Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Plans are under way this week for our fall focus topic, which (surprise surprise) is devoted to women in horror, which means soon I will be posting artist calls, arranging panels and readings for all of October (which I will probably blink and it will be here before I know it.  I've spent the last few weeks working on setting the schedule for fall zine nights and Book to Art activities (we are choosing War of the Worlds, as a potential tie in to our spring focus topic Strange Fevers: Mass Delusions, Illusions, and Obsessions.   Since one of our staff members are leaving, I've now also landed interlibrary loan duties in my corner, which will tighten up the reigns on planning time, but hopefully my tighter schedule will have the usual result of being more efficient than usual. So we'll see...

As expected, the topic intentionally ties in perfectly with some of the concerns feeding my own recent work, particularly EXQUISITE DAMAGE--and the whole idea of the feminine and the gothic bridging horror movies and literature...

Saturday, June 09, 2018

notes & things | 6/9/18

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Yesterday was probably the closest I've ever gotten to bittersweet.  I had some really amazing writerly news about manuscript  #8, SEX & VIOLENCE (which I will spill particulars as soon as contracts are signed and details worked out.)  I was sitting at my desk in the library when I opened the e-mail and then spent a good 10 minutes sobbing quietly to myself that the first person I probably would have told, would have been my mother.  Sure there's my dad, who I will talk to tomorrow, and most likely I just would have face book messaged her instead of calling, but still it was weird. And there are friends and J, who I will tell when I see them in the next few days, but it's somehow different.
It's also weird that this particular book was the one that I focused my energies on pulling together all last November in the weeks after her death.   The poems already existed, having been written from about 2015 onward, , and while I was still waffling over ready they were read through the early fall and finishing  up the last of them, but I decided  I needed to keep busy to keep from slipping deeper down the depression road, to get it done in time to submt to an open reading period ending at the end of the month. The book itself pulls in the blonde joke pieces, the love poem series, some slasher movie pieces and poems about Salvadore Dali, as well as the shorter version of the Plath centos.  It's all about male/female power dynamics and love and sexuality.

So far it's a rainy weekend, so I am determined to do some more work on the latest longer book project in progress  as well some editing on the EXQUISITE DAMAGE pieces I've been drafting this week for my daily writings. But despite having drank a bunch of coffee and eaten 2 blueberry muffins the size of my head, really all I want to do is take a nap at the moment, so I may do that .   Also, tomorrow,  some monotypes with some floral detritus I've been collecting this week. And finishing Riverdale and Picnic at Hanging Rock, which I have been switching back and forth between. (mostly becuase I'm pretty sure IZombie and Supernatural have new episodes available.)  Part of me always feels like I waste my summer by staying inside way too much, but the rain somehow gives me permission to not feel so bad about it at all.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

some new Chicago Crypto Society designs are in the making and possibly a new zine project..
view more here...

Saturday, June 02, 2018

notes & things | 6/02/18

After a few rather swampy days last week, the clouds have moved in, the wind off the lake, and it feels like fall more than the beginning of June.  So thus, I am staying close to home and making soup.  I have spent most of the day organizing problem sections manuscript #9, which despite my hesitation a few weeks ago, seems to be becoming more and more likely a thing. #8 is still out there in the wind, of course, and I've only sent it to one place, but the idea of another manuscript in submission seems too much work at then moment, so I may wait and let it settle a few months before sending it out, especially since there is the impending LITTLE APOCALYPSE release and a million other small projects making their way into the world.  (and also, since there are about three projects that may turn out to be full-length--the zodiac pieces, the horror stuff, and that long neglected roadside motel book).  I've been very diligent about writing daily, but there are alot of fits and starts and random beginnings of other things in there to keep things buried, but digging in is a challenge.

Yesterday, the dgp summer reading period opened and already my inbox filling with manuscripts I look forward to reading in about a month.  I am still working on catching up on orders and author copies and getting things to a manageable calm during June that has alluded me since last fall.  I am still going back and forth on the open studio I'd planned for this week.  I have a lot of prints and zines and such, but am woefully understocked on paper goods and out of linen stock to make them.  But then again, I really just need to do it.  Especially since I have a lot of originals I'd love to move..

At the library, things are aflutter due to a staffing change, but I am determined nevertheless to have most of our fall programming locked & loaded before the end of summer. I'm also working on a promo poster for the library in general..something visually cool enough for students to want to hold on to it and possibly hang it on their dorm room walls. With the new student center on the horizon, we've been thinking about ways to make it clear what the library is for and how it differs merely from the de facto student center some  people consider it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

exquisite damage: a midwest gothic

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"Dear Reader.  I write you a small bird in a box.  I write you a box with only feathers inside. I write thrashing and wild with hoarfrost and heavy cream  At the beginning, the dream of foxes.  The scream of rabbits in the middle of the night forming out of silence. I was born in a time of transams and black velvet paintings. Of kidnappings and nightly suicides. The world was drunk with hope, though, all the drawers emptied and the house swept clean.  Clean enough to eat an egg off the floor and swallow it whole. Clean enough to take a bar of soap to your mouth and polish you til you shone bright like a god."

A couple months back I decided to try out Tiny Letter--not merely as a newsletter, but as something more on the creative side.  I've been chipping away at a little lyric fragments project focused around the idea of the gothic, and by extension, horror movies and victorian novels Right now, it's a bit fragmented and disjointed, but you can get a little bit of it delivered weekly right into your inbox, old school subscription style.  I've been thinking about how social media serves poetry in new an interesting ways, and have been using instagram to post the zodiac pieces. I am still unsure of what possibilities Twitter holds, both for work and just in general. But some mediums seem to work better than others. (unless I were writing really short poems, or visual poems, maybe, which tempts me to dig in on that diagrammatic project I've been toying with the idea of.)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

notes & things | 5/20/2018

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Yesterday was the Chicago Zine Fest, where AofR had landed a table, which meant we got to take our freebie resource zines on the road, as well as our new anthology projects, plus some other zines & merch from me and the others, including our Chicago Cryptozoological Zines, which moved crazily more than anything else.  We did laugh at the fact that the more art & writing related products sold far less while the zines we made up in like an hour as a joke made us more money than the pursuits we've spent years working at, but such is the world.  Even still, I celebrated by ordering tacos with my new-found cash, and thought about the differences between something like Zine Fest and the AWP book fair, where dgp usually does pretty well--I guess the difference is people looking for a different sort of content.  I've often thought of taking the chapbooks to zine-oriented events, but I'm not sure they would do as well as they do in other places. 

Mostly I am finally reaching the end of my labor intensive pursuits at the library and settling back into the usual groove, though we are soon to be planning for fall, including what may turn out to be my favorite exhibit/focus topic ever--BEAUTIFUL MONSTROSITIES: BITCHES, WITCHES, SHE-BEASTS, & FINAL GIRLS.  We've decided to push back the mass delusions topic til spring since we are planning the larger conference event.There are also some other writing projects in the works about libraries and resources underway that I now get to turn some attention to.

I am still playing catch-up in the studio, but am looking to launch a bunch of new books in the next few weeks as well as get to work on the pieces of the mermaid anthology, which I am determined to have wrapped up by end of summer. I am also playing around with the idea of switching back to issues for wicked alice, which was what I veered away from, but seems like a better idea than the infrequent updating I've been plagued with the past couple of years. Maybe having goals or deadlines will not allow it to slip to the very bottom of the priority list quite so much.

As for my work, I am working on daily bits of the EXQUISITE DAMAGE project...my sort of lyric essay, memoirish, prose-poem thing. (which you can get a taste of by joining my Tiny Letter mailing list.)  The zodiac pieces are also still writing themselves, so look for more of those..(I'll also be tossing some of the scrolls that did not sell at Zine Fest into the occasional dgp order..)

Sunday, May 13, 2018

the first of many mothers days without mothers

Sometimes, the past 6 months or so seems unreal.  Sort of like that season of Supernatural where Sam's memories of all that time in the cage with Lucifer in hell was placed behind a wall by Cas so that it wouldn't make him mad. Sort of like something that you know is there, but just aren't really quite yet able to mentally deal with.  These months have been a lot like that--sometimes there's a hole in the wall or a crack and I shore it up again and hope for the best. I have this fear that it will all come rushing down and bury me entirely.  There will be moments when it occurs to me that, yes, in fact, your mother is really dead. There will be times I'm not even thinking about it and it occurs to me midday, like something I've forgotten is a fact.

Maybe it's both a blessing and a curse that I live quite a distance away, and that most of my hardest times will always be when visiting there, and very rarely here, where, besides our two weekly phone calls, she wasn't as much a part of my daily experience.  That, if not for those cracks in the wall, she could just as easily be alive for all I know, and just doing her usual thing.  I cannot even imagine being quite as calm were I living in the same house, or even the same town. I can't even imagine the sort of grief my father deals with on a daily basis, the lonelinesss  amid his weekly phone talk of getting the gardens ready, cleaning the house, cooking his own meals. I can't imagine what's in my sister's head, as well, being a little closer to home.  Sometimes the pain is like running a knife across your palm, but sometimes it's just a dull toothache.

I mostly deal with uncomfortable things by ignoring them until they go away, and sometimes they do, but obviously, that won't work in this situation.  Winter made it worse, of course, her death in early November followed by a rather horrible brutal weather that has only eased up the last couple of weeks. All along there have been the weird dreams about her being alive and not realizing, even herself, that she was gone. Last Mother's Day, of course, she was still alive, and though in some pain from the allergic reaction, not yet in as dire circumstances as she'd later be. I wasn't able to be there (the semester usually ending right about Mother's Day and sometimes having to work meant we were not always in the same place.) I usually spent a bit of time in the spring and summer there, anyway, so it wasn't that crucial, but then it will probably always seem like it was never enough.

I am always a little haunted by the last words I heard her say--the Sunday phone call with my Dad and when he asked if she wanted to talk to me, and she never did in those months, talk to anyone on the phone--and she said, weakly and really out of it-- "Tell her I'll call her tomorrow.."   By Monday afternoon, she was gone.  But it wasn't until it actually happened that it seemed possible--I was certain she would pull through it, that she'd eventually be able to leave the bed, and if not walk b/c of the injury, at least be somewhat mobile again with a chair.  I mean, how could she NOT be okay?  I always am conscious of it, but pathologically assume the best, so the worst occasionally slaps the fuck out of me. There was so much there that went into it--the earlier heart attack, the allergy that left her unable to comfortably walk, the loss of my aunt in June, the wound on her foot, the infection that settled into her system by the end of summer.  Like a row of unfortunate dominoes falling one after the other, proving that it is not the grand, dramatic things that will take us all out, but the tiny ones.

But then, perhaps, today shouldn't be a dirge at all--but more a celebration of mothers.  I am obviously not one--and probably have not a motherly bone in my entire body. (Unlike a lot of others, have never really seen pets as furbabies--more like occasionally rude or affectionate roommates that wreck your stuff..lol..)   But I did recently finish my own sort of baby, the new manuscript, which includes the hunger palace series about my mother and the imaginary daughter poems.  I will be sending it out in the world later this month, awkward and leggy like a newly born colt. As for today,  I intend to spend it cleaning most likely, my apartment that looks like a tornado hit it this week, and maybe listening to her favorites again--Barry Manilow, Air Supply, the things she would put on the turntable while she cleaned the house every Saturday. I don't necessarily believe in the afterlife, but if there is one, she would no doubt approve.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

new collage series

notes & things | 5/6/2018

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It seems spring took forever to get here and now it has arrived all at once--everything blooming and green (and as a result afflicted me with a nasty sinus headache, something that doesn't usually happen when spring is more gradual in its reveal (my autumn allergies have always been worse.) This week has begun serious preparation of both the Grimm project and other Zine fest offerings, including the tiny zodiac scrolls. This Friday, during Manifest, we will be unveiling the former in all its glory 

In press news, I am still playing catchup in the studio, but am moving further into getting author copies out and on their way at a better clip.Since I am working today, I have some extra studio time this week before I go to work, which will be helpful.  I am working on a batch of May books, as well, that will be debuting this month, as well as a bit more progress on the mermaid anthology which I am can turn more attention to after I get the Grimm completed.

I am continuing my daily poems, at least during the week, including more work on ORDINARY PLANET, which just may be ready in time for Zine Fest (it will probably be the June offering in the Books & Objects Series.  So far, the images are outnumbering the poems, so there is more work to be done there, but I might be able to finish it up by the end of this week. (I've posted a sneak peek at my website.)

I did finish laying out my chief contribution to the Grimm project--my little zine of Hansel & Gretel poems and images and it turned out rather nicely. (see above)

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

notes & things | 5/1/2018

And so, we move into May, and for once the weather is on point the past couple of days. It's almost a physical thing, the looseness  and unwinding in the body when you are not stepping outside into cold (or hell, freezing inside your apartment)  I have triumphantly finished NAPOWRIMO--my first time ever making it past Day 10, and I am very happy with the results.  I not only finished off a project that was already in the works, completed another short series for the Grimm project, and started something entirely new that looks promising.  I am hoping to continue drafting new things daily..they say it takes 21 (or 66 depending on who you ask) to form a new habit, so maybe I can get into some kind of groove.  Sometimes I TRY to write daily, but can never sustain it.  Too much gets in the way in regard to other obligation, but I rather like prioritizing the writing earlier in the day.  Maybe it's sort of like exercise (another habit I am never able to manage to make stick.)  Eventually I do it enough and it will feel weird NOT doing it.  While I usually spend my breakfast/brunch time reading e-mails and perusing social media, I've now just started opening the file and working on a poem.  By the end of the day, no matter what else I feel like a failure on not getting done, at least there is that.

We are getting closer to the end of the semester and we've managed to wrap up most of our A of R programming and all that's left is the Grimm Anthology, which is shaping up nicely (see above).  Then, we just have to prep for Zine Fest (where we will be peddling said anthology, other A of R  / Crypto Society zines, as well as some of our own & library student zines. ).  I'm looking forward to some down time in the summer to work on some more library-focused writing projects, as well.  plus planning for fall, which already has a Focus Week mini-conference in the works--a way to bring scholars and artists together around our topic--Strange Fevers:  Mass Delusions, Confusions, and Obsessions. 

Since I am still playing super catch-up on press business this month, I've decided to postpone our dgp open reading period opening back to June 1st, just to make things less crazy on this end.  Even though I usually don't start reading in earnest til June anyway, it will help to keep the inbox a bit less of a morass as I am working through things.  As soon as June hits, I will be settling into my usual summer reprieve from chaos, so that will help.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

final girls and terrible places

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I spent the whole of yesterday at a pop culture conference devoted entirely to slasher films, which made my ten year old self very filled with glee at the idea of an afternoon discussions about whether Sleepaway Camp is problematicly anti-trans, whether Nightmare on Elm Street sequels had actual scripts (at least one of them according to the producer most certainly did not) and  general musing on the final girl trope.  It got some gears turning on my exquisite damage project, which is working out to be memoir/ lyric essay-ish pieces about women and the gothic--mostly novels, but by extension, all of pop culture.

I started watching Sleepaway Camp again last night, probably haven't watched it in over a decade, and then only once since childhood, when we had a dubbed beta version that we nearly wore out on the player.  That I made every girl who came to my fifth grade slumber party watch the entirely of, even though looking back, probably not really appropo for general audience 10 year olds. I was steeped in horror from infancy, so it wasn't even remotely scare for me, but I enjoyed the story and Angela as the outcast. Also that the characters, unlike Friday the 13th, where adults played the roles, were closer to my own age and therefore, duh, it was practically a kids movie.  I think it was only displaced as my favorite horror film when we rented Nightmare on Elm Street later that year.   Of course, my 10 year old self had no idea how bizarre that movie truly was  from the creepy aunt to the pedophile cook to the twist at the end.  It actually was doing things that went far beyond the genre conventions that Friday the 13th had set.

There was also some good discussion about whether or not it was scary or more satisfying to know the killer's motives in those films, or with something like It Follows, which is my fave from the past 5 years or so, to just be mysteriously evil. I also would not say that It Follows was scary in the way other films like The Ring and Insidious scared me, but more evoked this feeling of slow, inescapable dread (and also was fucking beautiful visually due to its Gregory Crewdson-esque cinematography) So much goes into making it work--the camera work, the script, the suspense, the set.  Some movies excel in one of these, but fail in another.   Hush was a good one, where you didn't really know much about the killer or his motives, but the sense of containment and suspense was spot-on. Everyone likes The Witch, but I watched it around the time I was binging episodes of Salem, so it was less-interesting for me and again, not scary. Or something like Get Out, mostly just scary because people in general and society is scary. (which was also why I like The Purge: Election Year a month or so back.)

I also was introduced to the phrase "the terrible place" which is usually a house or structure (or in The Witch) the woods, especially interesting s in light of thinking about the woods/forest in plump and what space signifies.

Monday, April 23, 2018

notes & things | 4/23/18

I am a bit late with my weekly roundup from last week, but then again, it was a very busy week that included bookwrecking adventures (and bookmaking) more poeming, scrambling to pull together artsy prizes for a scholarship benefit carnival game, and other bits and pieces.   This week is my birthday week, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.  I'm working of course, but have already determined my birthday treat will be pizza and lemon cupcakes from Petes around the corner.  This week's main library project is pulling together our 90's murder mystery, which pulls from the decade's finest horror cliche's (complete with a faux urban legend.)  I have to keep asking people "This was possible in the 90's right?  I mean, there was an internet circa 1995, right?" There was email, but not so much
mass cellphone usage (I only remember this from Buffy where they occasionally used payphones in the early seasons.)

I also switched gears again in my NAPOWRIMO pursuits, away from the Grimm project that is almost done and toward the writing pieces I wanted to do to accompany my victorian collages (see above).  The past few days' writing exploits have shaken loose some ideas for more visual pieces and now those visuals have given me fodder for poeming, so that's working out nicely. The whole project is sort of victorian sci-fi, so I'm excited to work on it a bit now that I have the chance. I am still going strong on my daily poems and am feeling good about most of them, I've even cleaned up & submitted some of the earliest ones from the science of impossible objects and landed a journal acceptance (more on that soon.) I also have some poems coming out in other places and an upcoming blog feature this week. So stay tuned...

Saturday, April 21, 2018

scarcity vs. abundance

The other day I was eavesdropping on a conversation between two stage actors behind me on the bus, both of whom had apparently just met on their way to a side-hustle brewery promo they were both working. They mentioned right before they got off the bus how awesome it was that they could meet and not be weird about competition for parts, because they  varied greatly in age and body type and type-casty sort of qualities. It came on the heels of a comment during our Art Empire panel last Thursday that stressed how important community and support from other artists played in forging a career. How one person's successes didn't take away from any other person's because there was room for everyone--the art & illustration world being big and the trick being to connect with your audience however you could.

These conversations always strike me as vastly different from the poetry community.  Or maybe not my opinion of the poetry community now that I know better, but the one I had going in and through my first decade or so of publishing and submitting.  The economy of scarceness vs. abundance. That there are only so may journal slots, so many presses, so many contests or residencies or fellowships that we were all clamoring for and more of us everyday. That the bandwidth for American Poety (tm)  was so tiny that were all bottlenecking into it hoping to rise to the top  One person's successful win of a first book contest was sort of on the backs of all the other contestants who didn't win.   It disillusioned me, especially while getting my MFA to be told that certain presses "mattered" and others did not, that certain journals were worth submitting too (mostly print, mostly academically tied)  That, like Ivy league schools, the acceptance/rejection rate mattered more than whether or not your work actually fit with other poems in the journal  That small upstart publications weren't worth it and you should aim for "top-tier" . Otherwise, you were "wasting" your poems.  It was so gross it put me off a lot of things--submitting at all for awhile unless I'd been invited and sometimes not even then

I've always said I could never date another writer, mostly because one of us would inevitably be luckier in the game than the other, and eventually it would undo us. Or someone's work would take precedence or suffer becuase of the other's  (I think I was traumatized early by the Plath/Hughs dynamic. Sylvia typing up his drafts when she could have been working on more of her own)  Someone would get that prime journal publication, someone's book would be published, and while you would try not be resentful and truly happy for their success, you would be, just a little. Which is fine for friends and aquaintances, that little bit of elation tinged with jealousy, but not between people sharing the same bed.

About 10 years ago, as I was building the etsy shop and the press and spending alot of time in conversations with other artists and crafters, I had a realization that completely changed my approach to how I defined what I was doing in art and writing.   For years, while I did many of the things I felt I was supposed to be doing for my "writing career"--submitting work to publications, presses, and competitions, getting my MFA.  Self publishing was a no-no, of course, especially among the academic set, but I did it anyway.   Not necessarily beauase it was the only way (actually I've been ridicuously lucky that other presses miraculously sometimes want to publish my work and I love them for it.)  But what if, I thought to myself, I appoached my "writing career" like so I saw so many artists in other art fields so.  It boiled down to a few key differences...

1. Permission

Every once in a while, poets seems amazed at the audacity it takes to do something like start a journal or a press or literary venture.  Basically, you make a thing and then you become a thing.  I was just a girl with a booklet stapler and some cardstock and a few authors that were willing to let me publish their books. It grew from there, and yes, it's hard work, especially now that it's so much bigger, but anyone can do it if you start small and manageable. You, yes YOU, as a reader and writer and person with your own sense of literary taste & aesthetics, you have something of value to put into the world, things to bring to the table as an editor or publisher, just do the thing. Another piece of valuable advice from the artist panel was "do it before you think you're ready" mostly because you will never feel ready. Not really.

2.  Means vs. ends.

Books are nice, I love books.  Well books and chapbooks and zines and poems in bottles set off to sea.  And connecting with editors and writers through publications is immensely gratifying, but don't let it, or the lack of it, define your career as an artist.  Find your audience, however you do that--the internet, open mics, the people you meet in coffeeshops.  Fon't be afraid to make your own chapbooks, or audio recordings, or even your own books if you feel their is a market.  Or maybe even if there isn't yet, but may one day be.  I like making little books & objects that bridge the written and the visual and like having complete control over them.  I also like longer books, and if those happen, great, but if they don't I am still building a body of work.  I still submitted, but moreso as a way to get work out there and enter the dialogue with other journals and writers.  The publications aren't the point, but a vehicle I enjoy using, even if the point of my work and creativity is more on my own terms.  Your still an artist or a writer, you can stil cultivate community and audience even if e xyz journal or press doesn't see value in your work.  Get it out there another way.  Do what you have to.

3.  Be bold, be fearless.

Don't be afraid to seem ambitious, to talk about your work openly and what you want from it.  It's good to see the work behind what successes may come your way.  What might help others who follow you or give a glimpse into your world. Being a writer is sometimes lonely. Seeing other people struggle or succeed is super helpful.  Sharing what you know and what you've learned is as well. Going after things for the right reason is as well.  If you feel that your poems only fit in THE NEW YORKER,go for it.  But if, like me, you realize that you're work doesn't really speak to the Lexus driving set, find another magazine that is likely to find your readers.  Also have more faith in your work, not just faith that others (gatekeepers and the like) can bestow on you, but the sort of faith that comes from knowing when you have something to offer.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

notes & things | 4/15/2018

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I'm not sure what the weather is doing, but I think it needs to stop. Yesterday was dreadful, and an early morning at the library did not help.  I was already tired from staying out late Friday ( some Satanic Panic burlesque fun--an early b-day outing) and woke up at 6am  to tiny ice pellets hitting the window.   My ears are doing some weird pressure thing the past week that makes my jaw ache and my sinuses throb, so I also just feel slightly off kilter.

Our Art Empire panel Thursday went off splendidly though.  This week, I am preparing for a bookwrecking workshop and the final Apocalypse event, the reading, where I'll be trotting out some poems from the upcoming book and reading along with Donna Vorreyer and some student fiction writers.  Then there is the murder mystery to work on, and the Grimm project to finalize, and then we are at the end of the semester already  (even if outside seems a far cry from springtime.)

My NAPOWRIMO activities continue to go well  and I am amazingly still on schedule )as I mentioned before the whole success of which depends on when I draft the poem, earlier in the day, usually while I am eating breakfast,  rather than at the end of it.)   At the beginning of the day, I can take that time to focus before I get bogged down in a million other things demanding my attention. I am also writing some more zodiac pieces (usually later in the day while I eat dinner.)  The spring ones are finished and the scrolls in the layout process, so I should have them available as a subscription offering for later this month. Last week, I also decided to dabble a bit with Tiny Letter, and will be sending some fragments of another, more lyric essay-type project out via that platform.

My dreams about my mother, after a brief reprieve, are back to their usual weirdness, again everything going  along in the dream and then all of us, sometimes even her, surprised to find out she's actually dead.   Is this what people experience as hauntings?  I  love the idea of ghosts, but don't really believe in them (or an afterlife), but in this case, she is haunting up a storm. And not really bad dreams, actually pretty mundane stuff, maybe just unsettling in their tenor, as if we keep realizing over and over that she's gone and are dumbstruck.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

mice, maidens, and evil queens

Fairy tales have probably always been a part of my work from the beginning. My first chapbook THE ARCHAEOLOGIST'S DAUGHTER featured at least one Rapunzel poem and I'm pretty sure there was an early mermaid poem in there somewhere.  More would come--wicked stepmothers and Little Red Riding hood in BLOODY MARY. More Little Red Riding Hood in my first artist book THE BOOK OF RED (that later appeared in my FEIGN chapbook from New Michigan Press.)   Not to mention lots of fairy tale references in otherwise normal poems, a sort magical-ness amidst the everyday.

In those early years, there were so many allusion and persona poems--not just fairy tales, but mythology, literary characters, historical women,  painting subjects. And this is true of many of us, maybe not just younger women poets, maybe younger poets in general of all genders, but so many of us pulling from these things for subject matter and imagery.  I always joke that I probably wrote so many of these because what else does a poet in her early 20's have to say that everyone hasn't already heard.  But maybe there is more to it, creating stories drawn from other stories.  The reason why these stories retain their magic even after centuries.  I love folklore, and the way it shifts and changes and moves through populations.  The way things spread.  ( A co-worker mentioned a local urban ghost legend near her town and I had heard the very same urban legend in my teens about a place out near Rockford--down to very particular details involving talcum powder on the trunk of a car and ghost handprints-- I got really excited about this and nearly fell out of my chair.)  also, why I love trawling this sort of subject matter for things like my ARCHER AVENUE Resurrection Mary poems.

I still do this, no doubt, but my subject matter just differs--things I've been researching evidence of this more than anything. My Antoinetta Gonzalez (aka the Renaissance Dog-Girl ) series.  My atomic women poems in LITTLE APOCALYPSE.   All the research I've done on taxidermy and mechanical animals and Hungarian folklore for UNUSUAL CREATURES.  My new fascination with victorian spiritualism and what might come from those possibilities. I've always been about finding material for new texts in old texts. (and being in a library all day certainly helps.)

When I was writing THE SHARED PROPERTIES OF WATER AND STARS in 2012, which is a kind of suburban fairy tale itself, it didn't necessarily start out that way, but moreso a vague storyline and the math story problems that worked very well with fairy-tale like imagery (esp. re: Goldie Locks and the tension between "wild" and "civilized" or "domestic" spaces. )   When I was done, I was actually surprised by how much it came across that way (evidenced by comments of of a lot of the reviews of the book later on .)  I had been writing more to the story and less to the archetypes, but there were there if you looked for them.

Fast forward to this last year, where we've been working on our big Grimm Tales  Book to Art endeavor in the library. I've been doing some collage work during our making sessions, but have been considering doing some writing-related work.  Since my larger manuscript in progress focuses on eating and body-image issues, what better somehow than Hansel and Gretel for this sort of thing. (I actually have been doing some research on food and eating across fairy tales, but baby steps,  I suppose I'll start with just this one.)  Since things have been progressing well on the NAPOWRIMO front with another poem series. I thought I might shift gears and devote some energy to these and see if I can't get on a roll and maybe make a mini-chap for the project (there's a deadline of the end of the month for rounding up the project in time for Manifest mid-May.)

I am also watching Grimm on Amazon, so I am nightly steeping myself in fairy tales and murders, so the ground is very fertile in my head right now, so we'll see what comes of it. 

Saturday, April 07, 2018


This week, I've finally gotten a handle on the assembly of HONEY MACHINE : The Plath Centos.  You can pick up  your very own copy in the shop (or subscribe to the books & objects series to get that and much more.)  They've turned out to be beautiful little books and the collages reproduced really nice.  The acknowledgements include the line "And to Sylvia, for whom all of this should have worked out better."

In the summer of 2016, I was trying to come up with a textual component to accompany some of the floral work I was doing visually. and started thinking about the references and floral themes in Plath, particularly Ariel.  I gave assembling a couple centos a try--not a form I usually work with, though t'm surprised it took me this long to come to it given my collage tendencies otherwise..  A few years back, someone in a friends class had written and published a cento of my own work and it was weird how it sounded very much like a poem I'd written and yet, sorta not. But I dug it. 

What was what was happening with these Plath pieces, while the floral obsession launched the project, was that the pieces I were getting actually came to have a very different tenor and tone, becoming their own creature--a beast laden with more domestic concerns about the repetition and roteness of housework and being a "wife". It felt very right, considering that  Plath was very much concerned with these things--the daily vs the ecstatic. How a being with a need to create can become laden with the expectations imposed on 1950's women, and perhaps even now, where women still shoulder most of the household labor. 

As I assembled more and more (and I say assembling, more than writing since the words were entirely hers and not so much mine.) there was this washing machine effect--like the red sock in a load of whites that you keep seeing, but almost as if that red sock will eventually ruin everything else in the dryer.  Snippets, obsessions kept reappearing as the speaker (Plath and not Plath) tried to reconcile love and romance with the drudgery of what those things become in the domestic sphere. 

By the end, I had probably around 50 pieces.  I started sending them off individually.  I sent off the full manuscript. People either seemed to love them (as many yesses from journals indicated) or hate them.  I realized after the full-mss was rejected that perhaps there was too much fat.  Too much of a good thing, so I trimmed it down--took out every piece that wasn't pulling its own weight.  Recombined other things into other things, and emerged with a tighter group of poems.  By then. I had started a series of collages using vintage advertisements that somehow seemed to complement the pieces and began to think they might make a nice little zine together.  Once I decided they were part of the same project, the poems started to influence the collages--particularly this one and the one above, which I decided to use as cover art. 

Last spring, during our FOUND reading at the library, I decided to trot them out for gallop and it was really weird reading them aloud.  It's basically someone else's words in your mouth, and even though you built the construction, the cadences and syntax seem unusually foreign. It was an altogether different experience, however, than simply reading someone else's poem, since I had had a hand in making these what they were. 

What resulted though, was a sort of love-letter to Plath (similar to how I always viewd at the hotel andromeda as a love letter to Cornell.) So hopefully I've managed to do her justice. 

Friday, April 06, 2018

notes & things | 4/6/2018

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This is one of those mental bears of a week that are bitey and leave you a little bloody.  It's been so damn cold, colder than it should be.  I'm looking for those signs of spring and besides one solo boat in the harbor and a coral dress in the window of usually monochromatic Max Mara on Michigan, there aren't all that many. But it seems to be April, nevertheless, and I am doing pretty well on my NAPOWRIMO poems, the secret to the success being making sure to set aside time early in my day rather than saving it all for the very end.  While I usually start the day with checking email, I've been drafting instead and then moving on with my day. I'm also trying to be thinking about the project as soon as I wake up, while my mind is still fresh and not encumbered with the day's detritus.

Physically, I'm nursing another untimely illness, so I had to skip my planned trip to Rockford. But, since I had the past two days off work, I lounged around lazily yesterday until I was feeling a bit better and spent today in the studio getting through the better part of a bookstore order that needs to ship Monday. I'm trying to be mindful of my limitations and honest about what can be accomplished when, but I still panic when I feel I am behind. (or I guess I always feel behind and therefore always panicky.) I am moving through January now with orders, and almost caught up on author copies, except the last few recent titles

The impetus for the missed trip was supposed to be a lunch to celebrate what would have been my mother's 71st birthday.  Yesterday, I dreamed that she was alive again and living in a house filled with an obscene number of calico kittens and I was trying to convince her to let me take one off her hands.  She argued with me about which one while trying on her birthday outfit in the bathroom mirror and then stepped into the hallway, at which point I remarked how thin she'd gotten (and at which point I suddenly remembered she'd been in a wheelchair before , and how great it was that she was walking without help.  And oh, yeah, she was supposed to be dead.) At which point I was startled awake.  This may be a partner to the dream last week where the entirely of the front yard, right up to the steps, was an enormous swimming pool and we were all floating there, everyone happy and alive, despite something I was uneasily convinced I kept forgetting I was supposed to do.

Monday, April 02, 2018

on influence

In addition to my NAPOWRIMO posting this month, I'm also posting daily about poetic influences over on Twitter--the books that sort of made me the poet I am. As I've been thinking chronologically about where the poems came from and the foundation on which they are built, I can't help but think about that terrible first poem I ever wrote--a class assignment in freshman English.  I only remember that it rhymed, and involved flamingos, and that is was followed in the weeks and summer after by more animal poems. Then some more poems about unrequited love (since I suppose when you're awkward and 15 most love will be unrequited.)

Image result for complete poe bookI had just started keeping a diary that spring I'd gotten for my birthday, the one with the blue sky and clouds on the cover and a tiny, flimsy lock that I don't exactly remember having a key, but a turn mechanism that unlatched the clasp. It's somewhere in my parents' house, and I've come across it a few times as an adult but have never managed to bring it back to the city with me.  Later, I left the confines of the journal and there are loose poems, some on notebook paper, some on the colored stationery I wrote to pen-pals on,  that I somehow kept and filed with all the other bad poems I wrote in college and after. There's one about bird bones on the beach and very deep thoughts (as one has at 15 or 16) on

My sole knowledge of poetry was school-bound in those days, and my first taste of something I actually liked was junior year reading Poe's "Annabel Lee" just maudlin enough to appeal to my horror-novel seeped brain.   I remember memorizing it, just like we memorized Romeo and Juliet lines, Julius Caesar lines, in the years before. I only knew that Poe was dark, and possibly crazy, and somehow this appealed to me.  This was the same year we made collages about witch trials reading The Crucible and little book art projects about The Scarlet Letter.   When I penned my junior term paper on Gone With the Wind.  By far one of my most enjoyable classes of high school and perhaps what made me an English major.    That was also the spring that I was looking for the school's copy of GWTW and stumbled on Plath's Bell Jar and read it, knowing only that the Bangles had a song with the same title. My 17-year-old self was nonplussed and tossed it half-finished aside probably in favor of Stephen King.  Two years later, I would come across it again and it would launch an ongoing Plath obsession, beginning with journals and letters and ultimately landing in the poems. )

I remember a friend of mine, senior year, had sent a poem to the National Library of Poetry, and it was on my radar, though I don't remember if I'd sent anything to them, and wouldn't have had the money to buy the anthology, but I would send to similar vanity scams the first couple years of college, less expensive ones, but scams nonetheless (the danger of having no idea about poetry and publication and how the literary world works.)

Image result for emily dickinson collectedBy the time I graduated, I was convinced I was destined for a career in marine biology, and only kept my writing interests as a novelty side project, a parlor trick, something that I'd toss out to make myself more interesting in conversations.   Like any avid reader, I wrote very well--boring 5 paragraph essays, newspaper editorials on environmental and animal rights issues, essays for Seventeen competitions (and for which I managed to win an honorable mention prize of many free Noxema products.) I had bought a typewriter with my graduation money, and do remember typing something--though I think it was lame attempts at short stories, when I was living in North Carolina.  I remember poring over lit mags--real ones-in the library on campus as a way to pass time between classes I think I even remember submitting a couple things while there, but S.A.S. E's were hard to come by. Later, deciding my career as a biologist was doomed, I would come back to the midwest to study literature, and spend a lot of time that next year writing spare, tiny poems, mostly about social injustices and then sending them to the places in the back of Writer's Digest magazine.

Image result for the bell jarIt was in that first year back that I became a bit more acquainted with both Emily Dickinson and Plath. My 1st year English prof was an ajunct and a huge fan of both, and would indulge me, three years later when I wanted to write about Plath instead of other things in Advanced Expository Writing course   I was interested in the Beats, but only so far as they were interesting from a historical hipster standpoint, less so for the actual work.(I also kind of feel this way about Romantic Poets) .I spent the next couple years immersed in prose and drama, courses on novels and plays and fiction workshops.  Our workshop leader would tell me that my sentences were too long, too Faulknerian, and that I should be a poet. I adored Shakespeare, and I would read a bit of Yeats and Eliot but nothing jumped out at verse-wise. I also devoted more of my time to working backstage for the theatre department than to creating anything of my own. 

In the spring of 96, I enrolled in my first poetry workshop and somehow, the faucet that occasionally dripped came back on. Then I was writing very Dickinson-like short poems that (eek!) rhymed.  I was bad, but I suppose we all were.  But my rhyming made me especially bad.  Or maybe just good at writing these perfect little rhyming machines, but not much in the way of poetry. I don't remember what I was reading then poet-wise,  outside of Milton for my senior seminar,  but that was when I first became aware of Poets & Writers. By the summer, I was no longer rhyming, but still very bad, but good enough to garner undergrad poetry prizes, a couple of them, before graduation, one that even involved money.  I would once again haul my terrible electric typewriter out to the dining room table on long summer afternoons and work until my parent's came home from and I needed to clear it for dinner. I think maybe there were the first glimmers of something there.  I was 22. I still had absolutely no idea of the span of contemporary poetry.  The internet existed, I suppose, but not for someone like me, who was just learning to use WordPerfect desktop publishing software.
Image result for rita dove thomas and beulah
I wouldn't start reading contemporary poetry until that first year in Chicago, when I started checking things out from DePaul's library--Louise Gluck, Jorie Graham, Rita Dove (which was also on my MA Comp exam reading list and my first indication that poetry could, like a novel, tell a story) . By then, life and a bad bout of depression was on the verge of swallowing me whole--my teaching plans shakey.   My life plans kind of shakey..  By the fall of 1998, the poems had just  started to come back when I enrolled in a Modern British Poetry Class, where we read Eliot's The Wasteland. There is perhaps something laughable in that, being a feminist poet, running a feminist press, it was the deadest of the dead white guys that launched me, or maybe more accurately hatched me, poetically.  Somehow gave me permission to get to where I wanted to go.  My work was still pretty awful, but somehow, there was something to it. A place to get to, even if I didn't have a map.   I spent all that fall and into the spring writing poems that I was convinced were brillant, that would be my first book, finished before I turned 25 that April. .  Poems that I sent off, naively and hopefully to places like the New Yorker and Poetry.

They of course, declined, but I did get my first legit publication in a tiny, local, feminist journal that would, a few years later, take my first chapbook manuscript.  They were persona poems about witch trials and literary characters.  Mythology and fairy tales. That first book, Taurus, was terrible, but I did finish it by April. Hopefully, the judges of the contest burned it..LOL..But then I was briefly swallowed again by life--by graduation and first (and second jobs).  I wrote some short stories in several spiral notebooks during this period, probably in hope that I could make money from them,  but very few poems. Only after I landed back in Chicago again, did I get back to task and writing and submitting poems, this time to all the online journals that were miraculously spring up like wildfire...

It was a new decade.  A new millenium.  And I had regular, consistent access to the internet, which sort of changed everything...

(for a list of more recent influences by contemporary poets, read this entry from 2006)

Friday, March 30, 2018

notes & things | 3/30/2018

And so we come to the end of the month, and March is always a good riddance sort of thing.  The tulips are looking a little rough worn, but I think they are going to happen.  Meanwhile, I am filling the house with discount daffodils and thankfully avoiding family holiday things--that I haven't yet quite gotten the swing of in this new reality.

I am been self-medicating my cold-weather woes this week with shoe-buying exploits and a new faux leather jacket that it may just finally be going to get warm enough to wear. I've also been coming up with more titles for manuscripts and projects I've yet to start, including two really good ones I have been mulling over in my head.  (If I am anything as a writer, I am an excellent titler..probably better than I am at actually writing..lol..)

While my junk art workshop created nothing of note but some cute jars for holding things, my collage endeavors have created some rather interesting inky sorts of pieces (that were spawned by my design for the upcoming murder mystery poster I finished this week. )I was thinking it might be nice to have something that pairs well with the hunger palace text pieces, and this may not be it, but it's certainly an option. They are also very springy and flush with easter-egg colors, so I am madly in love with them and want to put them everywhere  (including the head of this blog.).

Next week brings another Zine Night and also our triple feature horrible movie fun on Wednesday night, --Nature Gone Wrong films that should be interesting and good fodder for some poems on terrible movie monsters I would like to eventually get off the ground, sort of the monstrous female angle that I touched on in some of the poems in strange machine, but only barely.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

the hunger palace

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Over the weekend, I was able to put the finishing touches on the lyric essay project that is THE HUNGER PALACE, or I guess it's more of an essay in fragments, 13 of them, some longer, some shortish.  I started sending some bits out to places that were interested more in essay or prose-type pieces and we'll see how they fare.  I don't know what other form it will take in the future--a chap? a zine of some sort? maybe just a segment of something longer (That manuscript  is already in my thoughts, even though I am still waiting on news of the last full-length's fate.  I may even already have a title, even though I only have maybe 20 pieces for it so far., but then sometimes I have titles (and sometimes epigraphs)  for projects I haven't even started..lol..)

Initially, I was wary of sending the more personal pieces out in the world, but I'm feeling different about it as it was taking shape. It's still personal enough to feel like I don't want people I know to see it, but not personal enough that I want to hide it from everyone else.   Such is the way with most of my more autobiographical work. I felt very similar with MAJOR CHARACTERS IN MINOR FILMS, which is much more close to the bone than, say SALVAGE or the upcoming apocalypse book. Definitely a world different than GIRL SHOW (which wasn't about me at all),

As for the project itself, , it's as close to truth as I can get with only a little bit of making less interesting things more interesting. That whole "artistic truth" vs. "actual truth."  But it's the emotion of it that seems close, and at times, I worried because of the subject matter, it was TOO emotional, too sentimental (and if anything, we are told, as writers, to avoid that at all costs.)  And people write so much about death.  Death is done to death.  So how do you make that NOT sentimental.

In the end, it helped that the project wasn't just about death, but also about women and body image (there were bit segments of this in the works even before last November, but somehow what happened braided very nicely together with those fragments.) The latter half may still need some polishing before I start submitting those, but at least it feels like it's done.

I'll be moving on to more zodiac poems and more of the epistolary project for NAPOWRIMO, and maybe a few other things that are itching in my brain if I'm going to be trying to write daily. And I've determined that I am a much happier camper in general when I AM writing more regularly  (becuase if anything else seems like its trodding all over me time-wise--the library, the press, life in general, there is at least that , the writing, getting done.  And really, that's at least something....

Saturday, March 24, 2018

notes & things | 3/25/2018

It's still way too cold out there to be officially spring, so I am hunkering down in the apartment in close proximity to the space heater and pouting and resting up for a busy upcoming week in the Library that includes a junk art / thrift art workshop Monday and an apocalypse-film trivia night Friday, plus all the tasks I put off this week since I was only working half days.

For the workshop, I've been sorting through my supply hoardings and evaluating what I may be willing to sacrifice, but it's making me crazy. (I did however find a stash of silver pendants from my etsy-selling days, that I will be making available in the online shop--rabbits, foxes, carouself horses, oh my!)  Since I've been spending a lot of time in the studio in the evening this week, I've been turning over again the idea in my head of more open studios (an opportunity to unload the original pieces that don't really sell online, plus make some extra money to help with the rent (which will probably be going up again at the end of the summer.)  The difficulty is arranging my library schedule to accommodate and actually having a decent amount of inventory in terms of books, prints, and paper goods, which is always up in the air.  I feel like I'm missing out on the benefit of actually having the space there and available to the public, and not just as a workspace (which also usually means it is super chaotic and messy with all the bookmaking. )   Just taming the paper trimmings alone is a feat, let alone the dozens of books mid assembly and in parts.   I used to do it more about a decade ago, but the dgp schedule wasn't quite as full of releases in those days, and things a bit more orderly and roomy in there. Summers are always pretty slow in terms of traffic, but it might be a good time to throw the doors open again since I'll be getting sprung from the library a bit earlier Friday evenings (this also depends on how exhausted I am on Friday evenings, which plays a huge role in my willingness to be "on" for such things. )

This week, in addition to plotting and assembling what seems like a thousand orders and author copies, I  did manage to get HONEY MACHINE printed and ready for assembly. These are the Plath centos and accompanying collages, and while I trimmed the series down to a more manageable and coherent number which flow better, they seem to work really well together (you can see some samplings here, here, here  and here.)  Work continues daily on the POETS ZODIAC (I'm posting them regularly on twitter and instagram) and somewhat daily on THE HUNGER PALACE, which I'm also sampling a bit on twitter as I go.  I'm still hoping to round it out by the end of the month, but I realize that is a mere 6 days away so I really need to dig in this week. (and then it's April and onto NAPOWRIMO).

And hopefully spring, even if it feels like I'm beginning to doubt it.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

notes & things | 3/17/18

It always feels like, metaphorically, winter is officially over come St. Patrick's Day, though the meteorologists tag that a bit earlier and the solstice a bit later, but I'm calling it.  It's supposed to be in the 50's tomorrow when I'll be trucking it down to Pilsen for a reading @ WomanMade Gallery, where I plan to look at some art and read some poems (probably from SALVAGE) and enjoy the getting to and fro and not freezing my ass off.

Today, I slept really late and plan to work on more zodiac poems.,  I'd like to maybe do them monthly, for all 12 signs,  which will keep me working for the next year, even if other projects are slower going. They're working nicely as a warm-up to other writings, or, if the other projects are being stubborn, at least something accomplished there at the end of the day.  I am also very close to starting printing on HONEY MACHINE, which is all laid out and just needs a little proofing for surface things and typos. I'm still undecided on the April-issue, which I'm thinking will be a more visual-oriented project since the last three have been more about textual elements.  (You can still subscribe to get in on all of the bookish fun .)

I was also poking around in some old files and found a cache of rejection slips (see photo above)  and various writing related ephemera I'd forgotten I had, back from when I was young and poetically naive and  had no idea that my work didn't fit certain molds and markets.

This week is spring break for Columbia, which means shorter library hours and more studio time in the evenings, which I am badly in need of. I'm using some 1/2 vacation days to cut into the mornings that would usually demand I be there at 9am, and am instead coming in daily at 1, which will allow me a to be more energized for those evening work sessions.   The December books are somewhat under control in terms of author copies and orders, but January is still a snarly, unruly bear of things that needs to be tamed.

In the Library, we are getting ready for another slate of APOCALYPSE, USA events, including a junk art workshop, a apocalypse film trivia night, another monster zine night, and our bad public-domain triple feature of nature-gone-terribly-wrong films. Spacing out the programming rather than condensing it all into one week this semester has done wonders for it feeling more enjoyable and deliberate and much less like a tornado to be endured until it passes. There is also the APOCALYPSE, USA reading at the end of April coming up, where I'll be reading with some other folks. Also, the Art Egg hunt, which is always fun shenanigans.

Meanwhile, I will be watching for the three undeniable signs of spring--magnolias, boats in the harbors, and the snow fences coming down along the beaches.   And then we're golden...

Friday, March 16, 2018

distraction 101

I have been thinking the last couple of days about creative distractions, you know, those projects and efforts you dream up probably simply because working on other things is tougher, harder, more emotionally draining.  While its going well, THE HUNGER PALACE is definitely turning in to one of these sorts of projects. While I've been determined to have a finished draft of the entire project by month's end, it's over-optimistic at best and tremendously foolhardy most likely,   Originally it was an old project revived after the events of last fall, something that had fallen by the wayside until I picked it up again over holiday break.  One that I gained some momentum on, but then sort of stalled out again.  But it seems important to finish it, at least in rough form soonish, mostly because the wounds of it are still new and fresh and maybe it will seem less urgent as time goes on.  I'm not sure how something that seems so urgent can also be dragging along stubbornly, but that us where I am at currently.  Kind of like a cat on a leash  that's sort of fallen over on it's side  and refuses to move. 

Over break, I actually stopped something else I was working on to devote my energies to that, an epistolary series that I intend to get to work on again by throwing my hat in the ring for NAPOWRIMO,  So ideally, these mother-daughter poems would be in the can as much as they can be by the end of March.  But then there are things dragging my writer attention--UNUSUAL CREATURES, finished as far as text goes, but still needing some tweaks before I even begin thinking about the final manifestation I plan to have done this summer  Preparing HONEY MACHINE for the zine subscription (which is just about ready and will be done by next week).  And another fun little project of zodiac poems that will be in little supermarket horoscope scrolls (we're taking AofR stuff to Zine Fest in May and I feel like these would go over nicely there.)  They are also little boxy things, so I may just post them as I go on instagram as poetry postcards.. (I've been posting some samples of work this way, but lineated poems are a bit trickier to make square and still readable.)

They are also really fun to write, and not at all angsty, and remind me of the James Franco pieces, a little bit of no-pressure wordy fun. 

In the realm of other distractions, last Sunday, somehow I found myself in the midst of a full-scale poetry shelf re-org effort (mostly because I was looking for my wayward copy of this book (there is a who-dunnit and tour at the Glessner House coming up .  Since my shelving style was more a controled-chaos things, instead of cleaning the rest of the house,  I wound up at least alphabetizing by author (and did find the Guess book eventually in some books that had slipped behind some others.)  I also found an unread book from AWP 2014 I'd completely forgotten I picked up. So yay!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

notes on the end times

One of the questions we formulated for our Apocalypse, USA panelists Thursday night was whether or not current or political or social climates had an impact on pushing you toward apocalyptically themed work, and the answer was usually no, and indeed, as I thought about it, I would have given the very similar answer. I was pretty much finished with the entirely of the manuscript of LITTLE APOCALYPSE, long before the election in 2016, and truthfully before that, for me, what happened was not even on my mind as a possible outcome until it actually, horrifically, was happening. I think I've spent the last year and a half hoping that we'd you know, actually make it all the way through 2018 when my next book was supposed to come out.

I always half joke / half seriously talk about the roots of my series apocalypse theory came from watching too many episodes of Supernatural in a short time frame. terrestrial animal, was inspired by an article on underground houses, while strange machine was inspired by the pinup models and bomb imagery I used for that series of collages, long before the poems were conceived. (themselves, if I remember, a play on the whole "bikini island" thing.)   The zombie girl poems were more generally zombie inspired. These were all written from around 2013-2015, and the book accepted in 2016, well before that bleak November.  I began the first poem of my impossible objects series, the end of last year, with a nod to previous apocalypse poems, but with a new twist that seemed imminent, even though that isn't really the subject matter of those poems.

Ir's rough. because at any given minute, I write toward fears and obsessions. In the mid 2000's that was violence against women . and probably that was what happened with the more recent series of love poems, which were definitely formed more by external cirumstances than internal. My projects now are more internally focused with impossible objects and the hunger palace and more autobiographical, but sometimes it feels like those external things are skirting at the edges.  My own mother's death, in itself personal, also wrapped up in the things that were happening concurrently, watching hours of television news and coverage stuck in various hospital and nursing home rooms--hurricanes, mass shootings, coverage of the administration. So I suppose it's impossible to write the hunger palace series without a nod to those things as well, since none of us exist in a vaccuum.

I remember a former professor who loved Emily Dickinson talking about how strange it was that, as the Civil War through the US, and she was no doubt touched by it in her non-writing life, those concerns and subject matter seem weirdly absent.  While I would no even remotely consider myself a writer who deals with political themes outrightly, it seems impossible that they could not form the sort of bedrock the works springs from.'

Regardless, if we do make it through the year, LITTLE APOCALYPSE will be making it's way into the world, and I'll be reading from it during our APOCALYPSE, USA reading at the end of April with a few other poets with similar themes.  And as a side note, the exhibit turned out beautifully, most of the work big and dramatic, making the show our largest thus far. And the artist panel so good in terms of discussion (and amazingly well-attended as such things go!)

Thursday, March 08, 2018

notes & things | 3/8/18

As I mentioned a couple posts ago, AWP was planned for (a spot at the awesome Whale Prom offsite bookfair, maybe some readings, a cute little pink hotel at the beach) but then financials and travel plans got iffy and the costs outweighed the benefits, but even though I am not at AWP, I am waxing nostalgic about AWPs of yore, including Seattle's (2014) where I stayed at chez Menacing Hedge and had an amazing time with other poets and editors.  The time in Chicago (2012) where I stayed drinking into the wee hours under the glorious ceiling of the Palmer House lobby and then got lost trying to get out of the building and onto the street. That first AWP (2004) where I wandered slack jawed through panels and bookfairs and virtually knew no one. The super swanky Marriot in Atlanta (2007) , where my parents joined me on the road trip and where the burgers in the hotel restaurant were $17. How lucky I've been to share tables with Switchback Books and Arsenic Lobster (all Columbia connections), and last time it was in Chicago, to host a big open studio and books signings right in the studio. How amazing it's been over time to have a chance, every once in a while, to meet the people I spend so much time with online.

So no, I am not going to AWP, and part of me is sullen, but also a little  consoled at the same time that the introverted anxiety of attending has been abated. So I watch from afar, alternately jealous and relieved, sometimes at the same time. Instead, tonight we hosted an amazing artist panel for our APOCALYPSE, USA exhibit that was our best attended by far, and the subject veered off mere subject matter and into marketing oneself as an artist and collaborations and gallery-system alternatives. Artists are always so different than poets, more like artists know there is possibly money to be made, one just has to find their niche. Poets know there is no money to be made in the least, and yet, we still persevere. It's like a truffle pig in a field where there are no mushrooms and we are well aware of it .

Instead of going to AWP, I will spend the weekend writing and maybe painting and finishing off Game of Thrones. I will make soup and drink too much coffee and listen to good (and bad) music. I will sequester myself in my little introvert bubble and see what comes of it.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

writers and artists and social media-doings

As I've been dipping my toes in the Twitter pool the past week, I've been thinking about social media and which platforms work best for which things, both as content generator and content consumer.  My twitter use is shaping up to more focused than facebook on specifically  writing and art-related topics. (and I am mostly following other artists, writers, and publications there.) It's perfect for links and small segments of poetry due to length restrictions, but I am also hesitant on how much time one is to spend there in order to absorb the hive that is buzzing around you.  As someone who does not really use my phone for internet outside of instagram posts, and mostly do my interneting on my laptop or desk computer and only at certain times of day,   I feel sort of adrift and unable to follow twitter as a reader and follower even when I am posting there.   I've had the dgp one for a while, but it mostly autoposts from the facebook and I don't interact all that much there. It also got me thinking about other platforms I use, and what they are best for, and sometimes worst for.


What's on it?  What it's useful for?

I've been regularly keeping a journal since my second year of college (and rather spottedly before that even though high school).  First it was a series of black marble composition books, then it was Xanga, then it was here.  Sometimes I feel like maybe no one is really reading this and maybe I'm just writing for myself. And really,  maybe that's okay.  I use it as a reference all the time for temporal reasons, also for mulling over patterns and obsessions.  For replaying things in my head from 5-10-15 years ago.  For writing fodder & materials.  Since it probably, altogether, far exceeds any poems I've ever written in both word count  and bulk, it's probably my grandest opus, even though a little rougher around the edges  My frequency has waxed and waned over time, and some waters are deeper than others, some rants and arguments more fevered. I used to get more heated over writing-related things I thought were stupid or arbitrary or useless.  There is much here about forging one's identity as a writer, about submitting work and publishing your first book.  About MFA-ing. There is also a lot of  thinking things out loud to make sense of them.   Sadly, with the rise of of much sexier social media options, may writers once active have long since abandoned them for other, less time intensive pastures.  Even for me,  most of my writerly news updates are more likely to happen elsewhere, whereas once, it was pretty much only happening here. I still like blogs for their heftiness and longer dips into things, however, and still read the ones I can find. (and the style & fashion blogs I also enjoy  are still very much a thing, even if poetry has moved onto to other platforms. )


What's on it?  What's it useful for?

When I decided to stop struggling with handcoding html everytime I wanted to change something on my personal or press website (which I had been doing old school on angelfire since around 2001), I started thinking of something easily updateable but with easy customizeable templates.  I had started using tumblr as the platform for wicked alice when we went from individual issues to streaming content, and I liked the ease of use enough and the ability to sucscribe/follow enough to aim my both my domains for both the press and my personal site to tumblr pages. On my the press page, you are able to navigate through info & guidelines pages, or go directly into the shopify platform which is the retail outlet. The feed on the tumblr features occasional news and new titles. Similarly, my own writing & art site (kristybowen.net)functions in much the same way, with the main feed sort of a news & updates page (publications, samples, new work), and then individual pages for things like books, interviews/reviews, exhibits and readings, and linking to other social media and projects from there. In this way, I probably use it very much in the way other writer's use Word Press as an easy way to set up a site that looks polished and like you have a design team working on it. Tumblr's boon is that it  is mostly free unless you want super-fancy templates. Tumblr, as a whole, also has really good search engine rankings.


What's on it?  What's it useful for?

Pretty much the kitchen sink of social media. Baby goat videos, funny comics, random observations, links to writing and art endeavors, personal history, library things, dancing girl press things, cats, artist discoveries,  book & entertainment things, cats, photoshop magic, clothes & fashion & decor, angry feminist rantings (and links! ) Reductress and McSweeney's funnies. Areas of personal interest--anxiety, polyamory, creativity in general. Cats. Basically all the things you will hear me talk about of you are ever within actual earshot of any conversation IRL ever (but yeah, mostly cats.). It is behind a friend wall mostly with a few public posts to keep away the right-wingers and mansplaining riffraff, but if I know you in an actual real life or online community writerly capacity, you're pretty much in.   This sometimes feels like a convergence point where everything comes together and probably where my truest, unadulterated voice comes through. Sometimes with a lot of profanity.  And cats. Also, probably the only place where my real non-writing life (family, personal, library) intersects with more creative endeavors. Facebook as a platform seems to excel in it's share-ability and conversational possibilities.  I also have facebook pages for projects--dgp, Aesthetics of Research, the Crypto Society,  that are more focused in their content on those endeavors.


What's on it?  What's it useful for?

Up until last summer, I had a Nokia Windows based phone that was pretty much not playing nice with instagram and I so very badly wanted to give it a whirl. When I was firmly ensconced with an Android like a normal person, the first thing I did was start posting--pretty things, random shots of my homespaces and workspaces, books under construction, random dailyness,  things I'm reading or perusing, clothes, vintage housewares, landscape shots. And yes, I think 48 hours passed before I posted the first cat picture. Over time,  I've slowly filtered in some poem posts and artwork series in progress, and sometimes, older stuff and throwback pieces.  I am still working on how to use hastags effectively.  If you want a more visual manifestation of what is twirling about me in a daily basis and maybe even twirling about inside me, this is an accurate representations of my surrounding and obsessions. With more cats.


What's on it?  What's it useful for?

I've had a flickr account for over a decade, and at first it was more just a photo storage place that wasn't my own device. . As a result it is much more of an online photo album documenting the past 10 years than a social media thing I interact with other's over. I do, however,  since I am too lazy to find a proper portfolio platform for visual artwork, use the flickr albums as an easy  way to showcase that, but there are also random vacation folders, albums of more instagrammic shots pre-instagram, and sales pics from when I had the etsy shop.


What's on it?  What's it useful for?

Pinterest is definitely more for me than for anyone else, and where I bookmark completely frivolous stuff like dresses I want, style I like (by season and decade), hair colors, drink recipes, food stuffs, home or studio design inspirations. Also mini-obsessions like vintage wallaper, postcards, textiles., floral tattoos.   Useful things like packaging design and book cover inspirations.  I also have started idea and inspirations boards for various creative projects (UNUSUAL CREATURES has one, as does POSTCARDS FROM THE BLUE SWALLOW MOTEL.) Pinterest always has the feeling  that reading print magazines (fashion or decor mostly) used to have for me, that sort of flipping through and ripping things out to save.