Tuesday, May 31, 2005

There's always this rush of relief and freedom at the end of the semester, which should last for a couple weeks. I plan to work on the Joseph Cornell-inspired chapbook and the more narrative novel-like sequence I want to do, release two more dgp titles, plus the print annual of wicked alice. Also a few readings, the first of which is next Sunday at the Printers Row Book Fair. Should be fun, though they've nixed the poetry actual tent for a hypothetical poetry tent in the superdorm building, which flanks the festival. The nice thing about the poetry tent was that it captured people's attention as they milled about the fair, drew them in if they heard something interesting, now it's not as noticeable. But it should be fun nevertheless, with a whole boatload of poets reading.

If I'm feeling particularly ambitious this summer, I'd like to get a start on the carnival poems, which I've decided hell or highwater are likely going to comprise my thesis. Of course, I know despite all my plans and to-do lists, everything will likely take two times longer than I intended while I spend my time lying about in the heat being lazy. But I think a little legarthic daydreaming and semi-trashy novel reading may be in order since this semester was such a fucking chore.
Actually had a reasonably productive end-of-semester conference with Stephanie Strickland, who I had for both the craft seminar and workshop this term, probably the first such so far in the program. Her comments were toward honing them into better, stronger pieces. She did suggest, as she did once before I limit the use of "the" and other articles, also control my pronouns to avoid confusion. Also to let the closings unravel instead of tying them neatly up (which I admit, is something I've tried to work on in the past few pieces, and oddly, writing prose poems helps me with this.) Also to stop falling back on time words, like "Now" and "Still" where they aren't needed. All good suggestions and something to keep in mind. I'm not sure I agree with her suggestion to try to banish all references to bones, dresses, skirts, and buttons. All things I like very much and don't want to get rid of, thank you very much. The only thing that puzzled me, and that she said was a strength, but that she thinks I might break through to something else if I lost it, was a certain veneer, or more like a web over the poems that holds everything orderly and in it's place, that I might benefit from letting fall away. Not sure I can do that and still retain anything good, but it's worth a shot.

Barring a few final revisions, feign is basically finished. I'm going the non-contest route with this one as soon as I get it all together. Getting ready for a slew of query letters and have a couple places in mind to start it off. 54 pages total on the manuscript, though I considered making it longer. But honestly I'm ready to move on to the next project and want this one put to bed. I do feel much more passionately about these poems. And if the fever almanac doesn't get itself into print, this is a damn fine first book.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Just spent the last couple of hours checking in a ridiculous amount of books until my wrist started hurting and I had to stop. End of the semester fun--whacked out people and way too many returns. Seriously considered calling in sick this morning, but may call in "sick" next Friday when my sister's in town.

The streets were unusually crowded for a Friday morning, lots of suburban soccer-mom types that are ever so conspicuous in their bright shirts and capri pants. It must be field trip season as well. Yesterday, I must have seen 30 or so schoolbuses parked near the Lincoln Park Zoo. I recall going to the Madison Zoo in the second grade, and then Brookfield in highschool. They were always fun--almost the feeling of playing hooky from the drudgery of school even though you weren't. (also, we usually wound up on those plush coach busses, and not the stinky crowded yellow kind.) There were other trips--we went to Milwaukee alot, in 6th grade to the museum, in eighth grade drama class to see Huck Finn and Macbeth. In junior high, the year always ended with a trip to a theme park, and in 9th grade, we came in and went to the Oriental Institute at U. of Chicago (which smelled like dusty mummies and decay) and the Field Museum. (I will forever associate the Egyptian exhibit with high adolescent trauma.) For French class, we would occasionally come in to dine at a "real" French restaurant, something scarce in Rockford. I think both of them are actually closed now, but we'd go to the Art Institute to look at the Impressionists and then go eat beef bourgogne and omelettes and delicious little tarts. For drama class my senior year, we came in to see Les Miserables, which not only cemented my resolve to live in the city, but also to be a broadway star. Well, at least one of those things worked out....

There was something cool about bringing that ubiquitous bag lunch as well. I remember being stoked because, since you were charged w/ bringing a beverage, you could actually bring soda (which usually was usually prohibited at least in grade school). I remember the cans, only slightly cold, wrapped in foil. I was usually a hot-lunch sort of girl, so brown bagging it was unusual for me, and my mom would buy all sorts of goodies when she knew she had to make a lunch. (Oddly, this changed later when my sister was in school, she usually bypassed on the school lunches.)

hmm...actually I do remember taking my lunch to school more in the younger grades. I had three lunchboxes that I remember. One was Disco Fever one, pink and purple and all dented that we procured at some garage-sale. (Truly one of my favorite bargain procurements, a list including this 60's grey-blue mini dress one size too small my mother could never get me to take off when I was seven, and a giant flourescent green felt hippo with flowers on it which is still in my closet at my parent's house at this very moment.) Another lunchbox was a bright shiny new red plastic FAME one. The third was Tupperware, square, very orange, and very uninspiring, but it had all these little plastic containers so you could bring chocolate pudding and applesauce in the pre snak-pak days. Uck, I still remember what chocolate milk tasted like when sipped from those thermoses. Even juice boxes were sort of just coming on the market. Of course, the junior high cafeteria seemed to think it was okay to serve mashed potatoes with pizza, so I typically went to the pbj sandwiches, which were actually very tasty, but filled with a bizarre industrial kind of peanut butter and brownish pinkish jelly which would fall in huge clumps onto the sticky table (or your math notebook if it happened to be in the way) whever you took a bite....

God, it must be Friday afternoon, since I'm rattling on and on about lunch...

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Speaking of chapbooks, yesterday I recieved the new copies of The Archaeologist's Daughter sans the printing goof. While I was completely happy with them title page mistake and all, they decided to rerun them, so I have 80 odd books with one set of page numberings and a missing title page, and another 100 with the correction. I'm making out like a bandit I suppose.

It's funny though that poems are now facing entirely different poems than they were in the first printing, which when reading it, makes the experience slightly different. Funny how that's something we take for granted in printed books and journals, but doesn't come into play in online media, how one poem plays off another, what role the facing page has on the reading experience of the other page. In the latest issue of ACM, my poem is opposed by some very snazzy artwork, which made me very happy for some reason and was perfect.

As for the chapbook debacle, which is still raging it seems, there was also a comment about how chapbooks don't sell outside a coterie, that poetry doesn't sell, hmm...I've sold four chapbooks (mine ) to people I don't even know in the last couple of days via the website. Not the usual sales figures, which is maybe one a week, but not wholly unheard of. I average about one dgp chapbook by one of our authors a week, not counting the initial publication surge. In early March, there was a huge demand for Wicked Alice print annuals, who knows why. I tend to buy alot of micropress books (short and long) via paypal when I can And so do alot of people I know. So, in the poetry world (and the poetry world is actually pretty huge despite what some would argue) poetry sells. And maybe that's enough...

the chapbook rant, continued...

Apparently Daly's little missive on chapboooks got more a than a couple people riled up. She continues on in a couple more posts about how much she hates chapbooks, which is fine, hey, more power to her, but her logic is still ridiculous.

In today's post, she begins by saying that the chapbook's function has been wholly absorbed by online work, e-chapbooks, etc. But then she goes on to list over a dozen presses (and I can list 20 more at least) that publish mainly chapbooks, most publishers that are quite reputable. In truth, the literary world becomes more and more multi-faceted every day. New publishers, new presses, new websites. I think chapbooks are an excellent low-cost, low-bullshit way to publish in this age where book publishers hardly want to publish poetry at all because it's not the latest John Grisham novel.

She then rails on vanity publications. In my opinion, the only thing that designates something a vanity enterprise is if the work sucks and you publish it regardless. Then you're falling pray to vanity. If the work is good, and people, the larger reading audience, like it and take an interest in it, it's hardly just a vanity publication.

This disturbs me once again: "I believe that it is a waste of time for serious poets to attempt to turn a profit from vanity publication." Who says anything about turning a profit? I would be entirely happy if I never made a cent as long as I had some sort of audience, some sort of impact. In my case, any money I make from my chapbook typically goes back into the production of other dgp books. I've given away or traded about two to every one copy I actually took money for. Anyone trying to turn a profit with poetry AT ALL, books or chapbooks, is going to be woefully dissappointed.

I'm also uncomfortable with the notion that all work, if it's self-published, is unpublishable crap. Yes, I mean this can happen, but isn't whether or not anyone is interested in your self-published crap going to be an indicator if the effort was a worthwhile venture. In my case, my first chapbook was actually published, not by me, but by another press. Due to a backlog of releases, it took three long years. In the meantime, I self-published another manuscript under dgp (Bloody Mary), which had placed honorable mention in a chapbook contest (thus obviously wasn't likely to be self-deluding crap, or so I hoped.) I did it, not as any sort of vain self-indulgence, but really because I got tired of saying no when people asked at readings and such if I had a chapbook they could buy. When I was running out of those, the initial 100 print run, I published another (belladonna). By this time I had anough faith to believe in my work to say, fuck it. I have a manuscript. I want it published. I have the means and cool cover art. I can spend months trying to find someone who wants this and then wait months before it's out, or just go ahead and do it myself. And so it happened. The weakest of the three I would definitely say is the first, the non-vanity publication, according to Daly's criteria. What's funny is I actually spent more money buying an extra hundred copies of that book, which I only got 25 complimentary copies of from the publisher, than I did on either one I published myself. (This was my choice, however, largely because they don't have a website, thus all distribution, outside of what they do directly and locally, have to go through me.)

This word "legitimacy" rears its ugly head several times in these posts. It's so focused in this case on something that can be bestowed by the publishers of full-length books, the poetry gods. Oh the horror of "self-legitimacy." There's a slightly insecure tone to all of this, like the mean girls in high school cliques who were ten times meaner because their place in the cool clique wasn't fixed an immutable, like the poet is struggling so hard to justify her own importance by placing herself in opposition to the self-published masses. and perhaps trying a bit too hard. What about legitimacy wrought by publishing good work however you do it? Daly herself may be treading thin ice here. Her first book DADADA, while I found it enjoyable, published by Salt Publishing over in England, is printed by Lightning Source, a POD, which is probably why B&N wouldn't stock it. I ordered a copy direct from the publisher a few months ago, and like most POD perfect bound volumes, it's a little flimsy and a bit too laminated with its cover stock.(which is largely why I'm not keen on POD) Some publishing purists, who believe POD the end of publishing as we know it, might not embrace her own first book quite so readily. If, as she said haughtily, an editor must like your work enough to give it a spine, perhaps they should love it enough to give it a set print run as well. Not my opinion, but you see where I'm going..

I guess I can understand her frustration when trading her rather he
fty and pricier Salt publishing book for a hand-stapled chap. Especially since she had to pay for her own copies no doubt, but in that case she shouldn't do it all.

I fear, however it all comes down to this:

"I do not like to be in competition for teaching jobs, readings that pay, or even book publication with those who claim that their chapbooks are "books." I do not like to be in competition for jobs with those who include their holiday card poem - broadsides are legitimate publications."

Ahh, her venom makes complete sense now... a bit competitiveness and careerism rearing its ugly head...

Monday, May 23, 2005

girls reading novels (draft)

Aurora is named for the lavender equations, the glitter at the end of your spine. Avenues grow contradictory, a length of chain-link divided by the waters murky circle. All the kitchen floors tilt at a seventy degree angle. Intricate societies are discovered among the broken dishes. My limbs are symmetrical, polite. Ask me a question and I answer like rubbing the rim of a drinking glass. See, how I am stitched : the dark fabric of sky, the body torn from petticoats and corsets. The cuts all have names. Dawn and Olivia are favorites among the killers just now emerging from the bushes. The faucet drains its litany of bathrooms with dark lacy corners. We forget the name for sky, the discordant hum of tendons wrapping the twilight. There’s a name for the door that opens into the darkened hallway. Some terrible violence in the way I say open and all the sharp corners.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

I've been thinking about the issue below a little further. Yes, books are excellent. We all want books, because as writers, we all have a bit of a book fetish. Of course we do, since most of us devote our entire lives to them pretty much in some way. But there's just not enough. Not enough publishers with open slots, not enough book prizes, not enough of an audience for poetry beyond ourselves. And this is not necesarily a terrible thing. I have a poetry/golf analogy. Yes, the only people usually interested in watching golf matches are those that play themselves. Ergo, poetry is the golf of the literary world. And I'm fine with that. In an ideal world, poetry would be like Hollywood, unlimited money and resources and everyone who wrote good poetry could be published by nice little presses that weren't struggling financially, that didn't have to make decisions of one author over another, by journals who could publish whoever they wanted and put out however many issues they had decent work to fill. (The lovely thing about editing an online journal is I never have to say no to things that I just can't fit spacially into an issue).

So very often, the established publishing routes--the academic presses and the larger indies--have to serve as gatekeepers, allowing only so many people through because there's only enough room and oxygen for a few while the rabble is teeming outside. Some would argue that this is exactly as it should be, the the cream rises to the top. But more and more, I see relative uninspiring work being published while others, much better writers, are still being crushed in the mob. God help the poet out there who doesn't take things into his/her own hands and find a way to distribute the work outside the bottom-line publishing world. And so micro presses, and chapbooks, and self-publishing, they're not about vanity. They're so much like indie record labels and independent film, getting you art out there despite the bottom-line, despite the woeful gatekeepers (most who don't like shutting you out, not really, well maybe the vindictive ones.) And maybe they won't always be shutting the gate on you, but that doesn't change what you're doing now. I'm always especially disconcerted by the fact that so many people have to live in the publish or perish world, where their job security depends on whether they get past the gate. It turns poetry into some rabid competive world where people will do aything to get what they want, and not at all the world of the creative arts.

hmmm...perhaps it is a bit like Hollywood in that case.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Read this..

What the hell??  apparently chapbooks are not "serious works of art" because:

a) they are not sold in bookstores (umm..most poetry books hardly are anyway, check out the selection at your local Chicago bookstore, with the exception of maybe Myopic, and don't even bother with the chain stores..)

b) no one is teaching them in classes (if anyone ever teaches my poems in a class somebody shoot me...again a certain academic bias I keep encountering.)

c) people buy them at readings  (yes, that SO makes them not art)

Maybe I'm misunderstanding her point (I like Catherine Daly's work alot and just ordered her new book...plus she's been in Wicked Alice), but I have to wholly disagree here..

Yes, while "vanity" or "learning exersize" may apply in some cases, on the whole, I think alot of people look at chapbooks as an entity, a body of work in and of itself.  I mean, they can be alot of things:  something commemoratively issued for an reading or event,  or something a poet can just sell at readings allowing the audience to take something more tangible home with them.   Since lately I've been writing series of poems, specifically for chapbook manuscripts, I'm a bit at arms with the notion that these are dismissed as not "serious works of art," and for such ridiculous reasons.  I would hardly term dgp's chaps as not being art in and of themselves.  They're cohesive manuscripts that have a beginning a middle and an end. A number of "book" presses also publish chapbooks for shorter manuscripts and for less cost.  For most publishers, like dgp, it's our only option.  So apparently  because they're cheaper to produce and  a mere 20 or so pages and a perfect-binding away from a "book" they're not "serious art".  Because no one is requiring some class of indifferent poetry undergrad or grad students to buy it's not "serious art."   

In my opinion get your work out to your audience in whatever way you need to do it, be it a chapbook, a book, cave paintings, cd's, artists books, sidewalk chalking.  Yes these things are ephemeral, but isn't everything?  If your work is crafted, thought-provoking, and beautiful, it's art, even if it's handed out on acid yellow mimeographs.   Sales and money, while nice, have nothing to do with art.

(I realize I probably am being hypocritical here since, as you know, I badly want a book, but it's more than that.  Yes, I want a book, because I have a book fetish, glossy, shiny covers and some heft make me happy.  But I also want chapbooks, and broadsides, and pamphlets,, or bookmarks, anything else printed.  Also webzines and e-chapbooks.  Yes, I'd like to see my work in a bookstore(not just Quimbys), but I'm not going to gage the worth of my poetry on the fact that it's not.)

Even poets who have books sometimes do chapbooks as other collections.  Louise Gluck has one called October out from Sarabande.  Arielle Greenberg's Fa(r)ther Down:  Songs from the Allergy Trials is its own little world.  A poet who read at Columbia recently, Robin Worth, had a lovely ekphrastic chapbook I believe was commisioned and issued by an art gallery or museum.  Don't tell me these aren't works of art in and of themselves, just as whole and complete as any of their books.
As an antidote..go read here

Friday, May 20, 2005

Speaking of returns, I realized when checking my account today, that I seriously need to bring some of the books I myself have checked out. I did notice what an odd combination of subjects they represent. There are of course a number of poetry collections, , a couple of manuals on writing and creativity, a couple books on women surrealists and left bank writers. Add in some on bookmaking and altered books, Joseph Cornell, and vintage poster art. Also scholarly book on Little Red Riding Hood, a host of books on erotica and feminism, two Buffy the Vampire Slayer guides, and an increasing number of books about sideshows, carnival folk, and circuses (my latest project). And last, but not least, all the decorating books that are too large and unweildy to bring back, but went home easily enough. A grand total of like 65 altogether, most of them at home somewhere, some out for a year at least, some I have no clue where they've been tucked away at. I feel guilty about hording them, but I tell myself I'm just doing my part to minimize the space crunch in some sections of the stacks.
The end of the semester and we are just drowning in books--overflowing carts on the all the floors, books stacked every which way in the holding shelves, and our book drops jammed to the top.  While I was checking in a bunch, I did find a an interesting poster art book I hadn't yet seen and another Chicago ghost story book.  I managed to finish the book I was reading before dropping of off to sleep last night--very good, but the end was a bit abrupt and not quite as a big a finish as I'd expected.  But last night was right out of a ghostly novel, thick and foggy, enough to block out the  North skyline completely when I walked out. My waiting for something, anything in the mail, was abated a little by recieving my copy of ACM w/ "In Spain" in it. The theme is apparently text and image, so there is a lot of cool artwork inside in addition to writing, and some great cover art.  I think it's probably one of my favorite poems I've written (very short, clean, simple), and it was one of the ones that snagged me the Poetry Center thing last year.  Funny, I remember it was absolutely ripped apart in workshop last spring. The one that garnered the comment "Would you please write another poem?" if I remember correctly. Yeah, well, bite me...

When I worked in the elementary school library and basically had to run daily operations and shelve books (mostly on my knees no less) I used to have dreams about shelving and putting things in call number order. Since I don't really shelve books anymore, those dreams have stopped, but have been occasionally replaced by dreams where people won't leave the library at closing time, and the computers all going down at the circulation desk. And once, that every book we checked out had to be looked up in this ridiculously large three ring binder by isbn number, and nobody thought this was a stupid idea but me.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The past couple days I've felt like in some sort of limbo, just waiting for everything and everything taking way too fucking long...

There's the semester and my classes, which really needed to be over about a month ago. There's too many submissions out there in submission limbo, and the book manuscript, and the chapbook. There's the weather, which has been vascillating back and forth between muggy and rainy and way colder than it should be. There's my apartment that needs a good swift OCD no holds barred cleaning (even my dustbunnies have dustbunnies). There's end of semester library malaise...everyone wired out and crazy. I cleaned my desk out at work, deciding that there wasn't much purpose in holding onto random paperwork from 2003. My world felt a little more ordered. The Ghost Writer which I've been reading back and forth on the way to work is turning out to be rather engrossing. (In fact I wish I could go curl up in bed and finish it instead of working tonight.) All Victorian ghost stories and creepy London houses, mysterious paintings and unfortunate women marrying cruel and unsuitable men.

catalogue (draft)

The danger of the beautifully drowned.Of root work and tunnels. Of chairs and sevens and the dark seats of movie houses.The blue betweens.The dangers of imaginary tables in lengthening rooms, of aqueducts and porcelain cup handles. The danger of lanterns in trees and the all the kitchens on fire, of stripped windowpanes and the yellow curtains skimming the sill.Of yawns and picnic tables.Backseats and train tracks.The dangers of soap and tequila.Of dictionaries and chewing gum.Hallways, stoplights, flammable skirts and driving too fast.The danger of Septembers and schoolyards, speaking while undressing, the irregular seams.

Monday, May 16, 2005

sarah leaves the midwest (draft)

Never the black water rippling, or the road signs bent by wind. Not the anchors, or the underpass, or the bridges we call lapses.Seldom the difficult swimming. The canals dragged for bodies every spring. Or thetentative gravel parking lots, tires filled with paper wasps. Not the splinters in her mouth, or the spangles in her hair, blue as the inside of the virgin. Rarely what we call interruption, the neighborhood dogs in their dusty ghetto, their wilderness of bed sheets. Scarcely the stained saucers and rusted spoons, or this block, and all the houses catching fire.Never again the emptied dresses, frozen to the grass, or the cavities in her teeth, humming

the paper house (draft)

At the edge of the field, we see the angriest bodies.

The spell is in the wrists. The spell is in the shampoo.

Girls with long throats and a penchant for divining rods.

Seven years ago and the house burned beneath the moon

opening itself like a mouth torn out of a book. All the

minnows died overnight in their buckets, silver bodies

boiling on porches. Lightning bugs faltered in olive jars,

and our jawbones ached with want. Still, the mice shred

newspapers in attics filled with cages ripped

from hooks in parlor walls. In parlors ripped

from a woman’s skin, all eyelets and hooks. At the edge

of the field we watched with matches in our skirts.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

This is a cool review of ink & ashes and it mentions me by name, which always piques my egomaniacal interest anyway...

Also, I have two new poems in Aught.

Terribly uneventful weekend. Spent Friday night fondling the books enviously at Borders, but eventally had to leave due to the annoying showtunes blasting the store. Did manage to pick up Maggie Nelson's Jane, a hybrid poetry/memoir, and The Ghost Writer, a quasi-literary/quasi-trashy mystery. I can't remember the author, but it probably doesn't matter. Yesterday, an incredibly long day at work, but mitigated by finishing the layout for the next dgp chap. And hell, Taylor Graham is a fine poet, the more I look at them, the more I love these. And alot of the pieces have appeared in wicked alice at some point, eight of them in fact. Check our archives for a sampling. Plus, I got permission to use the cover photo from Alaina Burri-Stone, so it's going to look stunning.

Sadly, as for my own work, it was a three rejection type of day. One from an online place, Gutcult where the editor said he liked them, but didn't want them nevertheless, and a form rejection from Meridian. The one from Agni was encouraging and included a note and an invitation to submit again before the end of May. Whenever I obsess over submissions I feel like a teenage girl... What does this mean? This little "sorry" handwritten at the bottom of the page? Do they really like me? Do they? I'm hoping the triple no bodes well for a flurry of yes coming soon. Maybe something big.

Friday, May 13, 2005

what is on my desk at work because I'm really bored...

Several manilla (vanilla) file folders full of official job-related billing and invoice stuff.. I think there's also unofficially a copy of my manuscript and the Wicked Alice spring issue poems in the pile.

A purple Eiffel Tower mug with exactly four un-sharpened Columbia College Library pencils, one sharpie, a couple of leaky ballpoints, and red pen.

a staple, tape despenser, phone, computer, post-its

1 small seated gargoyle statue

1 empty iced tea bottle

two small prints leaning against the wall in front of me, my Le Chat Noir cat poster (duplicate of the one hanging in my kitchen at home)and Van Gogh's Cafe Terrace at Night. also on a cork bord to my right, various odds and ends post-cards and a little poster for the opera "The Workshop from Hell" at St. Mark's Church in the Bowery that somehow made it into my mailbox thanks to one of my co-workers, featuring a horned baby holding a frog sitting atop a globe. (Nothing could be more appropriate)

Two Books:

Joseph Cornell: Stargazing in the Cinema and Mina Loy's Last Lunar Baedeker (mostly because I checked them out and they're too heavy to take home.)

My little black notebook.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Colder today than it should be.  The lake was churny and a muddy grey.   Another Art of the Library opening tonight, but I bypassed the beer and wine and only stayed long enough to get some cheese and fruit.  My anti-social tendencies are in full swing on days like this, cold outside, too warm and dry in the library, my hair dried out and in my eyes constantly.  The last thing I want to do is make forced conversation with my co-workers.  Sometimes, I'm fine and completely comfortable around people, other times I'd rather stick a fork in my eye than have to have a conversation.  I tend to be a listener, so loud and rambunctious people make me more comfortable, and I can just relax.  But put me in a room with another quiet person, and you could hear a pin drop.  I blame my mother, her being the talker in my family, which resulted in the rest of us being rather quiet. It's not that I don't like conversing, but more that the niceties and social small talk seriously bother me. unless I really have something to talk about, you're not going to hear much out me.

Spent the afternoon working on laying out the cover of the next dgp chapbook, finally, though I still have alot to do on the body before I can send the poets the proofs. This entire semester it seemed like I'm just trudging along week to week, trying to get through it, trying to get all the little assignments and readings done so it can start all over and that's likely why I keep getting sick.  The eight months of winter we've had doesn't seem to help.

I'm hoping to finish feign (aka girls reading novels) by the end of the month, though I think I may let it sit awhile before sending it out to contests.  Especially since who knows what will happen with the other manuscript...and then it's on to a couple smaller chapbook projects I want to work on over the summer, when I'm free to direct my focus wherever I like.  I did manage to choose what I want to take in the fall.  Since my schedule conflicts with the Neruda class I would have liked to have taken , and I can't stand the idea of devoting a whole semester to Shakespeare's Sonnets (the plays yes, but the sonnets, no), I'm bypassing a literature class offering, which will force me into a lit class while I'm working on my thesis in the Spring of 07, but that shouldn't be a problem. (And I need to take six credit hours at a time to get one class free anyway)  Instead I'm taking my last workshop (about fucking time) and a craft course on reading and writing Chicago poems.  Since I've been knocking around an idea for a series of city haunting poems for the last year, this might be a good opportunity, plus it simplifies my classes into a one day thing. 

I have no idea what the thesis will be.  In theory, it's a book length manuscript representing what you've been doing over the last two years.  Poems all nicely revised and tied together with a shiny bow.  And a 20 page accompanying paper. But I'm only part-time, with two years down and two to go,  and who know what sort of project I'll be in the midst of come next year.  And probably none of the poems will be workshopped poems, the ones from last year, some having been trashed, some having gone into the fever almanac (the first two manuscripts now spliced together) and now this years alot of them going into feign. The next full-length endeavor may be the carnivalesque book, I'm not sure, though who knows.  Most of my craft exersizes remain just that--exersizes- with the exception of the errata series, of which a few are included in the new book.  So basically I'm starting from scratch.  And the whole write-then workshop-then revise thing doesn't really work for me.  It's more like write--revise--revise again--write more--revise--workshop--submit----revise again.  I rarely revise based on suggestions.  I've heard enough "This is too easy..."  (wtf does that MEAN?) and "I don't buy this.."  

Revision is sort of an intuitive, private thing on my part.  Occasionally stuff comes out fully awesome and not in need of anything.  Most stuff needs to be knocked around a little.  By the time I take it to workshop, unless I just wrote it, it's already been taken to task multiple times.  I'm not sure I agree with the concept of workshop in general, writing such a solitary thing and not something you do with folks looking over your shoulder and correcting you.  And yet some of them take it so seriously, eagerly revising poems, seeking...what?...approval?.

I'm finding myself much more productive when I'm focused on one thing.  One chapbook, or one series of poems.  If I work on the shorter chapbooks over the next year, plus messing around with odd poems for another book, I might be able to stretch it out until the spring after next....

Of course, which is all I need, another book I'm trying to get published....

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

10 favorites

(by no means definitive and pilfered from CandyDishDoom's site)

Birds of America--Lorrie Moore (fiction that reads like poetry)
The Virgin Suicides--Jeffery Eugenides (wistful, very modern-day Faulkner)
Ariel--Sylvia Plath (no explanation needed)
Ovid’s Metamorphosis (ditto)
A Moveable Feast--Ernest Hemingway (romping about Paris and cafe-life)
Lust--Susan Minot (all about sex and adolescent angst)
Collected Anne Sexton Poems (second in my pantheon of poetry goddesses)
Wide Sargasso Sea--Jean Rhys (a less stuffy, much sexier and fairer take on Jane Eyre)
Wuthering Heights--E. Bronte (high drama on the moors--all English major girls love this book)
A Room with a View--EM Forster (I'm not sure how much my liking of this book is colored by the movie version, but both are excellent)


Heathers (sexy psychopathic Christian Later and mean girls)
Pump Up the Volume (a soundtrack that changed my musical tastes)
Party Girl (it's a library thing)
Kicking and Screaming (the movie every graduating college student needs to see)
Before Sunrise (Ah.. the 90's...a non-sappy romance. The recent sequal was good too.)
The Last Supper (not anything biblical, but a hilarious movie where a bunch of grad students in Iowa start killing off conservative assholes..)
Labyrinth (David Bowie and singing muppets--need I say more?)
The Ring (perhaps not the scariest movie I've seen,it comes close, but the most artful and disturbing)
Secretary (James Spader and kinky sex--need I say more?)
Gas Food Lodging (great indie adolescent angst film)


Hotel California-The Eagles (I was nine when I heard this while laying in bed one night and throught, wow, what a great song. And it still is.)
Dark Days --Soundgarden (grungy and depressing)
About a Girl --Nirvana Unplugged (somehow, the unplugged nirvana outshines the plugged in)
Mazzy Star--Fade Into You (associative, makes me think of weepy dorm-room make-out sessions)
Round Here--Counting Crows (any Counting Crows would do, but this one is heartbreaking)
Patti Smith--Dancing Barefoot (I searched years for the title of this song until recently)
Hole--Violet (any Hole would do, as well, but this is probably my favorite, flanked only by "gutless")
Concrete Blonde--Joey (morose and weepy in highschool)
Tori Amos--Cooling (again, any Tori song would do, but this one lately is always on my stereo)
Heather Nova--Not Only Human (same as above)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

entropy (draft)

The night the windows all crash

in their frames, I’m not the shambled

aftermath or the boy-girl order.

The spaces between us are not spaces

at all but a thousand blue flowered

nightgowns. You haven’t yet learned

to discern the shape of things according

to your tongue. Heavy cumulus hang

the sky like sheets from a line

and entire alphabets go missing.

In the dark, a woman’s teeth

flicker on and off. We’ll decide

who’s leaving by scientific method

and the rule of light bulbs and iceboxes.

My skin allows enough lumen for the boxwoods to glow.

Monday, May 09, 2005

This is a great on essay on the current state of poetry, though it's a few years old. I believe his new introduction to the dismal Can Poetry Matter had a similiar tone...

Saturday, May 07, 2005

An exellent reading last night at DvA. Good poets and a great time. Even a fairly decent crowd. But god, it reminds me how much I hate Lincoln Park every time I go down there. Two years during grad school was quite enough. While I love the look of the neighborhood, it's oldworld streetscapes and the abundance of trees, the annoying people seem to have gotten younger and even more plastic than seven years ago. Overtanned, over siliconed, underdressed girls with ridiculous little pink purses roaming up and down Lincoln Ave. from one bad music blasting bar to another. I was used to the jogging, latte-drinking, babystrollering, suv crowd back then, but I'm sure alot of them have made hastily for the suburbs these days. Or maybe they just never seemed so young back then. Every once in a while a porch collapses during one of their parties and does a few of them in. I consider this a form a natural selection.

I wound up reading from belladonna in the first 10 minute segment, and then newer stuff and a couple of poems from The Archaeologist's Daughter in the second. Gave away a couple of chapbooks to people who had already bought one of the older ones previously. Didn't sell any, but then I figured I might not. It's strange, but the more poets and people from the local "scene" the less I sell, and the more non-poets and other sorts of writers the more I end up getting rid of. Like the Poetry Center in October of the CPL thing last month. Random audience members who seem to like and buy. Of course, money may have much to do with it--us poet types not being much on the expendable cash. And I've never sold many at readings in general anyway--mostly online and mostly through poems people have seen in online publications. I've been considering cutting another print run of Bloody Mary, of which I'm down to a measly two copies. I'm thinking I have a couple pieces that might fit well that I've yet to stick anywhere else, so perhaps a second, revised printing is in order so I can clean up my shabby lay-out job on the original. And I was never keen on the flimsiness of the cover stock and have my eye on something sturdier. But I think I'll only do 25 or so this time. Between all the dgp chaps and my own, I'm tripping over enough stuff as it is.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

DvA gallery, Friday, May 6th

featuring Scott DeKatch, Todd Heldt, Nathan Martin, and Kristy Bowen

DvA Gallery
2568 N Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL
8 p.m.

warning: absolutely awful poetry

Somewhere in the blog world I saw a challenge to post the first poem you ever published, no matter how awful, no matter where it appeared.  If I remember correctly, this is mine:

{Warning, this is really terrible...}


At night
when the t.v.
Plays the national
I rush to change
The channel
For fear of
What lies
After the song
Is over

--published in Living Jewels: A Treasury of Lyric Poetry, Fine Arts Press, circa 1993.

Oh so very deep at the age of 19.  It appears in this anthology which wasn't quite a vanity press (ie they didn't require purchase for publication, but still didn't give me a free copy.  It was a couple years after publication when they were clearing out their stock I managed to snag one for $6.) The production values are shoddy, more than one poem crammed on a page. It's perfect bound, but the cover is flimsy red card stock /w gold lettering, and does have poems tucked in there by Emily Dickinson and Poe, who surely are in perpetual rotation in their graves.

Lest you be fooled by the zen like mediation of that little ditty, here's something else that was written and published around the same time. Note the existential crisis of the "i".

snow today
it will snow today
i know it will
for i have heard it on the radio
when i was lying in bed
drifting somewhere between being
asleep and awake
secret and silent
creeping in at cracks
sending a white shroud
covering the sled-hill
glazing the trees like glass
and many will spend the day outside
white powder stuck to their mittens
leaving a puddle in front of the furnace later
but me, i will stay in bed
for lifeless trees leave me melancholy
lonely and sad
they are only abandoned wood
glittering with rhinestones, not diamonds
and i will leave no footprints upon the hill
but keep my feet enveloped
in blankets where they are safe
and cannot venture out into the cold
for it hurts me, though do i
envy those who can
it should comfort me to know
it will melt though i endure
long and morose, but
empty, remember that spring
will arrive though she
drags her heels long the icy path.

The Feast, Rockford College Journal of the Arts, 1994.

Shame on me for writing it and shame on them for publishing it.  Of course, if I remember correctly, there were tons of bad undergraduate poetry floating around on campus and, believe it or not, I wasn't the worst.  I will, however, spare you the rhyming poems that came afterwards and appeared in later editions of that journal.  I think it took me until I was 22 to finally get myself to the point where I would actually claim anything I wrote as my own (and then only rather tenuously.)

What I would consider my first real publication didn't happen until 1999, after a couple in college lit mags, a couple simlar though significantly cheaper vanityesque anthologies (that's what I get for seeking places to submit in Writers Digest) and a subscribers annual for a short lived journal in 1998. I was so fucking clueless and naive it embrasses the hell out of me.

This actually is less terrible, written just after my work suddenly took a turn for the better my second year at DePaul, or as I like to think of it, my Eliot induced epiphany, the moment when I finally started getting it.
Hast thou forgot me then, and do I seem now in thine eyes so foul once deemed so fair?" --Paradise Lost
The goddess of infinite sadness
Many hounded portress
Poised upon the precipice
Absent of father, author, lover
Her keys lost, her beauty stolen
The promises blackened by the low creak of the gate
Headborn of sttractive grace
She dream of that other Eve
That other place
In sleep disturbed by insistent barking, the constant
Kenelling within her womb
She awaits the eath's coming darkness
A smile on haunted lips
The slow twitch of her stinging tail

Moon Journal, 1999

Granted, I didn't get it completely. Some days, I'm still trying

Monday, May 02, 2005

Well the radio reading last night was interesting to say the least. Arrived all the hell the way out at Northeastern Univ. after a ridiculously long bus and train ride only to be told by a neo-nazi rent-a-cop at the security building that since the station manager or whoever was in charge had neglected to submit the proper paperwork, all the guests wouldn't be allowed in to the building where the station was located.

Thus, we wound up at some scary resaurant on the corner of Kimball and Bryn Mawr reading into a tape recorder for a segment that aired later. A segment, which actually didn't sound all too bad, despite the clanking of plates and ringing of phones, plus various ambient noise from the Zombie-like crowd at the back feeding money into the slot machines which I'm pretty sure were likely illegal. Ahh...all very Chicago. I read entirely newish work, though I don't think the hostess (who wasn't even supposed to be hosting except she had knew how to run the tape recorder) really understood or knew anything about my work at all and kept saying things like "uh...nice imagery..." repeatedly, to me, and the other three poets. Still, I did manage to find an old mix tape cassete to record what I read for further listening later when I'm not so weary. It was all supposed to be a sneak peak of Friday's DVA Gallery show line-up, which looks like its' going to be pretty cool.

I still can't figure out what's up with the stringent security on the Northeastern Campus--it's not a particularly exclusive, or even reputable, school, nor one in a bad neighborhood. I think it's like one step above community college around here. Hell, at Columbia, you can pretty much just walk into any building as long as you don't look like a homeless person or like some sort of security threat, and we're in the the South Loop for god's sake. I think it was basically some jack-ass deciding he was going to make an example over proper procedure to scare the radio station folks into compliance. Don't let the hooligan poets in, they might go all Bukowski and break shit.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

I really should never go to Starbucks. Really.

Problem is, Sunday mornings my downtown options are a bit sparse, Rain Dog, my favorite cafe, always being closed. I vowed to avoid Starbucks and chain-store greed once I'd kicked my Caramel Frappucino habit a couple a years ago--all those calories and all that money..(Plus the fact that I once worked a brief three weeks in a Lincoln Park location during grad school with people being rude and surly and throwing $100 bills at me for a $2 cup of coffee.) I also got really tired of the person in front of me ordering the most complicated drinks known to man and making me late for work. But I stopped in this morning looking for a sandwhich and an iced mocha and was slightly disturbed that when taking my order, they asked me my name. While agree this probably simplifies things and makes it easier to avoid someone else snagging your drink, I was thrown off for a second, and gave her my last name (habit I guess from all the takeout I order) and she acted a bit surprised I hadn't given her my first name. Sure enough the folks in front of me got their coffee after the barrista bellowed out their names and drink orders. "Two vanilla soy latte's for Jack and Jill" and somehow I found the whole thing a little annoying and intrusive. Luckily, I was the only person waiting , so he just handed me my mocha. I'm always a little creeped out when service people call me by my first name like they know me in stores and such. Maybe I'm just strange, but it implies a false sense of familiarity somehow that annoys me.

There was talk a couple years ago of having us wear ID's or name tags when working the front desk, and this also disturbed me. Occasionally, some of my co-workers have attracted crazy stalker types. There are a lot of freaky people around here and I would prefer most of them not know my name. We have some little name tags we can wear during special events if we like, but I'd prefer to avoid the "HI, MY NAME IS KRISTY..." sort of thing altogether.