  ESSAYS ON SURVINING AN AMERICAN OBSESSION and am loving it.  (more on that in another entry about writing and reading both dead and deadly girls.)  In the first 20 pages, though,  it mentioned not only Pretty Little Liars, but dgp-fave Khadijah Queen's I'm So Fine, so I knew it was going to be promising. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

the lives of the poets

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Last weekend I spent my time watching that Aronovsky film MOTHER!, alternately laughing about how overblown the biblical allegory was and how unrealistic and ridiculous the depiction of the writing life. The husband character, just known as "The Poet" spends his time doing things like hopping out of bed naked to write, entertaining "fans" than show up at his door and basically destroy the house, and being completely oblivious to everything but his art and celebrity while a terrified Jennifer Lawrence looks on. (I would actually argue that her plight, trying to protect the house and build a home (or interior world) and people keep intruding, is far closer to my creative experience than anything the "The Poet" does.)

Historically, poets wear flowy shirts and maxi dresses and cavort around the countryside waiting for rare inspiration to strike, whereupon we scribble our brilliance into our notebooks secretively. Maybe later on we publish it, but rarely do we show pursuit of an audience lest it distastefully smack of focusing too much on the career and not enough on our aesthetics. I was reading an interview with a poet recently who talked about how she only wrote longhand and then typed everything on a manual typewriter. How detrimental it was, at least for her, to keep any sort of dogged writing practice, how poems just occasionally happened  Nevertheless, she was a poet with quite a bit of published work under her belt, which made me expect some of the talk was more metaphorical than actual. (ie, someone was doing the work of submitting and audience creating).

Since I mostly came into my own as a poet of the internet --in terms of publications and connecting with other writers online through various means--first listservs, then discussion boards, then blogs, then social media--I've always been curious about other people's lives as writers--the triumphs, the disappointments. I've always considered it a bit of literary voyeurism. It's probably the same impulse that leads me to all those fictionalized biographies I so love.  Also a certain curiosity about what goes on behind the scene of someone whose work I am interested in.  I was far more fascinated when I was 20 about Plath's letters and journals than I was her poems.. Since I barely knew a single writer in real life, I wanted to know HOW to live this sort of life. What to read, when to write, where to publish.  What I should concern myself with as a writer.

Truth is, of course, my writing life is somehow neither as picturesque or ordered as fiction would have us believe. Mostly it's a kind of controlled chaos.  In past years, it would be months of hardly writing at all and then weeks of panic and trying to finish things before self-inflicted deadlines (mostly on weekends, one of the reasons I am so protective of them.)   I have memories of periods of solid productivity--the summer of 1996, the fall/winter of 1998, my MFA years.  Other years would be more fallow, or so it seemed, and yet I have books to show for many of those years so obviously I was writing, most likely in bits.  Add up lots of bits and you have a book. (why I make a good poet and a horrible novelist, like sprinting vs. running a marathon) My visual work, outside of  regular design projects for things like the press or the library,  is similarly haphazard and chaotic--odd bits here and there--an obsession then lull.  Then, occasionally,  a large amount of output when necessary.

I did once compose mostly by hand, usually on notebook or white paper snatched from the printer. Yellow legal pads or random scrap paper.  In foraging through files I discovered a poem draft on an RC student govt. flyer I must have grabbed in the office (I was once an officer and hung out in the basement amid scores of old paperwork and where I once remember getting very drunk trying to rewrite the constitution.)  Pages and pages of redrafting and cross-outs.  Half poems, harvested poems. Later I would type them on my electric typewriter or later, a word processor.  Then finally a computer.   Eventually, I realized the keyboard was friendlier to revision and now, with a couple exceptions, I'll compose electronically 99% of the time. I have a dropbox now that makes manuscripts accessible anywhere, but I used to use private blogs and e-mail to store poems on the fly and then put them together at some point in a word doc.

Up until a few years ago, for inspiration and prompts, I still kept hearty notebooks with fragments, though now, I tend more toward loose sheets or cheapie notebooks. (currently, it's a dollar store stenographer's pad.) I have a solid sketchbook/planner I use to organize my life, but usually another, more disposable one I carry in my bag, for writing purposes since most gets typed up and tossed out.  Since the spring, I've been good about writing daily and have scads of new work to show for it. The key seems to be prioritizing that writing, whatever is happening in the day, whatever else gets swallowed by work and the press and all the dailyness.

Now,  I open up whatever I am working on while I eat breakfast as soon as I get to the studio and start typing.  I do a little tweaking and revising as I go, but then I usually hit save and leave it alone for a bit.  It helps to get it out before the day drowns me in e-mails and press work and library tasks. Before I am swallowed up and exhausted.  Later in the day, usually at night before I go to bed, I will glance at it again, and if I am alone (which I usually I am most nights of the week) I'll go to bed thinking about it (though if I'm pre-occupied by other things, I fail in this often.)  The next morning I start again.

Every few weeks I will gather and polish and revise as needed. Occasionally I get a chance, like yesterday's weekend library shift quiet, to send out some poems over the transom and respond to invitations. Daily, though I try to do a little bit of work on the more business/self promo side, updating social media with poem samples, publication news, updating serial projects. I do this with art too, though I am less business-like about the visual stuff. I consider this less po-biz  and more audience cultivation, and I feel like it's important if you want, ya know, anyone to actually read the stuff you're writing.  For all of Emily Dickinson's isolation, the amount of work she sent to others, the conversations she was having, she was far from the isolated genius some would claim her as.

So no, it's not as the romantics would have you believe.  I do have some appropriately flowy dresses, but sometimes I wind up with toast or donut crumbs on the front and all over my notebook and keyboard.  Sometimes I spill my coffee all over my pages.  Usually the studio printer, which I will start up as soon as I get in the door, will jam or run out of paper mid writing session and I will have to stop to fill or fix it. At least once a week,  I will get immediately distracted by e-mail or facebook  and the writing doesn't happen.  If I'm working at home, a cat will walk across the keyboard at an inopportune time and delete something I was sure was brilliant moments before. For all my idyllic-cizing Paris in the 20's, I can't write in cafes or public places--too distracting and I feel self-conscious muttering things outloud to guage the rhythm of oa line or sentence.  You probably won't find me jumping from the bed running naked to go write, mostly because, Taurean that I am,  I never want to leave the bed once I'm in it.

 I do occasionally write things in my head--the shower, on the bus, waiting in line for my coffee-- sometimes I actually get to some paper write them down, but sometimes they just get lost. Sometimes I listen to music and daydream and it will lead, circuitously and unplanned to writing.  I usually read other poetry in print or online with a pen in hand or at least near by (or truthfully, sometimes in my mouth) in case someone else's words spark something.  You might sometimes find me staring into space or at my computer, clicking the top of my pen, and maybe I'm composing a poem (or maybe I'm just thinking about something random like whether I should dye my hair again or if there are new mothman sightings, or both.)

more zodiac prints

Saturday, September 15, 2018

spooky flick faves

Every year I plan to spend the entirety of my October watching horror movies and I never quite get in as many as I want.  This year, our Beautiful Monstrosities programming is nothing BUT horror movies so that should help, but last weekend I got a head start, mostly since my borrowed laptop has a dvd player, which my Chromebook does not.

In rifling through my small collection, it's mostly a lot of tv show box sets (Buffy, Lost, The Office, Veronica Mars) and all the rest horror (well except maybe a couple rom coms and that awful Gwyneth Paltrow Sylvia Plath movie). It's by no means exhaustive, most of it picked up on sale in the days before Netflix and streaming. I do have a good selection of asian horror re-makes from the early aughts, including The Ring and Ring 2, which I watched Saturday night.

The former is still listed in my horror top-10.  While it seems less scary than it did in 2002, I still love it for its atmosphere and cinematography (and why I like it better than the Japanese original).   There is so much artfullness to the visual aspects--how the original is  gloomy and unsettling in a way it's sequel is not. I think it also, way back in 2002, it not only struck the match on Americanized remakes (Dark Water will probably always be another favorite of these), but set a visual look that so many films were sporting in terms of colors and palletes and camera shots (I know nothing of how cinematography works, but I do recognize its effects on the viewer. )

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I also watched the more  recent Trick R' Treat, which I think may have surpassed the actual Halloween in terms of movies themed on that particular holiday. This is a more Creepshow style anthology film, but there is an attention to detail that so thoroughly evokes that feeling of childhood Halloween escapades that is delightfully eerie

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While I would probably refuse to rate top horrors since my favorites each have their own reason for falling in my top 10, I'd count the above 2 in that category along with the others below:

The Shining

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Kubrick's hand added so much to this story that wasn't in King's novel and the film is so much the better for it. I saw this at the drive-in when it first came out when I was like 6 and I'm pretty sure I fell asleep before the very end.  But the twins and that elevator full of blood imprinted on my brain and probably formed the fibers of my aesthetics.

It Follows

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Maybe it's partly the  slow, creeping sense of dread, or maybe it's the gorgeous Crewdson-esque cinematography, but I am in love.


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This one snuck up on me and scared the bejeesus out of me when I decided to randomly start watching it on Netflix.  Excellent jump scares and a creepy atmosphere and it fast became a favorite, even though I'd never heard of it's release.

Skeleton Key

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A lot of people would make fun of me for loving this, but I saw it the weekend Hurricane Katrina hit (twice), right around the time I was thinking that lush, creepiness of New Orleans would be amazing to live amongst.  Obviously a bad idea at the time, but I like the look and feel (and it has an amazing soundtrack to boot.)

Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil

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I am a great fan of the funny/scary combo, and this one pulls out just a little bit ahead of Cabin in the Woods (and even more ahead since Joss Whedon turned out be a creep.)  I also recently watched The Final Girls which a slightly more feminist film with a little more heart, that excels in this particular genre.

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Watcher in the Woods

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We had HBO at the house I lived in until i was 9 and this film was in heavy rotation.  We would watch it over and over again, but I've only come to re-enjoy it as I've gotten older (and it's pretty freakin dark for Disney movie.)

Jennifer's Body
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Probably also in the horror/humor category, this one just keeps on giving, whether it's the cheesy indie band scarificing "virgins" or Megan Fox unapologetically devouring high school boys...

Stir of  Echoes

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This came out right around the same time The Sixth Sense came out and it's so, so much better with a similar premise, a less hoky ending, and some better scares.. And also Kevin Bacon instead of Bruce Willis, which I'll take any day.

Friday, September 14, 2018

frivolous friday | 15 fall fashion obsessions

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Last weekend was the wardrobe switchout I look most forward to, putting away all the tropical prints and sundresses and bringing out the fall stuff. As mentioned previously, it's my favorite sartorial season, even though I consider spring my fave season over all (clothes in the spring here though might as well be winter clothes since I'm still mostly needing coats and tights, and then suddenly summer clothes in May.)  But fall, fall comes on fast, and actually, unlike spring, lasts usually through Thanksgiving--plenty of time to enjoy some of my favorite wardrobe pieces.

1.  fall florals
2.  sweater dresses
3.  corduroy skirts and coats
4.  black oxfords
5.  knits
6.  colors: mustards, cinnamon's, plums, sages, pumpkins, oh my..
7.  tweeds
8.  leopard
9.  mary janes
10. autumn plaids
11. blacks & grays
12. knit ponchos, shawls & wraps
13. riding boots
14. suede skirts
15. motorcycle jackets

check out my Autumn Wardrobe Pinterest board for some of the particular things I'm dreaming of..


"You are heavier than you look. Constructed of bone and air, you hook you fingers into the soft parts of my neck. Ride shotgun over landscapes filled with rusted out cars and rotting trees."

a sneak peak of this month's zine project, the science of impossible objects...

Thursday, September 13, 2018

library printmaking workshop highlights

I was unsure if Tuesday night's pursuits and experiments would yield anything in the way of a usable artwork--even if it was just  some backgrounds or scraps--but these string  prints actually turned out looking alot like birch trees and I kind of love them....