Thursday, June 30, 2005

Finally received my Amazon order, my belated birthday gift, only two months late. All three titles by Mary Ann Samyn, both Nick Flynn books, and Daphne Gottlieb’s Why Things Burn. Dug into Samyn’s Inside the Yellow Dress last night. Not liking it so far as much as Captivity Narrative, her first book, but we’ll see how it goes.

I’m working on going through what I now call the megascript, the new and improved version of feign, or one version of it anyway. Section by section. Poem by poem. I’m still undecided if that’s an option, or if I should just submit them separately as they are. It’s all very complicated. I’m liking the texture though, of the more traditional stuff with the more fragmented, innovative pieces. I’m just not sure if other people will. And should I even care if they do? And of course the fever poems, most of which are included in the megascript, is still out to a whole lot of contests I won’t hear from until the fall.

Tomorrow night, a trip to Paper Source, and then hopefully a reading at DvA—Lauren Matthews and Franscesco Levato (editors of Ink & Ashes) and Lina Ramona Vitkauskas and Larry Sawyer (editors of Milk Magazine). Should be a good reading. And then I am outta here Saturday morning. I won’t be totally incommudocado, but should only be checking my e-mail only once or twice a day rather than every twenty minutes.

Have finally made it through the Wicked Alice inbox, and have the issue completely fleshed out. It gets harder and harder with submissions increasing to draw the line size-wise. This time I tried to keep it under 15, but squeezed in some more since a lot of poets only have one poem. If I allow it to get too big, it’s a little overwhelming to readers. Yesterday, updated the main page. Of course, I don’t plan to do any layout stuff til I get back from vacation, so my mid July release date may be wildly optimistic.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Went into overdrive on the list-making frenzy this afternoon, realizing that summer has half slipped away, or nearly so, and I've been severely slacking. The next two days, I'm planning on working a bit with revisions on some of the feign poems. There's something irking me about the manuscript as a emptiness to it...that it's poems are a whole lot more polished and driven than my other work, and individually pretty sound, as a whole they just aren't doing it somehow. I had a crazy thought to merge the poems into the older manuscript, lots of fleshy, ornate, more substantial poems intermingled with the crisper, cleaner, briefer, and more expediant poems. I'm going to look over the merge I managed to sew together this weekend, ripping the fever almanac apart and reassembling, adding two new sections, about another forty pages (initially feign was longer, but I'm chopping out the errata poems which will hopefully stand better on their own than only half stuck in a book). That version is close to a hundred pages now, and really three different manuscripts in all, or at least three whittled down to the essential and recombined. Again I thought--no way--they're not gonna work together--there are years between them, time-wise and stylistically. But oddly, it somehow works. If I keep doing this, I'll have a six hundred page poetry manuscript that still no one will publish. And yet I just keep plugging along...

I DO have to get my ass in gear on the Wicked Alice inbox, but today I looked at the number of messages and decided I'm poetryed out today. So if anyone submitted for the summer issue, you all still under consideration (probably meaning I haven't even read your submission yet.) But I suppose it's best to have a fresh head about me when I do that anyway--no one wants a cranky editor.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Am rather looking forward to my week off after the 4th, some lazy days out in the country--well as country as you can get these days. Taking or book or notebook out to the nice comfy chairs out near the pond. The 4th and its picnics and fireworks and possibly the flea maket in Kirkland. Nights sitting out under stars. It's strange, but I only miss my parents house in the summer really, when everything was thick and in bloom, flowers overflowing the pots, the flower beds, the thorny blackberry bushes in back, my dad's veggie garden overrun with tomatoes by August. Things I never get enough of here, things like grilled burgers and steaks, sweet corn. When I was in college, and still lived at home, I'd layout on the deck at night, headphones blasting Mazzy Star, to escape the heat in the house. Though there were summers where outside was worse than in, and I'd be holed up inside all day directly in front of a fan with a book and only be able to venture out once the sun had gone down. Violent storms. Power outages. In any of the cars I inherited over the years, none ever had air conditioning, so that wasn't really any sort of respite, but we'd drive to the mall, or the movie theater, to cool off. When I was younger, we had a pool, and would be in there from sun-up to sun-down, pausing only to climb out for lunch or dinner, smelling of chlorine and always sunburned, my then-blonde hair turning the most toxic shade of gold-green.

slutty losers







Nerdy Girl




Athletic Tomboy


Popular Bitch


Preppy Girl


What type of girl are you?!!
created with

Friday, June 24, 2005

Escaped the stifling heat this afternoon by indulging in a little summer blockbuster escapism--Batman Begins, which was pretty damn good. I typically avoid going to see new releases since it's so spendy and I'm never guaranteed I won't think it sucks. I'll usually spring for horror movies, or things I'm guaranteed to like, but most Hollywood fare usually warrants waiting until it's released on DVD or on cable. I was a HUGE fan of the the second in the series, the Tim Burton extravaganza, dark and foreboding and canivalesque--and cat woman just so damn cool. I think I saw it three times at the theatre the summer after I graduated from high school. I'm neutral on the first one, but hated the third with a passion (might be my aversion to Jim Carrey), so much so that I've never even seen #4. This one looked more promising and less comic-bookish and more noir and gritty, and it was. Unlike most longish movies, where after two hours, I'm like "wrap this up already" I was sorry it had to end. At least a good trade for my admission price.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

I've noticed a slightly disturbing trend. Tis the season for contest announcements. Tonight Sarabande, to which I'd sent the now defunct Fever Poems manuscript. Though I knew my chances were a longshot in such a rather large and prestgious contest, I'm noticing that every announcement --for winners, finalists, semi-finalists--contains a couple rather big names. This time Larissa Spzorluk, who's work I adore. time I checked she had three books to her credit. Mary Ann Samyn--three books...Now I know it's often hard to get that second book, and very hard to get the first, but I'd think at some point you'd be able to say I'm done with contests...that small publishers would be crawling all over themselves to publish your next book...and you wouldn't need the accolades'd have proved hey you can do this and be free to write and publish your books at your liesure and not run the rat race. Maybe let the little guys have a chance. Maybe it's the money, or the attention..what little fame you can glean. But maybe I'm naive...

On the very cool side, Rebecca Cook made the list of semi-finalists. And yes, she's been in Wicked Alice. (See how I make this all about me..what impeccable taste I have as an editor)....Congrats Rebecca!!!
Yesterday, while of course I was reminded of losing the Diagram/NMP thing in the mail, I DID get the good news that they wanted 3 of the poems-(well, actually 5, but two of the ones they wanted have appeared elsewhere.) All of which lessened the sting a little. Also a little ink on the page made me feel a bit better.

Especially after my less than inspiring bout at the new Barnes & Noble downtown with its paltry poetry section composed at least 50% mundane anthologies. Bought Adrienne Rich's Dream of Common Language and a discount novel. At least hopefully the new store, being a block away from where I catch the bus, won't be too much of a superfluous money spending temptation with such a slim selection--though their fiction section might prove to be a problem.

It was terribly hot and stifling outside this afternoon when I went to get some lunch. And with Taste of Chicago kicking off tomorrow, and the sidewalks glutted with librarians (ALA conference a couple blocks away) it's damn crowded and annoying out there. I suddenly had an image of people pummeling me with books and telling me to do something responsible like go to library school.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Poetry and the body. I've been thinking about this. For awhile, wrists kept popping up in poems, all through last fall, and do you want to know why? I had an achy left one. Lately, more wrists in poems near the end of semester rush when I'm checking in alot of books.. Throats made their way into poems all through the winter when I was suffering from a series of sore ones. When I had sinus problems, which always make my teeth hurt, there were lot of teeth poems. Just a random observation. Last week, due to that nasty baseball bat incident at the book fair, I had a livid bruise on the inside of my arm...guess how many bruises I've wanted to write in the last week...
Today, ridiculously hot outside. The lakefront was beckoning on the way to work today, though I suppose calling in sick to say "sorry, I'm at the beach" wouldn't work. It was tempting.

I'm trying to get over my bouts of rejection and crappy news--another chapbook contest--Tupelo's SnowBound Series--different manuscript, but same result. And even though I was planning on retiring it, having noticed several weaknesses since submitting it in February, the news still sucks. Though, in the finalist pool were both Mary Ann Samyn, one of my faves, and Stephanie Strickland, who I had as an instructor this past semester. Basically, I didn't stand a chance. I remember looking through the actual winner, Joy Katz's book Fabulae back in the fall, but don't remember much about it. So, yeah, that chapbook, defining, which contained an odd mishmash of stuff is being retired. Most of them are in the longer manuscripts anyway. Entering it was sort of a impromptu decision anyway, unlike errata, which I really hoped would get chosen. Ah well...I've already decided what that cover may look like. I'm again still trying to get over that self-publishing stigma. Though this is probably the only arena where I feel I have some sort of control level over my own work. You're basically at the mercy of everybody else when it comes to the publication of individual poems, and certainly when it comes to books. At least this way, I have sole control over the print run and won't have to purchase copies beyond the free ones I get, which is what happened with The Archaeologist's Daughter.

On the cover front, also finished a preliminary design on the next dgp chap. Usually, we use photographs, and have pretty simple covers, but this time it's some actual artwork gracing the front, a friend of the author, and it looks very cool. This will also be our first hand sewn book as well.

Monday, June 20, 2005

now available

Under the Shuttle, Awake
poems by Taylor Graham
dancing girl press, 2005
get it here

Sunday, June 19, 2005

My utter glorious freedom of earlier this afternoon has turned into a yukky headache from a bout of ugly local bo-biz static I won't go into since it just makes me tired and sad.

On an unrelated bent, diagram/nmp has their winner and finalists posted, and errata, sadly did not make the cut, though the winner Rachel Moritz's work looks interesting. I don't know, maybe there's just not much of an audience for creepy victorian inspired hijinx. Since they were the only place I'd considered sending it, I'm thinking I may release it under dgp in the fall. I wound up shifting our publication schedule up because one of our authors is leaving the country on a Fulbright to Russia in August and we bumped up her chap so she could take it with her. Thus, there's room to release another book this year. I don't know why I still feel some stigma regarding self-publishing though, especially under the auspices of the press. I feel like I should be concentrating my efforts on OTHER peoples work and not mine, but I DO love having complete creative control over my own work--the cover, the paper, when it's released. It's completely in line with my control freak tendencies. With belladonna I issued it sort of separately and don't consider it part of the chapbook series, although like the Wicked Alice print annual, it's distributed through dgp.

On the plus side, the Women of the Web anthology is available for order, featuring a whole bunch of awesome poets...get yours now...
I'd nearly forgotten what it was like to have a two-day weekend and not have to work. I've been lazying about the apartment, working on poems, reading a bit. Last week was the first, but I was running around so much. Usually I was used to working on Saturdays, sleeping half of Sunday away and then rushing to get things like cleaning the apartment and laundry finished, with maybe a bit of writing squeezed in, but mostly work for classes. But for the time being, I'm gloriously, utterly free.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

When I told the lady from the MacArthur Foundation that, sadly no, we didn't allow walk-ins for interlibrary loans yesterday, I seriously hope I didn't somehow indirectly jinx myself, ten years down the line, from procuring one of those nifty little genius grants....could really use that to pay off my student loans...

Friday, June 17, 2005

I just wrote my first new piece since finishing feign two weeks ago, part of dulcet, the longer narrative sequence in prose poems I've been planning. Last week I was thinking I needed to take a breather and gather some inspiration. I had all sorts of projects up in the air, but no tools to work on them with. I think I milked every single poem out of me during the course of finishing the other book and had nothing left. This is actually my old recycled novel idea, spawned back in the day when I still wanted to write fiction, back when I still thought I had the discipline to do so. Just the first in the sequence so far, though I'm hoping to do a sort of peeling back, putting on layers sort of thing, something circular. There's still the Joseph Cornell poems and I'm going to try to work on both throughout the course of the summer. Maybe if I go back and forth I won't get so bogged down and blocked with one thing.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

This morning I saw the biggest dragonfly I'd ever laid eyes on. Had to be a good three inches long. It landed on the bushes that front the catholic school and I nearly missed the bus whilst looking at it. The wings were this gorgeous transparent green that blended almost seamlessly into the leaves. I've always said that if I ever actually had the nerve to get a tattoo probably on my ankle, it would be a dragonfly. I'm a real wuss when it comes to pain, so I would have to be really drunk to even get me to the parlor.

Last night, there was apparently something going on in my building that required firemen. I heard the trucks pull up, but since my window faces the side of the building, couldn't make out where they were going. I flipped the t.v. to the door security cam and indeed, several firemen were marching in, clad in their equiptment, but no mass evacuation appeared to be going on. I stuck my head out the door into the hallway, no smoke, but I put the cat's in their carrier cages in case I needed to make a speedy getaway. Pretty soon, though, the firemen trailed out and left. Scary. Of course I'm only on the third floor, and the building is rather long and large, the whole to fourteen floors above me could be in flames and I might not know it.

Today's one of those rare lovely days when the heat and humidity has finally dwindled and it's sunny, windy, and cool. We don't have many days like this, And the longer we progress into summer, the less possible they are. I think I will go buy some yummy coconut shampoo and stop worrying about things.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

things you didn't know about me until now

I once broke my ring finger by slamming it in a door when running from a bee.

When I was six , I threw a fork at my sister that hit her in the forehead and left four tine marks.

I won my 3rd Grade Spelling Bee.

When I was seven, I had a terrifying dream that my mother was leaving me, my dad, and my sister, and that I couldn’t follow because I couldn’t climb this old dilapidated white picket fence that ran next to the garage. I woke up shaking and crying. Every night for years after I prayed not to EVER have that dream again.

Until I was eight, I slept with my head under the covers convinced that whatever I couldn’t see couldn’t get me.

There was a period as a teenager where I hated my mother with a passion and was convinced she was insane.

My first kiss was someone else’s boyfriend.

I was president of French Club in high school.

My first poem was about flamingos.

I did my junior year English term paper on Gone With The Wind and sobbed nearly all the way through.

I failed a semester of trig my senior year.

I’ve never smoked a cigarette or anything else.

There was a time when I very badly wanted to be a marine biologist, a broadway actress, a lawyer, and a psychiatrist.

I’ve walked out of three mcjobs during and shortly after finishing grad school (one after a mere four hours) without bothering to tell them that I quit.

Sometimes, I sort of like country music.

Last night, I ate an entire pint of Haagendaz strawberry ice cream for dinner.

When given access to cable, I can watch hour after hour of HGTV home design shows and the Travel Channel.

I don't necessarily believe in ghosts, but I do believe in hauntings.

I've never been abroad, nor traveled anywhere west of Nebraska.

I drink coffee with enough sugar and cream to kill a horse.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

a sneak peak of the wicked alice print annual 2005 due out in July:

I’ve been hearing rumblings regarding the Campion essay in the latest issue of Poetry. Having taken a perusal I can’t say I even understand what that essay is actually about -- it sort of wanders through a myriad of maturbatory high falutin’ literary references all over the place while stopping near the middle to take a quick jab to the ribs of poetry blogs. While I could easily just brush it off as spawned by a certain neo-conservative knee-jerk technophobia and its appearing in Poetry for god's sake, (the most vanilla publication I know of), it still somehow riles me.

While I too sort of cringe at the academic careerism so many poets seem to be completely fixated on, ie whether this MFA is better than that one, whether this journal is more noteable for my CV, this prize more important, etc . I think it’s really only a symptom of the academic culture where such things have a huge bearing on whether or not you can keep a job or get a better one. Even though I’m not really on that side of things, not desiring to teach, I have to admit I do think about this IS sort of a poetry “career” I’m fostering. Trying to get my work out there to an audience, trying to get these things I write into some sort of circulation, and hopefully the largest circulation I can get.

So many people, and oddly typically ones with essays in places like Poetry and way swank presses like U. of Chicago publishing their books, like to say it’s all about the POEM, and not publication. (Ask them that if their poems and books were still largely unpublished and you’d see a whole different attitude) Well yes, the poem is the first thing, that’s where your focus should be when you’re writing it... But when you’re done, what then? You want a way to share it, or at least I do. I mean there are various ways to do this, writing groups, readings, publication, whatever works for you. Typically, these things like winning prizes and cushy publication credits are the best way to get the maximum exposure. And in a way, this becomes some sort of career. You know, for some reason, I don’t see these discussions going on regard to novels. Fiction writers seem far more comfortable in their yearning for publication and a career as a writer. Perhaps it’s because they actually can have a “career” in the money-making sense, but they don’t seem to be quite as embarrassed by their ambition as many poets seem to be.

As I said before, I rather like to read about other people’s trials in the world of poetry, how to get their work out there, things like process and inspiration. It makes me feel less alone in this crazy “career.” Occasionally I learn a few things. And since I’m a freak for literary voyeurism and biography, I especially love reading such things from writer’s I admire and sometimes even the ones I don’t. The article also ignores the blogosphere as community. Since I’m not typically surrounded in my daily existence by hoardes of like-minded writing folks with a couple of exceptions, the online community has been invaluable in offering support, advice, reading recommendations, and I’ve met quite a few very cool people, poets and non-poets.

My own blog began as a xanga journal which for a long time was really just a new incarnation of the marble composition books I kept prior… that I could update more regularly when I was bored at my day job. Yes, I talk about writing and things I’ve read or encountered online. Occasionally, there’s some self-examination of my work. Yes it’s narcissistic. Rarely will I give you a serious discussion on poetics since I’m primarily a sensualist and not all that intellectual as some of the poetry bloggers I read regularly.. Nor can I offer you any discussion on my generation of poets or what have you.. Campion asks "Could these writers really have such little felt experience outside "the poetry world"? Personally, my daily surroundings and activities are largely guided by poetry and books, working in a library and doing this poetry thing, and reading quite a bit. Yeah, this is pretty much it, it’s not like I’m climbing mountains or fighting in wars, or doing any typically male great Hemingwayesque adventures that inform my writing. I spend a lot of time commuting, slacking off at work, writing poems, revising poems, reading blogs, reading poetry books and novels, listening to music, etc. I occasionally spend some time weekly updating my website in shameless self-promotion, working on various publishing projects, studying up on submissions, obsessing over my manuscripts, my chapbooks, what I’ve sent out and when I’ll hear back. What is this blog for? Well, it’s hooked to my website, so it primarily contains any good news, any random neuroses about writing or publishing, the occasional rant, writing or non-writing related. I started my website largely to hook together all the places online where my poems were appearing, but now I use it as well to sell chapbooks, talk a bit about who I am, what I do. I try not to get too personal on the blog,, since this is a public forum, so I won’t talk about my private life on the whole that could get me into hot water with the folks I see on a daily basis. I will talk about things I’ve read, things I’ve seen, and occasionally indulge in a bit of thinking out loud and random brainstorming. Sometimes I will toot my own horn, sometimes I’ll toot anyone else's horn who I think deserves it. Sometimes I will mope, sometimes I’ll talk about the weather.I’ll even talk about submitting –gasp!!—or the book manuscript I’m working on—gasp!!!—or how I got rejected from some publication I wanted to be a part of ever so badly.

So many poets I’m convinced try to make it look like they don’t think about publication but I suspect it’s a whole lot of smoke and mirrors.I’m fully ready to cast off the veil—yes, I submit my work, nearly all of it eventually, yes, I want to be published, yes, I’ll promote my own work any way you give me a chance to. I write with publication in mind, with an audience in mind (people are always surprised by this). Not any particular publication or audience, but nevertheless. I remember reading an interview with a poet whose work I like very much and who’d been pretty active in the city giving readings and such and she made it rather defensively clear that she didn’t seek any of those readings out, yet had been sought out by the coordinators. Fuck that, I’ll read anywhere I see a good chance to. (and thus have been termed a poetry whore on occasion) From the swanky SAIC ballroom for Poetry Center of Chicago to the crappiest dive bar with three people in the audience. One reason is that I like to read, probably vestiges of my theatre background, even at open-mics, but another is that it’s getting that work out there, not allowing it to moulder on my hard drive. I want publications, prizes, I want books, not to validate me really , but because these are the things that writers, whatever your genre, want. Otherwise, we’d be doing something else. If that’s “careerism,” so be it.

Monday, June 13, 2005

In the mail today, a brochure for the first ever Northwestern University Writer's Conference. I got all excited and totally on board until I opened up and read the details. It's apparently three days of panels. Besides seeming overly geared toward other genres, the panels begin with something called "Writing Your Chicago" a topic nearly identical to the craft seminar I'm taking in the fall. Some other genre things and something called "Delicate Subjects" which sound only mildly interesting. Saturday, a session on poetry and the visual arts caught my eye, though the only other thing that might work that day is "Shifting Genres" taught by a Columbia faculty and sounding an awful lot like the hybrid class last fall. On Sunday there are some more writing-biz sessions, like how to submit and apply for grants and residencies, sort of kids stuff. And "Performing your Work" session with someone who came to talk to us in the hybrid course. The entire conference is $525, so that's not even an option, but I'm trying to weigh whether or not that visual arts one is worth $190 when that's probably the only one that might be useful. Likely not.
Yesterday, the Printers Row reading. I'm not sure why, but it seemed a little lackluster. It may have been the drab windowless crammed room lacking which reminded me of a classroom. The hideous, uncomfy chairs, and the flourescent lights. Or maybe that everyone went over the time they were supposed to read, and sadly the people I would have liked to have heard more from were the only ones who half followed the rules and the rather awful ones went on FOREVER. I also felt a bit bad about subjecting my non-poetry inclined parents to it, and I kept looking over to see if they were still conscious.

I wound up reading first and only did six short pieces, mostly new, but a couple from belladonna. Everyone seemed to respond well, but the energy was still high at that point and no one squirming in their chairs. By the end, I wanted to hang myself from the overhead projector.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

I really need to remember why I find Printers Row a bit annoying. Warning, a boatload of negativity to follow:

A)This year's crowds were compounded by ridiculous heat, which makes my tolerance for rude, ungainly people who don't know how to behave in crowds...oh...about -10. They somehow can't seem to grasp the idea of staying to the right, or not stopping to chat in a large group right along the main thoroughfare forcing an already tight squeeze into an impossible one, and not darting horizontally right in front of people. It's as simple as the same rules when you're driving people...

B) Folks who instead of browsing, and being polite, rabidly push themselves in front of you to scan a row books without even so much as an excuse me.

C)Some motherfucker with a baseball bat tucked beneath his arm(WTF???) who turned right as I was passing and therfore rendered me a rather nasty jab in the ribs and didn't even say he was sorry.

D) the relative absence of vendors selling poetry books. Lots of non-fiction, children's books, lots of paperback novels, a number of older antiquarian stuff, even more non-books than books it seemed, ie prints, collectibles, old magazine issues. The exceptions appeared to be a table w/ Coffee House, Graywolf, and Milkweed. I really wanted to but something from them, but they didn't have that diverse a selection of their titles or only had things I already owned. The Poetry Center had a booth, (displaying rather prominently a number of broadsides including mine--yeah!!) but again, didn't see anything I couldn't live without or didn't already have. A couple years ago I scored with a bookstore that had a giant box of poetry books for $1 each, some good used stuff. Apparently they didn't bother bringing them this year

E) This year, the poetry events were all moved inside to the superdorm the next block over. In years past, some lit events have been held inside, like certain buildings along the route and the CPL which is right there. I rather liked the poetry tent right along the main route. I was under the impression that moving it inside allowed for greater space and that they were sort of doing it on a larger scale with most of the readings. Not quite. Most of the outdoor stages, including the big Heartland Stage sponsored by B&N and featuring the biggest names was still out there. So were a number of others. Looking at the indoor events at the superdorm, it's obvious there's a definite second-tier taint to them. So apparently poetry has been pushed aside, from out in the open where the passing crowd may hear something they like (oh the horror), to a room no one really knows about a block away along with the clearly small interest-only readings and lectures, largely sort of academic. Yes, we've been screwed over again. But man, that Borders tent was fucking huge. Three poetry tents could have fit inside it.

*sigh* I bought NOTHING. Did managed to get my contributor's copy of After Hours, lovely as always. Did find a cool little booth selling hand made paper pretty cheap and will venture back tomorrow when I'm less cranky to grab some for collages. There IS this little light:

Need a break from a certain book festival? Another Chicago Magazine and New City host the Other Book Festival today at Hothouse, 31 E. Balbo, from 3pm to 6pm. The event will have booths for The Believer, Bridge Magazine, Chicago Comics, Columbia College Fiction Writing Department, Lumpen, Make: A Chicago Literary Magazine, Milkweed Editions, Myopic Books, Newcity, PISTIL Magazine, Poetry, Seminary Coop and Stop Smiling Magazine, and readings by Adrienne Miller and Paul Hornschemeier. It's free and open to all ages.

So I plan to stop in over there and see if I can find anything interesting after I read tomorrow. The small blessing being that it will certainly be less crazy over there. No one cares about poetry. Thank god.

I did perk up a bit when I arrived home to find my little bundle of effing press books in the mail. So gorgeous and hefty and polished they made feel a bit inadequate in my dgp venture. Certainly more costly to produce but infinitely more beautiful. Certainly nicer than anything I could have bought at the book fair.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Chicago Poetry Showcase
Sunday June 12
3pm to 5pm
The University Center
525 S State

featuring: Beatriz Badikian, Kim Berez, Kristy Bowen, Cherie Caswell-Dost, Larry O. Dean, Pete Dederick, Lane Falcon, Lorraine Harrell, Todd Heldt, gordon cc liao, Erika Mikkalo, Pamela Miller, Charlie Newman, Kwame Pitts, Yvonne Orr-Richardson, and J.J. Tindall

You are Frank O'Hara. You are a genius, but your
life just keeps getting in the way. Even
eating lunch gets in the way. You are totally
obsessed by bridges and water.

Which Famous Modern American Poet Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

(I never would have guessed this one..but that last part is oddly dead-on...)
I finish the long post below and then went to read Josh Corey's blog and cracked up. Yes, I suppose we're all a little self-absorbed aren't we? But then we're poets. Last fall in my lit seminar I wanted to scream every time someone called Anne Sexton a selfish narcissist. Don't we sort of have to be a bit narcissistic to write poems at all and not be using our talents to cure cancer or something like that. Isn't all art just a little narcissistic?

I don't mind reading about other people's process or submission trials. It sort of makes me feel a little less alone. Like someone else gets up and obsesses over all the same things I do everyday. Especially since no one immediately around me surely does this sort of stuff. He has some good points though, as if we're supposed to non-chalantly look as if we're not trying all that hard, that these poems just appear and find their way into publication w/out us trying. Something SO not true. Yes, it's about the poems, but it's also about getting them out there. Maybe not success or fame, but AUDIENCE of some sort.
In light of some other folks talking about unpublished manuscripts and publication order, in response to Ron Silliman's post on Jennifer Moxley I was thinking about my own history of misses and forgotten chapbook manuscripts that were concieved, maybe even finished, and then carved into something else or distributed into other books. Some of them will never see the light of day by my own choice, some of them may never despite my wanting them to.

Taurus completed 1999. Some of its poems, three or so still survive in The Archaeologist’s Daughter, though most have gone hence to the mediocre hell they came from. A couple linger in journals, and maybe a couple of websites. The title poem was something about contrasting the male attitude toward creation --a comparison of Hemingway’s bullfighting obsession with the female myth of Europa. Conquering vs. communing. (Yes, heavy handed, but I was 25 and prone to heavy handedness…) The only place I submitted it to rather naively was Yale Younger Poets. I don’t remember who won that year, but I didn’t stand a chance.

The Archaeologist’s Daughter (chapbook) completed 2002. This was the next thing I attempted to put together after three years of waffling, trying to find a job after grad school, writing some fiction. I spent the whole of 2001 writing like mad and these poems were what was left after I had culled away the chaffe. I was publishing in a lot of online journals at this point, so nearly all of these appeared online at some point. When we were going through final edits early last year, a few newer pieces snuck in place of older ones I couldn’t stand looking at anymore, so there are a couple later pieces in there among poems mostly written from 1999-2002. Moon Journal Press amazingly took it immediately (if only it were always that easy), a number of poems having appeared in their journal, the only print venue I’d really been published in at that point.

Bloody Mary (chapbook) completed 2003. I pulled this together and submitted it to the Edda Competition in March 03'where it garnered Honorable Mention and then slipped through two other chapbook contests still unpublished. Knowing that AD wouldn’t be out for a good while, I decided to make it the first dgp title and self-published it in March 2004. Again, most of these appeared in online journals and a couple of small local print publications.

Almanac (full-length book) completed late 2003. Was a sort of pulling together the better poems from the two chapbooks and any newer work. Was originally arranged via seasons and was a finalist in the Gival Press Contest, despite how weak I feel it was looking at it now.

destination (chapbook) mostly poems from mid to late 2003 and early 2004. I’ve pulled most of these out and trashed them, and decided it didn’t warrant publication. The skeleton of better stuff wound up being worked into Almanac or the next full-length project Fever Poems.

belladonna completed late 2004. This manuscript was largely brand new work from the fall of 2004 when I for some reason was extraordinarily productive and the pieces resonated off each other well. Plus I was running out of Bloody Mary’s, still not sure when the first chap would be out, and decided to self-issue a collection of new poems.

defining(chapbook) completed around the same time as belladonna, an odd mix of poems that found a home nowhere else. I think I'm scrapping this one too soon.

Fever Poems , (full-length) completed November 2004, contained pretty much everything I’d written in 2004, which was somehow markedly different from the stuff in Almanac, or so I thought at the time.

errata, (chapbook) the Victorian inspired poems, completed February 2005 and still in submission.

the fever almanac (full-length) in February 2005, I decided to strip away the weaker pieces in both previous full-length manuscripts and recombine to create the uber book, which oddly worked somehow. Two books each 50 pages combined down to like 65 pages of power-packing force. Hit a slew of first book contests in April and May. Lets hope something pans out. If not, I’m scrapping it entirely.

feign (full-length) completed May 2005. this contains some of the errata poems that can stand on their own, a number of similiarly themed poems from 2004, and the bulk of what I’ve written the first half of this year. Was the first full-length book that had a clear conception of as a project as I worked on it, rather than just compiling it after the work was completed like the others. (Probably why I finished it so fast) I’m going to sit on this awhile though, maybe add to it should anything want to be added. I did query and send it to Gival, since I thought I might get a foot in the door having been a finalist, and that it might be up their alley. The requested the manuscript but even if it doesn’t pan out, nothing lost. I’m holding off on any more book contests until I see what happens with the other one.

instabilities I just pulled this together from a number of pieces that seemed to fit together in feign, not sure what to do with it yet, though. Probably a contingency plan should the entire manuscript linger unpublished as a whole too long.

Ideally, The Archaeologist's Daughter would have came out first a couple years ago, then the other two chaps. Hopefully, the fever almanac will be released before feign. I DO think, especially in my case, where my work seems to be changing subtly from manuscript to manuscript, hopefully getting better, or at least differing from what came before it. The idea of a body of work being more important than any individual part of it. Hopefully, these things will go on shifting and grwoing, and getting stronger as I go. Reading through The Archaeologist's Daughter, I kept thinking about how things you find threads of in there recurr in new work. And how, one thing is just a manifestation of another. I have a lot of recurring themes that begin in that first chap and are still popping up in feign. Sometimes characters or speakers that reapear. The girls that appear in "Divination" are surely the same in 'After the Flood" and come back somewhat in "sarah leaves the midwest". "Drought" leads to "The Fires" leads to "Paper House." The Victoran tones of "Hush" and "Photographing the Dead" resurface in errata. Maybe they're not literally the same people in the poems, but they sort of are in my head sometimes, or variations on people. Maybe I'm just beating the same horses over an over again..

Especially now when I'm working on longer project with individual pieces merely fragments of the greater whole. Things are going to reoccur, things that are somehow woven into me, and though many of them may have never happened, not to ME, I somehow experienced them, some interior landscape I've created, or things I am weirdly drawn to. These drownings, these floods, fires, the absent mothers. Babies in jars and bodies uncovered in woods. Unsettling cross-country roadtrips in "Distance" and "Room 118, Arizona" in "Hazards."

Thursday, June 09, 2005

I've been reading Dana Goia's book of essays, Disappearing Ink, on the commute the last couple of days. I've only made it through a couple of them, but it's had me thinking about a couple of things regarding poetry as performance and as something on the page. The basic premise of the first essay is based around the idea that contemporary verse today, not taking into argument the quality of such, impacted by non-print media, is largely dominated by rap/hip-hop/spoken word--all manifestations of "poetry" in the broadest least judgemental sense. That moreso today, than throughout most of the last century, the reception and audience, even for what he terms "literary" poetry (as opposed to "performance" poetry) gains its audience and readership more through author readings and performances, audience of which then go onto buy the books. He breaks it down into four types of poetry today: performance poetry, which depends on the personality and performative abilities of the deliverer, which can resemble stand-up or monologue, or perfomance art. (I imagine the emphasis is likely on the performer rather the poem--maybe like what is usually considered slam.) Then, spoken word, poetry written specifically for oral delivery (could probably include everything from beat poetry to sound poetry to poetry that incorporates music). Directly opposite, purely typographical poems which depend heavily on the page(I imagine ee cummings and his ilk). Then, finally, the strange hybrid of these two, that which works equally on the page and in performance.

Probably most poetry falls into the last one, at least of what I read and write. I'm a little confused by the difference drawn between performance poetry and spoken word. It would probably depend on who was delivering it, and also whether it was translateable via recording. Performance probably wouldn't work so well on a cd, but could captured on video I suppose, while spoken word, depends on the word as...well...spoken..and is usually distributed via recording. Splitting hairs, I think. But nevertheless, spoken word conjures for me, anything written primarily to be read aloud. So where does that leave me? Almost everything I write is written with an eye toward reading it aloud, whether I ever do or not. And yet at the same time I write so that it can be read as well as heard, as something that works on the page. I feel a little freakish among both crowds sometimes.

Yesterday, in the mail, recieved both of Ivy Alvarez's chapbooks what's wrong and catalogue: life as tableware, such lovely designed slender volumes. I highly advise you to get them if you haven't already. I particularly loved the specific narrative line that's all criss-crossy and circular in the whats wrong (something I'm hoping to do something like that half way as well with my project for the summer.)

I've been far too lazy the last week or so, still recovering from the semester, languishing in the heat, legarthic from getting up entirely too early and sleeping too fitfully. No new poems for the last couple of weeks, though I have been reading an awful lot. This weekend is Printers Row (yeah!) I plan to go on Saturday to do any serious perusing since Sunday I'll have the whole family in tow before the reading. It's only the parent's second poetry reading ever, besides the one where it was just me, and they might be getting more than they bargained for with two straight hours and over a dozen poets. And still, perpetually, the question of what to read...what hasn't everyone heard a million times? My first impulse is always to read new stuff, because that's very much where my focus is at the moment, though I do want to somehow promote the whichever chapbook I happen to have with me.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Ghastly hot today. I really need to move somewhere not guided by such extremes. Maybe Seattle or San Francisco... rain or fog wouldn't phase me, pale skinned and sun-blind as I am. North Carolina was always lovely, but too many rednecks and big bugs. Same with Florida or Georgia.

Yesterday, in the mail, a copy of 32Poems which looks to have some good stuff from a glance, and not the same names and faces ceaselessly appearing everywhere else. (Mind you, I say this not out of jealousy for those lucky enough to be oft-published so much, but sometimes I feel I pick up this journal or that journal and I KNOW who's gonna be in their before I even look due to affiliation, or school, or what have you). Also, an acceptance from Rhino for two poems, one of the Joseph Cornell pieces, and a newer poem.

I've been thinking about chapbooks again. Lately, I find myself drawn to smaller projects, chapbooks built around an idea or with a tight focus. While I've completed a couple of full length manuscripts, they're often a melding together of two or three shorter series. I'm also drawn to chapbooks, the idea of the indie press, small volumes issued and traded and not wholly dependedent on the financial structure of tradional book publishers. There's something infinitely more interesting and intimate about them, a hint of something avante-garde and revolutionary, their line of history from the original chap men thru the Beats. They're like rare imports albums, collectible, tradeable, and just damn cheap, so you can buy lots. There's also something nice about devouring one in one sitting, being able to read it again. I also like the focus a shorter series of poems allows me when I'm writing.

Considering the old chapbooks, The Archaeologist's Daughter was all about interpreting the past through history, art, mythology. Poems about personal narrative, but also about mermaids, geneaology, Helen of Troy, the Salem Witch Trials, Emily Dickinson, Degas, Columbus, gold rush brides, Pompeii. Bloody Mary indulged my passion for the midwestern gothic--floods, murders, drownings, ghostly twins, and cross-country trips. It's probably the darkest book of the three. belladonna is more about langauge. It's got alot of the same thematic stuff, but is a bit more playful, full of wild fires, thriftshop dresses, desire, and hotel rooms. Then there's errata, a whole different creature. Corsets and circus freaks. TB sanitariums and gothic novels.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Sometimes I feel like I live in two different neighborhoods that exist side by side simultaneously. One is the neighborhood I experience when I take the Lake shore express bus, down Sheridan road, then a straight shot down to Michigan Ave. It's a lovely trip, when there is or isn't traffic, the high rise condos just obscuring the lake on Sheridan, the sun glinting off the water, Lake Shore Drive's sinous route along the lakefront parks and bikepaths, the harbors full of boats and the beaches. And then Michigan Avenue with it's hyper shiny store windows and people-watching from the bus window. On a good day, I can be home or to work in 35 minutes. The walk to and from the bus stop at Rosemont and Sheridan tree-lined and shady, a mere block away.

And then there's the train. 40 minutes and more reliable, but a trip that involves the backs of buildings, increasingly those cinder block condos, along most of it. A few abandoned lots and greasy storefronts through uptown. I read more on the train, especially when it's underground. But what was seriously yanking my chain yesterday was the rather disturbing walk from the el station to my building..two blocks..but an altogether different area. Since I'm usually travelling around later at night when the streets are more deserted, it's usually not an issue. Maybe an occasional dealer on the corner. But at 5pm, it's all out in full force. Not only did I get sparechanged four times in two blocks, but was walking behind a rambling man who looked as if he'd pissed himself. That two blocks along Granville with its absense of trees, and thus glaring sun, it's liquor stores and abandoned storefronts. And in broad daylight, it's really sort of gross.

I'm actually rather fond of the neighborhood in all. All within a block I have a tiny bookstore, a cool coffee place, and the a rather scrumptious thai restaurant. Go further afield and the lake is a mere block away....stand at the corner of Granville and Kenmore and you can see it, just past the tiny park and its two mansions owned by the Chicago Park District. Go further south two blocks and there's an honest to god sand beach. North, the Loyola Campus. Going west is the only yuck factor, although that's the direction in which one needs to go to reach any sort of retail outlet.

Monday, June 06, 2005

So much for my easing back into the 9-5 grind with as little trauma as humanly possible. Did not find it hard to roll out of bed so early, but waited 27 minutes for a bus (virtually unheard of during rush hour) and then found my way onto a late and increasingly crowded bus barely creeping on LSD (the road, sadly not the drug) all the way downtown. Was way late and cranky.

On the way, I was reading Kooser's Poetry Home Repair Manual, which though geared toward beginners I think, had some interesting stuff to say on metaphor and line breaks, and the whole idea of writing with some sort of audience in mind. But I think he goes too far on the last thing, advocating a very simple, very vanilla, and, I hate using this word derogatively but, boringly accessible. Almost catering to the lowest common denominator, that anyone, poetically versed or not, should be able to fully understand the nuances (if there are any) of what you write. I think you should have an audience in mind, or maybe a specific kind of reader, or group of readers, and your poems should satisfy you and those readers. But catering to your average non-literary person, one content, and even responsible for the crap that passes as culture and entertainment(reality tv, Hollywood movies, most pop music)...and you're going to be writing some damn uninspiring poems. He claims that people are put off by the difficulty inherent in a a lot of verse. Yeah, well some people are put off by the difficulty of anything over a 5th grade reading level. I hate to sound elitest and snobby. Maybe it's just I like things a bit dark, and complicated, and beautiful. And it's not even an academic bias, since I'm especially wary of that term,. I don't think people should be "difficult" for difficulty's sake, but I think you should give the potential poetic audience alot more credit than some people seem to. People will find their way to the poetry that invites their interest, no matter how accessible or seemingly inacessible it is.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Yesterday, played hooky from work and went shopping with little sis. Wound up buying a few cd's(Low Millions, Anna Nalick, Damien Rice) and some books, including a new copy of Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping (my old one is a tiny undergrad purchase pocket paperback), Ted Kooser's Poetry Home Repair Kit, Dana Goia's latest book on the state of poetry,Disappearing Ink, and Jean Valentine's Door in the Mountain. Also some good tea and chocolate, and a little indian coin purse from World Market.

What the hell is up with the stores that virtually attempt to hi-jack you into joining their goddam little savings's clubs or whatnot. I've had this problem with grocery stores before. I typically prefer to shop at Jewel when I can, it being loads cheaper, even with the discount card, than Dominick's. The problem is that there's a Dominick's in mere walking distance from my apartment, while Jewel involves a short a train ride. Since the prices are higher, and the store more crowded, I usually avoid it like the plague, but occasionally, needing a couple things, and not wanting to leave the immediate area to get it, I shop there. Nearly everytime I'm informed that I should get a goddam card, and that it's easy to do so, and if I just stepped over to the counter, it would only take a second. One time, this megabitch, even went so far as to get realy nasty with me, and when I calmly proceeded to tell her that I usually shop at their competition and only come there when I have to, she proceeded to call me a traitor and snippily say she wished she hadn't scanned the store's card to give me the discount (which she had done in convincing me how much I would save). I didn't shop there for six months, and seriously thought about reporting her to the manager were I the type of person who did such things. Really, it's just the principle of it. I don't like their grossly inflated prices, nor do I want to have to stand in line to get a card, and surrender yet more of my personal info to strangers who will no doubt send me more junk mail. And so yeserday, both at the PetSmart and Barnes & Noble, I was badgered about joining their savings club. I never go to Petsmart except when I need something I can't find anywhere else, for one thing, and the Barnes & Noble card you have to pay for. When I said no, I didn't have one, and no, I didn't want one, the clerk proceeded to ask me why, following it up with how he sees me often in there buying lots of books and it might be good for me to have--a bald faced lie they must use on everyone, basically since I haven't been in the book barn...aka the Lincoln Park B&N... for about six months, typically shopping at the downtown store or Borders, and even then only a handfull of times in the last five years. This is not mention all the stores that ask you for your zip code, or your phone number, or whether you want their fucking store credit card. The answer is a resounding NO.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Today, I managed to get all the last minute edits done on both the Graham chapbook and the Wicked Alice print annual. Should be able to get at least the chapbook printed this weekend. Since I'll have less downtime to work on publishing stuff at work when I'm working the summer's earlier shift, it's a relief to have it all done now. The covers look awesome as well, not too shabby for my limited design skills. Of course, next thing you know I have to start working on the summer wicked alice. I've gotten alot of work and haven't even begun to weed through it. But that's something I can put off for a couple more weeks.

In the mail this afternoon, Suzanne Frischkorn's chapbook Red Paper Flower (Little Poem Press) and I read it twice through on the way to work ...amazing poems, some both beautiful and chilling at the same time.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Ah...the last least until fall.  I was seriously under the impression we wouldn't be workshopping this week since she suggested we bring a poem of our own we like and a poem by another poet.  I thought we might perhaps just share them with each other rather than anysort of vivisection, but we somehow wound up workshopping as per usual, which would have worked fine had I not brought along an older poem of mine that I rather like instead of something new...something already published, already included in Bloody Mary, and already graced with a Pushcart nomination. (One of my strongest pieces from about three years ago).  Oddly they mostly had good things to say...that some of them had a more coherent sense of what was going on, more of a sense of place than usual.  Someone suggested that I should not end my stanzas with the end of sentences--make them more enjambed, which I do try to do in new work.   They seemed to like this more, while I myself, liked it less, because it's so clear and ordely, and polite, hands resting in its lap.  At the time, of course, this is what my style was like then. Simple and clear, and in my opinion, sort of boring. 

On the mail front, yesterday brought two rejections, but also my copies of Cranky--a gorgeously designed pblication that features two poems by yours truly--newer poems that I like very much, at least for now....