Wednesday, December 12, 2018

into the breach

I am in the midst of the final war of dueling dancing girl press manuscripts for next year.  It's rough--we crested 500 submissions again this year (the good news is that number has stabilized after quite a climb from about 15 in 2004--the bad news is that I have an embarassment of riches and just a whole lot to read, which is making me about a month late in getting responses out this year. )   Also, as I've mentioned before the pool gets less slushy every year, and so many authors seem to know exactly the sorts of things I'm looking for (which of course, makes it hard to decide between them. )  Amazing folks have occasionally volunteered to help read submissions, to winnow things down, but my Taurus control-freaky self worries I would miss something I wanted if I didn't look at everything myself--even just a few pages to get a sampling.  And truthfully, if I'm going to have to go through them all regardless, I might as well just do it myself.

What usually happens is I will read about 5 pages of everything that comes in the door, not always the first 5 pages, sometimes other ranges. Some books get released back into the wild as not really my thing immediately. Then there are the total read-throughs, these are the ones I'm wanting more of.  Sometimes, these are definite yes.  Sometimes they are yes, if we have room. The criteria between these are fuzzy--all of them sound poetry and something I could see dgp releasing, but maybe variations in subject matter, voice, or just plain quirky oddness, makes one stack a definite and the others a possible.  The problem is when there are too many yes and then also too many maybes, and the latter wind up in the death battle at the end.  I also tend to do rolling acceptances, which means the maybes stand a better chance when I am reading for January-July, than the latter half of the year as the schedule starts to fill up.  (the pro tip, I guess, being to submit early in the season.)  By the time I get to August subs, there is a sense of panic and sudden death. Occasionally, I can wiggle some things into the early part of the following year but don't like too long of a stretch between acceptance and actual publication (plus it can make things tighter the next year.)

 I have a general "thank you for sending but no" form rejection (worded, if course, more politely), but then also a "this one didn't fit, but maybe send something else another year."  Occasionally, we get the same mss. back in a subsequent year and I take it, especially if it was case of just running out of slots, so it never hurts to try again. (Sometimes these seem obviously familiar, but other times, I might have completely forgotten I've read it before, especially if it's been revised a As it stands I currently have read at least some of everything left in the queue, released the no manuscripts to their authors,  and marked a few more for total read throughs, but plan to have the responses out and the schedule firmed up by Christmas. (Or realistically at least by the end of holiday break.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

the poet's zodiac

Throughout the majority of this year, I have been working steadily on a series called the poets zodiac.  It was conceived as simply a book-artish project involving those supermarket zodiac scrolls, but soon, there were some accompanying images, and now I'm wondering if they might, in fact, be an entire book.  By the end, there will be 48 of them, plus illustrations if I can find a publisher willing to do both. Initially I planned to do a full round every month, but realized it might be a bit over ambitious.

I created a bunch of scrolls back in May right before the Chicago Zine Fest, and have been distributing them in random ways ever since.  I will be doing another round this winter, and plan to get a little more fancy in my paper.  I've also been posting them on the regular over on my instagram hoping to drum up some enthusiasm.

I am far from anything like a horoscope expert..I've always loved the details of the signs though.  And, with the exception of the Meyers-Briggs inventory which is always dead on, I do feel they somehow inexplicably capture personalities on the nose. There is talk that babies are subject to the seasons they are born in, and it make have more to do with science and weather than the strange pull of the stars, but it's a nice idea. I am so very Taurus it still sometimes surprises fact everyone I encounter who is a Taurus, I probably would have guessed they were without even knowing their birthday.  I don't always nail it on other signs --I'm decent at spotting Aries and Libras--my mom and my sister being my real life examples, but my Dad is a Virgo, and given other Virgos I've met, doesn't seem like it.  My boyfriend and my best friend are both Leos (and actually share the same birthday, I sometimes see traits of the sign in both, but not the same ones.) So who knows, maybe I'm looking to hard and it's all bunk, but it's fun to think about it. 

As for these poems, they take a little bit of the general traits of the zodiac and flesh them out a bit into advice and predictions. They are serious fun to write, and I would love to finish the whole round of them by the end of the year (though swallow is shiny and new and pulling me in another direction.)  I use them sort of like exercises to loosen up the poems sometimes when I'n not sure what to write.

Monday, December 10, 2018

flashback fashion | so much plaid

Sometimes, memory is funny and fuzzy.  I often wonder if there would be things I would forget entirely if there were not photographic evidence.  Surely, there are non-captured memories that are vivid, but somehow visual representations of the past are more textured somehow.  This photo, taken Thanksgiving circa 1979, is one such instance.  There are things it evokes about my great-grandmother's house--those stairs, the strange wood paneling of her tidy little house (her house and all its lovely vintage style is worthy of it's own post in the future.)  But that basement was the perennial Thanksgiving haunt until it moved onto an aunt & uncle's house.   There was a strange little closet under those steps where, for most of my childhood, she kept a collection of children's distractions for us, small dishes and cars and randomness she'd haul out for us at our tiny kids table. I also used to shut myself in there like a weird little introvert, and there were strange knot holes in the wood you could peer out into the rooms on either side--the party in one room, the dark laundry room.

But moreso about this picture, which is probably also one of the ones that features all my cousins in one place who would eventually scatter across the country, it's the dress I was wearing that catches my memory most. (I am also delighted by the preponderance of plaid on all of us.) While my mom had a tendency to frock both me and my sister in red velvet at X-mas, this was , I remember, a re-wear of my first day of kindergarten was a weird polyester and I don't think lasted long, but I see it and immediately I am sitting on a weird orange carpet of the classroom, staring at the alphabet above the chalkboard and making the connection between the visual representation and the song my dad had bribed me with Rolos to learn about a year before. I also remember those tights were bought later for my tiny devil Halloween costume for which I had a small plastic pitchfork. (and as with most tights in my life, probably were already running.)  While I can pretty much remember every 1st day of school outfit ever, this is one of my favorites.  It must have been my go-to, b/c it was not only first day and Thanksgiving, but also picture day.  Somewhere in my stuff there is a tiny, smiling version of me in the same dress with a pageboy bob only a couple months shorter.

I think about this time and the things that surprises me most is it pre-dates any unhappiness about my my body, and self-consciousness that would creep in a couple years later.  There are many photos where you can tell by my confidence, those thoughts hadn't even entered my mind.   By 3rd or 4th grade, I still loved clothes, but was also conscious that I was larger (not just chubbier, which I was maybe a few pounds at that point, but not drastically so)  but just larger in things like shoe size and height than my peers.  When they lined us up by height for class photos, I was always in the back with the boys.  I've talked a bit before about my child self and my love of fashion that took YEARS, maybe DECADES, to get back, but it's always weird to see myself in that brazen, un-self-conscious state before things like eating issues and magazine took a chunk out of it.   May we all be as happy with our appearance and bodies as I was when I was 5...

Sunday, December 09, 2018

writing & art bits | decemberish

*  As I mentioned in a previous post, I've embarked on a new project for the Tiny Letter subscriptions, a series called swallow.  I'll be writing these in real time, so we'll see how long it ends up being.  I'm currently alternating my writing efforts between this and  more of the poets zodiac poems, which I am about halfway finished with (they can be seen on Instagram and floating around in the little scrolls I've been tucking here and there. )

*If you're looking for some more newer work, I will also be releasing a couple of zines after the start of the new year--including the hunger palace and ordinary planet ( read some of it here & here), as well as the collab project with my sister based on the slenderman stabbings, necessary violence (some of which appears at Stirring and in the upcoming Mansion anthology.)

* the strangerie is about wrapped up, all of the pieces, with their text elements posted on Instagram.  I'll be making some new prints available in the shop soon. Eventually I am aiming for a book arts project with them, but it's a bit of a ways off.

* preparations for sex & violence continues and we'll have a cover after the new year.  I have rounded up some terribly flattering and amazing blurbage and will be soon delivering those and the final manuscript, which I'm taking one more pass through for typos, to Black Lawrence.  It's strange to think that barely a year ago, I was pulling the book together from a whole bunch of disparate parts during a really bleak month of my life just to distract myself and not go crazy. And so strange they are closer and closer to becoming a book thing all the time.

* as the smaller projects begin to coalesce into longer book projects, I am excited to see what is happening..there are currently four balls in the air as I write this, each of them a little closer to being something every month that passes.  They still need a lot of work, but the bones are definitely there. The first, currently titled, dark country (after a really good line in taurus), may be ready to start sending out by summer if all goes well..

Saturday, December 08, 2018

holiday tunes to ruin your jolly

Even before I had any reason to be melancholy around the holidays, I have always been a fan of the most melancholy of holiday songs.  For years, my mom made fun of the fact that from around ages 5-7, we owned a record (yes, it was that long ago) that featured a song about an unloved little homeless Christmas tree.  Because was too young to do it myself, I would make her keep playing said song while I stood in the middle of the room and bawled my eyes out (if this isn't a pre-curser to using art as a release, I don't know what is.) She would whip this story out often, but actually, my tastes in holiday tunes always swayed a bit a bit sad rather than happy and bright.

1. Hard Candy Christmas  (Dolly Parton/ Best Little Whorehouse in Texas Sndtrk.)

This is hands down my favorite Christmas song and second only to Jolene in my Dolly faves.  While I love the Dolly-only version too, I like the multi-singer rendition from the musical best...

2. River  (Robert Downey Jr / Ally McBeal Christmas Album)

Sure, the Joni Mitchell is a classic, but I spent the entire first few years of Christnas in my current apartment with the Ally McBeal Christmas album listening to this version. This was when RDJ was on his comeback from serious drug problems, but before Iron-Man. (swoon)

3.Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) (Mariah Carey)

While I also appreciate the original Darlene Love version, X-Mas is pretty much the only time to say you like Mariah Carey and have it be at all acceptable...

4 Blue Christmas (Elvis)

I am not usually a very big Elvis fan in general, having came of childhood in his less than stellar later years, but this always reminds me of grandmother's Christmas celebrations...

5.Baby Please Come Home (Jon Bon Jovi)

I get fun of for liking the Eagles too much, and their version is great, and sometimes in the first few bars, it's actually hard to tell this one and that one apart.  But I like the music more in this one as the song progresses than the original..

6. Last Christmas (Taylor Swift)

Perhaps my most contentious choice of a version, but while I like the song, I pretty much got over Wham in the 6th grade...

7. All I Want for Christmas is You  (Mariah Carey)

This one is always an infectious romp (see no. 3).  But, hey this is one that's actually not a little sad, except maybe in an unrequited love sort of way..

8. Have Your Self a Merry Little Christmas (Judy Garland)

There are many great versions of this one, but I think Judy nails it best.  When I was a kid, I never picked up on the sad undertones of the song..

9. Same Auld Lang Syne (Dan Fogerty)

Stick a fork in me.  I'm dead.

10.  Carol of the Bells (Trans Siberian Orchestra)

I was strapped for a 10th one to round out the list, and while othe versions of this song leave me cold at best, and are annoying at worst, I've always loved how this one particular sounds like the soundtrack to a Christmas horror movie, so it made the list...

Friday, December 07, 2018

winter wardrobe switcheroo

Along with my holiday decorating traditions, I also have, around December 1st, my winter wardrobe switchout.  Granted my winter wardrobe is not all that different from my fall one, except in that everything is usually wearable with tights or knee high socks and boots.   I switch out about 50 percent of my closet each season, and it always feels like I have a whole new wardrobe every time when I drag out the under bed bins and uncover the stuff I put away last spring.

The winter wear has a bit more flannel, some hefttier fabrics but also shorter hemlines (b/c tights), Also more jewel tones, more wintry darkish florals, and bit more tweed.  Compared to my summer and fall stuff, winter always seems a little boring, but it will do until March when I start looking toward spring. I get most excited about the sweater dresses (which actually have a separate bin in my closet) I've been dipping into since fall began, but will more wholeheartedly trot out now.  The problem is that the library tends to be overly warm these days, so I might have to wear many of them on other outings.

A lot of my favorite things about fall clothes are the same for winter, but definitely with more velvet, lace, and faux fur happening. And layers, lots more layers...

You can view some of my favorite winter looks and aquisitions over on pinterest....

Thursday, December 06, 2018

thievery and influence

 [sort of part deux of this earlier discussion...]

There's been a bit more discussion on the interwebs regarding appropriation and plagiarism and it reminded me of an exercize we once did in one of my MFA classes where we were tasked with writing parody poems of the authors we were studying that term--in this case, Sexton, Oliver, and Olds.  I don't know what may have happened to the former two, I imagine I did them but then never migrated them into any sort of saving (e-mail or jump drive pre-dropbox) they probably perished when various laptops and pc's did in the last decade.  But one survived, my Olds parody-


The wrist holds impossible cruelties.
Dead pets nest in the curve of an ear,
while every heartbreak has a spot just
below the throat. Even at eleven,
car wrecks twisted the cage of my ribs.
Milk skinned and amber tongued,
I dreamt of my mother’s rubied ovaries,
their accurateness: me and my sister,
our mouths pink and flawless as a ballerina
in a box. Surely, we rested like a dragonfly
at the tip of her spine, or a knot in the rope
of her dreams. Even now, a grandmother
summers in my sternum, while another swims
the blood stream, the heart’s gates and locks.
My ankles still turn at the slightest imbalance.

I remember my Sexton poem was good and wished I kept it, the Oliver was uninspiring no doubt, nature epiphany poems definitely not my bag, but the Olds was not a terrible poem.  In retrospect, it seems kind of boring and straightforward when I like my poems trickier, but all of it is there--the emphasis on memory and body--on trauma--on familial history and the lyric "I".  Not really based on any one poem or collection, but all of them.  Any of them.  I'm sure there are re-curring images in Olds' work--ovaries, ballerinas in boxes, dragonflies. (though admittedly the best line about dead pets was all me) . Besides the ovaries, which would probably be too clinical a word to appear naturally in my work on the regualr,  my poems had similar things in them, so likely no one would have spotted this as an Olds' parody among so many other poems it fit in the midst of.  There is a lot of Olds in there, but there is probably also a lot of me.  I don't think it was initially part of the whole collection, and was otherwise unpublished when I realized how well it fit in the first section of the fever almanac in the final drafts. In hindsight, I totally should have included a note or mentioned it in the acks, but somehow I just didn't think to.  (I don't actually usually have a lot of notes & epigraphs as a habit.  I think girl show has a nod to the lovely Simone Muench and her Orange Girl chap I was obsessed with in 2007.  But that's probably the only time I've done it.)

Obviously, all this is a bit different than the gross co-opting experiences that aren't yours and paraphrasing people's poems, but then it also got me thinking about the materiality of the work of others and how it can influence us--consciously or unconsciously..  A friend sent me a poem asking for my opinion recently and when I replied favorably, he said something to the effect that it had come so easily, he worried he was inadvertently recycling something. (as far as we know, he was not.)  I too have sometimes come up with lines so weirdly easy, similes and metaphors so clean that I have to google them to make sure.  (and, as I mentioned in my last post, sometimes I am recalling my own forgotten   Today, I was working one of the zodiac poems, which featured gardenias somehow glowing like moons and I changed it slightly since it seemed too Plath-like.

And, of course, there is honey machine, which purposely takes the material of Plath and reworks it. the strangeness of feeling another poets words in your mouth has weirded me out the couple times I've actually read those aloud. Obviously, the fact that they are Plath centos is in the title, and they are unmistakeably hers, but I do hope they are still something of me in the collaging, in the rhythm of the pieces as prose that's more me than her.  Sort of like the distortion of a picture of girl, but not the girl herself.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

publishing, productivity and failure

At times, this year feels like a horrible tread mill, enjoyable, but always with the tinge of anxiety as I struggle to get caught up on one things and another inevitably falls behind.  I finally get one batch of things done, another thing is another fire that needs to be put out.  I've often said I have never ever been completely caught up--on e-mails, on book orders, on other tricky track writerly things, not since around 2007 when I moved into the studio and put the press & shop into high gear. But this year has been rougher than ever.  Sometimes I feel like I will never catch up, (or maybe more I do eventually catch up  but meanwhile everything else has fallen apart.) 

It started after all the stuff with my mom last holiday season, which pretty much made my November-January a wash.  When I spent the sping catching up on winter things, summer catching up on spring, and now, as we get close to the end of the year I am in a mad dash to the finish line to get all of the books that were ready to go and up for order in late summer/ early fall out the door.  I try to keep releases more on a regular schedule to allow a good pace, but in getting behind, I sometimes am over-ambitious, which only leads to more chaos.  I don't want to dissappoint my authors or our readers and sometimes feel like I inevitably do. I also feel chaotic and disorganized at times and have botched more things than usual (putting the wrong labels on boxes, stapling things upside down--mistakes I never used to make when I was less harried.)  The machine that was humming along these past years is a little faultier and less smooth.

I also still have a slate ofthe final things due out this year that I've momentarily placed on hold for most of October & November while I catch up that will be available soon to begin shipping after the new year, by which time I will have either been swallowed in an avalanche of chapbooks or will have, god willing, caught up.   The myth of "caught up" is a myth I've been chasing for years, but my processing time has steadily increased this year from about 3 weeks to more like 6, especially when it comes to new titles or really old ones I don't already have a stash available for.  I'm determined to trim it down to a 4 by New Years, 6 max on new titles  It's an embarassment of riches, to be selling so many books and getting them into hands, but I really need to move faster at getting them out the door.   I get about two hours daily of studio time, and have been able to keep up just adequately in terms of orders for author copies (which sometimes need to be done before a reading or release) and orders for things already in stock, but I am slower going on the things that demand a bit more time and preparation.

It's maddening sometimes, but I try to keep reminding myself of all the good things--the amazingness of our books and authors, the important work we are doing.  The thrill of reading through galleys during the layout process and experiencing the books I haven't looked at since acceptance and being amazed all over again.  The process of making something real and booklike.   I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.  I did lighten the load a little bit for the coming year--not drastically, but by about a quarter--taking on a few less chaps (I am in the process of sending out responses to submissions this week --a couple weeks late--folks are already querying, which is another thing filling the morass of the inbox that will be remedied soon.)

Here is hoping 2019 will be far more orderly and sane..

Tuesday, December 04, 2018


Every so often, the snake eats the spider.  The spider eats the fly.  Rumor has it, as a fetus, I swallowed my twin bit by bit. Tiny arm, tiny leg, tiny spine.  My mother noticed a tiny spot in her underwear and it was gone. Longed for red meat, bloody on the plate.  Fate a thing with feathers and teeth fed the most beautiful fat. I'm that girl now, always taking up too much space.  With my hips, with my mouth.  My rough machinations.  Every so often, I feel its tiny heart beating to the right of my own. The spider ate the fly then sat squat in the web and cleaned her fangs.  Every so often, she sighs.

I am  embarking on a new series for my Tiny Letter subscription.  it's free, it's fun, and delivered every single week. You can get in on all the action here:

Sunday, December 02, 2018

play and possibility

When I was in the 7th grade, my junior high English class was challenged in a district-wide book contest. Later I would help faciliate that very same contest when I worked at the elementary school, but that year I set out to write a horror novel, pretty much the only thing I was interested in reading.  This wasn't my first attempt, and it wouldn't my last.  But I flaked about halfway through and decided to make a children's counting book with some stencils I had. When the spiral bound version came back at the end of the semester, it was a nice little book and I gave it to my cousin. A year later, I would start writing my first poems--about kittens and flamingos and unrequited high school love.  While I planned to become many different things over the next few years--a lawyer, a journalist, an interior decoratior, a marine biologist, a teacher, there was always a certain feeling that writing would always be part of my life in some way, mostly becuase I seemed to be pretty good at it. The realities of what that entailed, in a world where very few people in my life even read books, let alone wrote them, I had no idea.    Not only that, but until I got to college, I'd never met a writer, poetry or otherwise. Being a as a career--seemed less likely than being a Broadway star or a professional gymnast. At least the paths for the careers seemed like something that could be laid out in a row and checked off is you have the natural talent.  

When it came to the visual arts, I was never a student who exhibited any sort of aptitude --and any interest would have been moot in a world where my electives were elsewhere--junior high band, highschool french for four years, newspaper & yearbook.  I did stumble into drama my senior year but only becuase of schedule conflict.  My sole art experience up til then had been many well concieved but horribly wrought attempts in grade school art classes--lopsided pottery and crooked wire sculptures--sometimes ambitious but usually disastrous.  My mother, during my formative years, was a hobby painter of ceramics.  She would buy beauttifully colored paints in tiny pots and a multitude of statues and wall pieces--poodles, clowns,  cats, victorian girls, fish to hang in the bathroom.  Money was tight and the paintables were expensive, so they'd be chosen carefully, usually as gifts, at a store called OFF THE WALL near the mall. Occasionally, she'd let me and my sister pick things we wanted her to paint--one of the last I remember recieving being a giant dolphin statue I took to college with me. My sister must have absorbed some of these tendencies and spent her entire 4 years of school and some time in college in and out of various studios and art rooms. While an art career seemed less abstract and more conceivable than writing, it still seemed like a nice hobby, a way to make extra money selling crafty things in booths, or teaching it in the school system.  But not something you devoted a "career" to.

My only moment of artistic brilliance surely happened my junior year of high school.  Our English teacher was unconventional, a  woman with brilliant red hair, a cool fashion sense, who according to rumor carried a tiny silver pistol in her tiny red clutch purse should anyone threaten her students.  This was before shootings were a daily occurrence and we liked the idea of it, the safety of it, even if it weren't true. I had come from two years of a strict 5 paragraph essay kind of teacher, so this one was like a door blown open.  Our first assignment was a collage based on The Crucible, which I  remember enjoyably and meticulously cutting images out of Glamours & Cosmopolitains on the floor of my bedroom whilst watching 90210 on my tiny black and white tv.  Our second assignment was based on The Scarlet Letter, and in lieu of a paper we were supposed to create something visual.  I decided on what would probably turn out to be my first attempt at anything like an artist book.  I was, and still am, horrible at drawing, I managed some crude flower drawings that stood in for the main characters. When I think about everything I created in high school, this ranks right up there with my American Goverment paper on UFOS (our teacher did say we could write about anything related to government.)  I still have the latter, but sadly not the former.

I did some painting of theatre sets and took a class devoted to it my final undergrad year, but other than that I may have forgotten my forays into visual arts entirely if I hadn't wound up working in an arts college,  A few years in, our then library director started an exhibit series, inviting staffers to contribute.  I was already well into my writing exploits, but I was having a hard time figuring out how to participate when most of my work was on the page. The first attmpt was to write poems on rice paper and string them through three floors of the library.  Then there were huge banners of words near the stairwell. But I wanted more, and in 2004, in the midst of my poetry MFA, I decided to take a summer collage workshop down at the Book & Paper Center.  Becuase it didn't depend on ability to render that still eludes me, I was actually pretty decent at it--the cutting and the gluing and the composition.  I was hooked, and over the next few years, I made a lot of collages and assemblages and started selling them on etsy pretty successfully, along with paper goods, accessories, etc.   In 2005, I created my first  official project incorporating both--the book of red--for a WomanMade exhibit. At the same time, dancing girl press was taking off, and I was beginning to design more covers on my own.  Suddenly, my creative output was nearly as visual as it was written, and I appreciated the way these things rubbed against each other,   Writing at the time, had always seemed so much more like work, the visual arts were all play and possibility. It was also strange that even this started to change--that the visual work began to change the written and not only did the writing get better, but easier somehow.

More mash-ups followed--the collaborative at the hotel andromeda and billet doux. I started making visual zines that incorporated found text a couple years later--things like miscellaneous and landscape | architecture.  The first non-one-off project I worked on that fully incorporated both orginal writing and visual was 2012's shipwrecks of lake michigan.  Soon, while every visual project or series did not always have a written element, most written projects incorporated visuals, and it really began to inform what I wanted to do creatively. Sometimes the links are more tenuous (while I created this series of collages whilst writing the manuscript for girl show, I never thought they fit, so when I created the spectacle series a few years later, it seemed natural that of those should grace the cover (and a broadside I created for the AofR vending machines.)

Collage is my main medium, but over the past 5 years, I've explored others painting, printmaking, book sculptures, installation, and they give the work a bot more texture and possibility.  unusual creatures, which incorporates the cabinet cards collages, also includes this library installation, which informs the visuals of the book object it will eventually, hopefully soon, become. I've also been working digitally a bit more, especially in more design-oriented things, but I still have the occasional itch for paper and the tactility of working with it. It helps to be swimming occasionally in ephemera and discarded library materials.  I also really like watercolor and ink painting as mediums---things that do not depend so much on realism. Also monotypes, a series of which I started last Christmas and which I have a ton more that need to be scanned and added to my flickr.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

begged , borrowed, and stolen

There is a thread on Twitter  today about some rampant and egregious plaigiarism/stealing of entire segements of poems.  (On the plus side, it  got me a little more familiar with the originating poet's work, which is awesome.)  Occasionally I used to see stories about poetry plaigiarism and sort of seemed so ridiculous, especially in a world where the stakes are so very low and unlike the corporate and manufacturing world, violations of copyright/trademarks/patents wouldn't lend much to your bottom line. Weirdy, it seemed UK poets were having a particularly rotten problem with it, and I wondered if the American Lit community was more somehow immune to such nonsense..the drive to be original, to make it new, seemed to guide poets perhaps more than writers in other genres.Ego and pioneering spirit aside--a poets JOB is to be original--to make the reader see anew. Apparently, as today's Twitter activity details, I was wrong.

My own fear has always being that I might inadvertently lift something from something that I'd read.  I tend to make notes in my notebook when I read, and sometimes these are good parts of someone elses work, which I note, and sometimes they are scribbles of my own thoughts inspired by what I've just read. I've worried often that I will somehow misnote or mix up.  Or worse that if I haven't written it down,  I will have somehow absorbed it and spit it back out unknowingly later on. A few times I've had something really good and googled to make sure it wasn't something that was lingering like a ghost--one time amidst googling, I realized something new seemed familar becuase I'd already used it it in my own damn poem.  (one that never made it into a book but had been in an online journal but that I'd otherwise forgotten existed) .  I also occasionally do this with titles for poems or projects--or lines or images that seem too good and somehow familiar.

I think it was Eliot who said that thing about artists borrowing and stealing, and I'm willing to admit there is very little new under the sun, but paraphrasing existing work, words, images, and all, in other words and presenting it as your own seems particularly gross.  Years ago I stumbled on someone who had done some shadiness, though it appears to be gone now. All of it particualy shady if it  goes beyond images and metaphors or formal echos. A poetry student of a friend  was published a cento of my work in a journal, and despite other people getting all weird when they discovered it, I knew it was happening & actually thought it was cool. (It was plainly noted as a cento of my work in the subtitle.)  As someone who wrote a whole project of Plath centos, I am obviously a fan of collage and reworkings and certain types of appropriation.  I also have, from my day job, a decent knowledge of fair use and copyright law. But note that shit, the poem itself or in the acknowledgements.

What makes the current example so gross is that the offender not only apparently paraphrased the exact images and words, but also claimed the trauma that bred the poem (or at the very least, acted as if it were her own trauma, which may be legit,  bred these words when they did not.)  All of which somehow seems worse and just as problematic as other types of appropriation. Not only did you plaigiarize, but you stole the experience that spawned it, which is far worse than stealing mere words or ceoncepts.

I always wonder what the win is.  That it will go undetected?  That people will praise the stolen work and you will gain adoration and attentiin?  I've always (and I include myself in this description) found poets especially ego-centric and narcisssistic (but in a good way), the high of hearing one's work priased wouldn't work if you knew it was someone else's words. Also that you are always striving to be new and orginal and if you're just spitting out something that exists, doesn't that go against the whole reason you're a poet in the first place?

notes & things | 12/1/2018

It being officially December I have finally given into holiday festivities, which today will include a little decorating (maybe the tree) hanging twinkle lights, watching really bad romcom christmas movies, baking cookies (if the choc chip dough makes it to the oven) as well as eating liberal amounts of pink peppermint ice cream.  Christmas decorating day is one little ritual holiday I observe every year, even if I don't always put up the actual tree. (I don't mind putting it up, but I get annoyed around new years when I have to take it down.)  Last weekend we did spend part of Sunday's snowyness with a 2nd Thanksgiving feast cooked by my sister and decorated the tree there.  It's hard to know, out of the hundreds of ornaments obtained and then thrown out by my mother over the years if we actually had everything, but we decided to call it done.  (At some point she dowsized the tree in recent years and tossed many out.) The actual holiday was spent with my cousins on my Dad's side and four adorable doggos.

While I was getting kind of cagey and cabin-fevery late on Sunday whe the power failed for a bit and  the snow nearly trapped us in despite my dad's removal efforts, Monday, I made it safely back to the city and nearly threw myself down on the slushy sidewalks and kissed the ground outside Union Station. I love that sort of out-in-the-countryness in the summer, even this year when I've been cagey anyway, but I can't handle it when the outside elements are hostile and I feel trapped in the house.  I also miss my apartment and my cats terribly.  Even work and the studio and my little daily routines. I'll be going back for X-Mas briefly, but definitely want to get back here and take advantage of the work holiday for some extra studio and home time.

In the library, as I mentioned a couple posts back, we are nearing the end of the semester and have finished out the bulk of programming (there is still technically the last zine night Monday, but that's really easy to set up.)  This week's snowglobe workshop and last night's murder mystery are the last of the events that are more involved and bring to end a pretty busy semester.  I realized this week that the Monday after the holiday is my 18th anniversary at Columbia, and though my job now in some ways looks very different from the job I started, it's unreal that I have been in one place for so long. I started mostly working the desk, supervising some students, and doing some odd clerical tasks.  I've cicled through being the ILL backup and back into it again for the interim.  I've done billing and patron invoices & blockages for srudents from other insititutions. I took on coordinating Reserves in 2012 and in 2014 we started A of R exhibits and programming.  I've seen multiple staffers (some, but not all)  and nearly two decades of students come and go.  I also realize that the students on campus now may very well be the children of the students I first encounterd, which seems crazy to me in my little time bubble where I am totally the same person in my early 40's as I was in my mid-20's. 

Besides having a bit more lush a poetry and art life, the press itself & studio space, and maybe a few more cats, I'd be hard pressed to find many differences between circa 2000 Kristy and 2018 Kristy, except maybe that the horrible spectre of a Bush presidency on the horizon of that fall during the recount  was nothing compared to the nonsense now.  I dd have near empty apartment that fall with only a comfy chair, some bookshelves, a small table, and a christmas tree ( though I wouldn't be able to afford presents for under til I got that very first paycheck in a few weeks.)

We're open an hour or so later this coming week for finals--so that means a longer trek home, but I'm hopeful for that extra studio hour before I head to the library that it will allow since I am deep in on author copies from the last round of releases...

style obsessions | land of a thousand coats

There is something always oddly comforting about watching Gilmore Girls.  Maybe it's a certain nostalgia that in some ways feels very 90's even though the show debuted one year shy of the decade. I caught much of the first season--it was on the WB when my Buffy vieweing was at it's peak and I still had my evenings free of work before I shifted schedules.   When it premiered that fall, he worst thing that had happened had been that the 90's had ended and Gore was looking to have lost the election.  I liked the shows snappy smart talk and female focus. Later I'd be spending my nights in the library, but I would catch occasional episodes in reruns.  When Netflix brought it back around a couple years ago, I decided to watch it, and then worked my way through the old ones over the next month or so entirely.  This fall, I got the urge to watch the again.  In part becuase I like that circa false 90's innocense, as well as it being a very fall/winter themed sort of show (not entirely, but it feels like it).

Also, one of my fave things,  outside of hating on Rory's budding affluenza and entitlement, is the CLOTHES. Lorelai has the best clothes of any tv character in recent memory, and Rory, especially in her Yale years, has her moments. But the coats--the coats--oh my....both of the gals have the best coats...which is perhaps why it always seems like Stars Hollow is in perpetual fall/winter.

Friday, November 30, 2018

writer gift guide

Since it's the holidays, I thought I would bring a few gift giving suggestions for the writerly people in your life that I've stumbled upon online, including at least one I've bought for myself (and one I am totally going to buy for someone else soon as I get paid. )

And okay, maybe another one I might also buy for me...

Thursday, November 29, 2018

A of R fall semester recap

Toward the end of summer, knowing the fall would be sort of insane due to our department being down about 50 percent of its staff, I lined up all the details and promo for our fall events.  At the time, the end of November and the last event, our annual DIY SnowGlobe Workshop, (not counting the murder mystery this Friday.) seemed very far away.  I realized last night, as I was meticulously scraping glitter off our plastic tables and into the garbage, that another semester has been put to bed. We pack a lot in, and in this case, the huge bulk of it was in October with our Beautiful Monstrosities focus month programming.  I wasn't able to squeeze in any poetry related events, but we had three really valuable & well-attended panels, our usual zine nights, some fun how-to's, and some great progress made on this year's Book to Art shenanigans.   All of which passed by in a whir and were finished before we knew it.

With more on my plate in terms of general duties (including coordinating ILL, which used to be an entirely different sub-department position devoted exclusively to that) there wasn't quite as much time to devote to some of the other minor  things but I think we still held it down well (there might have been a tiny panic attacks on my p[art before some things, but hopefully no one noticed. ).  I've been cross-posting content for the A of R blog with the Library's Blog, but haven't had as much time to do regular updates there as much as I was before, nor to dig in on some of the library-related writing projects as I wanted to.  I'm hoping I might be able to work on the latter over the holiday break when I have time off, including an article on curated learning endeavors (like fetch, we are trying to make this a

Now we turn toward planning for the spring, and our potential mini-conference, which seems daunting at the moment, but I will be ironing out something of a plan in the next two weeks before the semester is over to get things moving before the holiday break.  I'm working toward an the emphasis on bringing scholars and artists together angle, so there will be more traditional academic panel discussions, an exhibit, artist talks, workshops, and more in the span of a single day. (when you think about it--it's kind of like condensing focus month into a day (which is hilarious since we expanded it to a month to be easier on ourselves initially, so we'll see how it goes.  I am truly excited by the idea and possibilities, so more on that as we go..

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

the strangerie

"The world was a dangerous place, so she began to keep the animals inside the body. Prodding each tiny hoof with fingers until they fit just so. Fur and bone and nuzzling noses."

I've managed to figure up the text pieces for THE STRANGERIE series that I've been posting on Instagram for the last couple of months.   You can get a peek at the whole series, as well as the text pieces by clicking the link above.  Enjoy!

eating and writing, or how to feed the poem monster

I mentioned in my Thanksgiving gratitude post the fact that this year has been unusually productive in terms of actually getting words on the page.  I have been printing up projects, some of them done, some of them close to, and keeping them on the cabinet next to my desk. I occasionally thumb through them and wonder how so many words could possibly have been happening in the past year. Or maybe moreso since April, when my NAPOWRIMO exploits continued month by month afterward (well, mostly, I have skipped some days and entire weeks when my attentions were entirely elsewhere, or like last week, where I gave myself a holiday break.)

It's probably the largest output of work in my writing career--other spots in the past held that designation-- the last year of my lit grad school,  where I was writing feverishly and wholeheartedly having decied to try to do this thing for real.  My MFA years. Those garnered, at most a couple poems/week, but at other times, other years, those seemed like a brisk pace.  In the time I was writing major characters in minor films, I was lucky to get a poem every two or three months when I got cagey about not writing.  The pace picked up post 2012, but even still doughts would be followed by furious spates of productivity to write the newer books.

While I tend to write in shorter series, some of the things I accomplish in any given day are fragments, but after a while they definitely become a whole.  Those series then start to constellate into larger projects.   As such, I have several small series that make up about 2-3 longer books in progress, as well as some other stuff just floating. About 8 years ago, in 2010 amidst the drought, I would be surprised that I would ever write this much at all.  So much impedes the progress--then (2007-2010) it was increasing the size of the press, the brisk business of the etsy shop, and the anxiety of constantly trying to earn enough money there to supplement the chapbook income and make the studio rent.  As the press sold more books, this lessened and I was able to pull away and move off etsy in 2011, which made the pace of things a little slower.  Certain things stabilized around then and I could get back a little to making zines and more artwork--not merely for retail appeal, but my own pursuits with less worry that I had to make money from them (and all the time devoted to strategizing/promoting that was mine once again.)

I was also battling internally what I like to call my post-MFA syndrome--that feeling of too many hands on my poems, and still maintain that it was the James Franco pieces that vaquished it in late 2011.  Soon followed the shipwreck mermaid poems and the bulk of what made up salvage over the next two years, as well as the shared properties of water and stars.  Other related things were happening during this time--girl show, my thesis mss, which was rendered adrift when Ghost Road went under in 2010, was picked up by Black Lawrence and slated for publication.  Noctuary solicited shared properties... and released it in 2013.  The JF poems were a huge success when Sundress published them as an e-chap.  All of which drew me out of the funk I'd been in for awhile and made me less likely to doubt my commitment to sparkle motion. I felt more like a poet again--so I guess I started to act more like it.

But even still that pace, since around 2013, has been much slower and less productive than this year all by itself, and I feel like it's for a very simple and rather uncomplicated reason.  I spent years, my days filled with so many other things--commutes and studio work, the library, then home, then sleep and the whole time writing was this thing that I MIGHT get to before bed, but sometimes exhaustion or distraction won out.   It was also hardly the idea brainspace for concentration or creativity. It rarely happened, or if it did, it was uninspiring.  More often the productivity came in spurts around my own deadlines for things when I buckled down and devoted panicked chunks of time to things. I'd then end up writing like 10 pieces in 3 days, and entire chapbook series in a week.  All vey nice, but not very sustainable.

This year, I was so determined to nail NAPOWRIMO, after years of failing about 10 days in, that I switched up the routine.  Instead of trying to fit writing time in at the end or later in the day, I wondered what would happen if I started my day writing--before e-mails, before galleys and jammed printers, before book assembly and trimming, before library planning and minutiae, before dinner and house straightening, before falling exhaunsted into bed.  What if I started in this pure, unpolluted state and set out immediately to write while my mind is still fresh and unencumbered?

Obviously, I am not an early riser.  Most of my days begin at 10am and end at 2am. I wake and am down at the studio at 12, so for the past few months, I've been prioritizing a half hour or so while my printers are running to getting something down.  In the past I'd have used this time waiting for sets of chap pages to scroll through instagram or facebook, to glance at e-mail to see if anything was pressing. Now I open whatever project doc I am working on while eating my breakfast sandwhich. Eventually it became rote, almost linked,  eating and writing.  Usually by the time I finish my latte, I have something I can work with.  I'll revisit it later in the day or before bed to tweak it.  Once every couple of weeks I print ot out and edit further (thus the stacks next to my desk at home.)

This simple change has made a drastic impact on my writing and sometimes I feel like it was so stupidly simple, how did I not think of this years ago? How much writing did I miss doing things the old way, that uphill battle throughout the day to compromise between what you have to do and what you want to do?  But now,  there's no going back...

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

I have a poem...

I am always a bit nervous when I see poets portrayed in entertainment.  Usually, it's a little ridiculous...I'm thinking Mother!  here or that terrible  Gwyneth Paltrow movie about Plath.  When that movie came out, I remember wishing they'd cast Maggie Gyllenhaal in the role--she not only resembled Plath so much more, but had a certain American-ness Paltrow has never had.(or maybe she's just been in too many films with a fake British accent.)  Regardless, Gyllenhaal does play a poet in The Kindergarten Teacher and she plays it well.  The film makes you uneasy from the start, her escalating obsession with a 5 year old's words, passing off his work, at first, as her own in class, then a failing attempt to nurture his creativity in a world that does not give two shits about creativity or art or anything beyond the screen of a cell phone.  It's the kind of movie that drags your heart across the floor.  The kind of movie where the drastic end results seem like the only results the film could have had.    Her desperation is our desperation. The ending sticks a knife in with the last line of the child "I have a poem.." and no one there to listen.  

I was actually less disturbed by her drastic actions and obsession with the boy and his words than I was by the creepy antics of her writing teacher, who uses the cultivation of her apparent (but false)  brilliance as a chance to seduce her.  When I watched the movie, I had just finished reading an article about the po-biz bro creeper du jour, and it turned a particular sour note in my stomach.  The men who are seen as doorways or mentors into some sort of literary world who prey on young female poets. I suppose it happens in other arts just as frequently.  One day, I was waiting for the elevator in the Fine Arts and had to listen to an older musician talking to a young girl and it was both mansplainy and creepy  I kind of had to stop listening. While I've never seemed to be the kind of girl you take under your wing I have  had occasional men, usually older, try to offer advice or feedback over the years and usually, I had an immediate knee-jerk fuck off reaction (even if I was polite in my response.)  Usually not exactly b/c they were men, though lately society is testing that, but moreso that I wasn't really asking for help or advice. ( but this also seems to be a more male trait in that regard.)  

But so often there is the story of the dudes, all ages and demographics, who front like they hold some sort of key to the door of the literary world and it's troubling how much power that gives them over novice poets who are new to things. That they have connections and reputations that can help you.  perhaps the best way to dispel this is to acknowledge there really is no one particular literary scene but multiple, and whatever they're claiming to have the key to, they probably do not.

Monday, November 26, 2018

flying (and reading) blind

I just wrapped up a volunteer round of reading blind submissions for another chapbook contest for the second time (different contest, same press). It's interesting how much the work varies from the dgp chaps I am also reading concurrently. Obviously, I don't get to consider work by cis male writers, but it goes a bit further than gender variation.  dgp submissions, on the whole,  tend to be a little more on the wacky & innovative side.  Stranger somehow in their style and subject matters.  I always joke that the submission pool is maddening accurate on sending me things that I love. I hope this means we have an aesthetic that is definitely recognizeable,  though I think we also have a range of poetic approaches that still somehow mesh.   In reading for other contests, there are definitely glimmers of chaps I would totally take for the press if they were instead sent to me.  (Last go round, while the winner was not in my reading pile, two of my very favorites made the finalist pool and I hope they get picked up somewhere, or better, come across my desk at some point.)

 I realized today, with delight, that in Submittable, as I came to the end of my current queue for this contest, I could now see the authors of the previous contest couple years back, that they were no longer blind in the system.  I scrolled through,  interested to see if any authors whose work I am familiar with got a thumbs up, and there were definitely some familiar names, both past dgp-ers and folks whose work I've spotted elsewhere with appreciation.  There were also a slew of people I'd never encountered before, but whose work I'm now interested in seeking out because of having read their chap manuscript. There were weirdly a couple dgp authors whose submissions I didn't jive with, but when I looked at the mss again, I think it was more that they were quite a bit different from the chap they published with us.

I did feel good that at least my tastes are more or less consistent--that whatever criteria I am reading for in reading submissions for dgp, I am also filtering into other reading endeavors.  I've tried in the past to pin down what it is I am looking for.  What I am very much not looking for.  What makes something a "maybe" vs. an astounding "yes".  it's a combination of all sorts of things--tone, style, subject matter, coherence/unity as a chapbook, authority, that "If you get weird and go with it convincingly , I will follow along" quality.   I'm always aware when you're doing first readings that anything I choose may totally not be what the final judge is into.If anything, it gives some context to rejections--how hard it is to make it past the first reader with their own qualifications as to what's good, and onto a final judge or round of editors who may have totally different expectations.  It's kind of amazing anyone gets published ever having to go the racket of first readers (especially if said first readers are college students who might not even be sure what they themselves like.)

Over the next few days I'll be finishing up the dgp pile and sending out responses for what looks to be shaping up to be the usual sort of stay tuned..

Friday, November 23, 2018

holiday wish list 2018

It is pretty funny that the day to talk about gratitude comes immediately before the day to say gimme! gimme!  gimme!  but I am totally game. I've always been sort of choosy about some things, not at all choosy about others.  Clothes, books, music (back when people used to buy albums) were always difficult to ask for and get correct . Gift cards eventually became a good way to get over the pitfalls when it came to choosing very specific things.  In my own gifting, I tend to either gift card it, or go super general and pick tiny luxuries that people never think to buy for themselves. My dad is pretty easy--coffee, chocolate, random foodstuffs.  My sister usually gets art supplies or liquor of late.  There were years where I tried to make everything, particularly when I had the etsy shop --jewelry and soap, mostly, sometimes artwork., but mostly those only worked for the ladies and I still had to go the gift card route for men.) It usually wound up being more expensive, and not nearly charming enough (except maybe for my mother) to continue

As for me, I have a handful of things I am hinting at and asking for this year, most on the under $30 tip.

bath stuffs

Sometimes the only thing that gets me out of bed and into the shower is the promise of luscious smelling potions and lotions (and maybe my daily raspberry latte).  I've been devoted to Body Shop stuff of late, particularly the satsuma scent for body wash, which I splurged on a giant bottle of this summer that is still pretty full.  I would love to get some strawberry or pink grapefruit as well..  I have a bottle of another floral scent that I was slightly allergic to, but it's now sitting on my sink as rather luxurious hand soap.   Their body butter is always a favorite in winter when my skin gets much dryer than usual. I have a tub of another brand that smells like lemon cake right now, but after it's gone, I'll be getting a tub of the usual.

coffees, teas & boozes

Most week days my coffee comes in latte form, but weekends are for something less ambitious (mostly since I don't want the hassle & clutter of an espresso machine and love my french press.) I'll opt for tea later in the day sometimes, especially if I run out of creamer, but tend toward either Irish Breakfast or Earl Grey  (occasionally flavored mint when I'm sick).  As for coffee, I've become enamoured the past couple years of the Cafe Du Monde Chicory blend from NOLA that is currently my favorite.  I also have a really nice bar cart and barely money to buy liquor, so assorted boozes is always a good option--I'm currently on the hunt for a gin that doesn't taste like pine needles, more varieties of schnappes, and to stock up on more tequila.

library step stool

I've been wanting one of these little library-style kick stools for a while now.  Despite tripping over them constantly in the stacks, I would love to keep one in my closet so I can reach the top shelf where I store my boots.  Now there's a lot of tippy-toe flailing and reaching, and sometimes boot-induced concussions.

fur throw

This no doubt goes back to my Game of Thrones inspired decor leanings last winter.  It helps to combat a chilly, drafty circa-1930's apartment, but is also super luxurious and makes me feel like I'm bedding the King of the North. My sister got me fuzzy leaopard one last year I sepnt my entire holiday break beaneath, but i am looking for a grey one to match my winter bedding.

art supplies

This is an obvious one.  I'm pretty much always in need of printmaking foam, paper and ink.  I mess up a lot, so by the time I get it right, I'm outta everything.   I've also had my eye on a set of Bombay Inks ever since I was doing the ink paintings, as well as these covetable japanese watercolors that I am sure would make me much better at painting than I actually am.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

thanksgiving gratitude post

It's been a rough year, in all sorts of ways. There are still many ways in which I am not functioning and yet am functioning nonetheless.  So much of certain  aspects of my life were centered around my mother--not at all odd, and yet still odd since I've lived in an entirely different city from her for going on two decades. She was not a daily part of my physical world, but an essential part of my mental one, my overall consciousness. Trips home are the hardest part sometimes, and of course, apparently you can't avoid the holidays, here they come around like clockwork again. Then again.

Last fall, this time of year, I felt a need to cling terribly to the things in my life that were still good to combat the things that were bad.  To keep myself absorbed and busy, but at the same time, not as mentally present as I needed to be. You can only throw yourself into so many things until you wear yourself to the bone and I feel this now, the exhaustion, and yet I still crave both distraction and stability in the worst way, especially now--my usual seasonal funk.  There are also the ever-present monsters in the pantry--money woes, time woes, creative woes. And of course, the ever-present dread that something bad will happen for no good reason.

But, alas, this is post is supposed to be about thankfulness and gratitude. Despite the missing an important one, there are still people in my life I am eternally grateful for--my dad, my sister, my huge sprawling web of extended family, at least one side of whom are always game for eating & drinking revelry.  Jonathon, who I was exalting in my relationship post below, of course, who indulges all my vices and is a rarity of soundness when my dating history is anything but. My best fiend & boss, Jen, who I literally would not have able to handle last fall without (or handle work without since like the very beginning.) 

And I am, of course,  grateful for all the years I did have with my mother--all of the Thanksgivings, the Christmases, 42 of them , more than many people ever get,   Far more than she had with my grandmother who died suddenly when my mom was only in her mid-30's.  I was thinking this morning that when she, herself, was my age, her mother had been gone for several years. She also had a teenager about to go to college and another in junior high.  How different our lives would end up being. But in the end, the same grief.

There are my crazy cats, who are occasionally nuisances, especially while I'm sleeping and they're sticking me in the face with their whiskers.  There is work, which while crazy busy lately, still allows sufficient time for fun creative hijinks in the name of "work". While sometimes I'm financially tight, and have a tendency to spend erratically, I am still happy to have that stability in the form of a paycheck on the regular.

I am grateful for my apartment in a city I love more than anything (mostly, except maybe in January) even though my bed is never made and there are tiny tumbleweeds of cat hair on occasion blowing through my living room. I am grateful for my studio space in the gorgeous Fine Arts, , also a mess at the moment (trade cat hair for paper trimmings and cardboard boxes), Even though sometimes I feel like I can't afford it and actually spend enough time there working to catch up on things I need to.

I am grateful for my little press, and our authors, and the amazing books I am helping bring into the world.  For the readers who buy them.  For the artists who let their work grace our covers. For the people I've met though the auspices of the press, who in many ways form part of my creative support network. All the folks whose work I've gotten to know via journals and blogs and social media. I can't even imagine what a writing world would have looked like without the internet.  It seems like it would have been really lonely.

I am also grateful for my current writing year, which has been really productive in a way that past years have not.  I have two and a half new manuscripts in the hopper and ready to start sending around next year, one about mothers and daughters, one about gothic midwesterness, and another sort of about about monsters & monstrousness. Plus all sorts of little zine and book arts things coming down the pipeline. I am extremely grateful to my readers and the people who follow my work, buy my books,  and subscribe to the zine series or online projects (or even just follow this blog.) Also to the presses & editors who like my work enough to get it out there in the hands of readers.

And lastly, because they do so much in informing daily life, a nod to the little pleasures:  raspberry lattes, pilot gel pens, cheesy Taylor Swift sing-a-long songs, pretty dresses, new lace-up boots , weird little collages,  instagram, sketchbooks filled with post-its, mexican food, the view of the lake from the bus, Stevie Nicks, horror movies, libraries, tequila based concoctions, winter coats (see the erratic spending above)  vintage dishware, escapism novels (YA dystopian romps or smartish mysteries),  watercolor landscapes, blueberry donuts, midnights, Gilmore Girls on Netflix, and  baby shampoo (seriously, my hair has been terrible for awhile and this might be the only thing that has fixed it somewhat.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

I came, I saw, I bought | fall dress action

Usually, I save my fashion/decor related posts for the end of the week, but this is technically the end of the week before the long weekend, so I thought it'd be a good time to show you some of the things I've managed to get my hands on in the past month.

This was, if you look back at my earlier post on Modcloth, one of the dresses that I wanted. I had a little extra money after the first of the month and splurged on two dresses--both perfectly fall-like (I say that knowing I should actually now be looking for wintry dresses, but these should be in play through the spring.)  This one was intended to by my Thanksgiving dress, though I did already technically wear it to work, but I still intend to wear it out tomorrow. . I was worried it might be a little on the shorter side, but actually it does come to my knees and the bottom is a really thick and warm cotton knit and definitely hearty enough for the cold if worn with tights.

This one may be the most perfect fall floral I've seen. I haven't worn this out of the house yet, but I love the asymmetrical buttons and the fact that there is elastic at the back that makes it feel stretch without the actual fabric being stretchy. I initially thought it was a brown at first glance, but it's actually a really deep bugundy. I have a newish pair of wine colored tights that should match it perfectly if I wanted to do the monochrome thing, as well as a cardigan that just might match those flowers perfectly (or brown tights and sweater if I don't want to be too matchy matchy).

I've been having an eshakti big order itch lately--so many things I've been marking on pinterest, but haven't been able to place any order at all til recently.  This one is still on it's way, and I almost bought it in the gray, but then I  spotted this color and I thought it might make a good backup Thanksgiving dress (if I happened to change my mind on the Modcloth or had two celebrations to go to.)  Also stretchy in case the turkey & mashed potatoes get the better of me. I don't think it will make it before I leave, but burgundy is one of my favorite colors to wear all winter (especially with my hair as dark as it is now.)  so I can't wait to get my hands on it....

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

design obsession | vintage vacation postcards

I have admittedly certain go-tos definitely when it comes to design--vintagey elements, diagrams, collage, animals, more graphic things than photographic. Usuallly, you can probably totally tell the difference between in-house designed chap covers and done by others (which I think gives us a little bit more of an interesting spread when it comes to cover designs.)  I also have certain go-to colors,--aqua, slate blue, gray, orange, pale green. I love using things like vintage wallpaper, oil paintings, old advertisements. A couple months ago, I was all about rabbits.

One of my other loves is playing with vintage postcard images--the scenic kind you would get on vacation--either photographic, or even better, rendered by an artist. .  When I was in high school, I started a postcard collection.  Somewhere, I have cache of collected cards from both places I visited (which at the time was like Florida and Wisconsin) and cards sent or collected by other people for me from various destinations..  By then, such  postcards were glossier, slicker, more photographic.  Over the years I wasn't very good at keeping up collecting on my very infrequent travels, but besides, it was older postcards, reminiscent of a time I never traveled, that were interesting to me,  I hoarded various samples over the years and would use them in artwork or display them as-is--old books of Paris sights, unknown lakes and rivers and landscapes. I had one set of black and white postcards that seemed to be from a soldier in Europe back to his parents here.  Between what I have squirreled away in boxes , in collage work, stuck in random books, and on my walls and bulletin boards in various places, I probably have hundreds.  If you hear me squeal in an antique store, it's probably because found their ephemera collections and I'll usually spend a few bucks if something catches my fancy.

The internet of course, gives me much greater access to scenic postcard imagery, and I make use of it often. My recent the animals series is based entirely using vintage cardss, as have been a couple recent dgp covers. I realized, looking back through older stuff, how often I employ them, including the UFO collage that will be on the cover of little apocalypse, as well as several pieces in that series and, style-wise, for the promotion of our APOCALYPSE, USA programming last spring.  I especially love the ones that are rich in color and sort of linen-like in texture rather than glossy. while I appreciate blank cards, I like even more if they are written on and postmarked and giving a peak into the adventures of strangers past.