Saturday, March 24, 2018

notes & things | 3/25/2018

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 17, 2018

notes & things | 3/17/18

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 16, 2018

distraction 101

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 10, 2018

notes on the end times

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 08, 2018

notes & things | 3/8/18

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

writers and artists and social media-doings

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


What's on it?  What it's useful for?

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


What's on it?  What's it useful for?

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


What's on it?  What's it useful for?

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


What's on it?  What's it useful for?

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


What's on it?  What's it useful for?

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


What's on it?  What's it useful for?

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

Saturday, March 03, 2018

notes & things | 3/3/18

Image may contain: indoor

Today, I am working again, but it's my last Sat/Sun shift for a bit, so I'm looking forward to some of those coveted weekends off.  I'm the usual kind of sleepy from having to be up at the ass crack of dawn, , but I've been working on the beginnings of the install for APOCALYPSE, USA, which is shaping up to be amazing, and planning for our artists' round table later this week. Also, loosely testing out the feasibility of a mini-conference in the fall devoted to our future focus topic, tenatively titled STRANGE FEVERS | MASS DELUSIONS, CONFUSIONS, AND INFATUATIONS (including things like cults, urban legends, cryptozoology (of course), victorian spiritualism, alien conspiracies, the salem witch trials, and all that fun sort of stuff (which is all the best sorts of stuff.)

In the studio,  I've spent this last week beating it through author copies for AWP-goers and getting a good chunk into January orders. Also plotting some cover designs for upcoming books. The mermaid anthology is also taking shape very nicely, and I've decided on a final title, which I will unveil very soon.  It was hard to narrow down, mostly since there was so much I wanted to take, but could not possibly fit into the box (there is a larger booklet that has individual poems by authors, but then also visual art objects, accordian books, postcards, tiny chaps, and such.

In other pursuits, I've had some extra time in the studios in the afternoon b/c of weekend shifts, but that meant my library time was eaten up by A of R tasks and conversations, so thus a bit less time to sneak in  press & writing things this week overall, though I'm hoping tomorrow to dig back into the hunger palace series and maybe do a bit of painting.

I have my eye on spring and have already swapped out winter dresses for warmer  spring ones (though I am still no doubt cardigan and tights bound for another month and a half), so I am so ready for warm weather it makes me teary.  It's been a long fall into winter and I really need some leaves on the trees..