Tuesday, October 16, 2018

very serious things

Autumn, the thick of it, always makes me nostalgic and backward looking.  Last week I found myself looking forward to getting some Thai Food and maybe watching some Buffy and realized this was pure late 90's ritual for me..Every Tuesday night when the show was on, sometimes with my sister, I would order takeout (usually pad thai but sometimes pizza) and throw ourselves down the futon and floor or my tiny Lincoln Park studio to watch the show.  In some ways it made me think that my existence is not so different from then, my life not so strange to that 24 year old self.  Sure, my apartment is bigger, and I traded grad school classes for library work, but that was the first fall where I felt like poetry was at the center of things. the fall where I plunged into writing and for the first time, it was actually promising.  When I fell in love with the Wasteland in a lit seminar and it opened a door for me that changed everything. When I began writing the poems that would go into that very first forgotten, horrible, book manuscript I vowed to finish before 25.

I had come out of a weird depressive funk the first couple months of the year, having begun to realize teaching was not for me, but with no clue of any future direction that did not include that fall back plan I'd always held in place. I was untethered for a while, but in the fall, began to feel a bit more anchored by the writing process.  The hours I spent not in class, I was working on poems.  I would kill to have that sort of free time these days, that sort of impulsive energy.  The words came fast and furious that fall, some of which would wind up in my first chapbook from Moon Journal and other online publications a couple years later.  (though none made into my first book.)  Perhaps this is why fall always seems like a very serious time to write very serious things--moreso than other seasons. When I want to hide among stacks of books and do research for projects that are just beginning to take shape.

There is something about the drawing in, the waning daylight, that makes me want to hunker down with projects.   I am still working catch as catch can through taurus, but I need to spend some time on the weekend rearranging and sorting the newer pieces into something like coherence.  It's running a little longer than I intended, so seems a little vast and unruly, which needs a little work.   I think I am scheduled to work Sunday, so maybe I'll get a little time in then to arrange.

Monday, October 15, 2018

assorted writing newsiness

1.  It being the season of profound witchiness, I have a witchy new piece (from the ordinary planet series) in the latest issue of Grimoire. This is the very first of the series to see light of day (with some more coming later on in Rust & Moth) It's my strange little gothic steam punk apocalypse series, and look!  actual line poems, which I suspected I'd forgotten how to write with all the prosiness happening the past couple of years.

2. Stirring also recently dropped the first of the slender man series, necessary violence. Some more will be coming in the Mansion anthology next spring, and then later as an online collab project with my text pieces and visuals from my sister next summer.

3.  You can still get in on some subscription series action for both EXQUISITE DAMAGE (totally free and available via Tiny Letter) and TAURUS,(which  progressing along at Chanillo, where you an subscribe to unlimited series for only $5 a month.)

4.  I'll be starting to post more of the Poets Zodiac pieces on instagram, as well as collages, which will eventually be some sort of larger artist book project.

5. You can also still get in on the subscription plan for this year and get your hands on all sorts of goodness, including /slash/, how to write a love poem in a time of war, the honey machine, the science of impossible objects, as well as more zines, prints, and poets zodiac scrolls.

6.  If you happen to be on campus, stop by the CCC Library to check out our Beautiful Monstrosities exhibit, which contains a spread of the /slash/ project in one of the display cases.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

poet magic in the real world

Yesterday brought some fortuitous news regarding something rather mundane but necessary I'd written a few months back that had to do with a job classification audit (I'm bored out of my mind even typing those words.)  It was a union thing, and there was an appeal process that I penned the department's response to, and we actually got exactly the rating we wanted, even better than we expected, which bodes well for supporting some of the restructuring and title re-imaginings afoot that will hopefully bear fruit as a pay increase.

It got me thinking of how odd it always feels when my writing abilities actually manifest as real life consequences..not that poetry life is not real life, but it rarely does it impact the daily life of jobs and bills and affording groceries (or dresses.).   It's terrible that real world gains only signify financials in my mind, but it's sadly true..I can't pay my rent in poems.  I can't really buy dresses with poems.  My day job is another weird place where my writing abilities are called upon seldomly, and the majority of people haven't a clue that I'm a writer, much less a rather good one.Especially since libraries often have weird power structures that privilege the MLS degreed librarians over "support staff" who really have far more responsibilities for the daily functioning & maintenance of the library.  Especially for me. since I have two graduate degrees, but neither is in library science.

That writing magic has manifested at least a couple times in the past few years, most noticeably the winning ACRL award application, which while I did a lot of compiling existing info, I did do quite a lot of writing in terms of intros and transitions, and organizing and outlining the final product   Our win was likely a combination of various programming efforts, amazing illustrations by a student artist,  and my writing/design/editing skills. But rarely does my experteise have much to do with that other, more practical life.   It's gotten better with all of the other things I do in the library, committee work for A of R and such, but those aren't nested in my more mundane job description duties and what I'm technically being paid for --well, at least YET (see above).   That award pursuit itself was in the works for awhile, at least two other committees (all degreed librarians part of the Ref / Instruction Department) had written previous year's applications, and we were sort of left-fielding it from the Access Department spurred on by all we'd been doing with A of R programming.   Our then-Dean of the Library joked that it took a poet to win the damn thing.   And yes, I would think, poets can do a lot things where others have failed.

(I ended that paragraph with a wish that poets could change the mind of the American people and make real change, but this flashed in my mind, so maybe they can (maybe not a poet, but songsters are sometimes as close as we can get in the American imagination..so I'll take it..)

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

crypto zine fun

In honor of the upcoming Little Indie Press Fest, I put some effort into getting a new Chicago Cryptozoological  Society zine up and about and ready for it's very own little table Friday. The crypto zines went over really well at Zine Fest back in the spring and hopefully will catch some interest this week. While I still find it disheartening that fun little 20 minute creations capture the public imagination far more than lit/art zines that took years or months to manifest, I still find them fun to do (and the cryptotaxonmy project was a little of both--serious artwork, but a fast little zine creation.)

Monday, October 08, 2018

I will be on hand with lots of dancing girl press  and Chicago Crytozoological goodies at the latest incarnation of the Little Indie Press Festival during the Columbia Arts Crawl this Friday. It's the 4th Year of the fest and looking to be one of our best yet..there will be art, books, zinemaking and more!


Columbia College Library and The Aesthetics of Research Project, which is dedicated to exploring the role libraries play in the creative process, announces its annual Little Indie Press Festival on Friday, October 12, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (during the Columbia Weekend Crawl).

Participating artists/presses/orgs include:
Valerie von rubio
Jennifer Sauzer
Sarah Suzanne Noble Artist/Writer
Zach Bartz
Bleh the Buddha
Another Chicago Magazine
Lya Finston
dancing girl press & studio
JJ McLuckie
The Publishing Lab
The Chicago Crytozoological Society
The Cluster Project
& more...

Featuring many manifestations of independent publishing, including indie literature, comics, zines, visual and book arts, the festival seeks to bring together all manner of publishers artists, & orgs. under one roof to celebrate the spirit of independent publishing, including a publisher’s showcase, word games, readings, zine making, and more.

notes & things | 10/8/2018

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Another week under wraps and another about to begin.  I spent this weekend resting up and getting ready to charge into this weeks Little Indie Press Fest preparations.   Saturday, I zoned out and did some work on a longer blog post about personal style for next Friday, but not much else but watching AHS: Asylum and sleeping til well after noon. Yesterday was a little writing and some blurbage for someone else's forthcoming book, and a post about the newest zine offering, but otherwise a slow day.  I meant to work on some paintings, but wasn't quite feeling it yet.  Next weekend, I'll be in Rockford for a party and some belated family b-day celebrations, and am probably set to pick up some weekend shifts, so my free weekends may be numbered.

The exhibit hanging and Beautiful Monstrosities discussion panel went off swimmingly, with some good discussion on whether or not it's necessary that female monsters be likeable in some way--which I hope to pick up again in our film panel at the end of the month. Next week is our mask-making workshop, followed by trivia night the following one, and converging the last week with that panel and the  Halloween Public Domainia screening to round out the month.  I know I will blink and it will be over, and who knows how November will feel, how I will handle things mentally, that unsettling month every year all my life for no real reason and now this new terrible anniversary.

I am pre-self-medicating my mood with some more shopping--some leopard ballet flats, a buttery soft flannel for layering, a new plaid fur-collared coat spotted in the window of Forever 21. But all it just leaves me is poorer and with lots  things I love, but don't really need, which maybe is enough (and probably better for me than eating my feelings, which was happening for a bit there earlier in the year). There is always the ability to drown myself in work and it helps--my writing and the press, things for the library.  But sometimes even those things feel a little smothering. Fall is always like this as the days get shorter, but I worry about this year in particular more than others past. 

Sunday, October 07, 2018

the science of impossible objects

I've been planning for the past couple of weeks to write a few notes on the new zine project.   They began with an idea for a future project scrawled in my notebook after I stumbled on a funny pinterest board--a woman with a  remarkably stylish imaginary daughter.  It was pure comedic genius. It took me a while to actually sit down with it in earnest, but this past April during NAPOWRIMO, I tuned my attention specifically to that project and began making some progress, particularly since I intended those to be included in a longer mss. I was working on about mothers and daughters, something that was finally taking shape after losing my own mother (and includes the hunger palace and plump pieces)

"Sometimes you have to call it what it is, blind luck. that what tethers the body never took.  Never shook itself free of the tree."

As for real kids, I had long ago made the decision I wouldn't be a slave to biology, that if, in my 20's, I didn't want them, there was always time to adopt or foster if I was too old by the time I had anything like the stability (romantic, fiscal, mental, career) necessary to do it well. By the time I hit my late thirties, I pretty much decided child-rearing wasn't for me.  Perhaps I had too good of a childhood and never felt like I, in turn, could provide someone else what my parents had provided me.   Also that I wasn't prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to the endeavor.  It wasn't a hard choice, and there was a bit of waiting for signs (getting accidently pregnant would have been a big one..lol..) to see if I was being too hasty, but none came. By the time I reached 40, people stopped expecting any of the usual things from me like traditional marriage and kids, and kinda stopped asking.  

Despite my intentions to delve into what it means to be a intentionally childless woman in a world that finds this anomaly, it actually wound up being less about that and more about creativity and what little control we have over things we make,kind of like kids once they are out in the world.  I often joke that my books are my children, and this project gave some tangibility to that without me even setting out to do that at first. So in a way it became much more meta than intended and I liked it even more for that. 

I really wasn't thinking about visual elements when it was written, or even if there would be any. but in early May, I started a series of collages that somehow developed into what would accompany the text pieces and a zine project was born. Somehow, they were perfect--a little creepy, a little haunting.Probably just like any child I would have--real or imagined.

(to get a sampling of the poems, check out this issue of Occulum, where a chunk appeared or the White Stag editor's issue)

Friday, October 05, 2018

friday obsessions | I came, I saw, I bought

This week marked a little more bank account cushioning in the week since I've avoided eating out since the semester began  (barring coffee and my usual breakfast--my one allowance.)  A rare feat since I inevitably cave to pizza and tacos at least once a week or wind up going on an occasional Friday.  But as such, and since money burns a hole in my pocket pretty quickly, I chose to hit up my other vice and pick up a few things I'd been wanting.  Ever since I finished re-watching the last season of Sex in the City, I'd been obsessed with Carrie's stripey Paris outfit, and though I have a couple more summery tees sporting stripes, I wanted some sort of sweater or cardigan and a short sleeve tee for layering, both of which I hunted up on ebay and got for a combined under $30.


In my hunt for stripes, I stumbled across this shirt, and since I've been listening exclusively to Stevie in the studio for the past couple of weeks (and in honor of AHS) I of course had to buy it. (also because it will look amazing with the velvet green jacket I bought a couple of years ago that barely goes with anything else, but I love it madly. ) It's also art nouveaux-ish Stevie, so it was extra enticing...

Image result for stevie nicks t-shirt torrid

I was lying in bed another morning and thumbing through Pinterest and spotted this dress which I had been watching since summer and praying it would go on sale, and realized it had, almost by like half, and amazingly was still available in my size.  I have three of this style from Modcloth and love them (a polkadot, a black, and a berry-colored one.)  I've learned that if I love a dress and it's flattering, to buy as many colors as I can since it eliminates the fashion error rate.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

archer avenue

Image result for resurrection mary
Perhaps they are, after all, godless.
Licking the finials and mothering
strange black dogs. The boxwoods
alone accumulate thousands,
precarious as jukebox lovesongs. 
It being the season of ghosties, I always post a link to this chap. It’s long-ago out of print, but i do have a pdf posted for reading…

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

monster season

We are drowning in the back of the circ area with the amazing art dropped off for the Beautiful Monstrosities exhibit and I am super excited to get it on the walls tomorrow.  We were semi-inspired by our visit to the DePaul Pop Culture conference in the spring devoted to slasher films to do something with horror this fall (especially since we put off our mass delusions and illusions topic for spring.)  I will also be throwing in my contribution--some spreads of the /SLASH/ zine from last winter, both the text and the images (see above).  Over the course of the month we have some cool things coming up in conjunction with the exhibit, including a mask-making workshop, a film trivia night, a round table discussion, and our Halloween Public Domainia.

I was charged with coming up with some of the panel questions for Thursday night and got to thinking about the idea of monstrous women and the current political climate and how montrosity can work as social commentary--I immediately think of something like Wasp Woman--the woman so vain and afraid of ageing that she transforms into a monster.Or something like American Mary, her patients,  where the surgeries and body mods essentially make women into monstrocities. Or plastic surgery gone awry.  At what point does the beautiful become the monstrous. (which really makes me want to cut up fashion magazines and make monster collages, which I totally might do.)  It's far down the pipeline and I've only worked at researching it, but the Renaissance Dog girl poems I want to write eventually, and how they tie into this idea are interesting as well. Probably something I touched on a little in girl show, but something that could be explored a little more in the future.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

notes & things | 09/30/2018

I'm calling it Octoberish, though technically the month does not land until tomorrow. I have a busy week ahead, starting with zine night on Monday, hanging the art for Beautiful Monstrosities, and the artist panel on Thursday.I am also trying not to leave everything for Indie Press prep til next week, so there is some of that. The past few days, things have been fallish, cloudy and cool, and it seems to have suddenly shortened the days  by increasing increments.  It happens suddenly each spring and fall, the daylight lengthening or shortening, gradually, then all at once.

I've closed all my windows and last night, curled up on the couch with a blanket for the first time in months to watch some old American Horror Stories (Murder House, Season 1).  I've been digging season 8 so far in all it's apocalyptic glory and figure I'll binge  as many seasons while I can while waiting the interminable weeks between new episodes. (I bought the season pass on Amazon streaming last week.)  Now that it's officially the witching season, I also intend to dig deeper into my own personal horror marathon (last week's exploits were re-watching Hell House, LLC (really good), some Alicia Silverstone/Jeff Goldblum movie from the 90's (really bad), and the original Piranha (so bad it's good.)

I am still making my way through the new submissions and playing catch up on orders.   I have a couple new titles almost ready to go that will be unveiling this week.  I am at the point where I inevitable fall a bit behind on new releases, but actually need the lull to get some other things under control.  I am excited about the new things I am choosing from the submissions for next year, as well as what is still coming down the pipeline. I'm hoping to make a little more progress this month on the anthology and getting an issue of wicked alice under wraps soon.

I am getting closer and closer to the end of taurus and am feeling pretty good about it.   I wanted to finish it out before the end of the month, but there is still some more work needed, some holes yet unfilled. The serial installments will continue until I've exhausted everything that needs to be there. My Tiny Letter project, however, is pretty much wrapped up, so I will be switching to a new series over there and putting exquisite damage aside until I have more of book #10 (which also includes taurus and the slender man pieces), and for which I am already tossing around a title for that I hope will stick. After that,  I'll likely be moving onto really digging into automagic, which is just a few pieces at this point, but promising ones.  I'm hoping to continue the productivity into the fall and have both full-lengths in the works ready to start submitting next summer or fall.  There is also the ever stalled out unusual creatures artist book project and the zodiac poems, whatever will come of them as I work on more.  I did manage to get the science of impossible objects up for sale in the shop (and will be talking a bit more about it in depth in a week or so.)

I am in the process of a studio tidy and things are looking much more orderly there.  Right now with library things scheduled for the second Friday, the plans for opens studios remains every elusive, but might be able to swing the holiday one in December if I can keep my head above water.  

Friday, September 28, 2018

friday obsession | jacket season

We are stumbling into jacket weather the past few days (or least thicker sweater weather) and I am excited about some of the ones that I'll be finally pulling out of the entryway closet (if they have not all been eaten by the moths that are a continual scourge in my wardrobe.)  A few weeks ago, I was gushing about fancified demin possibilities, but I am obsessed with a few others:

* Corduroy

I have a few different shapes and colors (teal burgundy, green, brown, tan) , and a few different cuts (cropped, hip length, knee length) but only one is fully lined and heartier (a basic brown)  so as the tempratures dip, there's only  a sliver of a season to wear them before I have to switch for something heartier.  I'm always on the lookout for more though, as whisper thin as the time for wearing them is.

* Leather

I have one knee length basic black trench and another older reddish brown one (both real, both ebayed).  The tragedy is this beautiful light tan one I bought off of Poshmark but was in no way plus size and no stretch to it. I'm torn over whether to sell it back into the wilds or keep hoping my arms get a little thinner than they are because it's so pretty. I also procured a fake black moto cut one last spring after the one I had (also fake) started to disintegrate and flake away in places..not even from wear but just hanging on the hook by my door..) It's a more masculine in style than I usually wear, but pairs well with super girl floral dresses and lets me live out my 90's fashion dreams.

* Velvet.

This is probably my newest coat obsession, but it's really hard to find them as long as I want in plus size.  I managed to hunt up a couple of blazer cut jackets, one a gorgeous teal, but I've been bust on anything longer with the exception of the leopard print one I snatched up last spring that I want to wear pretty much every day.


 Years ago, my mid-temp jackets were mostly long cardigans in a couple different colors that were warmer than most jackets if you layered them over long sleeve tees or lighter knits.  Most of them got old and worn out and I never replaced them and moved onto other kinds of jackets. Last week I spotted a girl wearing a long crochet duster and I wanted it badly, so it might be time to revisit those urges. I have also fallen a bit in love with shorter ponchos and capes, and have a super soft black one that works as long as it's not too cold out, or if I wear it over long sleeves.


I've bought a couple colors of suede hip length coats, but would love to find a knee-length in my size but not too boxy. They work well as something falling between the thin corduroy ones and the much warmer actual leather ones. They also make me feel super posh when I wear them becuase they look quite a bit fancier than the cordoroy.

see links @ pinterest...

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Monday is our first zine night of the semester and I am looking forward to making some lady monster collage zines in honor of Beautiful Monstrosities.  We'll also be doing a similar workshop in late October suring the college's open house and hopefully luring some freshman our way with scissors and fancy markers & pens, god willing...

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

off the wall and onto the page

 Amazing discussion tonight at our On & Off the Walls Panel about the importance of community in artmaking and getting your work in front of audiences. Also the importance of boldness and persistence, especially if you are working outside the gallery system. Also, what struck me very much was that all of the artists had found success without waiting for any sort of magical permission stick to bop them on their head and make them acceptable or legitimate.

I came to visual art kinda late, so my exploits are a little different and definitely not at all gallery-driven -though things do occasionally wind up in group shows.  I made my first collages after I took a workshop down at the Book & Paper Center, one of which still hangs in my dining room. At first, my visual exploits were driven by neccessity for cover designs with dgp, later by retail purposes for the collages and paper goods I was making for the etsy shop, where I was a big hit with shadowboxes and simple collages. All along, I was mostly exhibiting in the library's shows which always needed more work (much as I still do now). I began doing more art for arts sake--many touched off by design work I did for the press.  Some were totally random, some were just ridiculous goof-offs, but by the time the late 2000's rolled around, I was creating work, much of it in cooperation with written work by then, so soon there were things like the shipwreck series and radio ocularia, sometimes created in tandem with the written elements, as well as other image-only series like strange seed that would manifest as books or book-like in some way.

I had come out of the 90's with a rudimentary knowledge of zines and zine making, but had never indulged myself.  My sister worked on a zine with her high school friends and it seemed like fun, and while I was swimming in the culture that made zines big, I didn't have have the vision or resources to make something of that culture.   By the time I landed with the sort of creative drive to do something, everyone was making online zines, thus wicked alice was born,  but I somehow missed the golden age of the saddle staple, well, at least until I started making their kissing cousin, chapbooks.

I was also beginning to become familiar with the slightly fancier cousin of both, artists books, and was interested in the possibilities of going that direction with some dgp projects (thus things like at the hotel andromeda and billet-doux).  For a Woman Made Gallery show, I created the book of red, which was a one-off collage retelling of little red riding hood.  I was really inspired by Aussie artists Gracia and Louise and their beautiful books and zines, which sort of showed me what was possible and so began issuing the bulk of my work in zine or artist book form, both the written and the visual, sometimes separately, usually together. I liked very much how it felt like I was creating much more wholly working in both, and I still do this for most projects.

I guess sometimes they are chapbooks (havoc, the inventions of the monsters), sometimes they are zines (/slash/, honey machine), and sometimes I get a little fancier and would consider them artist books (lunarium, radio ocularia), but all of them feel like a way to present my work in the most unified way possible.  Many of the shorter series go on to be published in books without the visual elements of course, and stand alone nicely, but offer another layer in their original form.

It also feels good to be able to distribute work in a more direct way and interact with other artists.  You can sell copies of a traditional book and never know where it lands , but I've met so many poets and book artists by more direct audience cultivation. I remember those early chaps I made and how much I liked swapping them and giving them away which isn't always economical with full-length books. A few years back, I started offering the yearly zine series as a way to get everything at a discount, plus other printed goodies.

Things do occasionally wind up on walls around the city or in the library, or books wind up in shows, but these happen sort of haphazardly (The Krampus Show, Words|Matter) since I don't have the bandwidth to pursue them all the time (also logistically hard given transportation and schedules for pick-ups or drop-offs )  But I do like exhibiting in the library in the themed shows we do (mostly since my co-curator, Jen, and I share many of the same obsessions that dictate our subject matter.) This way, the art show sort of comes to me instead of me to it.  I also used to do sort of general library exhibits and the occasional alumni show. And then things like Zine Fest and Indie Press and such are also good (as will be the mythical open studios I plan but never seem to have.) I'd also like to work more at getting visual work in other venues like lit and art mags in the future, since I feel like they are a very high impact way of generating interest in your work at large.

Monday, September 24, 2018


I finally got around to scanning some of the more recent botanicals--in this case, trees--that may or may not eventually be part of florographia. See more here..

Sunday, September 23, 2018

even the coyotes have lost the scent of her

 Every once in a while I will pop one of my older projects down off the shelf while I am thinking about current or future ones--today it was that very first offspring, the fever almanac, one which I have had a tumultuous relationship from the moment it was publshed (or probably even since it was first put together in its earliest form.) There are so many bones in that book of later projects, of later obsessions. Especially in light of taurus taking shape even now.

Mostly with a few exceptions, these seem to have a certain over-wroughtness about them.  I'm pretty sure one of my MFA profs called them "baroque" and it's true, I see it now even if I did not see it then.  But they are also very rich and lush with language in a way I probably have not written since. There are good parts, good lines, and even a few good entire poems that I would feel really good about had I written them today. But a lot that seemed necessary at the time, but less so now. It's complicated by the fact that some readers really loved these poems, and I love them for it, but I find it hard to find the place from which I wrote them.

My feelings might also have a lot to do with when the book was published, how my work was changing even then--how my whole means of constructing a poem was changeing vastly over the years in which those poems were written.  I started moving in new directions as early as late 2004, so the poems that later wound up as part of in the bird museum  are more satisfying to me somehow when I read them now. I can look at the book entirely and with a few missteps think that I would write that poem exactly the same now.

And yet, of course, that book needed to happen.  I remember back when I was so desperate to have a book, any book, so many poets talking about being "ready" to publish. In truth, you are only as ready as you are at the moment you put it together. You are only the poet that writes any given poem, any given book, in the moment and then most likely that poet has re-invented themself with subsequent books. the fever almanac is sort of a time capsule of my styles and obsessions from about 2000-2004, and also, even in its own pages, the shifts that were happening (noticeable greatly from the pieces in the first section and pieces in the last.)

My favorite pieces in the fever almanac are probably the more bare-bones ones-"sangria" and "night drive" and "predictions"--all written in 2004. But I am nostalgic about some of the poems nearer the beginning "after the flood" which always went over really well. "nebraska" of which numerous revisions exist between the journal publication through two chaps, and then here. I spent a lot of time obsessing over these poems, maybe in a way I never have since, trying to get them right.  Trying to get the book manuscript right.  Other books have been easier, but much less hands on , sort of like your first doted upon child and others that more or less raise themselves. 

Also that shiftiness of self--the self I was who wrote this book was barely even the self who existed when it was published. Certainly not the self that opened the book up this morning over coffee. Perhaps moreso than children, books are monuments (in my head, I just said "graves" but that seems terribly glum)  to the moment they were written in, to the person who was writing them,which is probably the lens through which all books can be viewed with.

(note:  the title of this entry is a line taken from "sangria" ...the book is long out of print and the publisher no longer exists, but you can read a pdf version here..)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

notes & things | 9/22/2018

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It's been a busy week and upcoming weeks about to get busier. We're now on that  slick slope into October, when all the good things we've spent time planning in the library will be happening. All week, I've been eyeing the submissions for the Beautiful Monstrosities exhibit and yesterday sent responses and prepared for drop-offs this week. We wound up with a good span of mediums and styles that should be interesting. Preparations are also under way for the attendant programming--the film panel, the reading, and such, as well as the Indie Press Festival, which falls earlier in the month than usual. This week's first Book to Art Club meeting of the year was likely the most successful yet, with a bunch of participants and some amazing collages created  for our final project devoted to War of the Worlds.

This week brought warmer weather that has since cooled off nicely, as well as beautiful mail, including my copy of Ethel, which has a piece from exquisite damage as well as a copy of  Jen Rouse's dgp / bone & ink press  collab Riding With Anne Sexton.  Jen did a gorgeous job in the book's production, which included some design elements from all of us and an awesome cover from Arielle Kwestel.

I am working on pulling together copies of the science of impossible objects, which is the August/Sept. zine offering. Hopefully, I will have them finished up by the end of the week..I would love to have unusual creatures on deck for October, it being the requisite amount of spooky, but there is so much to do and track down in terms of supplies, it may have to wait til winter.  In the vein of spooky, I've been idly doing some early research on HH Holmes and the Murder Castle. I've always had an interest in the Worlds Fair anyway, so it might be useful.  Holmes was one of the rare Taurus serial killers on one of those zodiac lists, and I find it amusing, like all Tauruses who occasionally are a bit much, he wound up building and entire hotel to do his killing in..lol..nothing like over-planning ahead.

Otherwise, I plan to continue my weekend horror movie watching on Amazon streaming.  A couple weeks back was my my first caramel apple of the season and we'll soon be into hot chocolate territory.  I am eyeing November warily, not sure where my mental state will be given the first anniversary of my mom's death, and another round of horrible holidays,  but as for October, I am locked and loaded...

Thursday, September 20, 2018



strange little books

I devoted a little more time to dgp manuscripts today and sent out some more responses and was thinking about the subjectivity of the editor's task. I always laugh at the editors (usually men, weirdly or not so weirdly) who talk about accepting "high quality" work and "the best" of the submission pile (what's sad is when they use this to justify their lack of diversity, their tendency to only publish well-known names or their friends because of course they're the"best" )  This is the same "best" historically leveled at me (again by men) when they criticize the press for only publishing women.  Don't I want "the best" no matter their gender?  I have to explain to them that mostly the press was started as a way to balance out the scales of publishing as much as I can--that, of course, I'll publish what I deem "best", but even that qualifier is totally subjective.  And that's okay, but it's foolish to pretend it's anything else.

I sometimes think I have strange tastes in writing (probably because I have strange tastes in many things.) I've often heard from authors that their chap was this strange little creature that other presses weren't into.  I also love it when poets purposely send their strange little beasties my way because they know I like that sort of thing.

I tend to error toward not sending away anything I wished I could publish, so of course, we publish a lot of titles in a given year between what I cull from submissions, what I solicit, and new books by returnng authors.  Of course, I admit to shameless publishing people I know, who also are people's whose work interests me (obviously, usually why we are friends).  I also want to make sure the year's haul it's a good selection of various backgrounds, cultural identiies, thematic concerns, ages, etc. (it was more difficult at first, but now we naturally get a lot of diversity in the inbox.)   I have various other things I am looking for--new writers who have never published a chapbook--writers from Chicago or the midwest.  Writers whose work I am familiar with from journals and such.  I also like some style variation (traditional lyric, epistolaries, prose poems, vispo).  I am most excited by the poets who just appear, having never seen hide nor hair of them, and somehow have written a book that is just perfect for dgp. I found a couple of these today just waiting there in the to-read pile.

In ways, it's exhilarating.  Moreso than the slushiness of other mss. contests I've helped judge, moreso than the work we have always gotten for wicked alice (which is a lot of people who have obviously never read the journal, and sometimes apparently even our guidelines), dgp submissions, even the ones I end up rejecting, are not that far off the grid.  Usually most are pretty sound, though somehow they do not appeal to me as much as another batch, and since I have to make a cut, I wind up throwing back some things that will no doubt eventually find homes elsewhere.

Things I'm looking for?  Things I like? I like a tight focus or at least cohesiveness to a manuscript rather than a mish-mash.  I like a certain authority of voice, a certain intentional-ness, even if you're going to go really far out there, a certain tenor to the mss. and I will willingly go along. I like a good story, as well,especially if it's delightfully fractured. I like darkness, strangeness, both thematically and stylistic. I like humor, and quirkiness, and a certain off-balanceness for me as a reader.  I really do like fairy tales and myths and mermaids, so we probably publish too many of these (but bear with me) . I also like pop-culture things, ghost stories, texts in conversation with other texts.  I love visual text mash-ups (obviously). I love poems in the forms of other things,--- lists, letters,  abcedariums, indexes, instructions, dialogues.

I could go on an on, I suppose, but these are the things I am looking for everytime I open up the "under consideration" folder in my e-mail, and the sort of things that get an enthusiastic yes. Other things of course, have to be released back into the wilds, but I usually ask that writers try again, maybe with other projects that might be exactly what I'm looking for.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

singing into the void

This article and it's giant, sad whale made me think not of solitude and loneliness, though those are a very clear distinction (especially if you're the type of person, like me, who sometimes feels lonelier in crowds than I ever do alone) but more so poetry and audience and maybe even this blog a little bit. Since the days of commenting on blogs are long gone, sometimes blogging over here when everyone has moved onto the greener pastures of social media feels a little like that whale.   In a way, it's freeing, to write when you feel that no one may be reading at all.  Or maybe someone will read it because of some weird search term on google for "sad whale" and find it years from now.  Or decades (I'm assuming the internet's memory may outlast all of us unless there is an apocalypse.)

Poetry feels this way too sometimes.  there's sharing work--there's publishing in journals and the like--there are even book publications, but it's hard to guage how much of what you put out there actually reaches it's intended audience. Or any audience at all.  Books sell, sometimes you get feedback, but for the amount of stuff that goes out into the world, so much lands in silence. I think about my ideal reader sometimes, and he/she is a fuzzy construct.  Maybe he/she doesn't exist except in my head.  Maybe I am always just slinging things into the void and hoping they hit some sort of mark.

It's also amusing to me, and a little sad, to think of this giant thing, a very obvious thing, gigantic in size moving through ocean and going pretty much unnoticed, which is how poetry in general feels sometimes. You somehow have to know where to look for it, but there it is.  Very obvious and very immense.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

war of the worlds

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One of my first great book love affairs (after my pre-literate raggedy black checkered Mother Goose, my kindegarten Beatrix Potter set obsession, but before I discovered Judy Blume or horror novels) was a pink-covered Children's Illustrated Classics version of War of the Worlds.  Like the Potter set, part of this was the tactile bookness of the set--their compact little squareness, the way they fit tightly in a box.  I believe there were two sets in my possession, most likely Christmas gifts from my parents. I loved they way they felt to be held--so grown-up after years of Little Golden Books.  And I devoured most of them--Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Swiss Family Robinson (though admittedly I remember finding Tale of Two Cities boring enough to abandon--not much has changed, my dislike of Dickens continued through grad school.)

I loved the way they looked lined up on the shelf headboard of my top bunk bed of the room I shared with my sister. They were the first books I owned that were entirely mine (my sister being not yet old enough to read,  so no sharing was necessary.)  In my 6 or 7 year old head, it seemed important to have bookshelves even just one, especially since after my Dad's bookshelf in the living room always seemed so grown-up and mysterious but which was really just half-filled with  a lot of books about hunting.fishing and my mother's cookbooks. My dad is still a big reader, but the books usually wind up in piles of newpapers, magazines, and other ephemera and never on the shelf.  Probably genetic. 

But War of the Worlds was the only one I kept steadily re-reading,kept coming back to.  Lying on that top bunk on weekends, I distinctly remember the pinkness of the cover how it felt and smelled, but the actual illustrations are murky in my memory.  Even then, apocalyptic visions fascinated me.  It elicited the same frisson I get re-reading The Stand or watching Cloverfield.  I'm not sure how to explain it.

In doing a little research for our Book to Art endeavors this term, I uncovered some amazing illustrations done by a Brazilian artist in 1906. Apparently HG Well's wasn't happy with the original first complete edition and had commissioned a second artist for this edition (it had been serialized initially, in America, in Cosmo of all places. )

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I also did not know that Edward Gorey had illustrated a version in the 1960's.  One of the great things about the book is that it has been retold so many times--so many movies and comics and artistic renderings that it makes very fertile ground as a Book to Art choice--especially since it appeals to artists in so many genres--film, tv, writing, illustration, and, of course, radio. I have a book coming through ILL about the ill-fated broadcast and the controversy over whether it was the mad panic that the media would have had everyone believe (esp. in this modern era of so much fake news.) I'm hoping our end result for the year will be some sort of comic book or zine with images and text, so we'll see how it plays out.

Monday, September 17, 2018

notes & things | 09/17/18

Throughout the afternoon, the cicadas are noisy enough that they are creeping into poems, including today's draft of a taurus piece. (there were already goats and a wooden cow, so I figured what the hell.)  But the fall light, I feel it, even though it was muggy and humid. Soon the trees will start changing and dropping and I feel like I am ready for it  Have been longing for it moreso than other years.

I spent some time Saturday while I was working sending out submissions from the Slender Man pieces and sending some other creative pieces I owed people. (including what looks to be an awesome tarot-inspired collab project from Jane Flett and for which the above is my contribution.) I was also finally able to scan in some of the botanicals that I've had sitting on the shelf behind my desk for moths--some of them part of florographia, some just for fun. (and florographia is still at this point, a loose miasma of text and image that is still just all over the place, so we'll see what happens.) Also, some new zodiac prints that are coming along nicely...(see below)

This week, we are getting ready for our first fall Book to Art meeting with this year's title, War of the Worlds (and for which I am determined to do some research on in the next couple of days (more on that soon.)  It will dovetail nicely with our spring focus topic on mass delusions and confusions.  We are also beginning to look through submissions for the Beautiful Monstrosities exhibit and sending out responses this week. So far, things look amazing and I am excited to work out what we can fit on the walls. 

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with Alice Bolin's DEAD GIRLS:  ESSAYS ON SURVINING AN AMERICAN OBSESSION and am loving it.  (more on that in another entry about writing and reading both dead and deadly girls.)  In the first 20 pages, though,  it mentioned not only Pretty Little Liars, but dgp-fave Khadijah Queen's I'm So Fine, so I knew it was going to be promising. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

the lives of the poets

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Last weekend I spent my time watching that Aronovsky film MOTHER!, alternately laughing about how overblown the biblical allegory was and how unrealistic and ridiculous the depiction of the writing life. The husband character, just known as "The Poet" spends his time doing things like hopping out of bed naked to write, entertaining "fans" than show up at his door and basically destroy the house, and being completely oblivious to everything but his art and celebrity while a terrified Jennifer Lawrence looks on. (I would actually argue that her plight, trying to protect the house and build a home (or interior world) and people keep intruding, is far closer to my creative experience than anything the "The Poet" does.)

Historically, poets wear flowy shirts and maxi dresses and cavort around the countryside waiting for rare inspiration to strike, whereupon we scribble our brilliance into our notebooks secretively. Maybe later on we publish it, but rarely do we show pursuit of an audience lest it distastefully smack of focusing too much on the career and not enough on our aesthetics. I was reading an interview with a poet recently who talked about how she only wrote longhand and then typed everything on a manual typewriter. How detrimental it was, at least for her, to keep any sort of dogged writing practice, how poems just occasionally happened  Nevertheless, she was a poet with quite a bit of published work under her belt, which made me expect some of the talk was more metaphorical than actual. (ie, someone was doing the work of submitting and audience creating).

Since I mostly came into my own as a poet of the internet --in terms of publications and connecting with other writers online through various means--first listservs, then discussion boards, then blogs, then social media--I've always been curious about other people's lives as writers--the triumphs, the disappointments. I've always considered it a bit of literary voyeurism. It's probably the same impulse that leads me to all those fictionalized biographies I so love.  Also a certain curiosity about what goes on behind the scene of someone whose work I am interested in.  I was far more fascinated when I was 20 about Plath's letters and journals than I was her poems.. Since I barely knew a single writer in real life, I wanted to know HOW to live this sort of life. What to read, when to write, where to publish.  What I should concern myself with as a writer.

Truth is, of course, my writing life is somehow neither as picturesque or ordered as fiction would have us believe. Mostly it's a kind of controlled chaos.  In past years, it would be months of hardly writing at all and then weeks of panic and trying to finish things before self-inflicted deadlines (mostly on weekends, one of the reasons I am so protective of them.)   I have memories of periods of solid productivity--the summer of 1996, the fall/winter of 1998, my MFA years.  Other years would be more fallow, or so it seemed, and yet I have books to show for many of those years so obviously I was writing, most likely in bits.  Add up lots of bits and you have a book. (why I make a good poet and a horrible novelist, like sprinting vs. running a marathon) My visual work, outside of  regular design projects for things like the press or the library,  is similarly haphazard and chaotic--odd bits here and there--an obsession then lull.  Then, occasionally,  a large amount of output when necessary.

I did once compose mostly by hand, usually on notebook or white paper snatched from the printer. Yellow legal pads or random scrap paper.  In foraging through files I discovered a poem draft on an RC student govt. flyer I must have grabbed in the office (I was once an officer and hung out in the basement amid scores of old paperwork and where I once remember getting very drunk trying to rewrite the constitution.)  Pages and pages of redrafting and cross-outs.  Half poems, harvested poems. Later I would type them on my electric typewriter or later, a word processor.  Then finally a computer.   Eventually, I realized the keyboard was friendlier to revision and now, with a couple exceptions, I'll compose electronically 99% of the time. I have a dropbox now that makes manuscripts accessible anywhere, but I used to use private blogs and e-mail to store poems on the fly and then put them together at some point in a word doc.

Up until a few years ago, for inspiration and prompts, I still kept hearty notebooks with fragments, though now, I tend more toward loose sheets or cheapie notebooks. (currently, it's a dollar store stenographer's pad.) I have a solid sketchbook/planner I use to organize my life, but usually another, more disposable one I carry in my bag, for writing purposes since most gets typed up and tossed out.  Since the spring, I've been good about writing daily and have scads of new work to show for it. The key seems to be prioritizing that writing, whatever is happening in the day, whatever else gets swallowed by work and the press and all the dailyness.

Now,  I open up whatever I am working on while I eat breakfast as soon as I get to the studio and start typing.  I do a little tweaking and revising as I go, but then I usually hit save and leave it alone for a bit.  It helps to get it out before the day drowns me in e-mails and press work and library tasks. Before I am swallowed up and exhausted.  Later in the day, usually at night before I go to bed, I will glance at it again, and if I am alone (which I usually I am most nights of the week) I'll go to bed thinking about it (though if I'm pre-occupied by other things, I fail in this often.)  The next morning I start again.

Every few weeks I will gather and polish and revise as needed. Occasionally I get a chance, like yesterday's weekend library shift quiet, to send out some poems over the transom and respond to invitations. Daily, though I try to do a little bit of work on the more business/self promo side, updating social media with poem samples, publication news, updating serial projects. I do this with art too, though I am less business-like about the visual stuff. I consider this less po-biz  and more audience cultivation, and I feel like it's important if you want, ya know, anyone to actually read the stuff you're writing.  For all of Emily Dickinson's isolation, the amount of work she sent to others, the conversations she was having, she was far from the isolated genius some would claim her as.

So no, it's not as the romantics would have you believe.  I do have some appropriately flowy dresses, but sometimes I wind up with toast or donut crumbs on the front and all over my notebook and keyboard.  Sometimes I spill my coffee all over my pages.  Usually the studio printer, which I will start up as soon as I get in the door, will jam or run out of paper mid writing session and I will have to stop to fill or fix it. At least once a week,  I will get immediately distracted by e-mail or facebook  and the writing doesn't happen.  If I'm working at home, a cat will walk across the keyboard at an inopportune time and delete something I was sure was brilliant moments before. For all my idyllic-cizing Paris in the 20's, I can't write in cafes or public places--too distracting and I feel self-conscious muttering things outloud to guage the rhythm of oa line or sentence.  You probably won't find me jumping from the bed running naked to go write, mostly because, Taurean that I am,  I never want to leave the bed once I'm in it.

 I do occasionally write things in my head--the shower, on the bus, waiting in line for my coffee-- sometimes I actually get to some paper write them down, but sometimes they just get lost. Sometimes I listen to music and daydream and it will lead, circuitously and unplanned to writing.  I usually read other poetry in print or online with a pen in hand or at least near by (or truthfully, sometimes in my mouth) in case someone else's words spark something.  You might sometimes find me staring into space or at my computer, clicking the top of my pen, and maybe I'm composing a poem (or maybe I'm just thinking about something random like whether I should dye my hair again or if there are new mothman sightings, or both.)

more zodiac prints

Saturday, September 15, 2018

spooky flick faves

Every year I plan to spend the entirety of my October watching horror movies and I never quite get in as many as I want.  This year, our Beautiful Monstrosities programming is nothing BUT horror movies so that should help, but last weekend I got a head start, mostly since my borrowed laptop has a dvd player, which my Chromebook does not.

In rifling through my small collection, it's mostly a lot of tv show box sets (Buffy, Lost, The Office, Veronica Mars) and all the rest horror (well except maybe a couple rom coms and that awful Gwyneth Paltrow Sylvia Plath movie). It's by no means exhaustive, most of it picked up on sale in the days before Netflix and streaming. I do have a good selection of asian horror re-makes from the early aughts, including The Ring and Ring 2, which I watched Saturday night.

The former is still listed in my horror top-10.  While it seems less scary than it did in 2002, I still love it for its atmosphere and cinematography (and why I like it better than the Japanese original).   There is so much artfullness to the visual aspects--how the original is  gloomy and unsettling in a way it's sequel is not. I think it also, way back in 2002, it not only struck the match on Americanized remakes (Dark Water will probably always be another favorite of these), but set a visual look that so many films were sporting in terms of colors and palletes and camera shots (I know nothing of how cinematography works, but I do recognize its effects on the viewer. )

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I also watched the more  recent Trick R' Treat, which I think may have surpassed the actual Halloween in terms of movies themed on that particular holiday. This is a more Creepshow style anthology film, but there is an attention to detail that so thoroughly evokes that feeling of childhood Halloween escapades that is delightfully eerie

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While I would probably refuse to rate top horrors since my favorites each have their own reason for falling in my top 10, I'd count the above 2 in that category along with the others below:

The Shining

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Kubrick's hand added so much to this story that wasn't in King's novel and the film is so much the better for it. I saw this at the drive-in when it first came out when I was like 6 and I'm pretty sure I fell asleep before the very end.  But the twins and that elevator full of blood imprinted on my brain and probably formed the fibers of my aesthetics.

It Follows

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Maybe it's partly the  slow, creeping sense of dread, or maybe it's the gorgeous Crewdson-esque cinematography, but I am in love.


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This one snuck up on me and scared the bejeesus out of me when I decided to randomly start watching it on Netflix.  Excellent jump scares and a creepy atmosphere and it fast became a favorite, even though I'd never heard of it's release.

Skeleton Key

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A lot of people would make fun of me for loving this, but I saw it the weekend Hurricane Katrina hit (twice), right around the time I was thinking that lush, creepiness of New Orleans would be amazing to live amongst.  Obviously a bad idea at the time, but I like the look and feel (and it has an amazing soundtrack to boot.)

Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil

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I am a great fan of the funny/scary combo, and this one pulls out just a little bit ahead of Cabin in the Woods (and even more ahead since Joss Whedon turned out be a creep.)  I also recently watched The Final Girls which a slightly more feminist film with a little more heart, that excels in this particular genre.

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Watcher in the Woods

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We had HBO at the house I lived in until i was 9 and this film was in heavy rotation.  We would watch it over and over again, but I've only come to re-enjoy it as I've gotten older (and it's pretty freakin dark for Disney movie.)

Jennifer's Body
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Probably also in the horror/humor category, this one just keeps on giving, whether it's the cheesy indie band scarificing "virgins" or Megan Fox unapologetically devouring high school boys...

Stir of  Echoes

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This came out right around the same time The Sixth Sense came out and it's so, so much better with a similar premise, a less hoky ending, and some better scares.. And also Kevin Bacon instead of Bruce Willis, which I'll take any day.

Friday, September 14, 2018

friday | 15 fall fashion obsessions

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Last weekend was the wardrobe switchout I look most forward to, putting away all the tropical prints and sundresses and bringing out the fall stuff. As mentioned previously, it's my favorite sartorial season, even though I consider spring my fave season over all (clothes in the spring here though might as well be winter clothes since I'm still mostly needing coats and tights, and then suddenly summer clothes in May.)  But fall, fall comes on fast, and actually, unlike spring, lasts usually through Thanksgiving--plenty of time to enjoy some of my favorite wardrobe pieces.

1.  fall florals
2.  sweater dresses
3.  corduroy skirts and coats
4.  black oxfords
5.  knits
6.  colors: mustards, cinnamon's, plums, sages, pumpkins, oh my..
7.  tweeds
8.  leopard
9.  mary janes
10. autumn plaids
11. blacks & grays
12. knit ponchos, shawls & wraps
13. riding boots
14. suede skirts
15. motorcycle jackets

check out my Autumn Wardrobe Pinterest board for some of the particular things I'm dreaming of..


"You are heavier than you look. Constructed of bone and air, you hook you fingers into the soft parts of my neck. Ride shotgun over landscapes filled with rusted out cars and rotting trees."

a sneak peak of this month's zine project, the science of impossible objects...

Thursday, September 13, 2018

library printmaking workshop highlights

I was unsure if Tuesday night's pursuits and experiments would yield anything in the way of a usable artwork--even if it was just  some backgrounds or scraps--but these string  prints actually turned out looking alot like birch trees and I kind of love them....