Thursday, December 29, 2005

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Once again I appear to have survived the holiday intact. The usual Christmas Eve mass hysteria, the lull of Christmas day. I wound up with loads of lovely presents, including a 2006 Poets Market, some delicious smelling bath products, a Buffy book and Radio Sunnydale CD, plus some more practical things like a new broom vac and set of white mugs (the cat has a habit of pushing them one by one over the edge of the table). Also the first season Lost Dvd, which I've been partaking of bit by bit via late-night viewing.

Now it's a week at my parent's house, but I'm already feeling all cabin-fever restless.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Judging from some of the titles, "Ode to Fellatio," "Indecent Docent, Sex Deprived Tina," and "A Night with my Feminine Side" you might think the new wicked alice was just a little smutty and foul-mouthed. check it out...

it just might be...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I spent the morning and much of the afternoon getting up the latest wicked alice, which shall go live as soon as I proof it tomorrow with a fresh and unfoggy head. It's a smallish issue and fairly non-traumatic(except for me shouting expletives at my computer when my coding went bad and I couldn't find the problem.) I also somehow inadvertently wiped out my index page when making a change, so it goes directly to the Fall Issue until I can fix it tomorrow.

I was about to say I've sworn off poetry this week, but with the above, I realized I haven't really. Though at this point it's just alot of cutting and pasting stuff I've already accepted. I just won't be writing any, or reading any, or thinking/obsessing about it over the holiday. Though I AM smuggling some books and journals into my luggage for that dreadful week-long lull between Christmas and New Years.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

This post got me thinking about publication. The why of it. I've always liked sending work out and seeking publication because, hey, that's what writers DO--all genres--seek an audience somehow. ideally, the biggest audience they can find. So that's what I did, at first in online journals that seemed more open to new writers, and which in the end probably garnered me more readership than print journals ever will. Now, I find myself submitting to print journals more frequently, and it bothers me a little. My ratio of online to print submissions is still about 50/50, but then I wonder why try getting into those print journals at all if audience is really my focus. So, I'm a hypocrite. Because I feel a need to be validated by Pleaides, or Triquarterly, or Agni, or wherever I'm trying to get in. Almost because if good poets appear in there, and so do I, that might mean I'm a good poet. Or something like that. But then I'm terribly insecure...


But publication in general..how can one NOT associate success with publication...of whatever kind? I've only seen this attitude with poets, mind you, rarely with fiction writers. Like poetry is pure, above all this rabble. Yes, there's a kind of success when you write a beautiful poem, but that's only half the equation. It needs a reader..ideally many readers...It has nothing to do with CV filler....and like any art or profession, one wants to make a name for oneself with good work, and to do that, it needs to get it out there. So unless you start writing poems on the side of city busses, journals are a necessary evil. And, yes, some are corrupt and incestuous, but some aren't.

Outside of trying to convince myself that I'm in league with other good writers (which is not ALWAYS the big big-name journals, but sometimes smaller, but well esteemed ones like diagram, or Cranky, or Melic Review where poets I love appear,) sometimes I submit places where I like the journal's name, or vibe, or website. I tend to do it all rather scattershot, not really with any grand organized plan. I have a list of places I want to submit to, that I think will be open to my work, and as things come back from other places, I send them back out elsewhere, sometimes with newer stuff. I don't really simulataneously submit, unless it's been like six-months and no word,then I'll send stuff out again. I have a tendency to fidget with poems over time, so there's rarely a finalized version of anything, even after it's been published. There's a poem called "Nebraska" that appeared in one version online, another in print, another in The Archaeologist's Daughter, and now, another revision in the fever almanac. People have seemed to respond equally well to all versions, it's just me and my neurosis at work...how I never leave well-enough alone (akin to my weird habit of re-arranging furniture and artwork in the middle of the night). But then there are those poems that haven't changed a letter since they were concieved. Usually these are those rare,rare moments of brilliance when I'm so ON, I scare myself. Most of the time I'm just trudging along. I DO tend to work on a poem by poem basis. Revise it until it's how I want it, or damn close enough and let it go. Files of unfinished poems set me ill at ease. This summer was the first ever mass revsion project on the book and it felt odd and chaotic to me.

Monday, December 19, 2005



Am planning on presenting this photo of Alaina's as possible cover art for the fever almanac. They mentioned they were open to suggestions. If not this, then something in this vein...
Today in the mail recieved my contributors copies of Spoon River, which not only has my poems in it, but also a delightful one by Marybad. ( I didn't yet read any further in the journal than those, but it looks promising.) I also found out this evening I'll be running a workshop on "creating a web presence for poets" during Po Month at CPL. it's good to think all the screwing around on the internet I do can garner some extra income.

It's still damn hell cold here. I was just in the laundry room downstairs where I swear I could see my breath.
an excellent post on the morass of the contemporary poetry world..

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Amazingly, it is December 18 and I am pretty much done with Christmas shopping. A good thing since tonight's epedition involved a minor meltdown. I had gone to a store after work the to procure some stuff for my sister, but afterwards waited for the bus for over a half hour (complete with annoying teenagers who were singing and being loud.) Finally, my feet were frozen from the cold and I decided to walk to the train, figuring if I even got on the bus, it might take hours to get through mag mile hysteria. So half-way there, so cold barely take a step without my toes aching, I needed to stave off hypothermia and stopped for some hot chocolate. The place was somewhat crowded already, but in the time I was there, I was accosted by the proximity of not only a stinky garbage bag toting homless man asking for money (may sound crass but I'm damn sick of getting spare changed every block), but this bitchy overly made-up woman who kept staring at me, AND and a raucous large group of children-toting tourists. By the time I left I was convinced I desperately needed to get the hell away from this fucking cold, away from these fucking people. I wasn't even sure I wanted to go outside again, to even try to venture home again. The el was still a whole block away. I started crying, all the while trying NOT to look like I was crying. I untimately finsished my hot chocolate and made it to train unscathed where I thawed out during the ride. But when I came home, dumped my bags and coat on the floor, and slept and slept.

Regardless, I have managed to finish shopping. I decided this year that I was going to simplify, getting everyone a combination of yummy bath accoutrements and/or gourmet goodies like chocolates and flavored coffee, and books according to various interests. The only exception being my mom, who's present was already taken care of--and incredibly pricey at that (and much bigger than that pic now.) I'm not however that much of a masochist to show up completely empty handed.

Friday, December 16, 2005

I was eating a poptart from the vending machine at my desk this morning and thinking about Olena Kalytiak Davis' poem from her first book, "The Weathered Houses on Ptarmigan Road," that ends

They'll never again dream
of that other mother
who smells like cherry Pop-Tarts
toasting, not yet burnt.


Good stuff. The poetry that is. Not the pop tart.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


work today, the end of the semester and books everywhere

2006 dancing girl press series

The Terrible Baby / Rebecca Cook (February)
The Animal Husband / Christine Hamm (April)
How to Study Birds / Sarah Gardner (May)
Vestigial Portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls / Robyn Art (June)
Failed Star Spawns Planet/Star / Lina Ramona Vitkauskas (August)
The Traffic in Women / Kristina Marie Darling (October)
Parapherna / Donora Hillard (December)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

this evening's episode of poets behaving badly

So it's my last workshop of the semester. My last workshop of the program (the last one ever god willing) and so far, it's going allright. The final four people in a more laid back, snack accompanied setting. Piece of cake, you'd be thinking. Well all went well through our first three poets but something went horribly wrong with the fourth. Now mind you, this is the poet who has always had an issue with the criticism of her work from day one, got into a argument w/ Clayton Eshelmen second semester and dropped his class, who got into a shouting match with another classmate in the hall last spring, and is the one person I can uncategorically admit should never had been allowed into the program given her shoddy talent (of which she is, of course, uber-defensive about). She was far below par in the initial group I came in with, and certainly moreso among the second and first years.) For the last three sessions, she had been bringing in pieces from a longer poem from the serial poems craft class. Now each time, our criticisms would be met by "But last time people said this" or "last time workshop thought I should change it" which bothers me anyway since it's totally innacurate since "workshop", as a whole, rarely agrees on anything. So not only is this the revision of the revision, which is honestly getting sort of tired, but she makes it clear from the start she's not up for our suggestions and not only that, but defensively and bombastically rebuffs each one. The situation is getting highly uncomfortable and awkward at this point and the entire class falls silent while the instructor is still attempting to point out things just aren't working.

It's also getting to be at least ten minutes after class is slated to end and people are starting to fidget, put on their coats talk among themselves, to which we get a stern reprimand from the instructor while she continues to argue with this the poet who keeps replying "I ain't gonna change it.." and "But in the serial poems class, yadda, yadda..." The rest of us are all staring at the floor and trying to get out as quickly as possible I imagine when the instructor says rather pissily and abruptly. "People just go. That's it." Stands up and walks away. Afterwards, we all sort of filed rather silently out of the classroom. THAT was how the semester ended. We know the student is a joke, but I think the professor might have handled the situation a bit better and with a little more authority, and just let it the fuck GO....for gods sake, say "Alrighty then." and dismiss the class a little more politely and less childishly. It seems since she was frustrated with this particular student she chose to take it out on the rest of the class.. And not like we were engaged in any sort of real discussion at that point. Basically we were all sitting there watching the two of them argue about work that's so bad it's pretty much hopeless. Thank you for confirming, on a final explosive note, why workshops fucking suck. And here, given the feedback at least from my fellow students the past couple, I was thinking they might be helpful on some level. Stupid me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


I had a dream last night I came into posession of a beach house somewhere where it was winter but not snowing, not sub-freezing. Probably the Carolinas. It had old oak floors and a porch, and was painted a delightful grey blue. For a lark I looked at the UNCW website, which was where I did my first semester as an undergrad back when I wanted to be a marine biologist. They have a library assistant position open at like a 5,000 per year paycut. But then I remembered I have to finish my degree before I can go anywhere. And I don't want to leave Chicago, not really, not most of the time. Besides, not like I could afford a beach cottage, and if could, Wilmington gets hit by a hurricane like what? every other year? Still it's nice to dream...

Monday, December 12, 2005

I just polished off the Nye book review and printed out the final version of what I have so far on archer avenue. Far, far from complete, feels more still like just a framework for the sort of stuff to come. But it's as much as I can do for now since I'm turning it all in and presenting what I have on Wednesday. Another semester in the bag, however, so I have that oddly euphoric freedom feeling. At least for the next few weeks. I want to do some more work on the project however, and would like to wrap it up before Christmas. Add in the manuscripts for dgp I need to read, the issue of wicked alice I need to get posted, and all the shopping I need to do, and it's not much of a vacation, at least for the next twelve days or so. In January, after I get back into town, I'm hoping to make some progress on the thesis book mss. during my sojourn from classes, since the spring semester is likely to be a time crunch nightmare. I'd like to have a working complete version by the summer so I can play around with it before I offically have to get serious about it in the fall. I have thirty pieces to date for sure, and maybe a title, but it SO needs to be filled out. Most were written last spring and this summer thus far, since this fall's been all about the shorter Mary project. We're required to have at least 48, but I'm aiming for the maximum of 60, so I'm halfway there. It's already began to divide itself into sections, slender as it is, which might save me some organization anguish this time.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

from archer avenue

justice, IL

Maybe the landscape holds them,
water on three sides and the dead
too many to count. A profusion
of clotheslines and baseball diamonds.
How the streetlights dim as the third
shift kicks in.

The waitress at the diner
has no tongue but says enough
with her eyes, her beautiful limbs.
Maybe her dreams are treeless.
Every car wreck a broken cassette
tape rattling in her trunk. Every
ghost expected.

Her husband keeps
a roadkill deer in the freezer,
hits her only when he needs to.
Calls his mother cvet.
The telephone poles have her name
all over them,the foxglove grown
over in the ditch.

Friday, December 09, 2005

from archer avenue

the luxury of borrowed dresses

She’d gone near dizzy in the dressing
room. All capelet sleeves and velvet piping.
Shoes akimbo and gathered tulle fuzzing
the chandeliers. Much too cold for organza
anyway. The crème chiffon. The bias silk.
And this fringe, so last year. Her friends
glittered and glossed as pearl pocketbooks.
And her, slipping into each gown like some other life.
This one with enough flounce to forget her mother
sewing buttons, French ones, for 5 cents a bit.
To forget the shop girls. Their sad, tidy lunches.

(a Marshall Fields inspired poem)

tomorrow night


Release Party.
December 10th,
Mojoes Hot House,
2849 W. Belmont, 6pm.







what it meant
Marissa Spalding
dancing girl press, 2005
buy it here

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Ten years ago, I’m in college, living with my parents. I’m taking three advanced lit classes and writing lots of papers. I’ve just finished managing a community theatre production in Rockford where the actors were still iffy on their lines opening night. And I think I am still planning to teach high school English at this point. My first poem in nearly a year of being distracted by other things will come sometime after Christmas and start the next semester’s downpour. I listen to a lot of Tori Amos and 10,000 Maniacs. I am still an idealist.

Five years ago, I’ve just moved back to Chicago after a year and a half away post-grad school. I’ve recently obtained the first job that will actually allow me to support myself somewhat. My new apartment is clean and empty, furnished only with a couple of living room chairs, my bed, a small table, and a Christmas tree. I’m euphoric and in love with the city, which is already covered in snow that year. I probably haven’t written a poem in months, but have notebooks of short stories from the summer before that need revision.

One year ago, I’m plugging away at the errata poems. I have just finished the complete, though hardly final, version of the fever almanac and am lamenting my sudden bout of book fever. (that dubious affliction akin to baby fever that strikes women writers over thirty). I am procrastinating as always on my Christmas shopping. I’m STILL somehow in school and working against deadlines. Plus I’m nursing a nasty sore throat. I’m thankfully not as depressed as I was the year before at that time, but nor as ecstatically in lust as I was two years before.


Today, we go on a writing field trip for Chicago Poems to the worst place possible to venture into three weeks prior to Christmas. Marshall Fields. The masses of retail-crazed women in appliqué sweaters from the burbs gives me a headache. We do not, as planned, eat at the famous Walnut Room, but in the food court after deciding the two hour wait is not worth it. I buy a discounted tree ornament, and go home, skipping workshop. It’s ridiculously frigid outside and I want to sleep until spring.

playing with the new camera

la cuisine



les livres

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

from archer avenue

the graveyards of chicago

You can see our lawns are lovely.
Their fences precise. No shoddy stones
or wilting gardenias. See how well
the steel mill provides. The highway.
The misstep and tidy sickness.
Our angels line up row by row.
Almost god. Or close to it.
And ghosts.? No ghosts.
Only nightshift gin and kids
fucking in the bushes.
See how our marble shines.
Even the pigeons love the dead.
The vernacular of plots and greening.

Monday, December 05, 2005

And here I was having a crappy anxiety-ridden day--weather, money, printer, work woes. Nothing terribly serious but just endlessly annoying. But then, first, the awesome news that Agni accepted the prologue for archer avenue for the online edition. And now, I just found out that Cranky editors nominated "Lake Effect" for a Pushcart. It just may be a good day after all...

from archer avenue

the imagined lives of ghosts

Perhaps they are, after all, godless.
Licking the finials and mothering
strange black dogs. The boxwoods
alone accumulate thousands,
precarious as jukebox lovesongs.
All of them enamored with objects.
In love with birthday cake and
the backs of stamps. See how they
rhyme in couplets, how their
shoes don’t match their skirts.
And velvet. Yes, velvet.
As if any of us have enough.
As if the low-watt gleam
of silver guardrails doesn’t charm us.
How even the road bends to meet them.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

This morning I caught the end of a hgtv landscaping show filmed in Hawaii and nearly cried over how green and lush it was when it's so nastily cold here and grey/brown. And now fucking snowing--not beautiful, not white, but sludgy and slippery. Yesterday, I finally got the last remaining booshelves upright and filled, but then decided to have them swap places with each other and had to do it all over again. The dining room ones, the shorter 3 -shelf ones, were HUGE and completely out scale with the other furniture in the room. The tall slender 5-shelf towers look much less lumbering. The shorter ones are now in the living room where their dimensions are not quite as noticeable. So now it's fiction and novels in there and reference books and poetry collections / chapbooks in the dining room, which puts them in easier reach from the table. But I'm a little sore from all the lifting and shifting.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

from archer avenue

burn

The tail light put the dark
in her mouth, this rubied gleam.

Black lake beneath her nightgown
littered with sparklers and roman

candles. At home, the stockyard filth
in her mother's kitchen sullies

the mended bedspreads.The bleached
bones of peaches. She breathes

a little sometimes. Swallows a silver
locket lifted from the thrift store.

Not the real girl with the dress
rehearsal and the geometry of sixes.

But the one gone musty in the throat.
Gone deep in the milk white.

Monday, November 28, 2005

dancing girl press
holiday special


5 books/ $15


includes:

The Resurrection of Trotsky / Adrianne Marcus
Anatomically Correct / KR Copeland
Under the Shuttle, Awake / Taylor Graham
The Violin Teacher / Carol V. Davis
what it meant / Marissa Spalding
Rockford was complete and utter chaos...not exactly restful, but not terribly unenjoyable. Two family get togethers, some shopping, endless bickering, you know the drill. Last night, I put up my new Christmas tree, taller than the old one by a foot and a half, which always seemed dwarfed by the higher ceilings. Reminds me of that first Christmas when I had just moved into my apartment--exactly five years ago this weekend--and had nothing in the living room but a couple of chairs and a tree for the first two months. Which also means it's been exactly five years ago today that I started working here. Weird. It certainly doesn't seem that long ago.

I have an essay and a book review to get revised and turned in, but then it's just working on the Archer Road thing, which I've been neglecting the past couple of weeks. And then the semester will be over, blissfully before Christmas this year unlike before. That means no nasty papers hanging over my head, no projects.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I've been doing a little gussying up on the dgp site. About a dozen color changes later, I think I have something I can live with for now. Also instituted a 5 chaps for $15 special, steamlined the catalog, and put up the image for the next release.
When I get back after the holiday, its on to weeding through wicked alice subs and getting the winter issue up.

Tomorrow I shall be heading out to Rockford as per usual for double thanksgiving duty--my mom's side of the family Thursday, my dad's on Saturday. Enough Turkey to make you puke. I've been getting notalgic lately for waking up and watching the Macy's parade with the house all yummy smelling. (This actually is still possible providing I could haul my tired ass out of bed that early, which hasn't happened the last few years.) And call me crazy, but I sort of like black Friday window shopping expeditions. It's sort of the first time I allow myself to really think about Christmas--despite the crap in the stores since October. I have been known to buy decoration-type stuff--ornaments, lights, wreaths--on such trips, but then what fun is buying actual presents if you don't wait until the last frenzied possible minute? When I was younger, my dad used to take me and little sis shopping for our mom at SEARS on Christmas Eve sometimes. The apple does not fall far from the tree.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

My odd addiction to hgtv has finally bore some fruit. I had recently purchased a lamp to replace the way too bright torchier behind the couch. The design was nice, an arched floor lamp that ends in a rounded plastic shade..but the white light, even with a low watt bulb was too bright and the light too cold. I even tried the 60 watt pinkish hued ones to no avail. In a sudden brainstorm I basically decoupaged this parchmenty-oriental handmade tissue paper I have on hand for collage projects and the result was lovely. I just covered the external plastic, so hopefuly, it won't catch on fire. Now I have a nice warm glow and, except for the missing bottom, it almost resembles the moon. Lighting crisis averted.

Friday, November 18, 2005

from archer avenue

St. Andrews Day


Once the house has emptied
of its birds, the water holds
the shape of her. Buckets,

bathtubs. A landscape of rusted
locks and falling brooms.
She counts fourteen fence posts

and finds a knothole big enough
for her wrist. Melts the Sunday
candles in her mother’s best

kettle and still nothing.
Last night Ava and Anna
must have hidden the red scarf

beneath the breakfront.
The husband game,and each
of them a ribbon, a rosary.

Nothing under her plate but its shadow.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

too many great poets in chicago

and two of my favorites with new books I'm fixin'
to procure:




get it here







get it here

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

First snow. Fuck.

Today I decided to refrain from exposing my classmates to my sniffling and sneezing and stayed home. I felt a little guilty, but I finally got around to folding and putting the laundry away I did nearly a week ago which had taken up permanent residence as a pile on the chair. Took my new assembly required bookshelves out of the box breifly, but then realized I needed far more tools than I actually had. Like an appropriately sized screwdriver and ideally someone gullible enough to put them together for me. So I shoved them back against the wall. I'm still waiting for the larger ones that were backordered and should be here in the next few days.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The further along with the archer avenue project I get, the more excited about it I am. When you're writing about something like this, it's almost as if your contributing to the myth in some way. Since the backbone of any urban legend is so flimsy anyway, what you make in a way becomes part of it. Sort of like every sighting account, every news article, every book. A couple weeks ago I finished reading the only novel-like treatment of the subject ,Resurrection Mary by Kenan Heise, which was so dreadful and shmaltzy it was almost funny. (As are the song lyrics) And yet it became part of the machine of the story in my head and I've pulled a couple things from it. Since it's not historical fact, or "real" in the traditional sense, I can play with the whole thing any way I like and somehow that becomes part of my version of the myth. Now that I've finished at least a draft of the other projects I have due for the rest of semester, I can finally give this project my full attention (or at least my full poetry writing attention).

Am feeling a little passive agressive in the workshop department with my selections for the next class--three poems that are probably the most fragmented pieces I have, the ones that depend least on an understandable narrative. I'm tired of being asked what the poems mean. Poems don't mean. They just are. (I saw a quote somewhere about this recently--can't remember where.) My typical response, when asked is just to mumble something about a story I wanted to tell--but that's not it. Maybe just a vibe I wanted to convey through a story. Or, hell, I dunno know. I like futzing around with words these days and seeing what shows up. At one time I would start with a definite idea and shape the poem around that, but so many poems in and you run out ideas it seems. So maybe you're writing the same poem over an over again, trying to get it right. I like letting whatever I put together lead me where I'm going. This might be the influence of all the visual collages I've been doing over the past couple of years. It works on a similar principle when I really think about it.

I'm feeling much better today, having fortified myself with oddly tasty herbal cough drops and peppermint tea. Let's hope this cold is gone as quickly as it appeared.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

A very lovely review of the wicked alice print annual at newpages.com courtesy of JHG.
Yesterday, I called in "sick" to get some stuff done around the apartment and this morning I wake up with a cold...what are the odds? We do however seem to be having an odd spell of warmer weather, or at least it feels like it. Of course, I'm confined to the library for the day. Have spent the morning doing final layout stuff for this years last dgp chap. I really need to start reading through the last batch of submissions for next year. I hope to have my decision made on the final two 2006 chapbooks before Christmas.

Speaking of which, by now it seems every window display is now decked out for holidays. The other night, I saw a man carrying a giant elf in front of Watertower Place nearly skewer another man walking by with it's pointy hat. And despite my vow never to eat candy again after Halloween, the campus bookstore now has those yummy mint KitKats. I had two today for lunch...
and in today's installment of heinous government spending:

Who needs health care when you can still watch Jerry Springer.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Wow. What a week.

Today I got and speedily signed the contract, and have withdrawn the book from everywhere else… Had to refrain from gushing in my e-mail to the editors—saying rather professionally how glad I was they chose my book and so on, though what I really wanted was to tell them about how this was all so unbelievably AWESOME for so many reasons. That I sometimes felt somehow that this thing may never get published no matter how much I wanted it.That I feel like this unbelievable weight almost has been lifted. That I feel so terribly lucky that I apparently submitted to the right place at the right time. And incredibly fortunate that it’s only taken a couple years from that first incarnation of the book to it’s acceptance, and not like 10 or more which I feared. And that the press just seems so damned cool—their books, their website, even their name…okay I AM gushing now…

Seriously though, it has somewhat restored my faith in po-biz. The fact that this all happened so old-fashioned—practically over the transom (well, I did query them first) to a press that caught my eye because they were publishing someone else’s book I’d heard about. I liked their website and thought they might be of a similar taste in poetry. Sometimes I get the feeling that book publishing in particular—po-biz in general—depends so exclusively on who you know, that it’s all sort of incestuous unless your lucky enough (and/or spectacular enough to really stand out) in a contest, which is such a craps shoot anyway. This is the way it’s supposed to be somehow, how when growing up I thought it would be. I’m not quite so bitter these days…

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Yeah, so I was slightly late to work today because I was on the phone with the publisher who wants to publish my book !!!! This afternoon I've had to keep my mouth closed to keep the uncontrolled squealing from slipping out….Apparently the fever almanac has found a home…...and a very cool one at that…..

Monday, November 07, 2005

from Archer Avenue

the way it’s told

He meets her in a bar or along the road. It’s raining. Snowing. He has a blue coat. A yearning. A father with the silence and all. A friend of a friend. It happened. He didn’t see her come in. Asked for a dance. Asked for directions. It’s always like this. The distance and the tiny purse. The jazz and the dizzy light. Earlier, the gin fizz. The giggle. He tells a lie. His mother is dead. Or his wife won’t listen. She places a hand on his wrist. Against his cheek. The road is always slick. The snow comes early or it doesn’t. He drives with one hand on the wheel. One hand on the mirror. On her thigh or her throat. She’s distracted. Lives nearby or close enough. When he kisses her. When he leaves her at the gate. When they approach the cemetery, she disappears. She cries. She sets the car on fire. Sets off on her own. Walks right through the gate. It was late and he doesn’t remember. It was dark and her dress was stained. Things like this happen all the time. Her mother is a thin woman with a Polish face. Her mother is dark-eyed and heavy. When he knocks on the door. When he hesitates at the gate. When returns the sweater left in the backseat. He’s shown a lock of yellow hair. A photo. A girl in a white gown, an orchid corsage. She’s smiling or she isn’t. Been gone for years. Just a month. It happened in December. It happened in June. She liked dancing, or smoking, or cussing. She was a flirt. Or fast. Or too shy for her own good. It happened here, or somewhere else downtown. Outside the cemetery or in the parking lot dark. There was a fight and a swerve and the wind knocked out of her. There was a wreck. A tree or a truck. Carelessness. Her name was Anna. Her name was Maria. Her friends called her Mary. No one remembers. She was buried in an unmarked grave. In her ball gown. Or something lavender, tea length. It was all over the papers. I read it myself. Her parents moved away and never spoke of it. Her date swore he went looking for her. Swore he was never on that road. Swore he never saw it coming.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

One day in the Chicago Poems class we were talking about how location defines us--that in New York apparently the first question people as is "what do you do?" or in New Orleans they ask "Where have you eaten lately?" But in Chicago, it always seems to be "Where do you live?"--what neighborhood, and oddly this is so true in my experience, both in person and in the virtual world. It's usually followed by "what stop?" So this made me laugh (and then of course, join)...
Have spent the last couple of days in organization mode. While the kitchen cupboards and my bedroom closet are fairly organized and uncluttered, the linen closet/built-in armoire thing in the hallway was a mess, as was the cabinet where I keep cleaning supplies, mops, cat litter, etc. Managed to knock those off, and finally cleared out the bottom drawer of the armoire of junk--saved gift bags, my old phone, picture frames-- and was finally able to fit all my t-shirts and such into those, which will result in alot less clothes lying around the bedroom. Plus my files are organized and the bookshelves in order, and I can actually see the table surface in dining room/study. This afternoon, however, I must tackle the entryway closet, which is basically stuffed floor to ceiling with empty boxes and packaging that never made it down to the dumpster and various decorating odds and ends I should have thrown away instead of hoarding them.

In one last attempt to save my bookshelves in the living room, I threw a coat of white paint on them, hoping to cover up the shoddy job I did three years ago, but they're still stucturally unsound, tippy and bowing shelves, none too sturdy. I finally succumbed to ordering new ones. Since I couldn't find any that were narrow enough that two could fit where I have them now, I wound up getting three skinny ones that when placed together, equal the same number of inches.
Also two matching 3-shelf ones for the other room. They won't exactly give me more any more space really, which is beginning to be a problem, but I won't have to worry about being crushed by them.

Friday, November 04, 2005

I think the main issue I'm having with my workshop class this semester is not my classmates, who oddly seem much better poets than the majority of folks I've had in workshop formerly, and also more helpful somehow, but the instructor who seems to have a hard time grasping anything strange or even slightly innovative or experimental, surreal, etc. Any risk I attempt to take with language/image seems to escape her completely. I have the feeling that were I writing the same safe, staid, and polite poems I was penning three years ago, they'd be going over well. I've always had the feeling, and perhaps this is why I stayed in the program, that it was opening up my horizons on what was possible in poetry. Broadening my defininitions, or sometimes, changing them altogether. Even David Trinidad, whose comments made me bristle first semester regarding shaking up my poetic "formula" was, in the end, absolutely right. And with the other poets I've worked with: Arielle Greenberg, Karen Volkman, and especially Stephanie Strickland, and maybe even Clayton Eshelman (a little), I've been doing this. I think my work has exploded in all sorts of directions and possibilities. Now I feel like this semester is like the box closing instead of opening up, and while it probably isn't going to change anything about what I'm doing, it's still annoying and not really what I want to deal with at the moment. And it just makes my issues with workshop even more apparent. Thank fucking god this is my last semester. All I'll have left is some lit classes, the thesis, and an elective...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

new poem

in Stirring.
Today I saw my first Christmas tree inside the Pottery Barn on Michigan Avenue, and realized how terribly metally unprepared I am for winter. I haven't slept very well the last three nights, but I'm now languishing in my four day hiatus from work--a cancelled trip has left me with extra days off and gloriously nothing to do (though I did vow to do some closet cleaning and reorganizing.)My oral history/interview turned out very well with Pamela Miller, so I got that off my hands today, and a start on my critical paper-not as I planned on the Harris book-- but on Coultas' Handmade Museum, ie her weaving of the personal with the documentation, something I'm struggling with in regard to Archer Avenue.

In the past couple of days, I and little sis have managed to hook up my sexy new laser printer, which with it's hefty size and large capacity, will save me a little money and function as the dgp official printer...no more dealing with the walking-dead at kinkos.(except for the color covers) It was a tidy sum to shell out, but it'll pay for itself hopefully after a few runs. And the quality appears just as good as what I've done at print shops. And now I can spend more on paper.. (Whee!!)

Yesterday, I created an art page on my website, which collects a few of the collages I actually have scanned. More to come.

Monday, October 31, 2005

happy halloween

I've had exactly nothing to eat in the past 24 hours that wasn't snack sized candybars, tiny orange and brown frosted cupcakes, and chinese food. I may die.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

I've decided to go with little red riding hood this year costume-wise. I wasn't able to find a plastic axe to pull off the lizzie borden (and somehow I think the CTA might frown on me carrying a real one aboard the bus or train.) I bought a couple of yards of red crushed velvet and some lace and am going to see what I come up with. Though I've seen alot of uber-trashy costume versions in my search, mine will only be slightly trashy (I DO have to wear it to work.) Was thinking of going to a friend's party tonight, but likely it will just wind up making me feel like the oldest person there, which is quite possible these days. So instead it's likely a few trashy horror movies the next couple of nights. Did finally get to see Sean of the Dead last night- damn funny.

Friday, October 28, 2005

holy hell

I've found the freakin mother load on cheap, lovely paper...
www.paperandmore.com
MUCH cheaper than Paper Source, and better color selections...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Had a 4am moment of clarity this morning. Last night before class there was a meeting to dicuss the new thesis requirements for the MFA Program. Though I'm not taking the seminar until next fall, I suddenly freaked out over the critical paper portion again, wondering what the hell I could write a paper about that wouldn't bore the hell out of me..long sustained scholarship and concentration not being my strong suit...

I started thinking about my education up to this point. As an undergrad, my coursework centered largely around 19th and 20th Century American Literature. I had a lot of drama and theater history classes in line with my minor, and my senior sem focused on Paradise Lost (not by choice), some Shakespeare, some survey courses in British Lit in general. For my MA, in addition to the various period requirements --medieval, renaissance, enlightenment, victorian, modern--I took a number of electives in women's literature in particular, mostly American (actually as an undergrad as well.) Now, here at Columbia, my craft coursework has tended toward the twentieth century's more innovative writing by and large, (Karen Volkman's radical poetics class, hybrid genres, new media poetry), and my lit classes have thus far fallen into more recent American stuff. I've always had a strong interest in the early 20th century and modernist women writers--Mina Loy, Anais Nin, Dorothy Parker, HD, Millay. And there are others I've never given due attention to like Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, and Gertrude Stein. So it occured to me this morning that perhaps I should find a focus there, something in that era. I did some research couple of years ago into some of the French women surrealists--might be a way to go. Or maybe something on Loy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

still giving it away for free (until Nov 1st)



errata
Kristy Bowen
free for a limited time
dancing girl press


a series of rich, strange poems exploring the tensions between Victorian femininity and literary genre.

E-mail me at wickedpen74 at lycos.com if you'd like a copy.
Tonight I was working on doing some preliminary research and trying to come up with a topic for my craft seminar critical paper. I decided not to focus on the book I'm presenting in class--which is painfully dreary and dull--and instead do something on Jana Harris' pioneer woman narrative We Never Speak of It. I find that I really love doing the research part, which is why I get so into creative projects that involve research of some sort---the Archer Avenue project, the book of red, errata, my Cornell inspired series--but hate, HATE, writing papers. Not a good thing for a former English major. I used to see them as a necessary evil of the English program--now, I'm even more impatient with them. *sigh* perhaps I'll focus on landscape, or the persona poem as genre. I don't know. I'm so stunningly unenthused.

from Archer Avenue

Sweet Mary of the ballroom, the rum punch and sly grin. Mary of open car doors, cold spots. Fox trot, slow dance. Mary of the table knock. Mary of pick-ups, blue lights, and power lines. Threadbare Mary. Truck-stop Mary. Mary of the culverts. Dance hall, car crash, borrowed dress. Blue eyed Mary. Bloody Mary at the end of the bar and gasoline Mary. Tavern chill and black sedan Mary. Mary of the gearshift, Mary of the burn. Abandoned Skylark and parking lot Mary. Mary of the argument, the dark stumble. Trailer park, cakewalk, charmschool Mary. Mary of hair ribbons and the unhinged. Cartwheel and kolatchke Mary. Mary of the big bands, tire ruts, screen doors. Lipstick and jitterbug. Mended hem and ankle turn. Apostrophe Mary. Catastrophe Mary. Mary at the edges.
Interestingly enough, in my research on Reurrection Mary, I came across a couple of films that have been made. Apparently one, the most recent, of them was done by a Columbia graduate and is playing out in Park Ridge at the Pickwick. I am, however postponing my evening trip out to cemetery until after Halloween. Apparently, the cops keep a pretty close eye on that that stretch of roads to deter the teenagers from fucking around out there.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Yesterday's reading went well, despite the dismal rainy weather. Victoria's was cozy little bookstore in very nice little downtown AH area. I read about ten minutes worth of material, the stronger pieces that don't make me cringe at how unpolished they seem. Maybe not unpolished, but young, unformed. Piling image upon image, those sentences winding forever and never ending. I like to think I have a little more snap to my poems now. A little more bite.

Suddenly, we seem to have plunged headlong into fall, the trees bursting into full color almost overnight, the park district pushing the sand into piles further up the beaches to stop them from eroding completely. Soon those orange drift fences will go up. Last week, late, they were putting lights in the trees along State Street. I have so much work to do that's taking me away from writing time it's pathetic. I do have three days off next week (a canceled weekend out of town) so I hope to knock off all the extraneous crap I have left this semester in one fell swoop, the craft seminar paper, and a review of one of Naomi Shihab Nye's books. Then I can concentate solely on the creative project.

from Archer Road

In ditches, the discarded tires
resemble murders. Or daughters.

Slender pickets of crosses
lingering at their margins.

There’s a racket in the things
left behind. Each name a handbag

or a hairpin. The forked heat
of backseats. My limbs are

riddled with sisters lurching
along interstates. Their low

lights and windshield gloom.
How they all lie down like this.

Lie down like this.Lie down like this.

Friday, October 21, 2005

from one journals' guidelines:

"We will not consider work which is discriminatory, contains nonconsensual sex, underage characters, bestiality, or covert or overt bigotry, sexism or libel."

hmmm...probably shouldn't send them girl show....

Thursday, October 20, 2005

this sunday

Moon Journal Press reading at Victoria's Bookstore, Sunday, October 23, 2pm, 13 W. Campbell, Arlington Heights. I'll be reading from The Archaeologist's Daughter--what or for how long I'm not sure yet. Actually, I'm not quite sure where Arlington Heights is geographically. So lets hope I get there.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Today sported one of those cold, nasty northern winds that shake the leaves from the trees and makes the lake all grey and churny. In lieu of workshop this evening, a reading and discussion with Susan Wheeler and Jeanne Marie Beaumont. Still not sure I know what was going on with Wheeler's Source Codes, but hearing a couple of the poems helped a little. They were talking about the whole idea of "branding" in poetry, how writers feel pigeonholed into one style, or voice, what have you. About the tension between the more traditional and experiemental camps and some poets' reluctance to see beyond whichever one they're a member of. Very sad and true.

After looking at a couple of different apartments yesterday, I'm tempted to stay put. Both had tiny kitchens, and overall, were sort of small and cramped, the living rooms not even as big as my current bedroom. Tiny nook-like dining rooms and a serious lack of closet space. I did realize what a deal I'm getting now for what I pay, even if they DO up the rent every year. My opinion on moving fluctuillates daily, so who knows what's gonna happen.

Yesterday, in the mail, some very cool horseless press chaps that I may one day have the free time to read. Also, the latest Poets & Writers, with a short article on how poets, even when faced with the alternative of a wider readership via other means, still would choose a book, even if it meant only a few people would read it. I wonder how much our fetishization of the book as object plays into it. I know it does in my case, though I'd probably opt for the other if I had to choose. Still part of me can't quite love a webpage the way I do a book.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Tonight, I was checking in some books from our teaching materials section (aka kids books) and was suddenly very nostalgic about my old elementary school job. Granted, I was seriously underpaid and spent alot of time crawling around on the floor shelving books, but I had an unusually good time w/ the storytimes, and formulating my own discussion questions (much cooler than the ones we were supposed to use according to the district plan.) And damn, just how excited those kids were about books and reading, which after 5th grade so seriously dwindles and you end up with the near-illiterate like I deal with NOW. I also had fun having little trivia games with prizes, and coordinating our school's district-wide creative writing contest. Since there was one district librarian for every ten schools, I was pretty much running the library, with the exception of ordering books. My bulletin boards and book displays kicked ass. Mind you, I was so mentally drained by the end of the day I virtually wrote no poems in the year and a half I worked there, but I at least had some outlet for creativity. I mean, you had your good kids and your bad kids, but some of them surprised you. I wound up coming off as an infinitely cooler, younger librarian than what they'd had before...and certainly cooler than my own elementary school librarian who was, if I recall, a beast who wouldn't let me keep Little Women out an extra week so I could finish and once yelled at my sister for not sitting Indian Style like everyone else during storytime.

For my first five years in school, the library was in the center of a "pod" that lovely 1970's idea of arranging schools. (Incidentaly, Hillman, where I worked, had a similar arrangement and basically sat out in the middle of a big octagon of classrooms divided by partitions or shelves, or whatever worked.) It had orange carpeting, squat shelves, and a sunken floor. My favorites were a small section of tiny Peter Rabbit books, largely becase the pages were glossy and smooth and the books looked old and schoolish. On the shelves, where the teacher materials were, was a pickled pig in a jar that disturbed me beyond belief. When we moved as I was going into fifth grade, there was an actual library with taller shelves and a ratty green rug for storytime. We weren't allowed to renew and all the high demand books--then Judy Bloom and Beverly Cleary--were hard to get hold of anyway. As were the Shel Silverstein's (Incidently, twenty years later it was still the same.)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

good news...sort of anyway...in the mail. While the fever almanac did not win the Crab Orchard First Book Award, it was apparently a finalist!! I CAN take some joy in the fact that someone in this whole business that at least I'm somewhat a contender in these things--of course I could go on being a mere contender for years from what I've heard from others--but I'm still a bit psyched about it....

Plus, the manuscript, having been freshly reordered and gussied up even since that version went out in the spring, along with several other contests the jury is still out on, is WAY more polished now. Maybe my decision to ditch contests entirely after the batch from the spring comes back was a little too hasty....(see, throw her the tiniest bone and she always comes back...)
Well it looks like little sis may have secured herself some reputable employment, ergo, I might be able to relenquish the remaining months of my lease where I reside now to her in favor of a nice, quiet courtyard building where I will no longer be woken in the middle of the night by breaking beer bottles and drunk girl yelling. I briefly thought things were better last weekend when I could close my windows, but they were all apparently on October break and last night, yet again, the annoyingness. I think the problem lies in the density of immaturity going on. Every since they started adding bedrooms, you have one more person per unit. When I was living in Lincoln Park close to DePaul, in a building full of studios, it was oddly quiet, even with thinner walls. Not like you could have a rowdy crowd in something like 320 square feet. But with a large apartment, 2 or 3 students that live there, plus their friends on the weekend, it's unbearable. I'm done with it.

It's blissfully mild here in terms of temperature, mid-seventies, clear. I'm just waiting for that early October darkness descending after the time change. Today, another Saturday in the library. I'm going to do some further research for the Archer Avenue thing, whose prologue I have finally whipped into shape. Plus formulating some questions for my interview/oral history project. If I AM in act moving at the end of the month, there's a whole lot of stuff for classes I need to get wrapped up before the chaos.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Recieved the coolest little packet of books and such from Persephassa Press today, and they made me wish my bookmaking skills were more advanced, and that I HAD chosen to study book and paper arts instead of poetry at the MFA level. I think I'd be a much happier camper. These look awesome--a very nice photo accordian book and a dos-a-dos bound collection of poetry, which looks to be good from my short perusal on the ride to work. Also some notebook/journal pages in an envelope.

On the dgp front, I tweaked the website, which now sport basic black until I find something else I like. Also, began working on laying out the next chap, Marissa Spalding's What it Meant, the very snazzy cover design of which I just procured from its designer. That one should be out near the end of November, and then it's on to next year's lineup, which I'm still making some decisions on for the the final two books of the year, but which already includes Rebecca Cook's The Terrible Baby, Christine Hamm's The Animal Husband, and Kristina Marie Darling's The Traffic in Women.

I did finish my book review this afternoon on Susan Wheeler's Source Codes --begrudgingly--but I did finish. Also readied the inventory poem for workshopping in the Chicago Poems class (an ordeal I find annoying in a craft course where we could simply show and tell and still get the same out of it, ie. how people chose to interpret the exersize,etc. and not necessarily fine tooth combing it, and thus taking less time in a rather largish class.)

Good ole Mary and the Archer Avenue project is humming along now rather nicely. I'll post more soon.

Friday, October 07, 2005

very cool--

http://www.stephanie-towell.com/index.html
Hoops. The jumping through kind.

This is one of things that bothers me, being back in school after all this time. The fact that I really want to spend what precious free time writing actual poems and working on projects but instead I wind up working on things that, while I'm sure they're meant to build some sort of skill or whatever, just feel like a bother, something distracting me from what I should be doing. Case in point, workshop. A couple book reviews we need to write over the semester on books by reading series poets. I used to write reviews for fun, back when it wasn't all poetry all the time and I read alot of novels. Now...meh..I'm over it. And the fact that I HAVE to do it, instead of WANT to irks me. For the Chicago class, a critical paper of course, the bane of academia, and an interview/oral history. I have absolutlely no inclination to work on either. And didn't I fufill my quota of lame papers the first time in grad achool when I still thought they were important?
Despite my regular bitching about open admissions and the stunning stupidity of the some of the patrons, sometimes I feel really good that I work in such a cool, creative place. You can't turn around and there's not something going on--an architecture lecture series, photography exhibits, gallery walks, concerts, plays, film festivals. Not only a wealth of talent among our student workers but my co-workers as well. While some of them fall into condescending, commitee-loving, myopic librarians, others are actually pretty cool. Among the "non-professionals" alone we have a couple of painters, a photographer/filmmaker, a fashion/graphic designer (who just happens to be designing dgp's next chapbook cover), and circ manager who makes odd and cool sculpture projects. One of our librarians is an awesome book artist. I'm not sure I could stand working in a terrible corporate job where there wasn't that freedom, that undercurrent of artsiness. I mean where else would I get to enroll in MFA classes at a 50% discount, or get to take occasional summer workshops down at the Book and Paper Center. Or have such a wealth of resources available at my fingertips. Pretty freakin cool.

Plus, between myself and two of the student workers, we actually have three poets working in the library this semester...

Thursday, October 06, 2005

from Archer Avenue

My ribs are a lovely museum you know,
all spooks and idling chevrolets.

Amazing, the glow that finds its way
into open spaces. This mouth like a

broken reflector, a length of silver chain.
By now, I've burnt your maps.

Brown edges curl among the foxglove.
I've carved a heart in the tar

that lines the shoulder and assembled
my name in bottlecaps. In ballrooms

down the road, women spin bluish
in taffeta for fifty cents a dance.

Lucky for you, I'm easy.
My pink shoes abandoned at the turn.
Sometime in the last two days the trees in the park across from the library have started to turn. Today, it's colder. I feel unfocused and fuzzy lately, like I can't finish any of the things I'm in the middle of. It doesn't help that I'm very blocked creatively just at the point where schoolwork seems to be piling up. An unproductive slump just when I should be in full swing.

I've been looking at the feign poems--the odd 30 or so that I finished in the spring and which weren't included in the other book. As that dreaded thesis project gets ever closer (well technically still a year away) I'm thinking I may just keep working on the manuscript and call that the thesis collection and be done with it. Since I'm focusing on the smaller projects--that is when I'm capable of focusing at all--it may take me a year to finish those poems. Since the whole book publication thing doesn't seem very likely at the moment, I'm not sure I even care any more about either full-length project. May just sell them for scrap and keep working on chapbooks.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Last night I took one of those Haunted Chicago tours, justifying the expense as part of my project research, although we didn't actually go anywhere near Archer Ave. They did talk a bit about the story--including that she is particularly fond of buicks--when we passed the down el I-beam where, in one version of her origins, she supposedly was killed in a crash. This seems the least tenable of all the possibilities, however, but the most commonly cited.

We did visit the alley behind the Oriental Theater, formerly the Iriquois circa 1900 where a bunch of chicago style corruption resulted in a terrible fire that killed a whole bunch of people, many of whom ran out a fire escape exit to find no fire-escape actually attached. Bodies piling up in the alley and now it's supposdly haunted. It was hard though, to find anything deeply creepy about a well-lit alley in the Theatre District in the middle of downtown. Similarly, the Eastland Disaster site, again, upper Wacker Drive not so creepy. I always get a little freaked out about places where people have died, especially en masse, I suppose, but only becuase I KNOW that's what happened. It's mental, not supernatural. Hull House was a bust, and my least favorite stop, since all we could do was tromp around on the porch and look through windows. Not to mention it sits right in the middle of the well lit and populated UIC campus. The only other place we got out of the van was the St. Valentines Day massacre spot. Considering I used to live like a block away from it-not scary at all...(Though I was somewhat disturbed being in proximity to the awful Starbucks I once worked at.) The rest of the tour involved talking about things we were passing--like Harpo Studios (a makeshift morgue after the Eastland sank), an Abraham Lincoln Ghost Train, an unruly mummy at the Field Museum, and a CandyMan-inspired drive through the heart of Cabrini Green. Though things are supposedly much safer than ten years ago there, that was probably the scariest part.
This is interesting, and he is right on the mark. It's weird, I've met a slew of great poets in blogland, but there seem to be a lot of different cadres even within webspace providers. What I've seen on blogger does lean toward the more post-avant, while xangans and livejournalers less so (of course this may just be the folks I've encountered--nothing like broadsweeping inaccurate generalizations.) As for online journals, they are all over the board. There are more traditional style publications like Melic, Stirring, Blue Fifth, and Caffeine Destiny. And then there are ones like Tarpaulin Sky, Octopus, Typo,and Moria leaning the other way. And all sorts that are rather eclectic--Diagram, Drunken Boat, Aught.

And these are only a small sample of ones that I personally peruse, who knows what others are springing up even now. I think one of the benefits is that internet poetry IS decentralized. There are a whole bunch of different ways of approaching the genre, and you can find webzines represent just about every facet of it (which I would also argue of print journals on the whole.)There's no ruling aesthetic that alienates certain poetries and embraces others. If your poems are too out there for one journal, there's another out there you'll fit right into. And it's all more diverse and on a wider scale than print, largely because it's a whole lot cheaper to found a web journal than a print one. The poetry world, as it exists, no longer depends on funding from universities and other bodies that determine its direction. The gatekeepers are no longer quite as powerful simply because theings are roomier in the poetry world, no longer quite as tight and claustrophobic. Good thing, since you can't swing a stick and not hit a very talented poet these days. I think the poetry world is becoming perhaps a bit more like the visual arts world, which always seemed wider and more varied than poetry, small galleries and studios all over the country, not just in big cities and people doing all sorts of interesting things.

My tastes run all over the board when it comes to poetry, and I think wicked alice represents that. I'd say the majority of submissions do tend to be rather mainstream (Duh, which is why it's considered mainstream), and I think this probably true at most journals, unless you specifically promote yourself otherwise. And of course, some journals are better than others. If the internet poetry is that large, you're going to have a few clunkers. Mostly, readers will gravitate toward what they like.

As for my own writing, I always felt that online journals were more open to reading work by someone like me--as an English grad student/no MFA, tiny print journal credits. I barely knew any other poets, just budding scholars, let alone had any sort of connections in the po-biz arena. A nobody. And yet I found some sort of audience, some sort of reinforcement in my writing there. I imagine the same can be said of merely posting your work yourself, or critique boards, but I do like having an editor involved...who would most likely filter out the good from the mediocre, even among a single writer's work. And they tend to operate on a smaller basis, I at least felt like my work would be read an editor and not disregarded by slush pile readers. But then I'm most likely preaching to the choir here...

Friday, September 30, 2005

I've been giving further thought to my apartment plight. Nothing I've found seems to be right. They all have ugly cabinets, not enough closets, sliding closet or shower doors (something I just have a huge aversion to), dining rooms that are too small to fit my giant table in (or none at all.) Granted I'm only looking at what has photos online at this point in the game, but with the exception of the practically-on-the beach/frenchdoor/sunroom/gorgeous moldings/ohmygod $1150 a month option ($300 more than I'm paying now)--it's a bust.

And then I started thinking about how much I really like my place overall...despite my neighbors...Why should I let a bunch of freakin adolescents force me to move? More than likely, these particular noisy ones will move out anyway. Fresh from Mommy & Daddy's shiny tract house in the burbs, they'll inevitably have issues with the noisy radiators and the cracking paint (all of which I resigned myself to long ago), the lack of parking, and the intermittent elevator issues. It sounds like a dump I know, but it's quite lovely regardless, a big towering art deco, gorgeous parquet, big rooms, huge windows. The bedrooms in those other places also look unreasonably tiny, like you'd get out of bed and run into the wall. I love the way my furniture looks in the place, the art on the walls. Even my pink bathroom tiles. And the location, 1 block from the express bus, and 1 1/2 clocks from the train, can't be beat. And then there's always the lake, a mere block over. I don't think I could move inland--it's my trade for not getting to live by an ocean.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

At work, I feel like I'm currently in the midst of a one of those hamster wheel weeks where I'm working my ass off but getting nowhere at all. I fill 20 requests for materials, and 40 more appear. 60 more surface somehow overnight. I spend a ridiculously large amount of time waiting for the elevator, running between my desk on the first floor and the fourth floor office. It's insane. And I'm splitting half the responsibilties with a student worker, so it could be worse. Usually, I fill in on the coordinator's vacations, which typically happen in lull of summer. The mid-semester thing, when everything's in full swing, is exhausting. Plus, I need to accomplish what one person does in seven hours in only three hours before I spend the night on the circ desk. And tomorrow's Friday and I have to do it all over again. (on about six hours sleep most likely).

Writing wise not much happening. But then all that seems like a hamster wheel sometimes too, submissions sent out and returned. Sent out and returned. I'm going near nuts waiting on so many things anyway. Yesterday, in a general funk all day in both classes. People did not get my art deco poem... some thought it was a building speaking, some a woman, no one had the imagination to concieve of it as both. I like it any way. Did have a really damn good sandwich at Corner Bakery while it poored buckets outside. Managed to write another section of the Archer Avenue project. The one highlight of the day. I'll take what I can get.

Saw the first mums today in the planters lining Michigan Avenue...actually they were purple. And it's cold out, the trees taking on that terrible yellow tinge under the green. I finally had to trade in my sandals for shoes this morning. I saw people wearing coats and thought they were a bit overdramatic...jacket and sweater weather yes...but a coat is pushing it. Earlier, I was giving some thought to my halloween costume and am considering little red riding hood or possibly lizzie borden. .

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

wicked alice fall 4th anniversary issue!!!!



featuring work by Gillian Devereaux, Erin Elizabeth, Rebecca Cook, Lauren Matthews, Robyn Art and more...read it....

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I was going to direct y'all to the stunning new issue of wicked alice, but sundress is all wonky at the moment and I'm not sure when it'll be back up. Amazingly finished only a couple days behind schedule. I'm going to have to change the publication schedule to accomdate being in classes three weeks earlier. Usually, nothing was happening in September--dead time in the library and nothing else really for me to work on. Now, insanity for the first few weeks while I get back into the swing of actually having to do stuff for classes, plus I'm still flying solo in interlibrary loan, which means I actually have to work at work..the horror...

Spent this morning on the circ desk critiquing workshop poems. I DO like doing groups of pieces instead of one at a time. Allows me to concentrate on four poets a week instead of twelve.

I've been thinking about moving when my lease is up in March, scoping out apartments further north in Rogers Park. I like my apartment, and for the most part, my neighborhood, but apparently the new owners have been walling off the dining rooms and making 1 bedrooms into 2 bedrooms, 2 bedrooms into 3 bedrooms to cater to the Loyola crowd (whose campus is a block and a half away). They must have offered a good rent September deal, and after five years of quiet and a lot of vacancies, the place, at seventeen stories and eight units per floor, seems overly full these days. Where one bedrooms tend to draw singles and couples, they're packing them in like rats now. The building buzzes like a fucking frat house. Not to sound like a crotchety old dame at my age, but since I like to live with other grown-ups and not in one that basically amounts to a dorm, complete with loud drinking games going on next door, I'm thinking of vacating next chance I get. If it was loud music, I wouldn't mind quite as much, but it's squealy giggly girls and loud obnoxious drunk boys. My previous neighbors on that side were a Russian family with four little boys under the age of five and were still far less annoying. In a new place, wood floors are mandatory (carpet makes me gag), as are nice big windows and high ceilings. And cat-friendly. A balcony or porch would be nice. Actually I'm fnding most are cheaper than what I'm paying--maybe because they're not as close to campus. Anyway, I did find one place about $200 above my budget, and spent hours salivating over to the moldings and french doors...

Thursday, September 22, 2005





Tonight was this fall's first opening for the Art of the Library series, which contains some of my own collages --actually the peep show box pieces without their boxes. I gave up on the boxes when they closely resembled fifth grade diorama experiments and just mounted the collages on black paper. The way they framed them, though, surrounded in black, evoked something similar.

Yesterday, for our Chicago Poems field trip we went on one of the architecture riverboat cruises. Very cool, but I was so wrapped up in listening and looking, I didn't get much writing done except a few scribbled notes. I've watched a few of those tours on channel 11 before, but it was lovely to be out on the boat on such a gorgeous day for it.

The second week of workshopping and already it's wearing on me. I have a hard time telling anyone what they should do with their work honestly--either I like it and can't see anything really wrong, or I'm indifferent it and just don't care enough to bother. Maybe this is just an area where I fall short in my workshop responsibilities. I tend to take poems on their own terms, and while I can point maybe out where the rhythm, stumbles, or something loses me, I'm not much good for anything else. Maybe this comes from editing--my take it or leave it philospophy. Lately I like the poems, which is good, but I can't come up with the required critiques.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

now available



errata
Kristy Bowen
$3.00
dancing girl press
go here for details

a series of rich, strange poems exploring the tensions between Victorian femininity and literary genre
In the realm of the tragic and freaky, two of my library co-workers were on that Metra train derailment Saturday morning. My ILL partner-in-crime was apparently in the car with the two women who were killed, though she escaped with only a few stitches. I didn't hear about the whole thing until Sunday night, having went to a movie and to bed early Saturday night and then straight to work on Sunday. Only then did I remember she had sent out an e-mail saying she'd be in Saturday to make up for missing Friday and from my vantage at the circ desk, I hadn't remembered seeing her come in or leave. I spent a couple hours slightly freaking out and trying to find her cell phone number (inconveniently located in my desk drawer at work) until they released the victims names. After that, I at least figured she was okay, but knew instinctively she had to have been on that train--there aren't as many runs on weekends, and it happened about the time she'd be coming in. One of our cataloguers was also on the train and was pretty bruised up.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Yesterday, I finally made it through the last of the submissions for the next issue. Once again, I've probably made the content larger than ideal, but to hell with it. Managed to get most of the pages finished, with the exception of five or so I need to do tomorrow night. There are some awesome poets in this issue--some of the regular suspects and a few poets who I hadn't encountered before who blew me away--Gillian Devereux, Robyn Art, Melanie Dusseaux. Will be a great issue if I can ever get it finished.

errata is finally ready for comsumption, after having waffled endlessly over whether to release it and when. It's not going to be to everyone's taste I imagine, nor is it neccessarily easy to promote and read from at readings. But it's there and I believe in it, so that's that. (Plus, I'm just in love w/ my cover design and the nice grey paper, despite losing a dozen sheets or so to paper jams because it was too thick.) I'm going to stop obsessing so much over whether this book or chapbook will be published and when. I'm juggling four different manuscript projects and that's where my focus needs to be, not on already finished work. What happens with the submissions and the contests be damned.

Have been doing a bit of overzealous shopping lately, ordering all sorts of chapbooks I've been meaning to get but told myself I couldn't afford. Stuff from Persephassa Press, Horseless Press, and others. Plus a couple of Amazon pre-orders. In the last couple of weeks, have only gotten a couple things, the Diagram chap which I mentioned, and Arlene Ang's The Desecration of Doves which was an iuniverse book though actually pretty nice. Also bought Best American 2005, and Anne Carson's new book, but have only given them a cursory glance thus far. I'm really liking CD Wright these days. Also Julianne Buchsbaum.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Thursday, September 15, 2005

In my research on good ole Mary, I stumbled upon this site, which if you scroll down, you’ll find Rockford-area hauntings. Theatre folk are just ripe for ghost stories it seems, and the Jefferson High School thing must be recent. While I recall that freaky prop deck ladder I refused to climb--a steep climb and deadly fall, I don’t remember any ghost stories related to it. Nor has anything like that actually happened since far as I know in the last 13 years since I graduated. The Rockford College weirdness is well known among the theatre majors. I’ve always wondered if the feng shui in those buildings, built in the 60’s and 70’s, most of which are built into hills, aren’t causing some sort of wackiness. Layouts are maze-like and convoluted. Hallways too long and narrow. I’d never heard the thing about Adams Arch or Burpee Center, though. The radio station had gone kaput around the time I showed up, and all of it’s stuff was moved over to another building and then finally sold at a yard sale. My sister, who lived in mcGaw for a year, I think told me that one of the floors as supposedly haunted. And there was no suicide at Talcott in the early nineties (when I was there), though a girl was attacked at knifepoint and assaulted in the adjoining dorm building by an ex-boyfriend., leading to a campus safety hysteria.

Clark Arts and Maddox Theatre are another story. Personally, I don’t think I ever experienced anything hands down paranormal that was completely unexplainable.. When I was stage managing my first show, in the Maddox booth alone, sitting at the light board when door to the booth suddenly slammed loud enough for the audience to hear. No one around. I was more freaked out about getting my cues right at that moment, but later, it bugged me . Could have been wind, but I’ve always wondered. There was also a weird music stand incident in the green room, in which utterly alone, I walked into prop storage from the green room carrying some lampshades,, turned to come back out and found a music stand in my path which hadn’t noticed before. (Not completely impossible it hadn’t been there before but unlikely since I would have had to step around it..) Tales abounded there, first hand accounts of piano music from the empty green room, the scenery lifts going up and down (this came from a faculty member and not a hysterical actress), things gone missing, lights doing odd things and once, again a faculty member, someone walking toward him in the hall, but when he looked up again, was gone, and no doors between them. I used to tread carefully when I was charged with locking up and turning out lights after rehearsals late at night. I had to cross the nearly dark stage to get from one set of switches to another and of course it felt a little creepy. The smaller theatre, in the basement of the building was even odder. In the summer, when we used to rehearse student shows, we’d argue over who had to go up to that booth to turn on the lights. I played the girl card and thus avoided going up there by myself. The basement, exposed to the outside by one set of doors, does have wind issues. The Cheek theatre doors were known to burst open when you opened the outer doors, and I sat for a whole semester in a room where one of the doors-- leading to another little stage alcove-- rattled and whistled all semester. My sister, who took a lot of art classes over in another wing, reported a general overall creepiness that made her get up and leave at least once when there alone working in the studios in the early morning. That bell story sounds vaguely familiar and sort of funny since I actually brought in a bell from home for a prop (it was porcelain white and had a flower on the side). We couldn’t find one in the cage for the show, a Neil Simon play, but I never took it back and it, along with this cheap plastic fake gilded wall mirror were incorporated into the prop collection. Maybe MINE is the ghostly bell,. oh the horror!! Here's another article featuring RC.

I’ve never been able to say either way whether I believe in ghosts, ie a spirit that has a conscious presence, and agenda, what have you. As an agnostic who’s not even sure she believes in an afterlife, it’s sort of par for the course. Not to say I don’t believe in hauntings though, maybe some sort of electromagnetic impression left in certain places, in regard to certain things. Things like violence and murder, or war, leaving some sort of residue. There was a show segment I watched once about a school in Florida that long-closed still harbored children’s voices, even though none had ever died there, nothing tragic had happened and all the kids had grown into adults and were still alive and well. And yet the school was haunted somehow. New Orleans, already filled with ghostiness according to stories, must be brimming with it now. Might be it’s being surrounded by water on almost every side makes it some kind of vortex. In the Mary stories, Archer Ave is said to be nearly surrounded by various river, canals, and small lakes and seems to be a hotbed for other spookiness besides Mary. Who knows ?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

just too cute



my new sibling...my mom's new kitty, as yet unnamed...

resurrection mary

Nearly every region in the US has its own version of the vanishing hitch-hiker legend: the mysterious woman who when picked up by a hapless driver vanishes from the car continually at the same geographic spot. Or the figure which steps suddenly in front of the car, is hit, and then disappears immediately (or at least before the police arrive). Chicago, in particular, has Resurrection Mary-- rumors of a fair-haired apparition in a white dress who appears along a stretch of Archer Road on the Southwest side of the city. Sightings go all the way back to the 1930's, when people reported a young woman along that stretch of road who would attempt to jump onto the running boards of their automobiles. The sightings supposedly peaked in the 1970's (some blamed the renovation of Resurrection Cemetery) and have tapered off since. Like any urban legend, many sightings have probably been hoaxes, though there are a number of well-documented accounts of eerily similar experiences over the last eighty years. Archer Road itself which runs through a wooded stretch and past a number of cemeteries is now largely populated by condos and occasional strip malls. But certain stretches are still wooded and darker than many urban dwellers are accustomed to. And thus, just ripe for a ghost story.

As someone who used to drive creepy dark rural roads without streetlights, this was a story which as a teenager set me ill at ease. Supposedly there was a similar story of a girl on the twisty riverfront road from Rockford to Byron, IL (though this one was always naked and only seen by men--wishful thinking perhaps). Since I'm both a ghost story and urban legend fanatic, I've done a lot of reading on various Chicago hauntings over the years, but this is a story that has especially interested me. Whatever the story’s validity, I’m intrigued by the legend's possibility as a subject for art. Questions of the story's origins, varying accounts of the haunting, the idea of ghost stories and urban legends themselves--how they represent the concerns and focus of the communities from which they evolve.

There's also this idea of the spectre herself, always described a young, vulnerable to the elements, and beautiful--- and the overwhelming number of sightings by men in particular (though not exclusively). The story's origins in the young girl who fought with her boyfriend, took off walking from the Willowbrook ballroom, and was struck by a car. Or a young girl killed in a drunken accident. Of certain dangers in transgression.

I’m not sure just yet what form the project will take—whether a single long poem, or perhaps a series of pieces, or perhaps a hybrid piece of some sort.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Today, I was making my way through the wicked alice inbox and was surprised, yet again, how awesome the submissions are in general. It used to be pretty easy...I would take anything that I liked and reject the rest. Now it's harder because I basically like most of them...and only a handful are really bad and definite rejections, and now I have to hone down what I would normally say yes too simply because of issue size. While technically we can go as big as we like, I'm limited by the amount of time I can invest in layout. Things have to completely knock my socks off to make it into the final round. Going into my fourth year of this, I find myself secretly hoping we DON'T grow any bigger in terms of notoriety and submission rates. Is that self-defeating somehow? I'm also thinking of doing another Chicago women poets issue, perhaps as a supplement to the winter issue. There's a lag between the winter release and the spring issue that would be a good time for it.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

In the mail yesterday was a copy of the Diagram/NMP winning chapbook, Rachel Moritz's The Winchester Monologues, which, to my delight is focused around the Winchester Puzzle House. As an avid watcher of way too many shows about haunted destinations on cable tv, I was somehow strangely delighted by this. I mean, how cool is that? I'm looking foward to delving in later this evening.

Last night's Around the Coyote reading at Subterranean was good fun. That, and a ridiculously pricey Bucktown rum & coke, cheered me up a bit after the huge clusterfuck of the preceding 24 hours in which I saw a crappy movie (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) in a theater full of packs of roaming adolescents, arrived home tired to find my Loyola student neighbors (a loud dude and two squealing giggly girls) in full swing, and then to discover my DSL wasn't working and to top it all off, I had to be up at work yesterday morning at nine, at which of course there were new hardly trained student workers and an unusual number of patrons pissing me off for a Saturday. grrr....

Friday, September 09, 2005

this weekend



Chicago 's Wicker Park neighborhood will once again be filled with art from September 9-11 th for the Around the Coyote Fall Arts Festival. This is fourth year the Poetry Center is partnering with Around the Coyote as poetry curator for the festival.

The Poetry Center will present two nights of poetry at Subterranean, featuring 16 Chicago poets, as well as two children's poetry programs in Wicker Park .

At 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, September 10th and 11th, The Poetry Center will present a diverse group of poets at Subterranean ( 2011 North Ave , Chicago , 773-278-6600). Performing poets include Tony Trigilio, Director of the Undergraduate Poetry Program at Columbia College; three poets native to Romania: Gene Tanta , Mirela Ciupag and Stella Vinitchi Radulescu ; mother and daughter Ixtaccihuatl and Ixta Julieta Menchaca; Kristy Bowen, The Poetry Center's 10 th Annual Juried Reading Winner; 2005 Prix Trillium finalist Nathalie Stephens; Bob Lawrence; Alyson Paige Warren; Chris Bower; Michael Kadela; Parnesha Jones; Joe Weintraub; Anne Holub and Belen Neira.

On Saturday, September 10 th , from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., The Poetry Center of Chicago will team up with the youth of Wicker Park to create “PoeTREES,” trees decorated by lines of poetry written on colorful strips of ribbon. Children may either write their own line of poetry, or choose lines from The 2004-2005 Hands on Stanzas Anthology . The PoeTREES project ventures to make poetry a part of Wicker Park 's children's daily activities and to provide a park beautification activity that can be done by and for the community.

On Sunday, September 11, at 1p.m., Cecilia Pinto, one of the Poetry Center 's 40 poets in residence, will lead a group poetry reading by students from Walter Payton College Preparatory High School .

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Joseph Cornell
untitled (Hotel de la Duchesse-Anne) 1957


Well, both classes seem to be off to a good start. The Chicago Poems class involves a locally themed project that already has wheels spinning in my head (more on this later) and the workshop, well, who knows how it may turn out in the end, though I'm intrigued by the idea of doing groups of three poems by each participant at a time, which I think offers a bit more perspective on each author's work than poem by poem.

We were out of the afternoon class early, so instead of hiding in the library for four hours, I decided to wander over to the art institute to get some inspiration for my J. Cornell series, which is stalled at the moment. I've been looking at pictures in books mostly and thought perhaps seeing some boxes in person again might trip something. They're just so freakin cool. Wandered through the moderns, the surrealists and the impressionists. As always, nearly got lost in the maze of galleries trying to find things. Bought some postcards on the way out. I was still way too early for class.

In thinking about my project for the craft class, I've always been intrigued by this. I think perhaps a long poem or series might be in order. Given the dynamics of it, as an urban legend and not merely local folklore, and as a cautionary tale. How the girl is always associated with the whole transgression..promiscuity, drunk driving, hitchhiking, strange men in cars, the cautionary tale....how it fits into my body of work as a whole...and the fact that I just LIVE for this sort of junk--ghost stories and urban folklore--anything that hints at the gothic.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hell of a shock when I stepped off the bus this morning to find my beloved Rain Dog Books and Café on Michigan no longer there and in its place some other random café soon to be opening. I am not a happy camper. I was just in there Friday, and while I think I’ve only bought one or two books over the last five years, I’ve made it a daily coffee stop on my way to work. Every day a caramel latte and some variety of croissant. And yet there it was, the bookshelves and cool jazz pictures all torn out and some ugly modern art thrown up on the walls. Gag. It was part of my routine, my daily splurge, enough to put me in a fairly decent mood before work could piss me off. Plus, they had the coolest reading/performance space up on the third floor. I do not like change in the least, and while it’s loss nothing on the scope of national disasters of late, it still makes me sad somehow.

The official first day of school today, and the air somehow seemed redolent itself of freshly sharpened pencils and elmer’s glue.. I’m still determined to hang onto summer tooth and nail. Intend to keep wearing my shorter flouncier summery skirts and drinking iced tea. You will have to pry my damn flip-flops off my cold, freezing feet. First goddamned mums I see, I’m ripping them out of the ground.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Last night's reading at DvA, the first anniversary extravaganza (with cake), went over well. My ass is a little sore from sitting on the floor of the gallery for so long--lots of poems about New Orleans it seemed, and lots of politically charged pieces. What was cool was that it featured a huge cross-section of Chicago poetry world, from academics to more performance-oriented stuff. And while yes, there were a couple of duds in the mix (mostly involving bland bad rhyming stuff), it was still enjoyable. I decided to read some of the dulcet poems, which I haven't really put out there yet--they're a bit raw and unpolished yet. I'm finding the prose poems have a different sort of rhythm when read aloud.

A couple more days and I'm back in class. I've been looking over some older work today and came to the realization that my first semester in the program I was writing mostly unsalvageable crap. There's so much that I'm not even up to trying to fix written that fall. By spring it evened out--the poems also got shorter. By the next fall, good poems outweighed the bad. I don't know if it was just a transitional thing or I was suffering growing pains or what. There are quite a few pieces written between 2001 and 2003, before coming back to school, that I decided to include in the book manuscript, but only one or two, and those heavily revised, from fall 03. Most of it is bloody awful.

Maybe this MFA thing works after all.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

I just procured my textbooks for the upcoming semester, one of my favorite things, and yet one of the most frustrating. For the craft seminar in writing Chicago Poems (and other regional-inspired books apparently), there was, of course, Carl Sandburg's book, Jana Harris' We Never Speak of It (Idaho/Wyoming), Brenda Coultas' A Handmade Museum(New York), and not in the bookstore, CD Wright's Deepstep Come Shining, and Merrill Gillfallan's Magpie Rising. Also Eleni Sikeliano's California Poems (which I've had checked out forever and read through once last winter.)All very interesting.

The workshop requires the Poetry Daily anthology, which I’ve toyed with the idea of buying in the past, but talked myself out of it, and another, Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry, which looks to be rather bland and typical. I decided to pass on buying this one, and checked out the library’s copy, an older edition with roughly the same page count, which means nothing has been added really. After two degrees in literature, my shelves sag with those sad anthologies, always replaced with a new edition every couple of years w/ a hefty price raising. They're pretty much useless, since most of the damn poems can be found online. (Although I admit I recently consulted my Norton Modern Poems to find a Heaney poem I couldn’t track down online.) The quality is terrible, thin paper and crappy spines. I really don’t need another one.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

friday




DvA Gallery
1st Anniversary Reading
September 2nd, 8pm.
2568 N. Lincoln Ave.


featuring poets from this year's series, including myself, Jan Bottiglieri, Michelle Taransky, Todd Heldt, Scott DeKatch, Tony Trigilio, and more...