Tuesday, November 12, 2019

dgp notes | november edition

I have been settling back into press duties after the upheaval, and despite occasionally not being able to find things--tape, the staples, covers for books in progress--shuffled during the move, things are going well. I am working on the late summer orders that were waylaid during October and digging into September, all of which is much easier now that I simply have more time and can double task with regular life things.  Also, weekends are super helpful to be able to work for a few hours, take a break, and then come back to working. I am getting out author copies and making progress on a couple larger orders. 

I am also set to settle back in to reading manuscripts for next year, which I have fallen dreadfully behind on in the chaos. I'm hoping to have responses out by the holidays.   I have a burst of late 2019 books that will be coming as soon as I finish the layouts as well, and those will be in production throughout December and January. 

I am still battling printers, of which I am less than happy with the cover finishes, and am shopping for a good color laser with a smooth finish-I have my eye on a Canon ImageClass model that seems to be more what I'm looking for (the Brother is good for insides, but the color seems a little chalkier than I like.).  Meanwhile, I have a stock of the last covers printed on the Lexmark for the latest titles before I tossed it and the little Epson inkjet, which works for some things and has a scanner/copier if I need it. But I need the new probably within the next week as I run out.

I am also just happier to be working at a more efficient, but still more leisurely pace than my studio time used to allow. Now, if I can't finish something before I go to bed, it's easy to make time in the morning, and not lose a whole day until I can get back to it. So much progress was stalled by limited time, by stops and starts, and while it took me a long time to admit that I really had to do what I had to do, I am certain it was the best decision. The stranglehold of never having sufficient time in the workspace that I've felt for the last 12 years has eased a bit, and already I feel like I am the better for it. 

ordinary planet

As we begin thinking about next semester's A of R focus topic--dystopian societies from the margins--it seems fitting that this week's new digital version is my little Ordinary Planet series, which I describe as a mix of steampunkiness and victorian spiritualists..

Monday, November 11, 2019

insect dreams, ghost cantos

Earlier this year, I mentioned it was the 15th birthday of my first little chap Bloody Mary. Because new work was piling up like hotcakes in the fall of 2004, it is also the anniversary of another slim little self-issued volume called belladonna. At the time, I was still waiting on the publication of The Archaeologists Daughter, which wouldn't be out til the next year, but I was doing a lot of readings on the heels of winning a prize from the Poetry Center of Chicago and had burned through two printings of Bloody Mary.  It would be another year until the fever almanac was even accepted by Ghost Road, and another until it was published..   I decided, since I was getting into the full swing of chap printing as dgp issued its first two titles, that I'd release another small edition of more recent work to distribute at readings and such.

The poems inside are work written in the span of 2003-2004, a time in which I was just beginning my MFA studies--which means they are a little weird in their straddle of more lyrical work I was doing up til then, and a little more innovation I was beginning to attempt as I read a bit more widely for my coursework.  So some of it is a little rough.  Since I'm working on digitally making stuff available, I thought I might do that, but then realized there is very little in there of quality that did not wind up in the fever almanac, save a few random pieces, including the one below.  This is, in fact, one of the pieces that landed me the aforementioned prize, but I remembered my entire MFA workshop, including the teacher, hated it. It didn't really fit in with the first full-length book, and then, later, didn't really fit with the subsequent one either, so never quite made it anywhere else.  While the poems are sometimes a bot heavy handed and wrought, the cover features an image from Alaina Burr-Stone, who later provided cover artwork for the fever almanac.

They live on fire, the burning girls,
trade winds, broken fibula,
impossible symmetry.
Think exclusion: five disciplines, ordering,
my fingers raw, this curving away 
from stillness, how a body becomes
an apology, 
bend, bending.
She is only this dark
feed across canvas, a furthering, 
azaleas harbored, languid anklebone,
sudden water.
The daughters are heavy
as breath in darkened rooms,
the flutter, the flutter, the feud. 
A translation of insect dreams,
ghost cantos,
circadian crescendo.
Still they love the hunger
poems, compendium,
the difficult swimming.
In syllables, distortions,
night makes a landscape
ecstatic, a prayer.
Her wreckage is lineage.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

books seeking homes

I realized last week that I have not one, not two, but three full-length manuscripts currently in a completed or just shy of a completed state. feed is pretty submission ready, but the other two, dark country and animal, vegetable, monster need a little arranging and proofing for typos.  I am going to submit at least one to presses I've worked with before, but the other two, I'm not sure. Overwhelmingly, they show how productive I've been over the past two years, during which most of them were written.  And they have a span of topical concerns: feed  (body image, eating disorder, mothering in general)  dark country (suburban & midwest gothicism) animal, vegetable, monster (monstrosity and art-making).  They contain everything from my swallow series about body image to that strange minotaur series I wrote last summer.  From the hansel & gretel series to poems about 80's horror.  The oldest of the poems are the beautiful, sinister series began more than a decade ago and previously published as a stand-a-lone chapbook, the newest, the extinction poems, finished in early October.

My thoughts have been turning as to where to send the other two.  Presses with open periods? (there are not that many of them, but a couple I like.) Contests?  This will be more costly than I'd like and probably not produce results for awhile (if at all.)  I'd self publish if there was an urgency to get them out , but there isn't. Right now, with other things coming down the pipeline (sex & violence out next spring, many smaller chap, zine, and artist book projects) , it's not terribly urgent.  So I'll be mulling the next couple months what I might like to do with them after the new year.   There is actually a fourth, half-ish mss as well under works and still in that miasma of formation. I sometimes wonder if compiling full-length books is something I need to even do, since my work as writer is so tied up in the visual, and the smaller issues probably give a better idea of the work as it was initially intended. But I like the weightyness of a volume, how it almost feels like an encapsulation of various projects in a given span of time and theme. And perhaps reach in terms of working with publishers, getting in bookstores or libraries, the things that full-lengths make easier than if you are just doing little books on your own. And the poems can stand on their own without the visuals just fine, they are just an added bonus in their initial incarnation.

We shall see...

Thursday, November 07, 2019

lovely messes

Despite it's chill, so far November has been mild, and I feel the stranglehold of October loosening.  Yesterday, in my mailbox, copies of the latest issue of THE JOURNAL, which contains the entirety of the hunger palace.   There was a surrealness to the fact that it, a journal containing a lyric essay-ish project about my mother's death appeared exactly on the second anniversary of that event. I wasn't in the mood to read it, and had books to fold and laundry to assemble (or vice-versa) so I spent this morning reading through it.  It was heavily edited, tightened up to be ore essay-ish and less rando poetry-like, so this version is kinder to the reader, but less poetically scattershot than I generally prefer.  Less messy. It makes more linear sense, but I fear may lose something. I will probably, after the issue is older and forgotten make it available in a zine format, since there are illustrations that were made to accompany it initially. It's also a segment in the feed manuscript, which I am set to begin sending out at some point, since it is, for all purposes complete.

Earlier in the year, I decided to submit some of the more lyric-essay, CNF pieces to journals in that genre instead of poetry, and this is the first to land.  I've submitted short prose before, which can be looked at as either prose poems or short shorts, not something firmly under the umbrella of non-fiction, and it's weirder still to see my name accompanied by a new, different genre.   And truly, sort of like the exquisite damage poems, which jump back and forth between autobiography and fictionaliization, I am working more often in this in-between space these days.  Thus, a lot of messy, but sometimes some gems in the mess.

[ Edit:  I did just discover that they do put their content online, so you can read it online as well:
http://thejournalmag.org/archives/17340 ]

Sunday, November 03, 2019

notes & things | 11/3/2019

October is over, and while it seemed at times to be going to kill me in terms of stuff going on (library events, mounting exhibits,conferences, moving the studio) I made it out intact.  Friday, I got the big shelves back from storage and some of the book supplies. Trying to move an entire studio without a car, not easy, but the storage/delivery service is actually really effective (and far cheaper than movers.) I am mostly back in business, though my new Brother is not so hot on the cover printing--sort of drab and lackluster, and the colors not as deep, so I'm looking into maybe another inkjet, possibly another Epson.  (The Lexmark was a beauty, but ate toner like you wouldn't believe with no option for cheaper refurbished cartridges. It was a $100 printer, but cost $ 200 each time I needed to replace all the cartridges) While at first the Brother seemed slow on the interiors, it doesn't seem to jam at all  and is reasonable on toner, so it seems to be working.

My Halloween was fairly low-key--I did have a costume (a bird mask and a cool feathery cape.)  There was a little bit of candy, but otherwise, just working most of the day.  Later, we went to see the new Zombieland, and the theater (all the theaters) were empty and eerily quieter than I would have expected.  I am pumped to see Dr. Sleep this month, though, so we'll be making a return trip.

I already feel more relaxed, having everything I need to work at home.  Lately, I've been assembling books at night and then shipping them out in the morning. I also like being able to have the printer running while I do things like cook breakfast and clean the apartment. Also, just not having to run around quite so much in general, rushing from one place to another.  Already, I feel like things are speeding up in terms of the backlog, so if I owe you something, it will be coming your way.

Friday, November 01, 2019


I am still working on making digital versions of work available, especially for older, out of print releases, including this e-chap version of my 2011 chap, HAVOC. Most of the poems eventually wound up in segments of my major characters in minor films book, but this was how they appeared originally in one volume, most of it written either right around the time I was finishing my MFA or  in that weird, less productive period immediately after.  So much of these poems are drawn from a troubling bout of relationship drama around the time. (actually several concurrent dramas from around 2007-2011).  I was still trying to get my poetic mojo back after graduating and feeling like there were just too many fingers in my poems, but oh the things I had to write about! I kept myself busy with visual art and the Etsy shop, and the press, but occasionally poems were soaking through onto the page, and these are them.


Thursday, October 31, 2019

talking to the dead

As we near up on the second anniversary of my mother's death, I still feel a need to circle around it carefully.  To test the wind, the barometric pressure of the first couple week's of November, unsure of how I will fare.  The other day, I was discussing every mother's tendency to over worry about threats in any proximity to their child, ie, my own mother, whenever she heard that something happened in Chicago, would assume I was in some danger, even if it was literally the very opposite end of a pretty large urban area.  When I said the words "my mother used to.." the tenses seemed weird, and I have a general tendency to begin every story in presence tense, as if she were still alive. Or maybe it felt weird that it feels less weird as time goes on.Not that it gets less strange, less painful, only that maybe I avoid tripping in the hole of it better. 

And in fact, it always feels less than real here in my general daily life..as if I could easily pick up the phone and call her.  More real when I'm in Rockford, where the tangibility of her absence is something I've grown much more used to.  And yet, I find myself thinking of every good story in the way I would tell her.  Stupid things like stuff I saw on facebook, or things the cats did. What I bought, or movies I watched that she would like.   Saturday, I made her ghoulash recipe, as close as I could get it. But it's never exactly right, and I know, in years past, when I tried I would have to ask her next phone call how much of this or that.   I use too many tomatoes or not enough.  Too much pepper or not enough.

Or whether or not a memory or a story I remember actually happened the way I remember it.  Without a mother, you sometimes lose a good part of your own history if you haven't written it down somewhere. Mother's remember everything, even from the years before you remember anything.   Sometimes I picture scenes from that period, before I was 4 or 5, and they are not so much memories as they are her stories that I visualized in my mind as memories.

And what of now, when sometimes the only person a given story or experience is good for would be her ears.  Who do you tell it to, and if you never tell it, is it lost forever?