Friday, July 21, 2017

frivolous friday | vintage obsessions



I've been thinking a lot lately about collections.. Since pretty much the entirety of my household has come either via thriftstores or  secondhand over the years I've managed to amass some pretty cool stuff, including two mid-century avocado media cabinets, a battered old workbench I use for painting, a small collection of industrial stools and office chairs that are much much  cooler than any new dining room set.  I do have a few pet collecting  passions I've been taking  some shots of recently, including mid-century dishware, vintage purses and framed flowers and crewel work.  I'm fast running out of room to indulge the hoarding, but I did recently procure another leopard print bag and a cherry print needlepoint purse, on top of a couple more pyrex mixing bowls.  I also indulged a new obsession with black velvet kitch paintings, that may become an entirely new obsession.












Wednesday, July 19, 2017

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Long time, no blog, but things have been insanely insane for the past few weeks that were filled with many things  (vacation time with my folks, 4th of July festivities, all sort of prep for the fall semester in the library,  lots of bookmaking in the studio)   I  came back to the city still reeling from losing Zoe, one cat half of the gingers, trying to catch up on work I'd missed during my time away, and have been just trying to keep my head above water.  

Things are slowing back into their normal routines, and I've been doing a little studio re-arranging (I did a huge supply buying binge over the weekend and picked up a new partition to hang artwork on since the wall space is pretty much occupado with shelves and furniture these days,  a rack for prints, ample cardstock and all sorts of other supplies like printmaking ink and paper. It was the first time I had a little financial breathing room since my New Orleans trip in the spring, so it was a bit cathartic. This of course was a bribery strategy to force me into doing an open studio in the fall--probably in October--so more on that as it gets close.

While I was in Rockford, I was able to put final touches on the HOW TO WRITE A LOVE POEM IN A TIME OF WAR series AND dig quite deep into the pieces that accompany the UNUSUAL CREATURES collages that will eventually be a sort of box project.   I was writing longhand, mostly since all I had access to was my small tablet and no keyboard, but it was an interesting variance for someone who mostly, outside of initial notes, composes on a screen and has since around 2005 (though I less looking forward to all the typing of drafts--it's a hefty chunk of text. )  I was able to get into a certain zone on the second project that I can't usually manage when I'm working all the time, so hopefully it was fruitful (I haven't yet looked at it since I got back, it all may be garbage.)

Plans are afoot for the fall term, and so far include a week devoted to tattoo art, zine night, a black light painting workshop, and a street vs. studio art battle and that's just September. Plus some fun gaming shenanigans on the side, including an Old Hollywood themed murder mystery in December.

In press doings, I am soldiering on through the summer releases (which I am only slightly behind on as usual) and looking toward fall.  Also doing some reading in the submissions queue, which is looking promising (and already worrisome in its size and bulk).

Summer has been alternating between oppressive and mild just enough to be mostly comfortable, and, to boot, has been extra stormy this year, which I appreciate (unless I'm trying to go out in it and wind up umbrellaless and drenched like last week on the way to the library) There's something exciting about a certain kind of heat that breaks every night with crashing, calamitous weather (well, not too calamitous.)





Thursday, June 29, 2017

dgp : recent cover designs


In addition to a few collage covers, the ones I have been working on for dgp of late have largely graphic or typographical in nature and a lot of fun to create. Here are a few of the most recent...













Wednesday, June 28, 2017

summer obsessions

The last few days have been coolish, mild delight and the perfect sort of summer weather.  Meanwhile, AofR is gearing up for our summer tiki exploits (including an exhibit, a matinee of trashy old tiki horror films, and some pop-up workshops.)  Meanwhile, I have been obsessed with atomic era tiki patterns like these and determined to work them into some collage action and maybe some dgp cover designs.


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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Over the weekend, we lost my Aunt Ronda, my mother's sister and only remaining sibling after a few months battling some heart problems and other complications.  She was pretty much my default grandmother figure, mostly since my actual grandmother died sort of early but also probably because my sister and I were also close in age to her own grandchildren. Before my sister came along, my aunt lived in this strange farm house out in the middle of what was, and mostly still is, the middle of nowhere.    It was an age where details and my memories are fuzzy..I'm pretty sure she had birds that were always loose and flying around at the tops of the curtains.  A cat that I chased incessantly.  Also, like my grandmother, an actual bar in the house. (I have no idea if this is the home decor trend of the mid-seventies or everyone was just a bunk of drunks in our family..lol..) This same bar, later occupied the basement of her other house, the one that still stands behind that of my parents on my grandmother's plot of divided land, and me and those cousins played down there every party and holiday until we were teenagers, mixing fake drinks and pretending to perform on a small wooden stage my uncle had built. .

The basement also housed her beauty shop business, where I spent long hours while she permed, cut, and later colored my hair periodically, where all of us would congregate even while she working and probably bug the hell out of her.  Enormously generous, she was always sending us way with things--sodas, ice cream bars, later clothes she didn't want, anything else she thought we'd like or or put to better use. Over the years, there were countless sleepovers, camp fires in the thin strip of woods behind the property, shopping trips to the mall, movie outings.  Countless holidays where she always went just a little too far but it was always good--copious amounts of fried chicken, Easter baskets full of candy, hundreds of Thanksgiving pumpkin pies. Halloween trick or treating exploits even as adults where we left with bags stuffed with treats (and once a giant pink stuffed elephant--a long story..)

I always say that my favorite Christmas present ever was maybe when I was around 5 and she gifted me a canvas tote bag full of notebooks and different colored pens and pencils, which I proceeded to fill with squiggly lines I was certain was "writing". Fast forward 35 plus years and the last few Christmases she'd bought me painting things--this last year a set of Chinese watercolors I've been using a lot. It occurred to me over the past few days that while she always seemed to be sending us away with things, these things are mostly now, outisde of memories and photographs,  what's left now that she's gone --a set of watercolors, her giant blue loveseat that sits in my living room and is still one of the most comfortable pieces of furniture I've every had. A couple dresses she insisted on buying me when we were shopping and I couldn't afford them.  Somewhere there is a pink and white afghan she knitted about a decade ago tuucked away.  My high school class ring which my parents could not afford at the time, so she took me to get it. Her predilection for Elvis and the Beach Boys.  My mother's tendency to occasionally say to me.."You sound like your Aunt Ronda."

She was unruly and outspoken in the very best way, and as we all agreed at the memorial service, always right even when she wasn't. Even though some static with my uncle  has had my mom& dad avoiding some of the usual larger family gatherings anyway, I imagine, if those gatherings continue to happen on the regular , there will be this great gaping hole in the center of them. A great vaccuum at the center of everything that she so much used to be the center of. I told a friend in Chicago that while I was sad here, going home for the memorial service would be even sadder.  The house visible from my bedroom window where she once always was and was no longer in.  That particular group of family that she was always the middle of now without her.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


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It's that kind of heat that borders on oppressive, as June does sometimes, but I am plugging away steadily this week so far on some new love poems and have even sent a couple off in the submission hinterlands. A couple weeks ago, I finally compiled the disparate pieces of my most recent manuscript project into one document and it's already cresting at 70 pages, and there are still a few more poems to be written. I'd like to maybe finish it by the end of the year and before little apocalypse makes its debut next year.

I've been thinking about book manuscripts in general and how they work--different approaches with my own books, ie the project vs.compilation books. the fever almanac was definitely a compilation of singular poems  that was then divided up into sections accordingly.  in the bird museum was a compliation of several small projects, as were major characters in minor films and salvage. (as well as the upcoming book.)  girl show and the shared properties of water and stars, however, were more tightly woven projects from the beginning.

Those projects books are always somehow harder to bring into being, to stick with for the long haul and not lose some sort of momentum.  Usually the smaller projects sort of constellate around similar ideas or themes or feels and suddenly you have a book on your hands.  I have two such compilation manuscripts in the works now, the one I mentioned earlier, currently titled  rough weather, and the half-completed animal, vegetable, monster book. There is also the hotel poems--a project book--that is sadly much neglected of late but I have hope to turn some attention to it later this year.  Also, the planned expansion of the beautiful sinister poems into a longer project I'd like to do. (I've been feeling that, as a chap, it's woefully unfinished and there is so much more there in the story.)

Friday, June 09, 2017


Summer has moved in full force, and the days are stretching longer and longer into twilight for a couple more weeks.  I've been keeping my eyes to the sky (mostly because the moon has been full and pretty and the night sky a velvety blue, but also because I may be subconsciously Mothman hunting (see entry below).  Last night I had an excellent time reading with three other poets at City Lit Books in Logan Square.  There was a moment where I saw copies of my book on one of the featured titled shelves and had this weird, euphoric "Is this my life?  OMG!  My Life is Awesome!" , especially when I get to thinking about 20 years ago when I was just beginning to publish and send out work an write anything even close to worth reading. I read almost the entirely of the "radio ocularia" series, which I had never really done outloud, not even one, not while they were new and I was working on them.   Next week I have a Poetry Center benefit reading where I'll probably be reading mermaid poems (somehow since mermaid poems always seem appropriate for reading in bars. )

I am also eyeing the dgp inbox, which just crested over 250 and we're barely a month in, which means I have a lot of reading to do to stay anything like ahead of the game and at this point I've barely dipped a toe in. This weekend, I'm hoping to get to some of those, also some cover design plotting on upcoming manuscripts, also maybe some wicked alice submissions, which I'm always behind on reading. 

Last weekend, I stumbled on a writing scrapbook, pretty much my whole writing career--highschool editorials on the environment and culture, indie film reviews from the college paper, awards and certificates, clipping about successes and readings, various writing and art related memorobilia.  All of it ends around 2004--which is not coincidentally the year I started dgp and everything has been a whirlwind since.  I also use to carefully keep printouts of every online publication starting in 2001-2004 and realize that stopped around the same time. It may have also been that I finally had a laptop at home and didn't need to print things out to read them quite so much.  Those scrapbooks were under other detailed scrapbooks-my school years (filled with feild day ribbons, picture day and class photos, all the shit I did in highschool--french club, student council, theatre.  My first smester of college in North Carolina.  Somehwere in my parents house, there are also ones for all the college theatre productions I participated in.  Another one for college in general. It seemed really important in those days to document things, though oddly less important now, though maybe this blog itself and facebook and such are a different sort of documentation and just a different species of the same.  

I also came across a few remaining penpal letters from highschool--a boy in Ireland, another in Germany, a girl in France.  Mostly I only held onto the interesting envelopes/pretty stamps, and the others were gone long ago, but they are interesting for their cultural & entertainment references, for the German boy talking ecstatically about being able to cross the Berlin wall for the first time. I remember excitedly waiting for letters to arrive in those pre-internet days, something that seems quaint and dated and yet lovely in a way things aren't anymore.