Friday, April 28, 2006
Thursday, April 27, 2006
The distinction between chaps and books seems to come up every year around this time (although last year, it was a bit more heated.) I see what Shann is saying about notions of legitimacy and acceptance, and as much as I loathe those words, I still feel a desire for them. They're a little more suspect, however, these days.
In my head, I'd probably say the defining criteria for a chapbook, would be length. Anything shorter than 48 pages which constitutes book length by most contest guidelines. Now I imagine, these could be spined or not. I have some gorgeous chaps from a number of presses that have been folded over to make one but still are shorter volumes. Some are stapled, some are sewn. And I personally don't put much stock in ISBN numbers. My one chapbook published by another press w/ an ISBN has both my name and the title spelled incorrectly in Books in Print. I've contacted them to change it like a year ago, with no luck. You couldn't find me if you wanted to. However,you could google me and find it in ten seconds.
I used to think that chapbooks denoted a certain ephemerality, somewhere between traditional books and journals. But then, I too, mainly thought of chaps as kinkos creations, stapled, largely for distribution at readings, events, or just traded around. It seems in the last few years or so, this has changed. Those kinko's jobs have melded with fine bookmaking, and created some really beautiful books that aren't merely ephemera, but something that has as much durability as a traditional book. Now the chapbook has almost become an alternative to book-length projects. Simply another way to go. I tend to be project oriented in my writing anyway, so I have all sorts of little things floating around that may become chapbooks at some point. Certainly more than I have ideas for large scope book-length monoliths. So the chapbook works for me personally. Logan was talking about this a few weeks ago, actually, about how we define the poetry "book," especially since the conventional publishing world in general doesn't put much stock behind poetry in whatever form. In my opinion, small and micropresses are where it's at these days.
The vanity thing is complicated too. I think it's a loaded term with negative connotations. And I agree with Shann, we're all vain in the creative arts, and maybe there's nothing wrong with that. In regard to the other arts, the means of delivery are not quite so dependent on distribution and legitimacy bestowed by a third party. Visual art, while yes, getting into a posh gallery is one way to show your art, another is to rent out a space and show by yourself or with some fellow artists. End result is the same. Same with music. A hit record is nice, but no one calls it "vanity" if you put your own record out, or filmmakers vain when they shoot an indie without a big Hollywood budget. Literature, in general, seems so fucking squeamish about this. And maybe it's all the bad things that are passed off as poetry these days. Some of them ironically published by big presses (And how much of an advance did Billy Corgan get for his book with Faber and Faber? Does that make him a legitimate poet?) . We feel like we need that sort of legitimacy or we're no better than the woman writing and publishing poems to her cats. Now I agree a good editor plays an invaluable role as gatekeeper sometimes, especially when it comes to regning things in. But as one myself, out of the twenty or so submissions I got last reading cycle for dgp, in addition to the seven I accepted, at least seven others were "publishable"...I just had to draw a line somewhere. As I've said there's just too many of us, and not enough presses and journals. Sometimes you have to take things into your own hands. I also agree with Scott that diy publication is a natural extention of the act of writing poems, just like performance is the extension of writing music. I love making my own chapbooks, writing them, designing them. I think of them as little art projects. Do they make me more legitimate? Probably not. Will my big book make me more legitimate. Probably not. And while I did always used sadly equate "author' with the traditional definition of a book (spine, glossyness, heftyness) I'm learning not to. I think books are good for longer projects and more expansive studies of an authors work, but chapbooks are just as valid for shorter, more immediate ones.
I think the means and distribution of poetry are changing even as we speak. Those big bookstores, even if we had a "book" wouldn't carry us anyway. Borders seems a little better in terms of selection, at least in Chicago, but B&N's idea of poetry stops at Gwendolyn Brooks and Jewel. So what do we do, rely on the indies and the internet? Not such a bad fate, I imagine.
And how can I even be down when it's so gorgeous outside, the trees all flowering in the park and Michigan Avenue overrun with tulips. It's still a little cold though, and my flip-flops were probably a poor choice in retrospect.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Put Your Poetry on the Web,
Workshop with Kristy Bowen
1:30-2:50 p.m., Multipurpose Room B
This workshop will focus on creating a presence on the web for poets, including such topics as establishing simple websites, blogs and online journals, submitting work to electronic publications, and participating in online writing communities.
Kristy Bowen's work has appeared in a number of print and electronic publications, including Spoon River Poetry Review, Diagram, and Another Chicago Magazine. She is the author of several limited edition and handmade chapbooks, and her full-length collection, the fever almanac, is forthcoming from Ghost Road Press in November 2006. Bowen edits the online literary zine Wicked Alice, and runs Dancing Girl Press, which focuses on the work of women authors.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
At lunch, had suddenly had a moment of clarity in regard to organizing instabilities. Since they deal with women and corruption and language in a lot of way, I was thinking of the idea of pre and post-lapsarian eve, since she makes a few appearances throughout the book, sort of pre-fall, fall, and fallen. Not in any heavy-handed obvious way, but just in regard to section organization--knowledge, and corruption, and language, hysteria, etc. Maybe epigraphs for each section somehow relecting this. Something to think about.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Amazingly, I've still been keeping up NAPOWRIMO-but sadly it's all crap, and pieces that might later be recombined to make actual poems. Honestly they suck so much, I'm hesitant to post them just yet. I'm just a day behind at this point, which is longer than I lasted last year, so I supose at least I've accomplished that.
I was re-reading Sabrinah Orah Mark's The Babies on the bus to work yesterday and kicking myself for not being able to do that. What she does. I'm not even sure exactly what she does, but it works. It's fucking awesome. Certainly one of my favorites I've read in the last couple of years.
For some reason, while I'm trying to work on poems for the new manuscript, the poems seem to want to go into the older one, instabilities (as it's currently being called). Still not sure about the thesis though, which one would work best--that or girl show. If I keep at it, the older one will be too long anyway. 60 pages is on the short side for a book. Though the fever almanac wound up only at 60 after I cut the fat out. So maybe this will too. I'm finding though that trying to arrange instabilities in any sort of logical manner is proving fruitless--sections and such--just not working. The first book was so easy, the semi-narrative arc of things guiding what went into what section, and the sections themselves easily defining themeselves. I had a hard time determining order, but each section remained by and large intact. This one has no story-like arc really, more a thematic arc, but that's proving messier than I thought. I won't really have time to play with it until summer anyway though. It's looking good though if I can just get the kinks out.
I'm just trying to hold my breath until the semester is over.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
The Animal Husband
by Christine Hamm
dancing girl press, 2006
slightly new stuff:
The Terrible Baby
poems by Rebecca Cook
dancing girl press, 2006
Plus Robyn Art's Vestigial Portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Lina Ramona Vitkauska's Failed Star Spawns Planet/Star.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Also a revision regarding our final projects, which I've already started on, a series of sideshow sonnets...hell, I'm not sure whether to keep going or stop. Now we're doing some thing with invented forms, and again, not sure I have time to start all over, expecially considering my author presentation in the lit class has been bumped up a week. I do not do well with change when it seems I've got everything planned down to the hour these days--go to work, work on publishing stuff whenever I have free time, my own writing at home, plus doing any work for my classes.. I feel like if one thing slips out of place, I'm seriously screwed. tonight, a canceled class--most folks seem to be going to hear one of the faculty read--I had to come home and see if I could salvage the free time. And still it's spring, so I try to be happy, though everyday I seem to start out in a reasonably good mood that's slowly, slowly chipped away by all sorts of niggling little things-public transit woes, rude, whiny, needy people in the library, rejections (yesterday one from Isotope), noise, my broken sunglasses, long lines in the drugstore, html coding that makes my hands numb.
Speaking of which, the spring wicked alice, should be up tomorrow. I finished the layout last night, and just need to upload the pages--once again it took me longer than I expected since I accept way too much work probably, whatever happens to strike my fancy (how's that for a sound editorial policy?)..plus, alot of it more formatting complicated than usual.
Monday, April 17, 2006
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Some of these are just things I like so it's natural they would show up (dresses, cake, bathtubs, sheets, iron beds, science terms). Or woven into the fabric of the everday (teacups, windows, buttons, books) Some of them are fears or things that freak me out, things that embedded themselves in my head at a young age (floods, fires, tornadoes, drownings, car wrecks, the thing with mothers.) Some of them just the sound of the word (parking lots, kitchen, bones, matches). All of them just good details that signify something beyond them (hotel rooms, keys, ghosts).
All these things reoccuring, the body stuff (mouth, wrists, throats.) The language vs. experience stuff thats such a large part of the fever almanac, along with weather, geography, memory. Or fein, and instabilities, with the birds reoccuring (or the fake birds, anyway) and the metallicness of corsets and bird cages. Some things from one manuscript spilling into each other. Now, archer avenue with the throat (voice,) ghosts, backseats, and dresses and oddly shoes this time. Or girl show with red cropping up everywhere and "mouth". And dulcet with more freaking birds and Philomel mythology woven through.
They're sort of the basic building blocks, though I rarely set out to have them in there, they just sort of happen. I agree it probably makes alot of my work very similar--though I'd say the upside of that is having a certain unity. But they're sort of my tools, my symbols, and hopefully I can do things different with them every time. Hopefully avoiding that terrible Sharon Olds pitfall, beating those same dead horses.
I try not to think too much about it, too much theorizing gives me a headache (when asked about my "poetics" I always want to say that I had that removed years ago.) Just write the damn poems already..
*sigh* Anyway, back to my tea and sacrificial chocolate bunny. I need to write an ode for forms class this week and am clueless as to where to start. When I was a kid, before I took French in ninth grade, I always confused "ode" with "eau de". So when my mom said someone's perfume smelled like "eau de squirrel piss" (and, yes, my mother often says things like that) I thought she was saying "ode to squirrel piss" Maybe I should use that as my title...
"midnight pastoral" is actually one of the stronger, more coherent pieces that didn't take too many drafts, actually went over well in workshop last spring, and was accepted first time out the door..all very, very rare occurences..now if I could only get her clumsier, not so pretty sisters to fall more easily into line, I'd have it made...
Also an older, broken in, and well-behaved piece from the fever almanac at Slow Trains.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Today, another warm day. The lake was placid this morning, barely a wave.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
It always seems like spring will never get here, and then suddenly it is..magnolias trees in front of the catholic school blooming and the tulips along michigan avenue, which I've been eyeing since they first started inching out of the ground a month ago, suddenly taking over--budding over night. We are half way through April after all, that eight months of winter finally loosening it's hold--it was nearly eighty today. For some reason the wamer weather makes me sleepy and dreamy. Tuesday, after a minor meltdown on Monday night whilst looking at my ever mounting to do list, I played hooky from both classes, stayed home, feeling kind of worn down and wound up, sleeping halfway into the day and then another nap later. My schedule's been all screwed up with all the fucking noise in the building intruding into my sleep. When I work til ten, go to bed at 2 or 3 and then at eight am, wake up to pounding and drilling, I am not a happy camper. Remind me again why didn't move out when I had the chance?
I have managed to whittle down that mounting list, there are only a few things I need to get done the last half of the month.
a) get the spring wicked alice issue up and running.
b) finish the last details and proofing on Christine's The Animal Husband, and get it printed and assembled.
c)finish layout for Sarah Gardner's How to Study Birds and finalize cover design. Have it ready to go by mid-May.
d) prepare for my web workshop at CPL
e) keep plugging away on new poems for girl show
f) turn 32 (okay that one's easy)
g) get the 50 copy run of archer avenue printed and ready for May.
ahh...lists make me feel a little better...
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
I think someone may have hit it on the head in regard to the idea of “diaristic” vs. “discursive” --as to which is privileged in the literary world--which most closely resembles that sense of “print legitimacy“. I don’t think the author of the PW article meant intentionally to exclude women, but that exclusion is just another symptom of what I see cropping up again and again--endless discussions of why women aren’t engaging in the critical discussions, why women aren’t doing this or that. Frankly I’m tired of it. Some women poets do, some don’t. There are just as many more “diaristic” blogs out there written by men as there are women. I think with this notion of “legitimacy’ comes some segregation (as it always does). People start dividing into camps and doing the us vs. them thing. We’re better and more serious because of x, you’re not because of y. All of which I think hurts something as open and diverse as the blogworld, where what currently constitutes a “poetry blog” can vary from reviews, autobiographical material, actual poetry, criticism, drafts, news, political discussion, pictures, cartoons, etc. And why can’ it be all these things? And in the best blogs, sometimes it’s meshed all together.
So what if women blogs are more “holistic” as Josh Corey mentions. I disagree with that as a wide spread description, but in alot of cases, including my own, it‘s true., This is a problem throughout literary history--what’s termed “men’s writing” and what’s “womens writing.” The Victorians, for example where diaries and letters aren’t considered as important as the “serious” work of men. I‘d like to think, more evolved these days, we‘re moving away from that..
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Regardless of the lack of women mentioned in the article, which may be just oversight on the part of its author (tsk tsk), i find myself to worrying a bit about a discussion that starts in place--with vibrant, interesting journals like Octopus and Typo, La Petite Zine and Jacket and then degenerates to Slate (snore.) which appears to be continually pandering to the old guard publishers pocketbooks. Not the sort of publications that are indeed the lifeblood of internet poetry. But for the benefit of inclusion, I’ll bite, but then the article goes on to talk about (again) how established institutions like Poetry and Amer. Academy of Poets use the medium (USE being the operative term here.) All well and good, except there seems to SO much glossed over in getting there. Now, obviously, one can’t mention every e-zine, poetry blog, small press, etc. that use the internet as a primary means of distribution. But please, just SOMETHING, ANYTHING....
I was thinking last week about how pretty much, with the exception of actual readings, my poetry world revolves almost entirely around the screen in front of me, and pretty much has for the last 5 years or so. Even the physical books I read have usually found there way to me via the internet, whether its something I bought there, found there, or found reference to and went in search of it. I typically discover new writers online (whose books I then go looking for) far more than I ever do in print journals, and even if it is in a print publication, I’ve usually discovered said journal through online exploits. My own publication record is about %90 electronic journals, %10 print. Largely because Itend to submit to places more open to work by newer and emerging poets. Even now, when doors don't slam quite so quickly in the print world, I still tend to favor the online pubs since I think more people read them, even if I have to point them in that direction to do it.
It took me until 1997 to start spending any time at all on the internet, mostly doing research related things when in grad school the first time around. But I did happen to find the Poets and Writers Speakeasy around then, so became immersed, mesmerized in the sort of discussions going on there, mainly nuts and bolts sort of stuff on getting your work out there. I was a little more savvy then, and I was getting better as a poet and reading more, but my knowledge of the poetry world was opening up. By 2001, I’d discovered the blooming world of online journals in all shapes and sizes….another one every day it seemed….and in lieu of spending so much on postage getting submissions out, started submitting. At this point I had a couple tiny local print publications under my belt, but that was it. Suddenly I was writing more, sending out work more, publishing more. For the next couple of years, that was the end all be all of my literary efforts. I’d started wicked alice around then, wanting to put my two-cents in editorially into the e-journal world. Even so, I realize how narrow my own interpretation was at that time, limited to fairly traditional poems and poets I was encountering. Of course my own work was more traditional at this point as well. There were high marks, the golden rings,the uber-selective, places like Melic Review, Perihelion, Caffeine Destiny. (I’ll say Stirring here, but I’m biased, but hell it took me three tries to get and they still reject me every so often.) Others with just as high quality but not so hopeless: Blue Fifth Review, Pedestal Magazine, Eclectica, and lots of smaller places that seemed more open to new writers. (Why are none of these mentioned in the article?) Many have been around forever…..like Blue Moon Review, Small Spiral Notebook, Mudlark, Pierian Springs, Poems Niederngasse, Three Candles.
Again, we have a divide here I‘ve noticed, where one side never knows what’s going on with the other. Dependng on who you talk to, you’ll get a varying account on where things are happening. At some point I discovered the EPC and their list of journals, so very different from my little insulated corner of the online poetry world, and I was floored by the cool shit happening in publications like Drunken Boat, Tarpaulin Sky, Diagram, and then so many more over the last couple of years. Granted a lot of these (like Octopus) are newer ventures, but you’d be surprised I could name more than a dozen online poets who publish in Niederngasse or Stirring who’ve never heard of Octopus or Typo, and vice versa, though I love the poems I find in both. I try to bridge both worlds with wicked alice, and with the press, but no one on either side seems to know about us much.
And then the blogs, of what can I say about the blogs? I think I read way too many and spend way to much time doing it, but that’s that community that we all dream of…with a bunch of like minded smart people who love to talk about the same things we do. I, for one, only know a few poets in real life, and fewer still that engage in discussion at the level I’ve found in the blogosphere. And maybe it’s not the same as kicking back with a beer and a few poets, but I don’t have nearly enough time (or energy) to do that as often as I’d like. So where do find out about new poets and publications, and nasty scandals and such….right here. Initially my blog, back on Xanga in the early, was supposed to be just a personal journal, where I’d post poems and notes, but it soon became much more, a form of interraction, part promotional mailing list, part letter writing, part philosophy, part goofing off. And people use their blogs for so many different things--reviewing, serious critical discussion . Where else in the world do you have all that in such a concentrated form and so readily available. One or two reviews and essays in scattered print journals, or something reaching limitless audience on a blog or online jounal? Whose is going to reach a greater audience--some essay or review in Poetry (unless, of course it’s put on the internet) or something written on a well-known blog?
And the PW article doesn’t even mention the presses, micro and big that have sprouted up with the internet as a huge, huge part of how they reach an audience. The interesting trend I’ve noticed (and engaged in) of hi-tech with low tech, internet and handmade bookmaking. Subverting the traditional avenues of publishing and institutionalized po-biz.on my bookshelf right now I have a stack of chapbooks I've procured solely online that are waiting to be read, and I've certainly bought more of those in the last three months than I have books by traditional presses. And the print journals I read? Every single one purchased or subscribed to based on what I saw online...
Monday, April 10, 2006
I've been looking over some stuff from the last year--mostly the science inspired poems from last spring and the errata poems that not quite as dependent on the chapbook project and borrowed texts. Them, and what's in the feign chapbook, just might make a suitable manuscript for my thesis, perhaps incorporating that old title I was going to use for a chapbook instabilities. There's still the women and knowledge thread, but also a women and madness thing going on, women and corruption, women and science, that might work well as a whole. I might be putting too much pressure on the fledgling girl show series to make itself into a book, when it's still so tiny and new. And dulcet is way too disorganized and without aim at this point. The other is much more solid and alot of the poems have been published individually, so hopefully they don't suck. I think I always thought of feign as evolving from errata anyway--even if there wasn't anything really Victorian about them, they still were part of the same overall project, as were the science poems to a degree, though they're less , I guess, political than the others. Political in a feminist sense not a govermental sense. It's weird, but while the first book, aside from stylistic variations of the two, the feels very personal, the new stuff seems to have more of an agenda--all of it, even girl show. Especially that one.
Speaking of books, I took a nap tonight after I got home from work (it was one of those days--Sundays always being a clusterfuck of some sort)and dreamed two very high profile reviews competely slammed me, called my writing precious and fluffy without any substance. One was a newspaper review and the other a magazine listing of Best and Worst poets of 2006. And what was worse, everyone I knew was trying to keep me from seeing them, ripping out the newspaper pages, and hiding things knowing I'd be upset, so then I had to pretend they didn't bother me when they really did. Not to mention one of them was incredibly cruel regarding the sound of my reading voice, my hairstyle, etc. which all seemed to bother me more than the poetry. I should never eat McDonalds before napping again. Ever.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
and some at the adroitly placed word...
For once, a Saturday off. Some peace and quiet. Theoretically.
The recently vacated apartments to my right and over my head happen to be buzzing and banging as we speak with all sorts of contruction like noises. I've been enjoying an issue of CakeTrain, which I just discovered and is filled with good stuff and very slick and perty in it's library-like design.
Last night, we nearly floated away. One of the cats (Mr. Giles--yes that's his name) has a nasty habit of playing with the shower curtain and bumping the hot water handle and turning it on. Usually it's just a trickle, but he apparently hit it pretty hard sometime yesterday. I've been terminally plagued with a slow drain in the tub and arrived home to find the bathtub a mere five inches or so from overflowing. After draining the tub and admonishing the cat, watched Serenity . I SO heart Joss Whedon. Wacky sci-fi with humor and character developement and snappy dialogue. I never watched the show when it was on, (it was all about Buffy then) but will certainly be checking out the DVD's now.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Monday, April 03, 2006
I’ve begun working on my next collage thingy, which is going to be boxes, and no, no one can possibly do boxes without ripping off Cornell, but these are smaller and more focused on the text. I’m going to try burning the edges on some of the fragments of poetry, so let’s see if I can do it without burning my apartment building down. My poem a day project is off to a start, as you see below, even though it was a busy weekend. Let’s hope I can keep up the pace, though today’s piece which I’m getting ready to work on, will be a forms exercise for tomorrow. Not quite as much fun.