Friday, July 29, 2005

I stumbled upon this article and it made me wonder briefly if perhaps my time spent blogging could be more readily used writing poems. Of course I figure most of my blog writing and reading occurs at my day-job, where my concentration isn't focused enough to work on poems anyway. Those long nights at the circ desk are good for that and editing, readying submissions and reading poems online, but the interruptions are just frequent enough that they prevent me from writing with any degree of success. I'm also one of those people who can't really write in public spaces like cafes since I like to compose outloud and it all makes me entirely too self-conscious to be whispering under my breath. Trains and buses are good for jotting down notes, but again nothing really gets written. I usually either write at home at my desk/dining room table, or sprawled across my bed--always longhand until I at least have a good draft.

I'm off tomorrow morning and won't be back from Wisconsin til mid-week. Hopefully I won't be mauled by bears or racoons or the giant blue herons that land on the Arrowhead's lawn. Birds really shouldn't be that big.

Until then.

August 27th & 28th

The complete schedule for this year’s Chicago Poetry Fest is up, with some sample poems from the readers. (please ignore the worst photo of me I know to be in existence--worst haircut, open mouth, stupid scarf) I’m hoping we won’t get rained on again this year. I absolutely froze last year, even though it was August. It had sprinkled all day and was wet and cloudy, but by the time I read late in the day, it was pouring. It was a great location in Lincoln Square and potentially could have attracted a lot of non-poets wandering through had the weather been better. I was terrified the mike was going to electrocute me, and went home afterwards, my pages and chapbooks all soggy.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

a new poem at Blue Fifth Review
I suddenly have a renewed appreciation for folks who hand sew their chaps. Incidently, just obtained Maureen Thorson's Evol, which I ordered after reading her Ugly Duckling release--this one hand-made and sewn by the author herself.

After spending last night sewing---oh, about five copies--in desperate fear that I'd poke myself with the binding needle and bleed all over my covers--I realize The Violin Teacher should be released in its complete edition of 100 around August of 2008 unless I solicit some extra hands over the weekend. I'm very bad with the manual dexterity thing--why I stick to collage as my visual art of choice (cut and glue, cut and glue). And my patience is always very thin. Bad, bad combination. The author offered to sew some herself and I may yet take her up on it. They look very nice, at least the ones I didn't mangle.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Two more days. Not like I didn’t already have a vacation technically this summer, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. Two glorious weeks this time. Trying to get all this little last minute stuff done. This morning, I did manage to procure some binding thread for The Violin Teacher, of which I hope to get at least the author’s copies sewn and shipped before the weekend. Also, a couple dgp orders to fill, and I have to send copies of the print annual to Quimby’s.

Hopefully, I’ll be a bit more productive poem-wise. I did get some good revisions done on the megascript last time, but only one actual completed new poem. This round, a few days in Wisconsin, and then my nose to the grindstone. I want to rework what I have of dulcet, the prose poems, and shake loose some other ideas that have been rattling round my head. I’m thinking maybe dulcet could turn into my thesis and not just a chapbook collection. I’d like to be at least a quarter way into it by the end of the summer—roughly 15 pieces or so. And theres always the Joseph Cornell poems and the carnivalesque stuff.

This afternoon have been working my way through Lauren Matthew’s chapbook manuscript, which is forthcoming from Fractal Edge Press. She asked me to write a blurb for the back cover and I’m totally psyched. While I’ve written reviews in the past, mostly of novels, I’m not quite sure of my blurbing skills though, I don’t want to sound generic and pretentious. It’s a great book though, most of the poems I’d never seen, even though I’ve done quite a few readings with the poet. Mention of blurbs always reminds me of this poem by Julianna Baggot .

Other than that prepared a couple of submissions, one for isotope and one for gargoyle. Just got back a batch of poems from Pleaides, and as they were sort of the best I’ve got at the moment, was woefully disappointed. They were the same ones that I submitted to Agni when I was asked to submit something else and then they were promptly and surreptitiously rejected. Rejection sucks. On the bright side, it is much, much cooler. Last night was probably the first serious sleep I’ve gotten now that the bedroom is at a comfortable temperature. Today, sunny, windy, and cooler. Perfection.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Possible cover art for the unhappiness of objects.
It's part of one of the collages I did last summer after I learned the transfer techniques at the book and paper workshop, thus the purple dragonfly.

Today, it was sunny and hot up in my neighborhood, but by the time I got downtown it was pouring, and afterwards, cooler. Yesterday sans air conditioning (luckily my windows face north over a shady courtyard) I moved between fans in the bedroom and the study sweating in the rooms between. Stepped outside briefly to see my sister off and the wind felt like it was coming out an open oven door. Read a British quasi-trashy novel, Transgressions by Sarah Dunant, involving a Czech translator in a London victorian being stalked by one of her neighbors. A little smutty too. Polished it off in a day and a half sprawled across my bed. Ah summer..

Saturday, July 23, 2005

midsummer cheap & easy sale

get all three of chapbooks for a mere $3 each when you buy now

Perhaps not so much relationships in the unhappiness of objects, but perhaps desire in itself. Maybe the collage cover, maybe w/ a cut-out window, a little more snazzy and artsy objet than the others. I swear cover design makes me very happy, whether it's my book or someone else's. Fonts make me happy. (wait until you see dgp's next chap, The Violin Teacher, it's gorgeous)
Someday, maybe I'll have that very cool coffeehouse/poetry venue/bookstore/press I want. Could publish letterpress stuff, or maybe actual books. Maybe THAT'S what I want to be when I grow up....

I always go through several arguments with myself over whether to self-publish, or as I prefer, self-issue, since the majority of poems in every chap have been at least published elsewhere. Sometimes a manuscript has been a bridesmaid several times (like Bloody Mary) or is too quirky to likely be accepted anywhere (errata) or like belladonna, I just want it out there without all the waiting, and the entry fees, and the hassle of getting someone else to take it. Part of it's my control freakiness--that I get control over the print run, the design, the process. That I know how many I'm selling, where they're going, what's happening. And I also just really like the design & creation aspects. You don't know how many times a week I routinely kick myself in the ass for opting for the Poetry MFA here at Columbia when I could have just as easily done an MFA in Book & Paper Arts. And been much happier most likely.

But then I start to think perhaps I'm cheating somehow, that I AM being self-indulgent somehow, which I think is just that po-biz voice I hear echoed all the time about waiting to win just the right prizes. To get just the right pedigree of poems in the right journals, the right MFA, the right fellowships and residencies, the right presses publishing your chapbook, and finally the right press publishing your book. And to be completely honest, I don't think those things are gonna happen for me. I'm a fairly good poet, but I can think of enough poets to fill several rooms on equal footing or far better than me. I don't have that nifty Ivy league/U. of Iowa pedigree, nor would I want it. I went to good schools, got a great education, first at one of the best little liberal arts schools in the midwest, and then at DePaul, though not known for it's MA in English, it was a damn good program. Columbia, who knows? I've won some prizes, gotten into a couple of super posh journals. A very tiny press published my first chapbook, and if I'm extraordinarily fortunate, another tiny press may one day publish my books (though I'm increasingly thinking not). That's probably all I can expect and truly I would be completely happy as such, were it not for that nasty little bitch at the back of my head that wants everything. Here I am, perfectly happy, publishing individual poems, making my little chapbooks, giving readings, and then I start to doubt myself. (Incidently, SHE was the one who tried to convince me law school was a good idea once upon a time.) When I get snarky over poetry stuff, it's totally her.

Back to self-publishing, it's that voice that says I'm not really "publishing", that I should play the game like everyone else and not try to buck the system. It's her I'm trying to convince right now writing this. And yet I can think of phenomenal poets who publish their own work and I don't necessarily think any less of THEM for doing so (though oddly when I'm dissapointed by a self-published book, I'm the first to say it shouldn't have even been published..) I feel like I have to justify it somehow by saying the poems aren't unpublishable. Maybe I'm just insecure and DO need that editors sense of approval, that someone with a cold, calculated eye likes the work and wants to get it out there. Regardless, why should I feel bad about pulling together a manuscript of mostly published peices and issuing another chap.
Maybe after a year or so I could find someone else willing to take it, publish it. But what then? How is that any better truly than just doing it myself now when I want to? It also makes me uneasy in terms of dgp and how I don't want the credibility of the press to suffer while I issue too many books with my name on them. But why not? Since that's one of the reasons I started the venture, even though the other chaps always take precedence over my own.

With the full-length books, I've often looked at all those self-publishing ventures, places like LULU and CafePress, wondered if that were a way to go. While fundamentally I don't think much would be different with POD, and I would still sell books online and at readings and not really bookstores anyway, I haven't yet seen POD quality in terms of cover and paper that I can live with for a full-length book. But there's also that voice, that that is REALLY cheating. Have you seen some of the poetry books available on those sites? (blech) They're awful! And what would your fellow poets say about you? Would anyone ever take you seriously again?
Doesn't that make you somehow less legitimate?

And what is legitimacy anyway? Since I don't really plan to do things compete for residencies or teaching jobs, etc.. Who cares if it IS cheating if the work is sound and hopefully not embaraassingly bad or anything and I get what I want... a published book--a glossy cover and perfect binding--with some sort of audience hopefully. Is that a bad thing to want? Is that a bad thing to settle for?

So today, yes, maybe I'll be issuing the unhappiness of objects come September. An hour ago I wasn't. Tomorrow, who knows? They ARE good poems, mostly stuff written post belladonna that made into the big book, but haven't yet found their place in a chap. They appeared in places like ACM, Cranky, After Hours, Small Spiral Notebook, forthcoming in Milk Magazine, and some others.. It helps go think if that manuscript doesn't make it, they appear somehwere book-like together. Maybe someone will buy them, perhaps I'll just give them away.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

I've been thinking about errata as I was laying it out. Alot of the poems are still unpublished. Ink & Ashes took a couple, and Diagram, and kaleidowhirl, but most are still in submission. So I'm thinking I might hold off on errata for the moment until I can place some more of the poems, maybe get some enthusiasm up for the project. It's such a weird little collection, different from most of what I do. I'm thinking of making a new chapbook for September release that's a mix of poems centered more around disfunctional romance (as if that's not common enough terrain) taking it's title from my poem "the unhappines of objects." I'm thinking a collage cover maybe.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Still all nostalgic over drive-in theatres, something that wasn't quite appeased by last night's adventure--too many wine swilling, fancy cracker eating yuplets in large groups around us. The movie was good though, I don't think I'd ever seen Annie Hall all the way through before. But anyway I did a little research and found some creepy ass photos of the Sunset, the porno drive-in I mentioned before. Apparently the screen is still there after all, I probably just couldn't see it with the trees in full bloom. Damn those are creepy, and the leafless trees make it all very Blair Witchesque.

yeah!!!...on Friday I plan on going to check out this at the Art Institute. I'm a poster art freak (as anyone who's been in my apartment will readily attest). Even dgp has it's title's origins in poster art, not Lautrec, but gorgeous and maintaining a place of prominence in my bedroom. But these are my favorites-the Steinlen cats, gracing the wall of not only my study/dining room, but also the kitchen and even a small one leaning against the wall on my desk at work. There's this Lautrec in the living room, and few scattered throughout the other rooms.

I also have an unusual fondness for French cafe/street scenes and botanical prints. I have a couple of my own framed collages in the study, and a two Alaina Burri-Stone's b&w photos I procured leaning against the wall. And yet I'm averse to clutter in general, so it's hard to restrain myself from buying more things to put on the walls than I already have.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Tonight, am heading over to Grant Park to see the outdoor movie--Annie Hall this week. I'm always of mixed emotions regarding Woody Allen movies, find them funny and simultaneously a bit annoying most of the time, but it should be fun. Even though it gets me home way too late on a weeknight, it indulges my nostalgia for drive-ins.

My parent used to pack us all up with coolers and popcorn in big paper bags and ridiculous amounts of candy and head to one of the several Rockford Area drive-ins back in the late seventies/early eighties. I remember seeing so many movies like that--always falling asleep mid-way through the double feature. One summer, in Wisconsin, I remember being allowed to accompany my older teenage cousins to see Grease in the back of my grandmother's Suburban (a big deal since I was like 4) and conking out mid "Hopelessly Devoted To You" (why I always have trouble remembering what happens in the rest of the movie). Eventually, one by one they closed, though up through the mid-nineties, there was still the Belford at the east edge of town, where you could catch indoor flicks for $1.50, and the drive-in was open all summer. Of course, they ripped it down after I'd already moved here to put up the cold, sterile airport-like multiplex. Funny, but when I was in college, there were still a couple of trips with the whole family in tow. Sometimes, we'd all stay in the car with the windows down, those giant speakers perched on the edge of the window. When we were older, we'd set up camp in front of the car, spead out blankets and pillows and try not to get run over, eating enough jujubees to make us sick. Somehow it makes me sad that they're gone for the most part, and now the only place to go is those claustrophobic and usually freezing monstrosities, with some little bastard behind you kicking the seat.

There's this one near where my parents live that actually, at the time were going to drive-ins, had already been reinvented as a porno venue. Of course, all the snazzy new houses they were building, who had loved that they were in view of the screen when it was showing Hollywood stuff but understandably now not so much eventually had it shut down by zoning order. (Not to mention my old elementary school had a pretty good unobstructed view of the screen during the day.) What's weird is it's still there. Sort of. The ghost of it. Neighborhoods have went up all around the lot, but for years afterward, that screen was still there, looming up over the tops of trees. More and more delapidated, until it was nothing but the frame and strips of screen. The entry drive, fenced off, still sported the admission booths for a few years, their glass windows cracked and falling in on themselves, but eventually those were even gone, the gravel road grown over with trees, the land still for sale perpetually, even now I suppose, though I don't think the screen is still standing--winds having apparently knocked it in the last 5 years or so, I couldn't see it last time I drove by there. I was messing around on google maps, the satellite one, a while back, looking at my parent's house, my old school, and you could still see how the ground was carved in tiers, fan shaped, an opening in the trees.

Monday, July 18, 2005

heat. heat. and more heat. ugh. Spent the weekend trying not to move too much and drinking pitcher after pitcher of iced tea and eating nectarines. If I stayed within a five foot vicinity of the fans, I was okay, but anywhere else was damn uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure if it was better to go out in the weather or try to stay inside. Finished my bargain bin novel Our Sometime Sister, which turned out to be great. All convoluted narrative and Shakespearean undertones.

Friday night, we went to see Dark Water. Well, actually, we went to see it twice. At the first theatre, the budget one ($5.50), with its broken seats, creepy fluorescent lights over the concession stand and zombie like workers, the film stuck and actually melted about fifteen minutes in. Unfortunately it was JUST far enough in to have caught my interest. We procured our free pass for another day at the lovely Burnham Plaza theatres and moved onto the shiny new River East multiplex, all slick and bright and teeming with people, where we plunked down another $9 each. But at least we got through the whole thing this time—not so much scary really, but highly suspenseful and creepy. Also, great set design—70’s architecture gone horribly wrong—wood veneer cupboards, bad wallpaper, and awful windows. And an evil Hello Kitty backpack to boot.

I have a thing about architecture. The building below makes me vaguely uncomfortable every time I see it. Like it's going to come crashing down and slice me to ribbons. Even Mies van der Rohe sets my teeth on edge. Too much glass and steel. Sharpness. Then there’s my vague discomfort around tract housing and carpeting, rooms with small windows, and anything involving linoleum by the sheet. I’m very content with my parquet floors and giant windows. My high ceilings and octagonal tile (even if it’s pink in the bathroom). My clanky (though no longer leaky) radiators and my crème colored walls and white woodwork (even if the paint’s laid on so thick in places its cracking.) 1930's brick and mortar. Solid and dependable.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Kristy, Your ideal job is a Superhero.
click for another prediction

Friday, July 15, 2005

An awesome reading for ACM last night—everybody damn good poets and a short story that was highly disturbing and yet very good—the mark of all great literature I’m beginning to think. I did come to the conclusion that I shouldn’t drink past a certain point before getting up to read. I was a little buzzed and flubbed a couple things I normally wouldn’t. “iceboxes and lightbulbs” became “lightboxes and icebulbs”. I corrected myself, but maybe I should have just pretended that’s what I intended. Yet another casualty of PWI---Poeting While Intoxicated. There ought to be a law.

Outside of indulging my Dorothy Parker tendencies, it’s been an insane week and I’m glad it’s over. Having to come back to work at all after a week off wasn’t fun, but add in that weird flu thing earlier in the week, the heat /humidity city griminess, and various ends that need to be tied and I’m a wreck by Friday. I want to crawl into clean white sheets and sleep for days. I just might.

Addendum: I was watching on the news this morning the hysteria over the new Harry Potter book. While I could never get into the first one (not enough sex and violence for my taste--or violent sex--), I remember the kids clamoring for our sorry three copies of the first two at my old job, the one in the elementary school library. It has this odd, glassy-eyed effect on even the most reading reticent kids. Even the second graders who were barely reading at all.

I read somewhere that the initial print run is in the millions and I imagined how very nice it would be if poetry books could garner that much enthusiasm, people dressing up and waiting in lines overnight at bookstores. Though not so cheesy and geeky. Maybe cooler, like Rocky Horror Picture Show crowds.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The new very summery issue of wicked alice is up and running, including work by Maurice Oliver, Arlene Ang, Jayne Pupek, Jaymi Heimbuch and others....also, some artwork by moi. Amazingly, finished on time.

In addition, the 2005 print issue is now available, featuring work by Rebecca Loudon, Arlene Ang, Theresa Boyar, Simone Muench, Christopher Barnes, Amanda Porter, Jenn Morea, Nissa Holtkamp, Jeremy Gardner, Lisa Zaran, Lightsey Darst, Jenny Sadre-Orafai, Julie Parson-Nesbit, Taylor Graham, Alex Stolis, Catherine Daly, Alyson Dayus, Lucy Anderton, Melissa Severin, Jalina Mhyana, Christina McNish, Maggie Lopez, and Dorothy Doyle Mienko.
Contributors copies will be in the mail shortly....

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

thursday night

ANOTHER CHICAGO MAGAZINE The literary magazine hosts a release party for its latest issue, with readings by Jason Bredle, Chris Hund, Matthew Guenette, Robert Archambeau, Kristy Bowen, Mary Biddinger, Kristy Odelius, and David McClure, along with DJ Birdie Num Num and "surprise guests." Thu 7/14, 9 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433. $5 suggested donation.

sadly sans Marybad, but you DO get two Kristys for the price of one...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

ugh...looks like I won't be making it out to the poetry cram this evening after all. Last night, all night, weird chills and a fever this morning. I couldn't figure out why I was fucking cold all the sudden, and slept really badly. Am feeling rather off today, sort of nauseous, sitting here in a slight cold sweat trying to get through the last couple hours of work and I plan to just go home and crash. I considered skipping out on work today, but with folks on vacation and another person out, we're a little short of hand. I should've known with the sore throat last week I'd be getting slammed with something. Haven't been able to accomplish much in the productivity department today, though I did print a single test run on the paper I procured for the next dgp chap's cover--a pale blue grey with some texture to it. Hopefully, I can have the whole thing proofed and printed before the end of the month. I also need to assemble the run of Wicked Alices send out contributor's copies, update the website, and put up the new online issue before I leave again on the 29th. This time, two glorious weeks with nothing to do, but this time, I hope to get some writing accomplished. Nothing else, no publishing stuff, no submissions, no revisions, just some stuff on the page.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


yes, that's a beer in my hand...

new poems

from errata in the latest Diagram....

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I've been attempting to fully enjoy my time off, yet I'm more and more aware that the week is half over at this point. I do have a two week hiatus in August planned, but soon, I'll be back in the midst of everything that makes me crazy, and thus am determined to do nearly nothing this week. Though I have been tweaking the manuscript and scribbling some notes for some poems, but mostly just being useless. The usual fourth of july festivities, though no fireworks this year except the illegal ones the neighbors were setting off. Way too much sangria and strawberry margaritas. Though I was tempted to kick-off the holiday with a little flag burning, it went reasonably well. The last two days I've spent basically loafing--today, a little thriftshop perusing and wound up with a new green chair to replace the orangish velvet one I've never been all to keen on. Also, some good sales on necklaces and skirts, and some stamps from the craft store.

Am working slowly through my bargain bin novel, Our Sometimes Sister, and yesterday, finally read through Nick Flynn's Some Ether. Both excellent.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

And I SO am ready to skip town this morning having packed up me and the kitties and lots of good books, my cd's, the manuscript I'm working on, and another friends' book proofs that she wants me to have a perusal at. Lets see if I can actually get any writing done this week.