Friday, May 26, 2017
Memorial Day weekend, marked not only by the official kickoff to summer, which so far has only meant horrible traffic and way too many tourists on Michigan Ave, but also beaches opening and summer clothes coming out of storage (though the actual temperature belies it). I am going to spend the weekend like all the very best weekends maybe doing some painting and writing and lying about watching RIVERDALE, which is my latest Netflix binge object of affection. (and of course as per above drinking copious amounts of my yummy New Orleans chicory coffee and sleeping.--you would think those too things would be mutually exclusive, but I am oddly usually pretty immune to caffeine's wakefulness, though it does help me concentrate and focus on whatever I am doing. No matter how much coffee, I can fall asleep at the drop of a hat if given the chance.. )
Writing wise, I would love to get some more love poems down on paper or at least in my head if not down on paper. I am also getting the Surrealist coloring book tidied up and ready for release in the next week as part of the zine series. And maybe some more of the drippy floral paintings I started a while back. Next week, I plan to move on to some printmaking adventures for our A of R Tiki Madness summer exploits (we'll be doing an exhibit/display and some fun workshops)....so stay tuned...
Monday, May 22, 2017
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
We are a only a couple weeks into May and submissions are trickling in at a good pace already for our summer open reading period, which bodes well for a beautiful batch of titles coming your way next year. Before I dip my toe in that pool and actually start reading those , I've been lending a hand this month with submissions for Tupelo's Snowbound Series contest, and making my way though a batch of blind submissions, some of which are also awesome and I hope at least one of them goes on to win..(I'm not familiar with the work of this year's judge, Lawrence Raab, so I'm forwarding along what I like anyway from the submission and maybe one of them will stick.)
Otherwise, more correcting galleys and making books and such. I'm on an earlier library shift now, so my bookmaking switches to evenings, and I'm less fresh than at the start of the day, but hopefully I'll keep chugging along nicely. There is also the mermaid anthology finalization, which I am determined to make happen by the end of summer hell or high water. Plus other little projects of my own--new zines, the surrealism coloring book, florographia. I am also hoping to do some restocking on paper goods by June and host an open studio once I do a little rearranging in the studio space, which will be happening over the next couple of weeks ideally. I'd also like to make some new prints and postcards happen (including maybe some glossies of the new collage above.)
Monday, May 15, 2017
Friday, May 12, 2017
"My poems are typically only parts of a greater whole, be it a chapbook, or a book, or just my body of work. Mine is more a cumulative, fragmented, disjointed effect rather than a striving to write one great complete POEM (The Wasteland or The Odyssey or somesuch). No one is probably ever going to look at one of mine and say this is an important, single life changing poem. But maybe they'll say it about a book, or my work as whole. And that's not how I think of them, not one big, honking rock that lands on your head, but a collection of interesting stones, glinting and relecting off each other." (2007)
Today is Manifest, that perennial cap-off to the academic year and send-off for graduating students. It occurred to me yesterday that is has been exactly 10 years since I finished my MFA, and while I didn't throw down for the pomp and circumstance of actual graduation (not being the ceremonial type) we did have a very nice reading of the graduating MFA-ers that even my parents came to. It was one of the very few Manifests (including today luckily) where it wasn't pouring much of the day, so despite my perpetual weird whenever family & writing compartments cross into each other, it was a nice day.
I was trying to think about what I was writing then, what I was doing, what I would be doing. The press was just beginning to get some footing--a good amount of submissions to choose from, people learning about us, our first AWP trip that spring, a small profile in Poets & Writers that Fall. I was just about to move into the Fine Arts Building, just about to amp up the publication schedule from about 5 books yearly while I'd been in school to 15 (which has now increased even more).I was also building the Etsy shop then and diversifying the offerings (paper goods, jewelry, soap, reselling vintage) in order to afford the studio space.
My thesis manuscript GIRL SHOW, was mostly done by that final semester except for some tweaking to appease my advisor (and most of those tweaks were scrapped before it was published after further thought.) I was working on some new stuff that semester, what would become parts of MAJOR CHARACTERS (some of them can also be read in my Dusie Kollectiv chap that I sent out that year.). I was also finishing up the Cornell poems and making that collab project happen with Lauren Levato that summer. (which is still one of the most satisfying pieces I've put out in the world and the one I am most proud of.)
I still have all the old mixed feelings about my time in the program. I still feel it was helpful, but I sometimes wonder financially (now, as I still pay my students loans each month, both from that program and my earlier MA in Lit) if it was actually, truly worth the expense. I started the program already publishing quite a bit in journals, already running wicked alice for a couple years, already had a chapbook slated to be published. I never quite felt like I fit in, a combination of these things and others that aren't really all that important now in hindsight--my attitudes toward self-publishing, decentralizing, Certain weirdnesses about the fact that I worked for the school (I called it my Good Will Hunting Complex) Certain shit-talking that got back to me. I was also too old (almost 30) and set in my ways to fall into certain mentor-mentee dynamics that worked for others. I had some great courses though with the visiting poets--Karen Volkman and Stephanie Strickland most noteably. Other classes were useful in widening my reading and spawning projects (errata, archer avenue). Others for introducing me to students who were invaluable as readers & editors (some of whom I would later go on to publish through dgp.) While I hated the group workshops in general (I've often thought of it as a whole bunch of people who can't even decide what a poem is trying to tell you what to do with your poem.), between those and the craft seminars, I did produce a whole heck of a lot of work during those years, the last of what went into the fever almanac, all of the in the bird museum and girl show.) While I wouldn't exactly do any of it differently if given a re-do, I do wish there were things I'd know and certain bullshits I wouldn't have bought into during those years.
It's almost though that final semester was a brief frenzy of writing related activity right before a post graduation lull--a feeling that I hadn't liked all those fingers in my poems and now that no one was looking over my shoulders, I wasn't sure what to do, where to go next. (I called it post mfa syndrome) Granted, I was busy with other poetry and non-poetry things, with the chapbook series, with the Etsy shop, so I only worried about it in certain moments of panic--like when people asked me what I was writing. I was technically writing a little, but not reugularly and barely at all compared to all the years before. The press and visual stuff was enough to keep me feeling reasonably productive, but it was more like treading water creatively somehow. . As I've often said it took the James Franco poems to knock me out of the funk--and after that I was fine and even able to finish some of the projects that had been floundering before.
And admittedly things have actually worked out pretty well since then, or at least since I've gotten my groove back--more books, more publications, more writing-related opportunities. I'm managing to both publish and write just about a book a year, which makes me feel much less like a failure with my time, which always seems to be a struggle--ie, despite having a full-time job and running the press and all the regular daily-life things that get thrown at you like commutes and errands and tiny mishaps. . Today is, after all, Friday, the day I devote to writing-related tasks, and while I don't have anything new to send out due to my self-inmposed April break, I did have two acceptances for new work in my inbox this week and a request for a blog feature. Plus new poems in HOBART today form the love poems series. plus finally finishing assembling the little book of Dali poems earlier in the week. I'd say I've been managing well the past 10 years. So, here's hopefully to 10 more..
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
I have been moving like a shark through the week, or maybe more like a porpoise with a purpose, but I am reading manuscripts (a little for dgp and more for another chap series I've volunteered to help a bit with some preliminary reading) , correcting galleys, forging new layouts. I am assembling copies of the new zine project. I am preparing a couple big chap orders and getting them off for shipping and some smaller author copy batches I still owe people. It's Wednesday, and I still have tomorrow for more press business and then Friday for my own writerly hijinks. In that writerly news arena, I had an acceptance today for some text/image pieces that were solicited from Tupelo Quarterly and my pieces in Hobart are due out very soon.
Last week, I did a little bit of culling in the HONEY MACHINE manuscript and feel I have something tighter and leaner and now chapbook length, so'll see what happens with it down the line. I'm trying to ease back into writing practice, but it's rough when I'm a bit rusty. Again, I had the conversation in my head about whether or not I could just give it up entirely, having not really been able to say that I missed it terribly the past month and a half, but to be honest, as soon as I stopped that would be when I most definitely would need to keep going. It was nice to be free of the OBLIGATION to write, but the yearnings to do so, had I little extra time were still there. Those instincts don't go away no matter what I've allowed or disallowed myself.
Monday, May 08, 2017
I've talked a bit before about my short little series of Dali-esque poems and finally, at long last, have it all laid out, designed, and printed and ready to be read. It's the first in the 2017 zine series, which took 4 months in to make it actually happen, but it's finally ready. You can get a copy of your very own in the shop, or you can subscribe to a whole year's worth of text & image projects courtesy of moi. There are other goodies coming down the pipeline, including my surrealism coloring book, a zine of the CREATURES pieces I've been working, the blonde joke poems, and the florographia project, as well as other things I should be finishing before the end of this year, so stay tuned...
Saturday, May 06, 2017
It's been chilly as hell this week, even though the calendar says spring. I am coming up on the first day in over a month entirely and gloriously to myself and am feeling the drain of a lack of similar days. But summer is coming and with it, the usual slowdown and weekend freedom in the library at least , though things in the studio will no doubt still be hopping. I'm planning and open studio in June and a quick rearrange of things there, plus the usual chaos. I desperately need those obligation free days on the regular or otherwise I feel especially ragged around the endges in the mental health arena and like I can't even get some time to breathe.
Yesterday's prom murder mystery went off quite well, with only one group being able to nail down the correct answers entirely. I was thinking on the way downtown this morning, that I will be missing all these characters now that we are done with them. the prom queen murder victim dating the closeted football star with a violent streak, the weird, drugged up, ex-bff who may or may not have been pretending to be the ghost of a friend killed a year earlier in a car accident that was the prom queen's fault, the sweet little brother of the dead girl who was in secretly love with the prom queen, the football star who was in love/ semi-stalking the cool, pot-smoking English teacher, incidently married to the Principal, who stabs the Prom Queen repeatedly with a letter opener to save her husband's and her own career, . The crochety Librarian who sees all. All with allusions and clues about Lolita and Cat on A Hot Tin Roof and music by the Police.
it was a bit more complicated and complex than the Bundt Cake Bump-off mystery that created for Edible Books last year, and I had this sudden real fear that I had overcomplicated things and made it to hard to solve, but apparently it was easy enough for one group out of four to get the right answers (motive, murder weapon, and murderer.) It was also all sorts of 80's music goodness in general and ton a balloons--a bit of low-key fun I desperately needed.
This Friday is Manifest, the end of the semester, and then summer. I feel like I have been dragging my poor bag of a bodyover the rocks since winter, so I am just looking for a little bit of a reprieve.