Monday, September 21, 2020

books & objects & more

 c



For the last year or so, I've been brainstorming a way to make my books & objects series available that is a) not prohibitively costly and b.) allows some flexibility to tap in and out at will as a subscriber. I finally got my ducks in a row and started a Patreon. You can subscribe to the Books & Objects as it's always been, but there are also lower priced tiers (like a custom postcard courtesy of moi sent your way each month for $5, a print of the month for $10.) I plan to still make most projects available in the shop, but this gets you a slightly sweeter deal on them and a first crack at the limited edition stuff.

https://www.patreon.com/kristybowen

dancing girl press notes | september 2020


Fall again, and even in this strange year, I am still  delighting in the work that I am just now digging into from this year's submissions pool. .  Since I haven't been able to read much at all with pandemic brain, I am moving slowly, but still moving nonetheless. Sometimes I feel capable and productive.  Sometimes I feel like I am drowning.  That it is all too much.  Not the work or the press, but more the mental real estate I feel is crushing me sometimes. How can I think about this and this when there is that, and oh god, now THAT?  But from everyone I talk to, it's a common feeling, so I sit tight and wait until it passes.  And it usually does. 

I've spent a considerable part of this summer holding off new releases in order to wrangle the orders from the earlier part of the year into something manageable. Since I can't keep much inventory in the small space I now work in since leaving the studio, most books, except very new ones are print-on-demand, so the lags were getting to be a bit unruly, especially for older material. Thankfully, a slightly lighter schedule this year has been a godsend during the pandemic, since I'm not sure I'd be able to function to keep things going at their usual pace, which was always hectic, even when my mind was better capable of dealing with it. 

But then again, I remind myself the import of the work in this world.  Especially now, when it seems least important while everything is chaos and sadness. It is just poetry and poetry is a very little fish in a sea.  But when you are in the fish, it feels gigantic.  Or something like that. This was not the year I planned so hopefully in my little planner so smugly organized  in January, but it is the year we got nevertheless. I am still going to try to salvage or savor as much of it as I can. 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

collapsologies

I really don't think I set out at the beginning of the year to write a book about capitalism and it's evils, and yet, somehow I did.  It probably has everything to do with the fact that I was starting a series of poems right as the lock-downs kicked in and the arguments over people's lives vs. economic stability came to the forefront.  Of course, at first it was hard to write at all, even from the relative safety that allowed me to work from home (but of course what was also tinged with job-related anxiety because most of my work requires access to the library's physical collection.)  I had been meaning to write poems about my favorite horror film, The Shining (and on any given day, perhaps my favorite film no matter the genre). It seemed fitting to work on that series under quarantine, especially since I've often thought that sort of isolation, barring evil bloodbaths, would be so nice for my creative brain. 

It was rough to get started, but once I did, it didn't end up being the series I thought it would.  Then there was bloom, which was less about  economics, but very much about the pandemic. And then. my tabloid inspired pieces, which are my very favorite, and now, as I round it out, the plague letters.  In august, the bones of the book began to take shape, and scribbled in my notebook, from around the time the quarantine started I had a title that was ever so perfect. COLLAPSOLOGIES.  I was thinking about disease and colony collapse and also financial and societal collapse.  That is the soup from which these months and months of poems come from, and I am excited to pull them all together and see what I have as soon as I finish the last few epistolary poems, likely by mid-October. 

I initially though this one might be good to get out into the world sooner rather than later, but I feel I need to site with them a little longer as a whole--but keep an eye out for some smaller bits to make their way out, be they zine/chapbook projects (hint, hint, Halloween seems like a perfect time to drop overlook) and some of the other individual fragments will be appearing in journals. I have some design ideas for some of the other series that may become something. 




Wednesday, September 16, 2020

eleanor and the tiny machines

 






I am planning a whole bunch of Halloween related treats in terms of projects and new releases, and since this one was ready (and has actually been ready since around March but Covid put a dent in my plans) I decided to drop it a little early. It's just a lil freebie, but it sets a tone (and prefaces some other things up my sleeve for this season).  I've been sitting on a lot of finished projects and fretting over what to do with all of  them, so maybe the answer is just to get them out there. 

The eleanor series collages actually came first one day while I was playing with some botanical images, and after I had a few, I set to telling a little ghost story (and really with that cover image, what could it be BUT a ghost story?)  I've considered it and the summer house, though they tell different narratives, to exist in the same sort of universe (though actually they wound up in two different book manuscripts (feed and animal, vegetable, montser.) Even still, there are similar threads in each.

It's the perfect little book for this time of year--slightly summer and lush with florals, but with spooky undertones. Enjoy!


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

notes & things | 9/15/2020

 


 I've recently took a little inventory of new projects and while this year has been a doozy on all other fronts, and while I was paralyzed a bit when it came to writing and creating through the spring, there is still quite a bit of work to show for the summer months--the overlook poems, the tabloid pieces, the bloom project, and now, my series of plague letters.  While visual art feels a little bit harder to settle in with (mostly due to time constraints) I am enjoying the video projects. On the whole, a productive season as we settle into fall.  I have a few more epistolaries and then I'm not sure where to go next, but we'll see what I'm in the mood for.  I have a notebook full of projects and ideas that are ripe for the picking.

Today, warmer weather, but it's supposed to get colder by the end of the week. There has also been strange milky white skies from the smoke in the west way high in the atmosphere.  People are dying and the worlds on fire, so it seems hard to exist sometimes. To person sometimes. I've been busy, so less for the doomscrolling now that the semester has started and my days are full with reserves and ILL.  I spent the weekend in Rockford, which at least granted some outdoor campfire s'more activity in a summer that has barely been a summer.  As always, I most like coming home. 

I do not know what fall holds but am watching closely. Some of the trees in the park along Lake Shore already have a brownish tint in the right light, so it's coming--the meatier parts of fall and this weekend I will start swapping out the summer dresses for more sweaters and heavier fabrics. While I would say spring is my fave season in general, fall is moreso for the clothes.  I second hand shopped some newer things last month that are already hanging in the wardrobe and I can't wait to wear them, but figure I'll get a few more summer dresses in while the weather holds. And of course, jacket and coat weather, which is the only thing that makes winter bearable at times.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Thursday, September 10, 2020

the poet's zodiac



is now available in all it's dark sparkly loveliness.


sagittarius

 

 

For every broken phonebooth, you trade a tooth in pocket. A rusted locket.  The back parking lot grown thick with weeds.  In the mornings, tread carefully.  The dead collect their objects with startling accuracy.  Recall their devotions as thunderstruck, as dumb luck.   Fuck with the lights in your kitchen, and still the witch moths flicker at the windows, eating their way through the screens.  Breathe carefully in the dark.  Pull at the roots in your cellar until nothing is left but stone, smooth as a coffin. Where you bury the black rabbits and their beginnings.  Their terrible skins.



You can get a copy here!

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

chicago by night


I have a recurring dream that I am downtown at night, completely alone, and the lights go out.  Completely and not even a moon to see by.  In the most recent version a few nights ago, I was trying to use the flashlight on my cell phone to navigate. Sometimes, there are car headlights, but more often, it's pitch black.

Tonight was my first evening shift at the library and my first night downtown since March, and it's a strange, eerily deserted world I come back into and very much not the bustling one I left.  Granted, it's chilly and a little rainy, which no doubt kept a lot of people in, but I only saw a few people on the streets, a few riders on the bus.  In the daytime, it was easier to hide it in plain site..the businesses closed and never re-opened, the hotels shuttered, the stores on the mag mile boarded over to protect from damage. Afternoons,  were still people everywhere, masked up and heading to and from work. A smattering of braver tourists.  When I used to walk Michigan in the summer at around 10pm each night, there were quite a few people out--in the hotels, in the bars and restaurants.  

After Labor Day, it would dwindle, but you'd still see quite a few people out in the evening--jogging, walking dogs, commuting home from their jobs in retailers, in restaurants, in theatres, all the places that closed up around 10. Tonight, it was even more of a ghost town, all of those people either not working at all anymore or places closing earlier.  The police presence on the mag mile thick as it has been since the last lootings, but very few pedestrians on the sidewalks. Even less street traffic. Many of the high end retailers have erected wood fortresses around and over their windows, so it's really much darker on the street than it used to be.  

But really, many of the storefronts were already empty long before Covid--high rents, dwindling physical shoppers. I would guess at least one storefront per block empty for years or recently vacated. So maybe it was always getting darker along that strip, and even moreso south of the river.  Not just the theatres and bars and hotels, but also the businesses that thrived because of loop workers, many of whom are working from home and no longer populating the cafes and lunch spots. I am curious to see how the Chicago rebuilds itself in the wake of this, what changes the textures and routines of city life.  In my neighborhood on the north side, things are pretty much the same and most eateries have managed to stay open. People who work from home still get carryout and coffee, just closer to their houses, but downtown, who knows what that will look like when this is over--if this is ever over... 

Even still, she's a pretty little (big) city...


Sunday, September 06, 2020

constellations and other messier objects


One of my favorite projects, and one of the first times I was breaking out of my comfort zone in writing in the early 2000's was this little chap. It was initially created for a class I was taking in my MFA program devoted to hybrid writing and genres, and what it became was a series of poems in the form of, well, things that were not poems--indices, footnotes, instruction manuals, dictionaries, outlines.  It started with the tension, particularly throughout history, as to what are considered "women's forms" and "men's forms."  Around the time I was writing it, I was particularly fascinated by men's scientific writing on women's psychology and hysteria, so all of these things came together to form the project in the fall of 2004, and early 2005 when I finished the last segments.  

There is so much in there--latin lessons, Dewey's lady librarian guidelines, gothic novel heroines--as well as a storyline that actually only exists in the chapbook (the elizabeth poems), that part having been weeded out when I retooled the series later for inclusion in in the bird museum, to reflect that manuscripts concerns more directly, where it opens the book and sets a similar toe, but a different emphasis. The elizabeth poems did not make the cut, nor did some other fragments --a pantomime scene, a poem in three voices about the institutionalization of women.  A couple other smaller pieces that only exist in the chapbook form.  (which you can see in it's entirety as an e-version here.)  I released the print version in late 2005, with grey cardstock and vellum endpapers, and considering it was the very first year of dgp, it's lovely little chap, even though layout in those days was much more difficult. I've long forgotten the size of the edition, but it was probably around 50--most f which were traded or given away at readings. Interestingly enough, the original version I turned into Arielle Greenberg that fall was a corset bound cover that I never quite was able to reproduce in a greater number.

I definitely consider this little chap to be one of those series of poems that broke something open in my creative style (like. for example, the I HATE YOU JAMES FRANCO poems).  It was a different thing to be cracked open in this case, but much of it was cracking open this perfectly ordered veneer I was working under in the early aughts--you can see it many of earlier poems in the fever almanac. In the poems I went into my MFA program writing, which were definitely not the poems I came out of it writing four years later. It somehow loosened the bolts and let other things develop--the work that became the rest of my second book, my Diagram/NMP chapbook, feign, the archer avenue series (also written for a craft class with Arielle).  While I can't say the workshops in my program were that helpful, the craft seminars, and a couple of the visiting faculty I worked with (Karen Volkman, Stephanie Strickland) changed my work so much for the better, and this is the soup from which errata springs 





Wednesday, September 02, 2020

verse and the prose poet: a love affair




I was doing some edits on the tabloid poems, the second of a couple series started once I could actually write during quarantne, and realized it's one of three different recent projects where I ecshewed prose form, which has been my go-to for years, for actual lined verse. I'm not sure if this was a conscious decision until I was already in the thick of it--that first batch of poems, overlook, breaking that pattern.  And I am no line purist, by any stretch, scanning meter and rhyme being mostly an intuitive thing and not at all as mathematical as my lit training would have me be.  But there is a different feel, and perhaps that was what drove me to prose. 

Prose pieces always feel more casual in their construction.  The same elements are there, image and sound, but there is more of a rushing feeling to them, and less stillness.  I think the longer your lines and the more white space on your page, the more you allow for a certain kind of stillness you can't get otherwise. You are moving less, so the framework becomes more apparent if that makes sense.  Maybe the difference between a wall and a fence. Or the ocean and a coral reef. The holes, the line breaks and space around the text, telling you more where to pause, where to take a breath.  And also, making you see more of the poem somehow, even though it's the same words. 

My lineated poetry also tends to be more free verse with a certain amount of interior-line rhymes and slant rhymes.  The same sort of things I do in prose, but it stands out more in lined work.  While I used to appreciate the prose form for that rush that a string of text without breaks gives, there is also a certain speed I am trying to master in the lined work, even with all those silences. One of my goals for the year (I'm pretty sure I started 2020 with goals, but who knows?) is to embrace white space a little more regularly and to experiment with the lengths of lines and their different effects.   After a couple lined projects, currently I am back to prose (it's an epistolary series, so this seems to make the most sense.) But I am hoping to play with lines on the next thing I move to.