Tuesday, January 29, 2013

detritus

The warmer, albeit gray, weather continues and I will be sort of sad to see it go. I am working steadily on and accomplishing much in the studio during the mornings when I am far more alert and productive than after a full day in the library, plus thinking about some future little distractions (one involving doll parts and beach going and photography) for some possible cover art (and maybe a series of things). My head is sort of muddy these days, but oddly fertile. My living room organization project (which was slow going over the weekend and now I am working at it piece by piece, area by area. I did find my awol netflix disc buried in the dvd cabinet and an old binder with high school essays in my file cabinet on things like governnment UFO conspiracies and Frankenstein.) There is still the CD cabinet and both bookshelves to work through, though, so we're not out of the woods just yet. I am pretty good about clutter in general, but I was amazed at what I have squirreled away out of sight--journals, folders of old poems, greeting cards, postcards, love letters (admittedly the biggest decision was tossing certain old letters that should have been tossed two years ago.) It's a nice feeling, all that purging, and it makes me want to do more (there is a whole other file box under my work table in the dining room that is writing related things--scrapbooks, spiral notebooks of short stories from 13 years ago, all of which can be scrapped eventually though I'm not sure I want to give it up (this from the girl that just recently allowed her mother to toss her several crates of college & grad school notebooks.)

Monday, January 28, 2013

thaw

It's the first day plunge into the new semester and I'm not sure whether I feel over whelmed or underwhelmed or just whelmed, but there has been chocolate, and a nice visit earlier in the studio with one of our upcoming authors to talk about her impending book. Amazingly, the cold snap of the last few weeks has thawed at least for a few days before winter comes back, so while things are rainy and a little messy, they are still infinitely more bearable. I think I even saw a very confused robin digging in a planterbox for earthworms. This week's plans include final edits on a batch of chaps set to be released (books by angela veronica wong, Sarah Sloat, Kelly Moffett, and Lisa Fink), sending off a more final version of the shared properties of water and stars off to Noctuary Press, and working hopefully on getting some more pieces for radio ocularia underwraps. I am blissfully happy to have my mornings/early afternoons back in the studio now that I'm doing the night shift again in the library. It's such more more effective to come to that wort of work when my head is still fresh and unmuddled from a day of library trivia.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Today began with frigid weather and ended with a wacky library flooding, but it's January, so neither is really all that surprising. But there was book buying and poppyseed dressing later on, so I'm good. Otherwise, there are more cover design explots underway (see above), manuscript fine polishing, book layout, and other press related doings. The semester kicks back in on Monday, so my work hours are a little tighter than usual due to course reserves, but I am making time as I can to finish things in the evening.

It must be Wednesday, though, since someone is saying that Poetry is Dead again, but considering there are not one, not two, but three presses amazingly willing to publish what I write this year and dgp is thriving like you wouldn't believe, I'm not so worried about its demise.

The Next Big Thing Series


{Anne Champion was kind enough to tag me for this awesome self-interview project, The Next Big Thing, so here goes..}


What is the working title of the book?

girl show

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The whole concept behind the book came from my peculiar little interest in sideshow and carnival women, particularly of the 1930’s and 1940’s, an interest that only increased when I discovered a great, great aunt on my mother’s side had been a bareback rider. I was also intrigued by the idea of these entities as being a transformative space, a place that existed beyond the typical circumscribed life of most women, a transgressive space that allowed a bit more freedom, yet was also filled with its own dangers and darknesses.

What genre does your book fall under?
poetry

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
The book is a mix of voices, some fragmented, some straight forward persona monologues. The characters within include bareback riders, conjoined twins, mermaids, and magicians assistants. It would definitely be an Altmanesque ensemble piece.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Set in the 1930's midwest and adrift in the surreal world of bird girls and sideshow mermaids, girl show explores the boundaries between spectacle and domesticity, between beauty and grotesquerie.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I wrote the first piece, actually the title piece, sometime in the summer of 2005, and after a lot of research and further delving, finished the entirety a couple years later. The process was not always linear, and a lot of other projects inserted themselves along the way, so the book tended to be written in short spurts whenever I turned back to it It wound up being my MFA manuscript, so I had some assistance with determining a final order on the part of my classmates. Once I had split the book into three sections, poems sort of naturally fell into one of those sections.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
A lot of it was based on research. As I immersed myself more and more in the subject matter, so many pieces were sparked by things I’d read, actual sideshow performers, news clippings, performances. I also embellish quite a bit however.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
There is a lot of actual history in there among the embellishments. Also, a lot of magic and the supernatural.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? girl show is set to be published in fall 2013 by Black Lawrence Press.

My tagged writers for next Wednesday are: a batch of most recent dgp-ers: Lauren Eggert Crowe, Katie Longofono, Kristin Lueke, Ashley Inguanta, & Nicole Borello

Monday, January 21, 2013

I sometimes feel like poetry is this pretty awesome party we are all enjoying, that is, until the cops break in and turn up the lights and all the poets scurry roach-like into the corner and feel all embarrased by what they are actually doing out here in the world of blockbusters and reality television and cultural wastelandishness. I feel this way mostly whenever the people outside the po-world (um..that would be just about everyone) suddenly take notice of poetry, like, in this case, the inaugural poem by Richard Blanco. I actually though it was okay in the *omgIhavetowriteapoemincouple weeksforthisbigevent* sort of genre, but not so awesome as a poem in the general scheme of things (and traditionally, no matter who wrote them, inaugural pooems tend to be the poet's blandest, most vanilla, sampling of work). The gawker response, coupled with this sort of funny thing(and by funny I mean tragic)had me feeling all self-conscious for poetry in today's world, who seems, when the lights came up, to have been caught with her knickers down.

If this is what is presented as poetry, is it not surprising that people hate poetry? And, hell, if the public thinks poetry is all about rhyming, then we've already failed, haven't we? Both of these are pretty weak links in the poetry armada, and yet, aren't they what the public expects, aren't they sort of, what they (the masses) deserve? My poetry world feels a little stifling and closed off today. I like to think that what I write, what we publish at dgp. has an appeal to the non-poetry schooled, but then, what are the expectations they bring to a poem? What are my expectations when I send or put it out in the world?

Anyway I am thinking about these things and maybe writing later and making soup from scratch that always fogs up my windows on cold days like today (it happens sometimes (rarely) and it is a wonderful thing..)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Today's random strangeness comes in the form of these creepy adorable ceramic sculptures from Debra Broz.I just finished the amazing Baggot book so mutations and hybrids are high on the brain, but I love these. (speaking of which I was excited to learn that pt. 2 of the Pure trilogy is due out in February..yay!)

Today started, as many Fridays do, way too early for the final dregs of the week, and continued grumpily onward. However, tonight at 5pm, there was a little more light in the sky, a little more spring in my step. I also arrived at the studio to find that all sorts of good things had arrived including a giant box of paper from Staples, some ink cartridges, some fancy Pilot G-2's, two dozen postcard frames for my tiny paintings, a new summery dress, and my new desk lamp for my work area at home. And I'm facing down a three day weekend which promises to be filled with Tiki bar related fun and my second weekend of kitchen organization tasks (the fridge and microwave cleaning.) I'll have some more images from the postcard paintings next week as I get them framed, as well as a new poemish project to prattle on about..until then...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

more coverly love

Here are two more covers that I've been working on this week and both involved a little drawing magic.. The bottom one is just a super simple outline for Katie Longofono's The Angel of Sex, but the one on the top was a little more involved and doodle-licious for angela veronica wong's 25 little red poems.


I have some more coming up that will be collage pieces, but these were nice way of shifting gears. Look for the books in the next several days...



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Today I have been contemplating possible new drawer pulls to replace the slightly rusty ones in my kitchen, and maybe a new coat ( I always feel weird wearing my black wool one with brown things, so would like a grey or camel colored one). In other words, trying to spend money I don't really have (I think I have somehow traded my binge eating/drinking tendencies for out-of-control shopping, either way, I know I have horrible impulse control issues with just about everything.)I ultimately went with YES on the drawer pulls and NO on the coat, but otherwise my expenditures for today have been less extravagant--a lime diet coke, a microwavable chicken noodle soup. I've been putting some finishing touches on books from angela veronica wong and Katie Longofono that I hope to have out this week, and another title from Meg Cowen coming due early next week. I've been ordering some tiny frames for the postcards for an upcoming exhibit and deciding which ones to toss (I did around 30 over the course of the past two weeks, but some are duds). Tonight I must have stapled and trimmed around 50 books from orders last week, plus some author copies of the latest titles. Things are busy and good and I am trying to stay busy and good and all those things, but the dull of January makes me really just want to sleep all day...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Today has been tired and foggy headed, and I'm not sure whether it is vestigial certain romantic stuff, or the amazing book I've been absorbed in on the commute (Julianna Baggot's Pure) or just winter blues, but I feel dreamy and imprecise in neither a good or a bad way, almost as if there is a fuzzy soft cloud rotating around my head. I'm in full on production mode with the newest chaps, and am also knee deep in more landscape postcards. In an ideal world, there would be words to go with them, but I'm not there yet. Mostly I am just tired. This schedule, while definitely a little more flexible than the day shift horribleness, still only gives a me a few hours in the evening to work and still has me up way too early in the morning for prime functioning. Last night I finished another project in my kitchen clean-a-thon (arranging and cleaning the drawers near the stove that were littered with empty saran wrap boxes and odd contraptions that I never use.) and then worked on the paintings, so I was up til nearly 3am and then up at 9 to be to work by 11. If it weren't so cold, the lack probably wouldn't phase me, but it makes things abrasive in the winter, the harsh low sun, the vapor of people's breath, ice patches on the sidewalks. Tonight I am settling in to work on some orders that need to be filled and perhaps coming up with a cover for an upcoming title and scanning another one in. Then it's home and my book and probably some laundry (always exciting work on the homefront.)

Monday, January 14, 2013

For some reason today, as I was working on a couple new covers and struggling to reconcile the awesome image in my head with my actual abilities when it comes to actually drawing something, I started thinking about a high school English class book project I once cooked up involving The Scarlet Letter, quotes from the book, and rather rudimentary drawings of roses (white for Dimmesdale, pink for Pearl, Red for Hester). I'm pretty sure we had the option of writing a paper or making something more creative, and you know how much I like writing papers. This is the awesome English teacher who had us making giant collages inspired by The Crucible a little before that, if that gives you any indication of her teaching style.

The SL project, if I remember correctly was a stapled booklet with a construction paper cover and I'm pretty sure it was colored pencil (though heck, it may very well have been crayolas) And while I do remember that the project cemented my understanding of metaphor (well my high school understanding of metaphor anyway), it also made it very clear to me that the things which exist in your head are always problematic when it comes to realizing them in the flesh. It was a stumbling block I would come up against so often, even years later when I was trying to write stories or poems and especially when I was trying to draw or paint just about anything. To a lesser degree, I encounter it in everyday things, a design scheme, an outfit, a prepared meal, anything that seems so good in theory but failed to manifest correctly. All the ways in which the ideal is somehow deflated in the real.

This is probably one of the reasons I have come to love collage. Since I am typically working and arranging found things, there is rarely a specific idea I am trying to translate. Or maybe more that the idea comes from the materials. Even when it comes to writing, my approach has become more collage-like, the sewing of things together rather than translating something from my head. The idea, the story, comes not from some idea, but more from working with what's available at hand. In truth, that has been what has saved me as a writer, what keeps me writing, the discovery vs. the faulty transcription. (I suppose you can only make a fallen cake so many times before you just sell the bakery.)

There was a Flannery O'Connor quote going around facebook, that got me thinking about all the ways in which I have made discoveries just by getting things down on paper. things I had no idea that I was thinking about, that I was obsessed with, but that appeared there in front of me, or kept appearing over and over. Maybe it's a subconscious thing, or maybe just pure luck. Usually, if just get a handle on the ingredients, the cake just makes itself.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I was in bed pretty early last night, which means I have the usual 4 or 5am insomnia that always happens in that situation, that somehow always ends with me drinking tea in the chilly, grey, pre-dawn light and then going back to bed eventually. Nevertheless, I survived the week and am looking forward to a couple days off (well, by off I mean free from external obligation, which doesn't count studio time, of which I will be putting in some today having skipped out on it last night in favor of stuffed pizza and sleep .) There are lots of orders to fill and I would love to work on a few more pieces for unusual creatures. I'd also like to get back to the watercolors, but I am actually going to attempt my massive kitchen cleaning and reorganization, so we'll see how it goes. Already January is creeping by (a good thing--but also troubling).

Despite trying once again to blog every day, I am otherwise wordless this week, so no real writing. I did manage to get a submission off yesterday afternoon, so I guess that's more than usual (actually make that two since I mailed the moon manuscript off to another chap publisher earlier in the week after it came back with a rejection.) There are also a couple rougher spots in the shared properties of water and stars I'd like to take another pass over before it's published later this year, so this week I will try to do that. I am trying to keep my task list full but bite-sized so that I don't get overwhelmed, both at home and at work, but already things are starting to pile up on me. It doesn't help that I keep getting distracted by frivolity like hair color quandaries, Portlandia marathons, and shoe shopping, all major time sucks when I really should be writing.

Friday, January 11, 2013

I've been doing a few cover designs from scratch for a couple recent books and some upcoming titles. It's one of my favorite things about running the press, choosing or creating artwork, paper, cardstock, for each book. We also have an amazing arsenal of artists we have wrangled into producing amazing designs letting us use their art (sometimes even the author themselves.)

I am excited about a couple of recent designs of a more simple nature that I pulled together myself..(I am also workingon a couple of things that are collage pieces for upcoming books, which I will reveal very soon..)
We are amazingly on the verge of being caught up on all of our 2012 titles and moving into the 2013 roster (I am hesitant to say that too loud since we'll probably fall behind at some point, but right now, we are awash in several mid-production projects. Incidently, We are also hosting another book give away at the FB page in honor of our 800th "like", so check it out..




Thursday, January 10, 2013


I finally got upstairs to get some shots of the two exhibits currently up that feature some pieces from two different visual /text series that are still in progress--radio ocularia, which will be a pop-uppish sort of thing, and unusual creatures, which will eventually be a boxy ephemera contraption. Since I've been more writing-focused since the fall I have both things on hold and hope to get back to them soon (along with a million other paperish things underway.)



Otherwise, I have blurbs to write for other poets, some interview questions to delve into, another couple titles in the design stages, and a whole lot of books to assemble in the studio before week's end. But we are over the hump and hurtling towards the weekend (this week I am determined to get to the kitchen reorganization I avoided last week as my big weekend project hell or high water..)

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

art, or something like it


As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I was excited to get to play with a new set of watercolors I scored for christmas. I'm not so much of a drawing/painting person as I am a cutting/gluing sort of artist, but these turned out better than I'd hoped. I've been obsessed with landscapes for a couple years now visually and especially like abstract ones, the one's that leave the eye and imagination to fill the details, almost as if you were looking through a frosted window (or maybe you were sort of drunk.) These little postcard paintings are sort of rough and a little moody, but still pretty. I found a way to keep working with a base color and alter it by lighter/darker, thinner/thicker. Eventually I want to incorporate more mediums into my collage work down the line as I experiment more..



At times, I find myself wishing I had fit an art class in during all those years in school. In high school I was too busy with journalism and language classes to have many free electives, and in college was all about writing classes and theater stuff.I suppose since I duh, you know , work at an art shool could take some art department classes if I wanted, but my tolerance for undergrad classmates is just about nil. A few years ago I took a community workshop at the Book & Paper center, which was awesome..I wish there was more free time for such endeavors, but I'm still stretched way too thin to even think about more school, but someday perhaps...

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

oh january,

why do you persist in being so dreadful and impossible? In addition to the cold weather, today has been nearly as crappy as yesterday, complete with broken CTA passes, pokey underwires, and technological malfunctions. Tonight, at least I should be able to get some work done in the studio (I'm waiting on more ink) and some more orders out the door. Last night was a wash on the productivity front, but I did get my cozy new winter boots and made some excellent chicken & bell pepper fajitas when I got home, so it improved immeasurably. I'm always moody this time of year, so minor issues can set me into tail spin of crankiness I wouldn't bat an eyelash at in summer (such cranky is usually only mitigated by chocolate and sometimes even that does not work.) Otherwise, I am polishing off details on a few upcoming titles and trying to get something like a schedule together on winter/spring releases that I have lined up. There are so many books by so many authors and they are so very amazing, I can't wait to show them to you.

Monday, January 07, 2013

monday, monday

Had a rather crashy landing back into my week full of weird e-mail hacking, packed and forgotten lunches, cold weather, broken espresso makers at Dunkin, and general Monday grumpiness. It was a good weekend however, though quite hermit-like, in which I lazed about on Saturday and played with my new watercolor set (I'm never sure what I'm doing when it comes to paints, but I was working on some little abstract landscape postcards I will sharing soon). And then Sunday began, not with the kitchen clean-a-thon as planned, but in the dining room/workspace, organizing all those sewing, jewelry, and art supplies that were getting unruly and finding the top of the table for the first time in months (also, three cat toys under the metal shelves, some bejeweled paper brads I'd nearly forgotten about, and a whole stack of slips that were put away needing mending and got lost in the shuffle.)

Today, though rough at the start, has produced a couple lovely book cover designs for upcoming titles in my otherwise non-functionality, which is something.  Not much, but something.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

random thoughts on happiness, etc...

I was talking to friend recently, someone who is still in his early 20s, about general life stuff and was surprised when he said something about life absolutely sucking for him now, ie two jobs pasted together to pay his rent, neither in his field (mechanical engineering/physics), taking classes, in general being exhausted pretty much all the time and feeling really crappy. How he was looking forward to his life, not now, but in 5 years or so when the dust has settled and life is "as it's supposed to be". I had this weird glimpse of myself at 24, and while I've always tried living very much and being happy in the moment, I still understood that feeling a little.

When I was 24 I was still in round one of grad school and absolutely terrified of my own future. I was beginning to suspect that after years of assuming I did and pursuing that path, that maybe I didn't want to teach after all. That maybe I wanted to focus more on writing itself than teaching others endlessly how to do it. That was the year of the great meltdown that had me sitting in my apartment crying in the dark. That had me sort of free falling, filling out Ph.d applications with one hand reluctantly and scribbling poems frenetically with the other. My emotions around that time are inextricably tied to the tiny studio apartment I was living in at the time. To the huge amounts of debt I was accruing both in loans and living off my credit cards. And while it was actually a really important time for my development as a writer (as would be the next 3 or 4 years) and I did enjoy my grad lit classes, I don't think I would want to relive it with all that angstyness and uncertainly looming over my future.

  And of course, there were a couple roadblocks (my job-hunting difficulties post MA, moving back to my hometown in a misguided desire for a bigger apartment, having to move back in with my folks nevertheless) but everything did pretty much work out in 5 years or so, untying itself like a knot--moving back to the city, getting my job in the library, beginning to send work out and publish books and found lit mags, presses, etc. By the time I was 29, I was far more certain of myself and my choices. Things weren't all that much different on the surface--I was still sort of poor (always probably will be), actually beginning another grad program, still struggling with writing and getting work out there. Of course, looking back, that itself was all nearly 10 years ago or so, I've probably learned a bit more in the intervening years and settled even more comfortably into my life and skin.

However, at the same time, I was a little sad for my friend, and for the other people I know who are always so very fixed on the future that they don't truly live in the present or seek happiness there in lieu of saving it up for later on. My logic is usually enjoy today b/c you might get hit by a bus tomorrow. But everyone always seems to be on some quest for what lies down the road--a better job, a better apartment/house, financial stability, losing twenty pounds, publishing that all important first book, getting tenure, marriage, children, retirement. Sure I think we're all willing to make sacrifices for future benefits, but I don't think I could do it if it impeded my present happiness too much. Or to be so fixed on the future that I found myself trapped in the present. I've found if you lay back and enjoy the present, opportunity usually comes along quite nicely when it needs to. I guess, I've been musing over this because one of my resolutions is always to live in the moment more, which in the chaos, is sometimes hard in the short term, but when it comes to the long term, even more difficult.


Thursday, January 03, 2013

Today was one of those awful early evil dark mornings I'd have preferred to stay huddled under the covers. Mornings where getting up and into the shower is a chore, where the commute is a cranky one, and I feel like my shoulders are all knotted and tight. Mostly it's just winter and all of its attendant anxieties, but also some printer issues (Epson #2 has weird purply streaks that were not remedied by new ink or anything else I can think of) that has me playing Frankenprinter and trying to revive the Epson #1 (who had paper feed problems back in the summer, but has been sitting on my floor ever since) by placing the paper handling apparatus from #2 inside #1 and hoping for the best. I'm still having some issues with the blacks on that machine running dry and streaking, but I think a couple more rounds of nozzle cleaning will fix those. *fingers crossed* Otherwise I might be buying Epson #3 (or maybe another machine that doesn't seem to have quite so many malfunctions, even though it prints lovely colors.)

Otherwise, this dreary day has brought the usual tasks & treats, textbook reserve lists, raspberry lattes, chilly desk shifts. I'm thinking of perhaps heading out to see Les Mis tomorrow night if I finish everything I intend to finish this evening (barring printer complications). I'm thinking about my kitchen clean-a-thon this weekend. I'm thinking about things to make with my new watercolor set. I'm thinking about just muddling on through til spring.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

retrospective

This week, I am working on getting the final batch of subscription orders out for the 2012 chaps and realized exactly how many titles we had managed to squeeze in this year and it came in at slightly over 60 (I had budgeted time/expenses for only 52, so we actually came out ahead with a few books that were picked up along the way and intended initially for 2013, but for whatever reason, made it out early.) Sometimes I am so bogged down in the day to day and just plowing through the production schedule that I forget exactly how much we accomplish in getting these books out there and how many titles we are fortunate enough to be able to release. Here is to another great and productive year, followed hopefully by many more...

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

2013...

or at least, January 2013, has thus been designated as Apartment Cleaning and Organization Month. I always joke that I have 3 stages of cleaning. Stage 1 is the usual haphazard day to day straightening I try to do, which inludes wiping the counters, maybe washing a dish (maybe), picking up clothes and junk and making the place presentable should anyone drop by. Phase 2 is my weekly upkeep, which includes sweeping the floors quickly, chasing down stray litter and dust bunnies, maybe surface dusting once in a blue moon, basic bathroom and kitchen cleaning, organizing my work table and anything else I can fit into about a half hour of work on Sunday evenings (also anything I've avoided all week like stray teacups, scattered clothes, and towels on the bathroom floor). Phase 3 is serious business: moving furniture, polishing the wood floors, wiping down baseboards and random wall marks, closet & cabinet organization, any time and labor intensive activities. Since it's probably been about a year since I have really done any of these, I've determined to accomplish all of them over the course of the month. Since I got quite a few new & lovely things for the kitchen this Xmas --a new toaster, a fancy dish rack, a panini pan, kitchen linens AND spent some cash my parents gave me on some other necessities (some new glassware & stainess utensils necessary after the spatula melting incident of winter 2012) I'm ready to dive in the is weeked reorganizing my cupboards, scouring the countertops, cleaning out the messy microwave, and even escavating the fridge where most leftovers go to die.

I figure if I tackle one major area of the apartment each weekend this month (the kitchen, the dining room/ work area, the living room, the bathroom/linen closet, and the bedroom, I will be finished not too far into February (there is still the entry way closet, but it's piled with stuff and I'm not that ambitious just yet.)