Tuesday, October 22, 2019

middle class horror & american anxiety




As we close in on the height of spooky season, it seems appropriate that some of the exquisite damage series is getting a little bit of airplay (see some of it here, here, and here.) It being devoted most singularly to a certain kind of middle class fear and anxiety as glimpsed through horror movies. In some ways, it was a project I was mostly just futzing around with spring before last, that is, until we went to the slasher convention at DePaul and something started take shape during the keynote speech--a comment about how, as people became more and more securely middle class, they started to seek out ways to get an adrenaline rush from the sensation of being unsafe.  I imagine, if you were starving, at war, or much less comfortable, further scaring yourself wouldn't be at the top of the list.   You see it in the golden age of gothic novels--in the audience of predominantly women, predominantly secure in their homes. In the late 70's, surely that middle class comfort level spawned slasher movies.  You, there, in your house, while outside, any number of killers could be watching you from the bushes outside. Growing up in the 80's was both a time of immense freedom and immense fear.  Yes, we could disappear for hours from our parents and come back at dusk, but everyone warned us of stranger danger, of the man in the creepy white van. When I was a pre-teen, there was a very high profile case of a teenager who'd gone missing from a park, her face plastered on billboards all over the area. A year or so later, they found her body in a forest preserve.

Fear changes though, and the fears we had as kids seems very different--almost hypothetical--from the sort of fear that teens have now--the world of mass shootings and social media bullying.  Barring that one girl, most of us were not abducted.  Most of us did not end up shoved in the trunk of our car. Or stalked while babysitting. But women are killed by men every day--not in the sinister serial killer way, but in their own homes.  It seems far more likely now that you may be shot just going about your day--at school, at the movie theater.

It seems that that net of safety has a whole lot of tears in it and I wonder how that transforms our horror--the sort of horror we seek out.  Does it skew us toward the supernatural as opposed to the human? What does horror do now?  How does it work differently?



Sunday, October 20, 2019

notes & things | 10/20/2019




Today has been spent setting up the new printer at home and battling drivers (a little trickier with wireless set-up and laptops without disc drives, but I seem to have succeeded and am printing off the last of a big order for new chaps and will be assembling them tonight.)  The nice thing is the printer has been running while I am doing some cleaning, so I feel extra productive.  Tonight, I can make books and watch horror movies.  All of this very good.

Yesterday's Indie Press Fest was fun, but rather sparse on attendees. We've usually made it happen on Friday during the art crawl, but our presentation at North Park on Friday pushed it back a day. I did manage to sell some crypto zines and a mothman print. The presentation on zines, however, was well attended AND the audience seemed enthusiastic, so there's that.  This week brings the Illinois Library Assoc. conference and our poster session on Curated Learning, as well as horror movie trivia at the end of the week, with the workshop-oriented things happening the following week.

The storage people come Tuesday morning, but there is still much packing and disassembling left to do in the studio that can hopefully be finished up tomorrow, including the shelves and tables. And much to throw out that I won't be storing, including about a half dozen old machines.  It's bittersweet--on one hand I am excited to get everything home and set up and in one place. On the other, it's kind of like I'm breaking up with something I wanted badly to work for over a decade, but was so very bad for me financially.  I do already feel calmer and able to work on things more when I want to. And this month hasn't been as bare bones in terms of money already. Over the next couple of months as I make room, everything will slowly return to one place and this is a comforting thought. 



Monday, October 14, 2019

songs for dead girls




"Zombie Girl writes down her name.  Writes a letter to her congressman. A classified ad.  Dead Girl seeking.  Dead Girl seeping through her days.  Zombie Girl makes a chalk drawing of her former lovers on the floor beside the bed.  Decides sex is beside the point when you are all body, all hunger. All meat moving through the world."
___________




In honor of Halloween, I've been exploring some past spooky poems via social media the past couple weeks, but I have a whole new treat on hand today, an as yet unreleased as a complete series, songs for dead girls.  Originally part of my little apocalypse manuscript, these poems fit in well with it's end of the world ways, but only a couple of the poems have seen light of day on their own.

read the entire series here:



Thursday, October 10, 2019

nature, writing, & the ecogothic imagination



Yesterday, at the end of the reading at the Field Museum, someone in the audience asked if I consider myself a nature poet.  I realized I'd just spent a good  half hour or so talking about how I can't stop writing about birds.  About how a project that was supposed to be about dinosaurs and extinction would up also being largely bird-laden.  About the Cornell Boxes and my second book, in the bird museum. About how I'd made a bee-line on my first visit, not to the Evolving Planet exhibit, but to the Hall of Birds, the very same hall where I was giving that very reading.  And yet, I faltered and wasn't sure what to say.

When I think nature, I often think of Mary Oliver, whose poems, while I find a lot of them sort of facile, usually use nature as a means to teach us something about humanity. The nature is the tool by which we come to understand something more about ourselves.  I know many poets who write similar observances and explorations of the natural world, and in fact, have published a good many (much better than Oliver) with dgp.  But as for me, it's strange to claim it.  I would definitely say that I am endeared to the natural world in my visual  art.  Today, I was messing with the text/image pieces of the summer house, with it's plentiful bees and trees.  The poems themselves are about changelings and bee-children. I've  used bees as machinery in many series (the honey machine, how to write a love poem in a time of war.) I regularly use nature imagery in projects, old botanical illustrations, graphs and charts and diagrams.  Even my paintings, usually waterolor, are abstract flowers and landscapes.

And perhaps much of it has to do with the midwest landscape that pervades every book I've ever written (except maybe major characters in minor films, which seems more routed in urban life, but has it's share of critters).  In the shared property of water and stars, you had a natural landscape that was always intruding on the suburban one.  girl show is defined by it's fixing the carnival and it's women amidst a flat midwestern landscape (both actual and metaphorical). And maybe this is where things get weird.   The sideshow women.  The mermaids of salvage. The women as monsters in pretty much every other project. My love of amateur cryptozoology that filters into artwork and zines.

As I worked on extinction event, I've been reading idly a few pieces on the eco-gothic, whose gist is largely that nature is not just a background for human activity to occur in, but a force itself.  The menacing forest.  The haunted garden. The terrible sea. That nature (including plants, animals, landscape, weather) is just as much a character in any story as the ones with speaking parts. I like this sort of nature, the kind that is dangerous and may just kill you.  Much of that is where extinction event comes from with it's mutations and droughts. My answer to the question, in the moment, was that I tended to write a lot about horror and the supernatural lately--scary movies, serial killers, stabby adolescents urged on by Slenderman. But that nature is always present in them--weird or twisted as it may be.

Monday, October 07, 2019

@ the field museum


I've spent a good chunk of the weekend working on some final touches for Wednesday's reading at the Field Museum, the extinction event series, which has turned out a little darker.  But then, how else do your write a series of poems about climate change and extinction without them being just a little dark.  It's apocalyptic, but a different kind of apocalypse than my previous book--which was definitely imagining the end of the world in a more nuclear, or in some cases, zombified, way.  This is definitely more about humans, and our tendencies to try to love the landscape by destroying it.  To try to catalog and preserve the endings of other species and our own.  The very last segments that were written take place, like my series apocalypse theory: a reader, in a post-everything world, but these are more animal, and definitely bleaker.  They, and other reappearing threads are braided through, poems on dioramas, on taxonomy on the idea of museums as a place to preserve artifacts. The seeds were sewn as I walked around the museum that first time, and have come together much more smoothly than I imagined they would.  I'll be sharing them and a discussion of their conception on Wednesday @ noon (I'm reading in the Hall of Birds, but we'll start in the main hall and then walk to the reading space. ) 

Poets in the Field: Kristy Bowen
Field Museum of Natural History
Weds. October 9th, 12pm
co-sponsored by the Poetry Foundation
(meet in Stanley Field Hall)

Friday, October 04, 2019

notes & things | 10/4/2019



October is a beast--maybe a bear or a lion, and nothing to be messed with.  We have no less than 6 upcoming events in the library, some of which invoves lots of planning on my part, as well as two library conference things happening mid-month  (a presentation at the Chicago Research Summit and a poster session at the ILA conference.)  And then the studio move, and trying to make books around the chaos of that.  I may not make it out alive,  But by November, I hope to be settled back in to my new outfitted dining room and have everything in one place and at the ready.

Neverthless, it's a good crazy.  Last night, we had our kick-off for Lethal Ladies:  The Women of True Crime--an artist panel with some of the best discussion ever about women and violence.(both as victims and perpetrators.)  The art looks amazing, and I'm thrilled to have some fragments from [licorice, laudanum] amongst them.  Despite October madness, I am trying to slow down and, you know, actually enjoy the things I am doing, rather than rushing through them and then on to the next thing.   Suddenly a year passes and I feel like I've done a whole lot of stuff, none of which I have actually been in the moment for.

I am also gearing up and putting the final edits on the Field Museum poems for Wednesday.  They are dark and weird and filled with scales and feathers.  I'll probably eventually make some sort of chapbook out of them, but might try submitting some of them first.  I've gotten really bad about submissions, despite my 100 rejections plan, which went out the window in the summer. I did however, get some good acceptances from what I did send out, so it worked as much as I put into it.


Monday, September 30, 2019

lethal ladies: the women of true crime






Plans are in the thick for our upcoming focus topic this semester, the exhibit for which drops on Thursday with our kick-off artist panel.  I will have some of the {licorice, laudanum} image and text pieces up as well, since they focus predominantly on the women as victims and co-conspirators with Holmes.  Below is a peek at all the upcoming related programming happening over the next couple of months. 


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As both perpetrators and participants in our shared cultural fascination with the subject matter, women have made vast contributions to true crime-related art forms. From murders to heists, deceptions to general unruly behavior, we will explore the patriarchal structures and societal constraints/expectations that true crime, and its subject matter, subvert and transform. Further, this exhibition shows how we as artists and consumers create and further these conversations within the genre.

“Lethal Ladies: The Women of True Crime” Artist Panel and Kick-Off
THURS. OCT. 3rd|  Library | 5th Floor | 7pm-9pm
Join us for a discussion with the artists featured in the Library’s Lethal Ladies: The Women of True Crime exhibit.
As both perpetrators and participants in our shared cultural fascination with the subject matter, women have made vast contributions to true crime-related art forms. From murders to heists, deceptions to general unruly behavior, we will explore the patriarchal structures and societal constraints/expectations that true crime, and its subject matter, subvert and transform. Further, this exhibit explores how we as artists and consumers create and further these conversations within the genre.
Each semester, Aesthetics of Research (AoR) addresses a portion of our programming to a particular genre, art form, movement, or special topic of interest via exhibits, displays, workshops, readings, lectures, panel discussions, and other activities. Focus topics reinforce the Library as a place of creative conversation and inquiry, bringing art and scholarship together, as well as to explore available resources in the Library, on campus, and in the greater Chicago community. 
 *
Library Zine Night |  Lady Killer Edition
MON. OCT. 7th|  Library | 1st Floor | 7pm-9pm
Join Us for our monthly Zine Night, a chance for you to work alone or collaboratively on zines, comics, artist books, or other paper projects in the library.
You Need:
Ingenuity, creativity, and inspiration. A desire to show off or learn new techniques. A want to work and get to know other zinesters and artists…
We Have:
Staplers, trimmers, basic drawing supplies, paper, adhesives, scissors, discarded book scraps, scanners, photocopiers, and occasional guest how-tos.
*
Book to Art Club | The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death
WEDS.  OCT. 9th|  Library | 1st Floor | 7pm-9pm
In celebration of our “Lethal Ladies: The Women of True Crime” focus, we are venturing into non-fiction territory with Corinne May Botz’s The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, whose subject matter explores the life and work of master criminal investigator Frances Glessner Lee and her amazing crime dollhouses. We will be meeting to discuss the book, Glessner Lee’s work in general, her legacy on other art forms, AND to make paper dioramas of our own favorite crime scenes.
Book to Art Club Meeting
Wednesday, October 9
7 p.m.–9 p.m.
Library, 1st Floor
How to Participate:
  1. Check out a copy of The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death at the Library (copies are also available via I-Share Interlibrary Loan).
  2. Watch this space and Library social media for more resources and further reading on Glessner Lee’s life and work.
  3. Join us on October 9, when we’ll have discussion and diorama-making supplies aplenty for you to design your own paper crime scenes (both real or imagined, benign or grisly—your choice!)

*
Lady Killers Reading @ THE LITTLE INDIE PRESS FESTIVAL
SAT OCTOBER 19th |  LIBRARY | 3rd Floor East | 12pm-4pm

Join us for readings in all genres by Columbia & Chicago community writers celebrating both the women of true crime from all perspectives and the women who make them real through art and media.
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CCC LIBRARY GAMING SOCIETY presents Horror Movie Trivia: Lethal Ladies Edition
FRI, OCT 25th | LIBRARY | 1st Floor| 5pm-7pm
The Columbia College Library Gaming Society invites you to unique variation on our annual Halloween season Horror Trivia Night in conjunction with LETHAL LADIES: THE WOMEN OF TRUE CRIME. From perpetrators to victims to survivors, women in horror movies play many roles.  Come test your knowledge of the women of horror and true crime.  Prizes!  Snacks!

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Wicked Week: Domestic Goddess Gone Wrong |  Spooky Soaps and Bathory Bombs 
TUES, OCT 29th | LIBRARY | 1st Floor | 7pm-9pm
Join the Library and the Aesthetics of Research (AoR) for an evening devoted to making spookily-shaped soaps and bloody bath bombs devoted to everyone’s favorite Hungarian countess: Elizabeth of Bathory. We will also have resources on making your own molds and packaging. The workshop is part of the Library’s “Lethal Ladies: The Women of True Crime” AoR celebration.
*

PUBLIC DOMAINIA:  SPIDER BABY & ALICE, SWEET ALICE
THURS OCT 31st |  Library | 1st Floor | 7-10pm
Stop by the Library on Halloween night for some great public domain horror films in honor of LETHAL LADIES:  THE WOMEN OF TRUE CRIME.  We’ll have treats, flicks, and conversation.
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Lethal Ladies: The Women of True Crime Panel
MON  NOV 11th |  LIBRARY | 5th Floor |  7-9pm
Join for a discussion with fans, experts and creators on the enormous popularity of True Crime in American Culture– the good, the bad, and the terrifying. What does the popularity tell us about our obsessions as a society?
*
Lizzie Borden Murder Mystery                                          
FRI DEC. 6th |  LIBRARY | 1st Floor |  5-7 pm
Help us solve our version of one of the most famous crimes of the century. Did Lizzie Borden really give her mother 40 whacks?  We’ll have clues, red herrings, and great fun for all.  Individuals and teams welcome. Sponsored by the CCC Library Gaming Society.