Saturday, April 30, 2005
Spent the afternoon getting caught up on my craft class assignments and exersizes, since tomorrow's a wash with working til five then the radio thing. Hopefully I'll be able to breathe.
I was thinking today about all the pen-pals I had in highschool, all of whom I eventually lost touch with sadly. My 9th grade social studies teacher used some organization to hook us all up with someone, but then me and a couple of friends kept doing it all through highschool and had people all over the world we were writing to. I remember writing to folks all over the map. There was this Irish guy who was hilarious and sarcastic. A studious German stamp collector who was out to increase his collection. A wild celebrity obsessed Irish girl. And this quiet Belgian guy who inexplicably developed a weird crush on me after only a couple of letters. Others from France, Brazil and Spain. I amassed a huge collection of cool international ephemera---stamps, postcards, clippings from British Magazines, cool stationary from a guy in Japan. I would watch the mail obsessively for those air mail envelopes--I still have a couple stacks of them somewhere in my parent's house. Me and my friends would all get together and read each other's letters. Everyone was in love with the snide Irish guy. When they made me demand a picure from him, he sent one of his cat.
It's hard to imagine that pre-email, pre-bog world, where now that sort of correspondence is so commonplace it's like breathing. I loved writing those letters and getting them even more, which is probably one of the reasons I like blogging so much. It's sort of a similar thing, though with a much more general audience. Me and Adnoctem were discussing a while back how strange and cool it would have been to have all this technology when we were teenagers. To blog with your friends, or even e-mail them. the only equivalent we could come up with may be slambooks--how we passed them back and forth and filled them with lists and various oddities. I kept one once with my friend Michele in junior high, and we'd write in it, pass it back and forth, make collages and gossip, put in clipping and photos of whichever teen actors we thought were hot. I believe she ended up with it in the end.
It's funny, that obsession with the mailbox wouldn't end with waiting for those letters. When I was in college, I started submitting poems, and once again I was anxiously watching the box around noon during the summers, running across the yard barefoot to check if there was anything for me. This resulted in at least a couple nasty bee-sting incidents. And of course, I still love getting mail today, even outside of my poor sorry SASE's and bills. New issues of journals, books I've ordered or swapped for, postcards, writing related junk mail, just about anything can make my day...
Friday, April 29, 2005
Thursday, April 28, 2005
On my way home from workshop last night, I was thinking about how, in many cases, the program might be the reason for this anxiety I have lately over my writing. A couple nights ago, another dream about an MFA comp exam, this time an oral one with weird questions that I can't remember now ouside of the dream, but which were all about books I haven't read. Not only that, but I couldn't seem to HEAR the questions when they were asked due to my classmates standing behind me futzing around and giggling. It all seemed very important that I get them right so that I could get my degree and be done with it. And there was some weird stuff with a mysterious elfin guy who understood the secret of poetry, and would tell me later if I met him outside, but then there was this bomb threat in the building, which was more like a log cabin in the woods, with greenery sprouting through the floorboards...
And I know it's all about what I don't seem to be getting poetry-wise, that makes some people great and others merely competant. How I feel like there's some quality in my writing that makes it amateurish and fraudulant, and maybe impressive on the surface, and flashy in its appeal, but lacking in some basic fundamental way. And I don't think I used to feel this way, before the MFA classes. I used to think everything was good even when it wasn't. It may be the workshops, hear the same voices echoing over and over that there is something wrong and you start to believe it--even from people whose poetry basically sucks. They are readers of poetry even if their bad writers, aren't they? Maybe they're right...and there is something you're work is missing that no one can put their finger on, and maybe you are a one-trick pony and a hack.
Now lest you think I'm wallowing in the self-pity once again, I only think this way half the time. The other half, I'm pretty happy with my work, sometimes even thrilled. But then sometimes, when I one too many rejections, or someone won't publish my books, or after a bad workshop, I start thinking maybe I am faulty in some way--knowing full well that it's all par for the writing course--rejection, etc. But it's not just that, but also the other poetry books where writers make it all look so easy--and I know it's not really, but why can't I do that...like that...so flawlessly...
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Monday, April 25, 2005
At the market yesterday, I passed on the frosted cupcakes in favor of this decadent boston creme pie like creation only topped with strawberries instead of chocolate. I'm craving some more of it as we speak.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Tomorrow, all potential birthday festivities have been pre-empted by work (blah) and homework (double blah). I also really need to do laundry. Perhaps I'll get myself one of those gigantic cupcakes with all the frosting and stick a candle in it. Perhaps I'll take a trip to the Art Institute before I have to be to work at two o'clock. Perhaps I'll write a really good poem. Perhaps I'll go buy something ridiculously expensive, beautiful, and completely useless.
Saturday, April 23, 2005
Last year, I was in the afterglow of the Poetry Center thing, and trying to make a not-so-big deal out of turning thirty. A year before that applying to the MFA program and trying to hang that monstrous Art of the Library installation project and grumbling. Two years before that giving my first reading ever and freaking out about it. In 2001, congratulating myself on choosing to focus my life around writing and not trying to fit writing into life in another career like teaching or editing. When I turned 26, flipping out about how I was not at all living up to my potential, how I was poor and living with my parents in godforesaken Rockford of all places. There's a gap in my journals around my 25th birthday, from mid-march to early July, but I remember finishing up at Depaul, those terrible MA comp exams, moving from one apartment to another, job interviews. 24 was all about classes, and still not feeling very grown up, and still planning on an academic career. 23, finishing my undergrad degree, apartment hunting in the city for the summer, taking a seminar in Jane Austen and working on my mammoth Plath paper. 22 and I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do, and 21, lost in the journal stolen along with my backpack in Mississippi. (though I was stage managing a show, so I suspect that's where my focus was then). 20, I can't decipher from that chaotic first journal I kept without dates noted.
Before that, no real journals really, just a small blue locked diary given to me when I was fourteen and kept intermittently, and a fabric covered blank book I wrote in during that semester in North Carolina--which is admittedly mostly romantic traumas. I remember only a few other birthdays...
My first school-age birthday party was at this ice cream parlor where they served those clown sundaes, had cheap little favors like erasers and played, even then, what seemed to be inane party games (derisive and sarcastic even at age six I see). When I turned seven , we went to Chuck E. Cheeses. I got a blue satin jacket and those barettes with the flowing ribbons that were so cool back then. I was eight when I bought my first cassette tapes, Rick Springfield and Duran Duran. When I was ten, I had this huge slumber party, where we went roller skating and then came back and ate pizza and told ghost stories and stayed up all night watching horror movies and trying to levitate each other..
Every year , me and my cousin Lori would spend a day at the mall by ourselves (pretty damn cool when your're ten or eleven) spending birthday money, buying watermelon lipgloss and shopping at Spencers with our neon t-shrts and leggings and our hair pulled into a side pony tail. Occasionally we’d decide we’d have new names -- more exotic names-- like Danielle and Renee, and when our parents took is out to dinner later, usually at the Ponderosa, we’d sit separately from them and pretend to be all grown up.
My teenage years featured more slumber parties, smaller and no roller skating, though plenty more levitation attempts and daring each other to do the Bloody Mary thing. We’d consume enough mountain dew and M&Ms until we were bouncing off the walls . I’d get cool presents like posters of Corey Haim (or later, Christian Slater) and bangle bracelets and stuffed animals. We’d play board games, and get into snippy little arguments, and someone usually got mad and threatened to go home. Of course, this is all before we really discovered boys…though I think I had my first lustful thoughts in the second grade, kissing a boy on the cheek in the lunch line and getting in trouble.
Friday, April 22, 2005
engines. Paper gone pink at the edges, and the whiskey-
throated woman finished singing. The silence of fifth grade
valentines crumpling in desks. Of mouths pressed to palms
inside sleeping bags, or the blue insects gliding the oil-stained
driveway. Now, the yolk in the hand, bloody, the math
problem involving bones and sticks, where I name
myself geometry. The silence that halves, then halves again
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
The very springy issue of Wicked Alice is now up. I didn't realize I didn't have that many poets with more than one piece, so we have a greater number and range of contributors than usual. Now I need to get to work on the next chapbook offering (Taylor Graham's Under the Shuttle, Awake)which should be out the end of May.
My poem a day escapade is a day or so off, but I'm not going to worry about the ones I blew off and concentrate on pushing ahead. Tormorrow, an entire day at home ought to spawn something interesting at least. I've been reading Sabrina Orah Marks' The Babies, an interesting prose poem collection with a wacky circus-like feel I can appreciate, and Cate Marvin's Worlds Tallest Disaster.
Monday, April 18, 2005
At night, someone rearranges the rooms
in my body, pushes ottomans into
corners and hides the water lily print.
Now, I’m all reckless stairwells
and falling sounds. Entire bedroom sets
gone missing at sunrise. You’re fondest
of the shifting windows, the ivory boned
sofa shaped like a woman’s back;
have placed buttons beneath carpets
and hidden pens in all the closets.
The parlors fill with pink paper
dresses and impossible chairs.
The kitchens, understandably, hide their knives.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
Alan Dunes Little Red Riding Hood: A Casebook.
And so easy for a girl to be lost.
In a village, at the edge of a forest.
It happens everyday.
On television. Or in dark hallways.
Yes mother, she says, doe-eyed and dolled.
Before it begins,
there are teas and a crock of custard.
There is wine and a basket of cheese.
One day in the beginning, there is the white
heat sliding into everything, and all the dishes
washed and placed politely in the cupboard.
Before there is a kiss and a red wool cape.
What we know of wolves,
we also know of hunger.
One day she could be walking
to school, or reading a novel
and it just happens.
Even jumping rope.
It gets dark so early now. In the woods,
with their heavy thatch. In the kitchen,
with it’s single match. With everything
turning in: columbines, mushrooms,
the tiniest snail tonguing the branch.
And her so tired, the distance counted
by tree stumps and broken sticks.
So hungry, surely up to her knuckles
in the apricot jam when he found her
and loved the way she startled,
that jump in her pulse that set him to wanting.
That tiny breathless oh.
And so easy to be distracted,
the peculiar glow
of lavender, grass stains,
and his fingers already into her.
It happens everyday.
On buses. In bathrooms.
Before there was a
path and a task, something
forgotten that spoke
of open dresses and fever.
Before it begins,
the yes mother and the pencil case.
The rollerskates and the tidy frown.
even the bones of her ears thrumming.
Some nights even the dolls had teeth.
What we know of wolves,
we know of danger.
Nothing to do but follow now, the trail
gone mossy and inhospitable.
Lewd and overgrown.
Him doing wolfish things at her back,
and how the sun caught the cage
of trees through her fingers.
Always another further on,
daffodils and strawberries the size
of her fist. Here, where
the past splits infinitive,
and the path divides:
The road of brambles and petticoats.
The road of nettles and over coats.
She could be writing a letter,
or making the bed, and it happens.
Before we could remember, it goes like this,
the grandmother devoured and lost.
The grandmother devoured and saved.
The strip-tease and the bawdy farce.
There was a wound, and the girl
gone down to the bottom of it.
There was a bed, and all
the blankets had knives.
One day in the beginning
there was this terrible thing
with wolves. All the stories
had blood in them.
What big eyes you have, she’ll say, what big teeth.
Saturday, April 16, 2005
Despite my worrying, the reading went very well. There were quite a few people there that didn't know, and nearly all of them bought chapbooks, I wound up unloading at least twelve I think. I started with some earlier stuff from Bloody Mary, which usually get a good response, and then some from the new/old chapbook. Then some more recent stuff, and a couple of errata pieces, finishing with some new unpublished ones. It's good to get away from the usual poetry crowds (which is what usually composes the audience at most readings and most of whom are at least somewhat familiar with what I do) and in front of new audience--always gives a certain rush.
Afterwards, out to dinner w/ the parents, then took a walk a block or so over to the lake, and then back to have dessert and open my early birthday presents (it's not until the 25th, but they were coming this weekend). I'm still trying to decide whether to go to the big Poetry Explosion reading tomorrow night, where a few folks I know are reading I guess it'll depend on whether I'm too tired after work tomorrow. That Sunday shift is short, but brutal on the boredom. The last couple of days I've been working on the red riding hood poems and will post the last couple of parts soon. If I count each section as a separate poem, I haven't fallen all that far behind in my poem a day challenge, and just need something for today.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
The Chicago Public Library is pleased to present Partners 'n Rhyme, a series of poetry programs held throughout the neighborhoods of Chicago. Workshops and readings by some of Chicago's best poets will be held at several branches during April.
Saturday, April 16, 2 p.m.
1210 W. Elmdale Ave.
Of course, it was certain death had we skipped it. Last time, when a few people skipped out on the lecture that pre-empted workshop they got a stern talking-to by the director. Also the same director who I remember telling me something to the effect that in the first few workshops people had seemed to be in awe of poems, but that now my style was predictable, and they weren't impressed anymore and that there was too much distance between me and the poems...they were too stylized, baroque..ad nauseum...my favorite being when he held one and looked at it and said there was something not right about it but he couldn't pin it down, but didn't I see what he was saying? and that was the good workshop last year...
Sorry, self-pity is awfully boring, I know...
On the plus side, Wicked Alice is now accepting my log-on, so the spring issue should be up the beginning of next week. Anyone who submited and haven't heard back from me is still in the running for the summer edition.I seem to be getting increasingly more submissions and am not quite as on top of everything as I once was.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
I need to come up with a title...perhaps the fever almanac or almanac of fevers or something entirely different? It will make me a little less anxious to know there's only one mss. out there and not two of them that may never get published. Of course on the slim chance either gets accepted on their own in the meantime, this is all null and void. And then there's the new one I can worry about, but only when it's actually finished. I kind of want to get at least all the poems done by the end of the semester, I have about 40 of them now, which include a number of the more general errata poems, the red riding hood series, and other poems I've written in the last six months or so. I'll probably sit on it for awhile and see what happens. But I really want to get to work on the long poem and my list-making mania won't allow me to start the other without checking off the current project one as "done," or as close as it can be now. Again, it makes me anxious to have so many projects unfinished, so many threads dangling. And so there's that, and the carnivalesque manuscript I want to do, and the smaller Cornell chapbook that's half finished and driving me crazy. Maybe I'll mark that off the list before moving onto the long poem, which is my definitive summer project this year. If I can stay focused, I should be good to go...
particularly in light of my current Red Riding Hood inspired project. And the music was trippy and cool. I’m not sure how the new media stuff ties into the Mayans, but hopefully class in an hour or so will clear it up.
Monday, April 11, 2005
was a Chinese kite, a busted radio. The underwater
lovers never quite get where they were going.
All the buttons fall from my blouse, scatter,
and become points on a map. No matter
what we take with us, we leave it on subway
seats and park benches: the red umbrella, or
this nest with its tiny blue eggs.
Yesterday, I pulled three spiders the size
of quarters from my hair. I fear I’m beginning
to loosen my bones back into the landscape.
Soon I’ll be nothing but a ribcage
filled with a half dozen sparrows.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
the girl in the sundress with the stress
fracture smile and now even the moon
gone heavy. The bones in her mouth obsess
her, how all the rivers now snake
toward the guttering light, the moot
of trees in a landscape like this, all cake
and pink rosettes. All sweet and a beaut
of a life if you can get it: this Garbo
silver sheen waxing the back of play-
house shadows, languorous, given to hobo-
chic and heliotropes. The frenetic day
split in half. Her voice, all cutglass and rhinestone.
And fear, of course, the loveliest of cologne.
(end rhymes: June, stress, moon, obsess, snake, moot, cake, beaut, Garbo, play, hobo, day, rhinestone, cologne)
Sometimes, I think that the only reason I'm working on days like this, or perhaps why I have a job at all, is because we have a huge number of the class textbooks on reserve behind the front desk. Four out of five people who come to the desk are of this nature. Granted, some books are issued in new editions every five minutes and are priced in the $100 arena, so perhaps the fact that they're on reserve make sense. But when an instructor puts a $15-$20 book on reserve because her students won't buy it, I'm like please.
Of course my fellow MFA students who are teaching freshman comp have told me how hard it is to get the students to even buy the textbooks, let alone actually read them. But hell, I sunk plenty of money into college bookstores when I was a student (I don't remember anyone ever putting anything on reserve in the library that wasn't just a single reading.) Don't they realize that when they stand at the copier copying every single page of a 300 page book at 10 cents a pop, their paying far more than the 15.00 cover price--and likely violating copywright laws. And they're fucking annoying me, since not one of them actually ever can run a copy machine. grr...
I think it's only a crutch, so that when the next year the instructor they have doesn't put the text on reserve, they get all pissy when they realize not every fucking book for every class is behind the desk. And then there are those who get pissy when we tell them they they can't check it out to take it home. My favorite however are the people who stumble in here a week before finals, having never set foot in here before obviously, looking for their book, some boring ass book on marketing or nutrition, or math for complete and utter morons (actually I should be in that class)..and then stand there and try to convince me why I should let them take it home with them, or they "accidently" steal it and get caught when the alarm goes off. Please, people, buy your own fucking books...
I'm so happy when people are checking out books just for reading, or research, or a project. I love these people. Even the ones checking out lame-ass stuff. Especially the ones checking out poetry. Sometimes, I waive their fines without them knowing it.
Thus, the end of my rant...
Of course, since I've been good at writing everyday and it's National Poetry Month, I'm thinking of indulging in a few poetry book purchases on the way home this evening, not necessarily helping my space problem, but alas...
Lots of sunshine the past two days, though yesterday seemed a bit chilly. I am somewhat caught up on my poem a day project, though yesterday's is still a little sketchy. Court Green, a newish journal edited by some Columbia faculty, are taking subs of boutes rhyme's for next years issue--which is apparently a sonnet exersize in which a number of rhyming words are given and have to be used in the order they are given. It's proving as challenging as I suspected, though hopefully, not impossible.
Saturday, April 09, 2005
Azaleas blooming inky against the fence and all
the porch lights loosening. Women named Alice
or Ingrid smoke in clamorous rooms with long windows,
their spines opening to back roads and folksongs.
We had thought ourselves in love with thirst, whether
or not the sky opened and showed us its teeth.
We dreamt of beheadings and antebellum skirts,
power lines crossing and recrossing the atmosphere,
frenzied as the letters of our names.
Friday, April 08, 2005
Thursday, April 07, 2005
So far this week the weather has been glorious and I'm in a much better mood. The things that are kicking me in the ass are still there, but they're much more managable with a bit of sun and warmer temperatures. I've began laying out the spring Wicked Alice very slowly, so I should be finished around the middle of the month, if I can fix my technical difficulties with the site by then. DGP's next chapbook will also be officially released then, K.R. Copeland's Anatomically Correct.
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
the smallest, the languor of yellow scarves
and spelling bees. I am trying out the limbs,
the asphalt. The day gives things names and I
hide them beneath my skirt. To be expected,
there are the usual accidents on train tracks,
in third floor bathrooms. Nothing can be assumed.
I was a mouth and the worry came to me.
I was gingered and soft like a pear.
Monday, April 04, 2005
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Saturday, April 02, 2005
The Secret Place, Sacred Space show site is up. Mine shows only one page of about twenty (4th Row down, toward middle), but check out the burned book in the 2nd row...very cool idea, apparently done with a wood burning tool.
Friday, April 01, 2005
Sadly, the highest I've ever managed is a 4 for ACM, which seemed much harder to get into than that. And they didn't even mention Slipstream, which I'd consider at least a 3. I used to try submitting to Atlantic, the New Yorker, and Poetry back about seven years and had terrible luck. I stopped trying to get something into the New Yorker around the time I realized the poems were usually the same type of poem by the same tired authors, and the magazine was really geared toward the lexus driving crowd anyway. I stopped submitting to the Atlantic Monthly when the editor (I forget his name now, but I think he's dead) published more of HIS poems than anyone else's. Poetry always seems a little bland and vanilla lately, despite its great history.
But I would likely give my right arm for APR or the Paris Review...I've haven't tried either, but then I haven't written anything I'd consider genius enough yet to even attempt it...At the moment, there are subs out to Kenyon Review, TriQuarterly, Agni, Crab Orchard, Fence, and 3rd bed. So we'll see...Two days ago, recieved a rejection form Smartish Pace (3), so it doesn't look too good.
Of course, part of me always thinks I shouild just continue sending work to all my favorite little zines and tell the literary establishment to go to hell. But, that nasty little ambitious side of me wants the brightest and the best...(or at least what seems to be so)