Thursday, March 29, 2007

This had me laughing my ass off so hard I wound up in a five minute coughing fit. I will enjoy anything that takes on American Girl and the ridiculous parade of doll toting tourists up and down Michigan Ave. I loved my little ponies when I was a kid though. However, I can't consider them now without imagining them acting out this poem...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

three good things

Lauren Greenfield's Girl Culture. Someone brought this downstairs yesterday from the photo section. A scary and interesting and oh so familiar if you were ever a teenage girl....

Book Reports by Jonah Winter from Octopus Books. These little chaps are bound between the covers of older books, mine a French textbook. Ooh la la. According to the website "extremely limited edition" so move fast...I also noticed they are taking mss. submissions in April. I think girl show is probably too traditional to send them, but other of you more adventurous folks should give them a try. Judging from what I've seen, they make lovely, lovely books.

Carnivale. In my cable-less world, I was late in hearing about this. I've only seen two episodes, but it's good so far, all crazily surreal and dustbowly.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

as if

my Ghost Road book is not the most beautiful cover in the world, these two, which I got in the mail yesterday are even pertier (if that's possible)...major props to design goddess Sonya Unrein...

I'm not that familiar with Aaron Anstett's work outside of a couple journals, but yes, I'll admit it, I bought it because of the cover. Jessy Randall's been in wicked alice and has my dream job.
As I was going through the manuscript again, I can't help but start to think about characters, recurring ones. While I'd probably never describe myself as a narrative poet in any conventional sense, I do use narrative to my own evil devices, usually over the course of multiple poems rather just in one. It's probably those one-time desires to write fiction, to be a novelist. While poetry was the first love in writing-wise, fiction was always the first love reading-wise. And it was tough, after trying to do both well and really doing both rather badly to choose one over the other if I ever hoped to be good at either. Some writers balance these marvelously. Me, I need to focus or it all falls apart. So, for the last seven years or so, it's been all poetry, all the time. Which doesn't necessarily mean I've given up my narrative tendencies, they just manifest themselves in interesting ways. The first section of this mss., which was mostly written in the last 12 months or so, the people in it, the story arc, are surely those same girls that appear in the paper house(2005)--actually that poem was one of the ones that went back and forth between books and wound up in the bird museum. Of course what else is there for girls who burned down their house in a rage supposed to do but become carnies? Hell, they even sort of resemble the sisters from the last of the summer poems (2002)in the fever almanac. And I know there are more little obsessions, people who pop up in other books or chaps and resurface again, even as peripheral characters. I like it, sort of like my own little Kevin Smith universe (er..except less dirty and most of the time..)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Untitled (Ophelia)
after Gregory Crewdson

Soon the water takes everything.
Even the pink sweater dangling
precarious above the deluge.
The forgotten slippers on the stairs.

After all, madness is the best seduction.
She was never lovelier than when she threw
dishes from windows and cried in the shower.
Ripped entire sheets of violet wallpaper
from the dining room walls.

There were simply too many windows
and in all the wrong places. Daily, a squall
beneath the couch that threatened to overturn her.

And isn't everything a death scene, really?
Washing her hair? Picking up the phone?
Eventually him gone back
to his books and records.
Her, with her bottle of aspirin.
Her paperback romance.

All these rooms inside her
with their terrible carpet,
filling up one by one.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


in case you were wondering, the new ridiculously pricey rotary cutter goes through 40 pge chapbooks like buttah...which means no more ragged edges...

yes indeed

I am sick. Full on coughing and fever staved off by Advil, but as soon as it wears off I'm shivering with chills beneath the covers. Maybe it's the stress. Maybe it's the weather. I should have know it was coming given my lack of sleep this week because of work--my body's clock all wonky wanting to go to bed at one and needing to be up before seven, and then dealing with all the attendant aggravation of commuting at rush hour. By Friday I was majorly run down.

Today, at least it smells like spring outside, which helps immensely. Winter runs me ragged, but summer comes and I'm usually pretty healthy. Today I opened up most of the windows and let the fresh air in. Finally unpacked all those press supplies in boxes, a new paper cutter, more envelopes for the Cornell Project, paper for Robyn's chap project (it's not really a book but sheath of pages). Am gearing up to finish edits on Sugaring.

Since I got way too much good work for the spring Wicked Alice (submitters should be hearing from me soon) I've decided to split what I want to take between the Spring and Summer issues. Cutting the issues to about half their former size has been a bitch, but a necessary bitch with so many chaps on the board and last semester busyness. Come summer I'll be a much freer woman with more time, so we'll see.. I'm also currently rounding up the rest of the work for a special dancing girl issue of foursqare, which Jessica was kind enough to ask me to do.

Other than that..ugh papers.. coming due in both classes. And worse, the sort of papers where we've been given topics, not even a choice, which reminds me of fucking highschool and makes what is usually an unpleasant task absolutely excrutiating. I'm not sure what's with all the goddamned handholding this semester...I rarely want to actually write the paper I actually dreamed up and have an interest in, let alone the one you've given me. I've been pretty lucky that my past instructors, from undergrad on, have been rather open and free form about things. Typically, I start thinking about the things that interest me early on, making notes, plans etc. Not so this semester. Not only hand-holding, but spoon feeding.

But the thesis is done except for some tweaking..of course it won't be DONE till it's published I guess, but I've finished all the pieces I planned for it, and determined an order good enough for now at least. I'll no doubt start changing things as I begin sending it out, but I'm calling it done for school purposes. And so I can move onto the next thing...the rest of the Cornell pieces.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Friday, March 23, 2007

There's this thick fog over downtown and my neighborhood tonight. I was feeling a little raspy and feverishly off kilter when I arrived home, and so lay down, and now feel even more so. I hope to hell it's yukkiness from not having really eaten anything besides vending machine fair today , and not an impending bout of sickness. I've decided to order dinner in, curl up on the couch and watch, in honor of finishing off my last sideshow poem yesterday, that HBO series Carnivale I've been meaning to see. I'm still in the midst of Point Pleasant, which actually has turned out to be rather enjoyable despite my low expectations. My last disc got bumped by Netflix, though, so I have to wait on the rest til next week. Last night, I finally watched The Grudge 2, which sucked and was hugely dissappointing...was there actually a plot in there somewhere? a resolution? argh...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


It occurs to me, as I’m getting ready to move things around in girl show yet again, that, yes, I will be turning the whole shebang somewhere around mid-late April. Printed on cotton paper, laid in a box, and tied with a ribbon. It finished, and me too (hopefully). Of course, we know it probably won’t really be finished, not until it’s actually published, no doubt. But at least I can move on somewhat. This whole MFA thing has been a wild ride.

That first year, I can honestly say I pretty much hated it. I’d been working pretty independently up til that point for years on my writing, and suddenly found all these voices trying to get into my head, to change my poems, which I couldn’t exactly see had a problem. I’m still not convinced they really did, considering a lot of them wound up published anyhow, most of them in the fever almanac. And there was some downright viciousness among my classmates that I managed to successfully avoid the next couple years. People who seemed to be gunning for me with every poem from day one, beyond mere criticism and suggestion, and often bordering on insult. But then things got better. My fellow incoming students got nicer, better as poets, and I gelled much more nicely with the couple of groups that came in after mine (being on the long plan, studying part-time, I’ve seen quite a few people come and go.)

On the downside, I’m still not completely sold on workshops as they’re usually conducted. My ideal one would be one where the focus was NOT on how, I, as a writer, would make your poem better, but how I, as reader, could help you understand, or confirm, the direction you’re going. Usually they just disintegrated into, at worst, ego matches or, at best, 50% of the folks telling you one thing, the other 50% the opposite. Maybe the goal is to hear those opinions and then go with your gut in the end anywhere. I saw so many people at times try to follow all the advice and end up flailing and frustrated. And, of course, I’m still bitching about all the damned papers and essays, which I’ve always done reluctantly but are a necessary evil I suppose.

In these last four years, things have, I suppose began to happen for me in this whole writing thing, and I know in some part, my MFA studies have at least something to with it. Not really in a direct way (MFA’s are a dime a dozen these days, so it’s not exactly that impressive), but more in that I’m a better/tighter/leaner/meaner poet these days. If not gleaned in workshops, then in craft & lit classes, which had me reading lots of good books and dreaming up projects, some of which eventually wound up as chapbooks. (errata and archer avenue). And just reading in general that opened my work up in a lot of ways, made me see that poetry wasn’t necessarily this one thing, but a multitude of directions and approaches. Honestly, I’m not a big second-round reviser, ie, usually I revise and revise again in the process of getting a poem to the point where I even want other eyes on it, then besides some tweaking of syntax or rhythm, I’m done with it. The revision, like someone said once, is the next poem. So even though the workshops were not always that helpful on fixing work I was finished with for the moment, it was always something to keep in mind for the next poem, and the next. And my work has changed a bit, largely from my reading. I’d still consider myself a largely traditional or mainstream poet (if not in a po-biz sense, then in an aesthetic sense) but I have moved a bit left on the scale toward innovative stuff and have learned how to appreciate work on all levels of that scale and use similar techniques to make my own work more interesting and textured.

I’m not sure about the other things an MFAs is supposed to give you. Time to write (I’ve always felt I had less time while I’ve been enrolled than I did before I started, having all those papers and assignments to do), connections ( I’m not exactly a very good networker—too quiet, to reluctant to approach people unless they approach me first), job prospects (since I don’t have any long term plans for an academic career and already have a decent job this is moot.) In the end, I chose to enroll, not only because hell, they were starting the program, I get a discount, and I just happened to be here, but to somehow improve my writing in some way. And of course that comes at a cost, though not nearly as much as my MA in Lit did. So despite the fact that this semester is KILLING me and (good god could it be over any sooner?) I’d say it’s been worth it….

Monday, March 19, 2007

The whole etsy thing has gotten way out of hand. I wound up there accidently today, was looking up something for poem research and found these. Then this. And how can I stop when there's also special single author foursquare editions. Also found this non-etsy, but still just as damning to my PayPal account. That's a whole lot of money gone in the span of about eight hours.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

blissfully quiet weekend


1pm. Wake up after sleeping in due to lateness of Friday night hi-jinks. Eat breakfast and have coffee. Read some blogs, check all e-mail accounts (personal, dgp, wicked alice) Look for the perfect summer blanket to buy. Also, summer skirts.

2pm. Begin reading Julianna Baggot’s Lizzie Borden in Love. Drink tea. Write notes for own poems. Doze on couch.

4pm. Straiten up kitchen and do dishes from Friday night’s dinner, Sandwich for lunch. Look at old journals again. Write lengthy blog entry. Peruse etsy and vow to buy nothing I don’t absolutely need.

6pm. Decide it’s cold and I’d be much more comfortable in bed. Nap.

7pm. Try to sort laundry into piles. Decide to go check mail and see if there is anything interesting and/or packages. Remember, it is St. Patrick’s Day, and there are not one but two parties going on my floor, confirmed by the nice guys in the elevator with three cases of Miller . Decide this will not be a good night to attempt doing laundry. In mail, Netflix movies and contributor copies of Swink.

8pm-10pm. Combination of mindless web surfing wit headphones on and attempting to write poem from notes earlier. Neither proves fruitful.

10pm. Fix dinner..yummy chicken fried rice. Sit down to watch The Science of Sleep..a dream-like and sweet little foreign movie.

12-2pm. Straighten up kitchen again. Wind up back on Etsy like it’s a crack house. Buy things. Spend another hour investigating flip flop options for summer. Take a shower. Go to bed.


11am, get up. Eat breakfast. Have coffee. Check personal e-mail.

12pm. read through the copy of Court Green that appeared magically in my mailbox in the English Dept. Love some poems by Jennifer Willoughby and Darcie Dennigan, neither or whom I’ve ever encountered before. Make notes for own poems. (still too early in the day to attempt writing.)

1pm. Decide I’m cold again and return to bed with my notebook, earl grey, and Lizzie Borden in Love. Finish it. After playing with cats in attack mode beneath the blanket, take a three hour nap. Decide my sleep schedule is, in fact, beginning to resemble that of cats.

4pm. Stay in bed where it’s warmer. Start reading Baggot’s other book Compulsions of Silkworms and Bees. Get up, make bed.

5pm. Make more tea. Play with camera. Take pics of all rooms in their current clean state to remind myself to keep them that way. Post them on Flickr.

6pm. Make more tea. Quick perusal through favorites list to see what people are up to. Begin writing this entry.

7-ish pm. Call from my mother. The lowdown on family gossip and what the cats have been up to.

8pm. Finish writing this entry. Post.

9pm--bed. Make dinner, a penne with crème sauce concotion we will see how pans out. Watch Netflix treasures- the first and only season of Point Pleasant --The OC meets Buffy apparently. Determine whether or not to do laundry. Probably decide against it.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

me at 23

I was re-reading old journals again, this time from when I was in grad school the first time, chronicling my first move to Chicago, my struggle to find a bookstore or coffee slinging job (I wound up in a brief stint at Starbucks, then pretty much lived of my loans for two years anyway.) It was typical suburban/semi-rural girl moves to big city, the wonder , the excitement, the ohmygod there so much to do and look at. The fall of 97’ I was at a certain height, despite being poor, despite writing still pretty bad poetry and getting endlessly rejected. In December of that year, before returning for my second quarter, at home at my parents, I wrote something about living my life exactly how I wanted to be living it, actually wrote down the sentence “I am excruciatingly happy. Knock on proverbial wood.” What followed in the next couple of months was the worst bout of depression I ever suffered.

Now granted, I know quite a few people around me who are chronically depressed, seriously medicated, some of them dangerously sad. It wasn’t quite like that. Ever to the point of harming myself or being this horrible long term crippling thing. And what’s worse is I’m not sure WHY it happened. Why I found myself sleeping until 5pm everyday, when winter had circled back around toward sundown, getting up and sitting in the dark and crying, pretty much every day for weeks. Wondering if there was, for some reason, something seriously wrong with me. Feeling hopeless, not even inclined to care if I got up at all, put on clothes, left the apartment. Even took a shower or took out the garbage. Part of it may have been a little bit of loneliness, as crash after being with my family the month before Christmas and then suddenly alone again. Part of it might have been a more serious case of my tendency toward winter blues. I was also questioning why I was in grad school and what I wanted to do afterwards. But those are all things I’ve dealt with many times without the badness, so I’m thinking it was some weird biochemical thing. I was still going to classes, but I wrote nothing during this time, not even in my journal, which doesn’t pick up again til the end of February, except for a brief impersonal note on a class project on Feb 3rd. It’s like this black hole into which everything collapsed. By the end of February, it was gone and I was my chatty self again in the journals, going on and on about coursework, writing again, talking things I was reading, seeing, working on.

Not to say there haven’t been slight reoccurances of that same feeling, but usually there’s a REASON---unemployment, romantic trouble, health worries, 9/11. In these cases, it’s mild, just this frenzied feeling of spiraling out of control, being down most of the time, weird crying jags. Panic laced with sadness. Just periods that feel like this slight blackness creeping in at the edges. The rest of the time, I have down moods, but their usually broken by very good highs, sometimes in the course of a day (or hour), nothing long term. I keep a pretty even keel these days, thankfully.

Friday, March 16, 2007

poets gone wild

Woo-hoo! Spring Break!

Actually this means absolutely nothing to me, since I have to work anyway next week, the dreaded 9-5 shift to boot. But at least there's no classes or pesky things due to clutter up my time. Besides, the closest I ever got to spring break hi-jinks was a Habitat for Humanity trip in college where we bunked in a church (and no, I did not burst into flames..) Though we did do quite a bit of drinking nightly in Starksville, which is a college town, so of course, ample in its bars.. Of course we had to be up and building FREAKING HOUSES the next morning in the Mississippi sun, so it was hardly sand, surf, and pina coladas. Plus I got my backpack stolen, losing my notes for my senior seminar in Milton, some poem drafts, and my precious journal. And of course, only a poet would take those things on a spring break trip.

Next week, since I can clear my head a little,I am going to devote solely to writing. Pushing off some editing things I need to do, the new chap which is with the author as we speak for corrections, the submissions for wicked alice. They can wait, for the moment. Of course, I'm also going to delve into my new book pile, which should give me sufficient inspiration.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


I keep seeing this word thrown around, and truth be told it makes me a little uncomfortable. People seem to brand it on anyone who tries to reach an audience, tries to get published, tries to circulate their work via publications, tries to get recognition for their work in any way. In that sense, I would exclaim that yes, you bet your ass I'm a careerist. While my idea of a "career" as a poet is perhaps a bit different that that of some people--I don't exactly worship at the golden cow of the typical path of poetry success (MFA leads to prestigious journals leads to book publication leads to fat cash in the tenure track--largely inaccurate anyway.)---but I DO want a career as a poet (which has nothing to do with making a living at it..)I want an audience, and publications and books, and the occasional hint of recognition for my occasional brilliance. We all do, even those of us I suspect say otherwise. People write for all sorts of reasons, and I suspect it's very, very few who hide it away from everyone, and do it just for the sake of the art. I mean, maybe it's partly that, art for arts sake, otherwise we'd just go become rock stars or internet pornstars something if we wanted simply to be well-known. And we certainly don't want to be famous for who we know, who we blow, how we look, who we hang with, who we kiss up to. We want to be known for the poems, pure and simple, respected for the work. Some sort of attention for the time we put in writing poems when we could be watching television or taking a nap like the rest of the world. Rewarded for time we put into making our writing better, to reading and studying other writers, to writing draft after draft.

I take my writing very seriously. I also take the business of getting it out to an audience (a necessary variable in the making of literature) very seriously as well. And I suppose that makes me one of the multitude of vile careerists everyone does so much talking about. Do I want to be a rock star? Well maybe a cool, indie, singer/songwriter rockstar ala Tori Amos and less Britney Spears, but you get my point. "Fame" in the poetry world is very much a joke anyway--warring factions with different gods, the pin drop poetry makes in the culture at large. But if not fame, then I want respect for what I'm doing. For other people to enjoy my work reading it as much as I do making it. Lots of them. Otherwise, I would hardly submit it to journals, self-publish, put together books, apply for awards. Whatever gets my work out there into the hands of readers is fair game…
A couple months ago, I, and some other good blogfolks were interviewed for an article in The Writer that is posted here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

technical difficulties

with my new poems, or with my attempted new poems anyway. My advisor, instead of working on the girl show manuscript as/is this semester, has suggested we should work on new work to get me out of my little rut. I agree, especially since the girl show poems eventually have become sort of formulaic, which is alright for the collection, maybe even a plus since it gives it a very unified feeling, but now that I'm moving on to new poems and I need to take off in a different direction no doubt. I don't want to become Sharon Olds, after all. Book after book writing the same handful of poems. Though some would say you're just writing one poem over and over.

I've always been of the opinion that those first two books are vastly different,from each other both subject matter, scope, and formally. They just FEEL different, too, though that may be me. girl show looks more like the fever almanac at first glance, but is crisper, cleaner, tighter, like in the bird museum.

So there are two trends in poems I've been writing since I got the sideshow poems done, one more contemporary, urban, more autobiographical poems (well as much as I'm willing to get), and the other the booklength poem that used to be a novel (narrative, more goddamned birds). Since I know bringing pieces in from the latter would definitely still get static as being too much like what I already do, I've been using the experiments given to me in writing poems that fall into the former, that are apparently STILL too much like my other work. It's like I can't escape my own voice. Sure, I try something different and wind up not liking it. I was trying to think of poems/poets I really love who sound nothing like me and there aren't too many. I mean, I guess we like the poems we do, write the poems we do, because an aesthetic pleases us in some fundamental way. There's work, of course, vastly different than mine I find interesting on a cerebral level, but can't say I really love it. Not the way I love other poets who are up/in my alley. I write something odd, foreign and it's not right. I hate it. I rip it to shreds and get so frustrated. Or it's boring, uninteresting to me. I wouldn't read it, I'd burn it.

And she's totally right, there are dangers in becoming known as a certain type of poet who writes certain types of poems. She's worried about this in regard to her work (though I adore her work and would love more of the same). I'm worried about this. Or then I think, should I be worried about this? Or should I just let the work comes as it comes and be happier and not beso neurotic. I don't know. So tonight, I tried to sound like another poet, and still wound up sounding like me.


On Thursday, I wear a red ribbon around my throat and am capable of the most serious damage. I wash my hair with old beer and make paper clip chains while he fucks someone else. A Katherine, whose name means torture. Who hangs out in wine bars and yoga studios and calls at 3am . Her syllables clicking like a bicycle tire, a pack of cards.

Arielle, whose name means lion of god, says to write ugly poems. You know you’re there when the poem really makes you worry. I worry over car wrecks and falling in the shower. Crying on buses and wearing bad shoes.

I try to write a poem I wouldn’t want to sleep with. Would kick to the curb, wrap my thumbs around her slender neck and snap. This one’s still babied, blinking, wondering if it wants to be a skirt or a tire iron. Licking the perimeter of opened envelopes for a tiny bit of sweet. My nouns go awry every time I stop paying attention. Fall pretty like dimes on the sidewalk. My friend Melissa, whose name means bee-like, has a theory about systems. For every change in variable, the outcome shifts toward constant decay.

me at 20

As I was perusing the earliest volume of my notebook journals on Saturday, some interesting, or not so interesting, topics emerged:

My theory that listening to classical music could calm down my brain enough to read Bertrand Russell.

Actual use in a poem “razors of solitude”

Similarly bad short stories written for classes.

Account of drunken attempt at writing the student government constituition whilst imbibing copius amounts of Killians Red and crushing on a hot, goateed, philosophy major.

Letters to my highschool best friend I did not send.

Random notes on books I was reading: Gatsby, Camus, Rilke, Sartre, Turn of the Screw, Hawthorne, also notes for a Whitman paper, where there is this (not sure if it’s a direct quote or from where):

“The greatest poet is he, who within his works, most stimulates the reader’s imagination and reflection, who excites him the most himself to poetize.” (YES!)

And from Camus:

“Sex leads to nothing. It is not immoral, but it is unproductive. One can indulge in it so long as one does not want to produce. But only chastity is linked to personal progress.” (*sigh* if only I could convince myself of this NOW)

A clipping on the I ching.

Notes on the Stanslavski technique (I was still doing theatre in those days)

Some really hurtful things I hope my mother never reads.

Lengthy thoughts on feminism after reading Naomi Wolff

Lengthy lists of books to buy, books to read, books I’d read

My desire to travel extensively (hasn’t happened yet), learn Italian (ditto) and play the violin (ditto)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I can’t possibly follow all the threads of the discussion that followed this well-intended post, but I’m still not sure what is being argued about. Yes, I think a poetry-focused conference would be a nice thing, even better if it were cheaper and less academic-focused than AWP or maybe just more balanced (though I do have to keep in mind “writing programs” is in the title.) The poetry focus would get rid of one of my gripes—the dozen or so people who perusing the dgp table looked briefly over the books and said disappointedly, “You ONLY publish poetry?” as if we only published porn.

I’m not sure where the dividing line here is, the “elite” that are being talked about. It seems to be a question of those who wait for someone else to give them legitimacy and those who take legitimacy into their own hands, ie by founding presses, magazines, DIY. It’s a fine line even between those two, since as the second camp gains in influence, they sort of become part of the first. And since they are operating on such a small scale of support and distribution, there is the danger of cliquishness in the worst cases, though I don’t think anybody really strives for that. (or I hope not). This is irregardless of which side of the mainstream or experimental divide you fall on.

So say you have poet A who is a complete outsider (though I even question if this is really possible anymore in the general population of poets, since one can easily remedy that status by taking a more active role in whatever literary community they desire to be a part of—reviewing, blogging, founding a journal, whatever, getting yourself out there, taking part in the dialogue.) The old fashioned way is perhaps to sit there and send copius amounts of submissions to journals that may or may not really read your work , may or may not be a closed house, may publish you or not. Or enter contests, fellowship competitions, all the while patiently waiting for recognition, readership, someone to tap you on the head and say “You have arrived.” I think I understand, if not agree wholeheartedly, with what Seth is saying about how culture “defines the poetic identity” and how poets may define it. At least maybe 15 years ago. The internet has blown all of it wide open. No longer to most poets have to stare longingly at the career/lifestyle/culture offered in P&W and think that’s the ONLY way to be poet. Read any blog, look at any micropress homepage, go to a slam or open-mic, etc and the whole world opens up..ways to define and be defined as “poet” are multifold.

Perhaps Poet B, on the other hand, decides not to wait for that tap on the head. Starts a press, a journal, finds other poets like him/her, becomes friends with them, promotes their work, becomes “famous”, or at least infamous, among a small group of people. Is then accused of being cliquish, of only publishing ones friends. Oddly, this only seems to be called into question as the entity grows. Now, there is contradiction abounding. I have no problem with small presses publishing people they know (I occasionally do it myself) but find it skeezy when someone in a position of power does it, ie David Lehman or the New Yorker. Which I suppose is ridiculous, now that I think about it. It seems more of an abuse of power, but then we are the ones who give them that power by idolizing institutions we probably shouldn’t. Even the poet in the second group is not all that far away from being in the first, having had many of its rules and regulations ingrained from the days when P&W was the only window into the literary world. Despite our revolutionary and anti-establishment stance.

Now, I know I speak from both places. Because I was so ingrained with Poet A rules from early on, I was afraid of being judged as illegitimate because I self-publish, because I publish largely on the web, because yadda, yadda, yadda. And while I certainly wouldn’t consider myself an “insider” now, I was once more outside of things. About six years ago, I could count the number of poets I knew on one hand. But that changed—starting wicked alice, reading blogs, doing more readings locally. Soon, that small community widened. But still, I was concerned about legitimacy, ie, if I self-publish, what makes me better than that woman on Lulu who publishes poems about her cats? So I entered that first book in contests, lots, finally was accepted by a press almost the old-fashioned way, over the transom. Did it make me more legitimate.? Maybe it felt like it initially. But I think in the end the only thing that makes you legit is the work. No matter who publishes you. And it’s still something I struggle with. I’m not so scared now, though, so uncertain. The books will find their homes, whether it's another press, or me doing it myself if no one bites. I’m still after as wide a readership as possible, and maybe contests are one way to get there, so I hardly malign those who enter them. Recently sent a mss. to one myself. I’m convinced a lot of good books get published this way that might not otherwise despite certain instances of corruption.

You can’t divorce one side from the other, since they are both interdependent, and the rules of one inform the rules of the other, even only if in direct opposition.. As long as YOU as a poet are doing things for the right reasons, you have nothing to worry about…

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Post-travel meltdown must account for the 13 hours of sleep I needed last night after a hellish week. Weird, odd dreams about traveling to Arizona, or was it Nevada, and accidently killing off semi-famous male poets. Also demonic possession, Oprah, and buying an umbrella. I stumbled from bed after one and have been doing nothing since but straightening up and washing some dishes. Ignoring the Chaucer paper, the response to the ekphrastic readings I have to write for early this week. It is finally a bit warmer here, though I wouldn't call it warm by any means. I opened the window to let some fresh air earlier and had to close it rather quickly.

Did try to find a home for my new books, which were sort of strewn everywhere, and wound up having to move my old journals elsewhere to make room on the shelves, which of course led to reading some of them, more time wastage that could be better spent. Next, I'm afraid it's going to have to be all those internet-made-useless reference books that have to go. Shelving space, at least in the study/dining room, is getting to be an issue.

I suggested to Lauren that perhaps a good venue for the Cornell Project might be the Dusie Chap Kollektiv, since it would sort of create an automatic readership, at least moreso than if we just released it via dgp. Also, it has cool visual elements and a spirit of collaboration, plus a bit of customization (none will be completely alike). We were only planning on doing a smallish run, but thanks to the AWP proceeds, close to $200 (of course, this is separate from the hundreds I spent on travel, hotel, book purchases, restaurants, which came out of my vacation fund), we can afford the additional supplies to make it bigger and still afford postage to send them out. Also, it consolidates the number of projects I need to be working on simultaneously, which helps immensely. I still have more poems and artwork to do for it, but things should be settling down after spring break next week. ..hopefully....

On Thursday, we went on a feild trip to Intuit, an outsider art gallery, a sort of art I always have mixed feelings about. On one hand, it's good that the artists have exhibit space and support, but I sometimes feel that it's just a way for rich people and gallery owners to make money off the mentally ill, the homeless, the criminals because of their circumstance. The novelty of it. Case in point, one of the exhibits was a prisoner in California who does these rather interesting citrus peel sculptures and colored pencil drawings. We also got to see the pieces that weren't on exhibit--ones that were much more beautiful and interesting than what was--basically alot of celebrity portraits (ie what would sell and be appealing to the wealthy sort who can spend that much on art.) It all sort of makes me very happy there's little to no money in poetry and therefore less bullshit...I did manage to buy some creepy Darger notecards in the gift shop I may write about..

Speaking of commerce, here is the lovely spread in Atlanta. As always most pics of me either have me squinting or blinking, so ignore me and look at the beautiful books. More at LiketheDevil and the Switchback blog.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

"The Sentimental Meme"

What was your favorite toy growing up?

As unfashionable and anti-feminist as it is to say, it had to be Barbie. A whole passel of Barbies, some with soapy bathtub hair, some shorn completely. It wasn’t so much the doll as the CLOTHES…me and my sister would spend hours dressing them up, brushing their hair, not really playing with them in the way you see on tv, acting out little vignettes, but once we’d decked them out, set up the townhouse, the poolside barbecue, the store, we’d abandon them and go play something else. I had quite a collection of outfits, some bought cheaply at the store (along with those weird, cheap plastic dolls that cost like $1.99 to round out the collection of nicer, more expensive dolls.), some made by our neighbor who sewed and crocheted, some inherited from my older cousins (cool seventies style peasant dresses and kimono tops). My interest waned by the time I hit junior high and spent most of the time daydreaming, reading, and listening to bad late 80’s music.

What was the first curse-word you remember learning?

Oh, my mother has a story about this. Apparently at the tender age of two, I told a woman to “Stop wooking at me, you bitch..” whilst waiting in line at a store. The b-word was one of my favorites, and I used it often, much to the dismay of my kindegarten teacher *ahem*...later it became “fuck” as a teenager. Fuck this, fuck that. Anyone who knows me would say I’m pretty quiet generally, but knows that under the right circumstances, I have quite the mouth on me..

When did you learn there wasn't a Santa Claus?

By the time I reached fourth grade, I had my suspicions. There was one year where I happened upon a Candy Land game days after Christmas. My parents covered their asses by saying Santa must have hidden it there when he was rushing, but I was on to them.

Did you have any pets when you were a kid?

Two dogs, over a dozen hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs (some of whom met very tragic ends due to weird rodent illnesses and once, a terrible dryer incident.) Various finches, parakeets, and once, a cockatiel who whistled the Andy Griffith song. Also chameleons for a while, and my sister had a couple of hermit crabs and a turtle that ran away when she was cleaning it's cage. Oddly, we didn’t get a cat til I was nine, but accrued many more over the course of the next ten years.

Where did the monster in your bedroom live?

In the door. I was a child who was convinced I could see devilish, sneering faces in the woodgrain… Of course, I also slept with my head under the covers until I was eight.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

book fair booty

hoarded library copy replacements:

The Book of Funnels, Christian Hawkey
Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes are Pierced, Catherine Barnett
The Babies, Sabrina Orah Mark

new aquisitions:

Isa the Truck Named Isadore, Amanda Nadelberg
Odd Swallows, Robin Ewing
Bivouac, Laura Soloman
Unfathoms, Kirsten Kaschock
Earth Movements, Ofelia Zapeda
Mayport, Maureen Thorson
Wide Slumber for Lepidopterists, a. rawlings
10 belladonna chaps by various authors
A Magic Book, Sasha Steensen
Zirconia, Chelsey Minnis
Forth a Raven, Christina Davis
Compositions of Silkworms and Bees, Julianna Bagott
Evangeline Downs, Micah Ballard
In Media Res , Karen An-hwei Lee
Lovliest Grotesque, Sandra Lim

gifted, traded, begged, borrowed and stolen:

The Red Virgin: A Poem of Simone Weil, Stephanie Strickland
True North, Stephanie Strickland
Give the Body Back, Stephanie Strickland
Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel
Wanton Textiles, Reb Livingston / Ravi Shankar
Prairie Fever, Mary Biddinger

attempted to purchase, but thwarted:

Lizzie Borden in Love, Julianna Baggot
Itaglio, Ariana-Sophia Kartsonis

AWP aftermath purchases online, since the damage is already done:

both of the above
Dark Alphabet, Jennifer Maier
White Summer, Joelle Biele
A Useless window, Carrie Olivia Adams
Lug Your Careless Body Out of the Careful Dusk, Joshua Marie Wilkinson
A Day in Boyland, Jessy Randall
Each Place the Body's, Aaron Anstett

I didn't get much swag since I'm trying to keep clutter to a minimum, though I did wind up with magnets from PLR and Alice James and a couple of freebie journals.

Monday, March 05, 2007

in the saddle, again

Must do laundry. Must do performance eval for work. Must read
"Wife of Bath's Prologue". Must do exercizes Arielle gave me. Must layout Sugaring and order cover stock. Must read wicked alice submissions. Must return a week's worth of e-mails. Must unpack. Must sleep.


up at Lily.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Is it bad that for every 5 or so bucks I made selling books I somehow kept running off to buy just one more thing that cost twice as much? I managed to procure my own copies of some favorites I’ve been hoarding from the library. Also, lots of new stuff I’ll list as soon as I get back to Chicago and unpack. Was disappointed that a few presses seemed only to be taking orders by credit card/check and not cash and carry, sort of ruining that all important impulse buy. Also, the layout was a bit odd, which made it hard to find things. I had to map out which presses I wanted to visit and make a beeline lest I get lost in the labyrinth of blue skirted tables.

Early mornings at the book fair meant I was bone-tired exhausted most of the time, but it was quite fun, getting to hang out with the Switchback crew and meet all sorts of folks , including some past/future dgp authors, and some wicked alice contributors. Also new people I hope will send work to both. Also, LOTS of bloggers in the list your right, and very cool folks I’d only had e-mail conversations with previously. Sold some books. Gave away buttons. Wore flip-flops at even the slightest hint of warm weather. Wednesday night, had some drinks. Got to hang out with some Chicago folks I don't see nearly enough. Thursday, took a nap then holed myself up in the room and pored over my newest aquisitions before indulging in a way overpriced dinner in the hotel restaurant while it poured outside. Friday, much fun at the Frock You! Reading with its rather awesome lineup. I didn’t manage to get to any panels, but found the one I planned to go to and missed has been serendipitously recorded on MiPo.

The Marriot was super swanky, the view from the eighteenth floor gorgeous, and the weather, though a little rainy and cool, still blissful. Sadly, no time for the GWTW museum or wandering much further afield. Also, really tragic stuff happening all around—tornados, bus crashes. (We saw some of the shaken bus survivors who’d just been released from the hospital checking into the hotel Friday night, their belongings in garbage bags and accompanied by very shaken parents.) Scary shit.