Wednesday, August 31, 2005


DvA Gallery
1st Anniversary Reading
September 2nd, 8pm.
2568 N. Lincoln Ave.

featuring poets from this year's series, including myself, Jan Bottiglieri, Michelle Taransky, Todd Heldt, Scott DeKatch, Tony Trigilio, and more...
Now, at the end of August, I'm trying to get excited about fall despite how much I hate the impending winter. Despite how soon everything will be dying out and losing it's leaves, and how it all lasts so fucking long. I went to see Skeleton Key on Friday and briefly thought I might want to move to New Orleans (moody, mystical, steamy). Now, five days later, who knows if New Orleans is there at all. God, what a nightmare.

Last night, my reading @ the Cafe went very well. Small turnout of mostly regulars, but awesome nevertheless. This summer has been semi-productive, spent mostly doing a whole lot of revising on the book, making a dent in the dulcet poems, and getting the layout done for the new chap. Plus, a handful of readings and two dgp titles and the wicked alice print annual released. Only five or so entirely new poems to show for three months of laziness, but I plan to buckle down in September.

Friday night, a three rejection sort of day, but including one from Crab Orchard saying I'd made it to the final round and didn't quite make the issue. Somehow, though encouraging, those are almost worse than the impersonal form letter/you never had a chance in hell kind ( the other two were of that variety).

Monday, August 29, 2005

tuesday night @ the cafe

yours truly will be the feature following the open-mic.

@ the cafe
5115 n lincoln ave.

I plan to read some older fever almanac poems and some new stuff.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Yesterday's Poetry Fest turned out much brighter and sunnier than last years. Lincoln Square is lovely of course. If I could give up my proximity to the lake, I wouldn't mind moving thereabouts. The weather was great,, and there was still a pretty decent crowd around when it was my turn to read. No flubbed lines, a decent sound system. I rather like reading outside, the milling people in the square, the dinner sounds from Cafe Selmarie in the background. The writing quality (at least according to my tastes),was in and out all day, but it usually is. And of course, (warning: rant alert) we had our microphone hogs who long surpassed the 10 minute time limit which was actually more generous this year than others. Thus, near the end of the day, a whole bunch of us had to cut it shorter to avoid it getting too dark. I think I only did about seven minutes worth of work, and wound up cutting three poems--mine usually take me about a minute to read. People, please, your poetry is most likely bad if you can't follow simple directions or plan ahead. We really don't need to hear MORE of it. And again it's always the bad ones who go on forever. One poet earlier in the day had to be up there 15 minutes at least. It might be that open-mic mentality of grab as much time as you can. But I always wish the better poets were the one's going over their time limits.

Did manage to give away a couple chapbooks to folks who seemed interested. I think I've decided to just give away copies of them at readings rather than sell them. Through the website, I have to pay postage, so I need to charge there. And the consignment stuff will still be available at Quimby's and such. Considering their such a small investement to produce relatively speaking, plus I usualy wind up giving and trading most of them away anyhow to other poets, it won't make much of a difference.. Might as well make that practice universal. When I'm @ the Cafe on Tuesday reading, I think I'll bring along what I have left of belladonna and the first run of bloody mary, about ten copies each, plus some of the moon journal press chaps and make it a free-for-all for anyone interested. I'm never very good on the hard sell anyway. I imagine that will have to change if I ever publish a book, which can't quite be given away so easily...Of course, I already plan, should I win a book prize, to use all the funds to copies of the books to distribute at will...

Friday, August 26, 2005

I've been thinking this morning (while pulling a mountain of ILL books from the stacks, so all I CAN do is think) about poetry and intention. Often, if I have a definite idea of something I want to write a poem about, I have the hardest time with it. Alot of these poems never see the daylight. I get frustrated and I toss them in the trash. There was a piece I killed last night called "defining" by throwing out the last drafts. I'd written it in February of 04 and it was all about the Virgin Mary and this weird ice formation that had actually appeared on my window ledge from the melting snow above. At first it looked rather phallic, but then, as it started to melt, took on the contours of a robed figure somewhat, about 8 inches high. Not being Catholic, or particularly religious at all, I mostly found this funny, though somewhat fearful someone in the neighboring buildings would see it and I'd come home to find weird vigil below. We made jokes about the ice virgin for weeks. She finally made it into a poem awhile after she'd already melted. I believe I even took it into workshop. I just could never make the piece work. I had a couple different versions of it over the last year and a half or so. I often run into a similar problem whenever I attempt to write a poem particularly about something, or a poem where I know exactly where I want to go with it. It never becomes what it's supposed to be.

Of course, alot of the time, I find myself starting with maybe a vague idea, maybe an image, a word, or a line, and then I just mess around with it. Move words around on the paper, see what I get. Somehow, without all the expectations, I can just relax and let the poem breathe. I find these turn out to be much better poems than the others which plod along, burdened by their failed potential.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

this weekend

The Chicago Poetry Fest 2005
August 27th & 28th

The Chicago Poetry Fest will feature over 60 poets on the last weekend of August. This year features two outdoor events, an all ages show in Lincoln Square (477 N. Lincoln), and an anything goes block party crammed between Western and Artesian on Bloomingdale, just west of Bucktown (right in front of Woman Made Gallery). Everyone is invited to attend and both events are absolutely free to the public.

Saturday features readings by Jacqui Wolk, Wayne Allen jones, Maureen Tolman Flannery, Kathy Kubik, Frank Matagrano, Kristy Bowen, Charlie Newman and more...

Sunday includes Daniel Scurek, Mary Blinn, Pamela Miller, Jim Coppoc, Jan Bottiglieri, Larry O Dean, Nissa Holkamp, David Hernandez, and others....

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

girl show

I may speak like a woman, but my throat
is a lovely murder, a dark tent.

Even the grift reeks of prairie heat,
the men, their teeth glowing in the gaslight.

Bed-blind and beautiful, I can recite the US capitals
while removing my stockings, can pull

a goldfish from my cunt and amber my limbs
around women like bending spoons.

For a dime, watch me fuck the menagerie’s
wan beasts in their filthy cages.

Snake charm, fire dance, sword swallow.
You can put anything in my mouth by now.

With only a thumb,
pluck the folded note of my tongue.

(not one, but TWO four letter words in there, plus bestiality...I've been reading a bit too much of Girl Show: Into the Canvas world of Bump and Grind)
Today the weather was absolutely lovely, breezy, sunny, cooler. Of course, it’s supposed to heat up again this weekend. I used my lunch hour for an excursion to the art store to buy black paper for my boxes and mat boards for the collages. I wound up cutting some space between each edge of the box and where it will fasten to the board, which, if hung in a well-lighted spot will allow enough illumination inside. Fairly low trauma.

Things are starting to pick up around here in the library. Orientation tours going in and out, registration. More people on the sidewalk out front. This year, we’re starting the term a full three weeks earlier than we used to. This at least means there won’t be that September drag I always feel, that interminable 9-5 schedule I detest extended. But it also means in less than two weeks I’ll be back in class. Hopefully, I’ll get off easy this semester. Last spring was unusually hellish, with a serious workload week to week in both courses—even the workshop.. Just my last one now (thank god), and the Chicago Poems class, which wipes out all my requirements except for three lit classes and an elective and whatever else I want to take. And, well the thesis looming on the horizon, which I’ve gotten a bit of a start on this summer.

sneak preview of The Violin Teacher

available September 5th from dancing girl press.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

By the beginning of September, Chicago poetry folk are going to be majorly sick of listening to me read. There are four (yes, FOUR) events in the next two weeks (when it rains it pours.)

First, I'll be reading in The Chicago Poetry Fest this Saturday in Lincoln Square around seven thirtyish. Two days, a whole lotta poets, Saturday in Lincoln Square and Sunday outside WomanMade Gallery (Western and Bloomingdale). Then next Tuesday night I'm featuring @ the Cafe for the first time ever (this is the one wigging me out). Then next Friday night, September 2, for the DVA Gallery series's First Anniversary (in which everyone who read in the series this past year was invited back to read.) And in two weeks during Around the Coyote at Subterranean (this one's associated with The Poetry Center and the lineup looks especially interesting).

After that, I'll go back to being a hermit....

The last couple days I've been fiddling with the collages I want to use for my peep show box art project. The boxes aren't quite so easy, though, especially getting enough light in so you can actually SEE what's inside. I thought about Christmas lights, but an electric hook-up might not be available.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Feeling nostalgic for high school summers reading trashy novels...there were these, and these, and can't forget these...

I read alot of trashy horror novels pawned off on me by an aunt from about ages 12-18, when I started getting all snobby about books, but these particular authors were my favorites for years, and I'd polish them off in a day sometimes. Screw Harry Potter... back then we had violence and horror, sex with mildly incestuous undertones, and a whole lot of blood. What the hell is the world coming to? I think what drew me to these was they always had a strong young female character's point of view going for them, which was missing in stuff like Stephen King or Anne Rice or Dean Koontz...who even at 13 I recognized was awful.... And what's funny is that even after the late 80's early 90's, when I was devouring them, they continued to go on publishing..even now...(even the dead one)...
Last night, terrible storms with almost constant lightning. I woke up to check that it wasn't raining in and fell promptly back to sleep. It's still sticky and a bit humid this morning though. Projects for this weekend include a serious furniture moving, floor polishing, dust bunny vanquishing cleaning, and hopefully some work on my newest collage project. They're going to be these little peep-show like boxes with holes that have various collages inside of them.

I spent yesterday messing with the unhappiness of objects, the chapbook, and think I have a cover design I can live with. It'll be on just be on white cardstock, nothing fancy, but it's certainly much more colorful than my others. I also ordered the gray paper for errata (due out in January) while I was thinking of it from Paper Source. I had purchased some blue from Office Max a couple months ago, but it's shade reminds me a bit too much of college blue books, which would itself be a cool idea for a cover, but not for this particular project. This is a deep gray called gravel, which should look good with the corset drawing I'm using. When I initially concieved the cover, it was this fancy corset blinding that you had to unlace to read the poem. Not exactly practical for mass production. I had enough problems sewing just a few copies of the new dgp chap. (The rest of the first batch, I slipped some cash to my sister and she did them--and will likely do the other 100 copies the author has ordered).

I've been rather loosely following the New Sincerity discussions, and I can understand what it's all about. I've always noticed that certain poetry, particularly what would be termed "post-avant" is usually rife with irony, or a wink-wink nudge sort of humor, lots of wordplay for it's own sake. All of which would be fine except alot of it doesn't GO anywhere. Isn't ABOUT anything. While some of it's enjoyable, some of it just doesn't interest me. I have an MFA classmate who writes poems using all three of the above, and while he's really good at this, I can never find anything to SAY about them, and not one can I really distinguish from the others, or remember anything that grabbed me. I also, on a a somewhat related bent, had another clasmate who wrote these lovely rich, well-crafted, meaningful poems the first half of the semester, and wound up switching over to making concrete poems in the shape of boats and kites, using wordplay and such, because they seemed to please the other folks in the workshop more, and were less permeable to criticism. I wanted to scream at her to stop and give me something I wanted to read. I understand her need to stretch her artistic boundaries, but I just didn't want to have to READ them when she'd been writing such great stuff initially. I also happen to think that this is what they're saying New Sincerity is about...about a new trend among more post-avants poets (I hate these labels, but I also hesitate to say "experimental") away from that ironic stance, that masking, moreso than any need to tell the truth per se, or be more honest. This is likely all moot for me, being more of a "School of Quietude" poet but with post-avant tastes and sensibilities (which is actually more of a sliding scale than two separate camps, Billy Collins on one end, LangPo on the other) I determined a long time ago that I can't quite do the irony thing well.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

I'm so glad they put Chicago tax money to good use I mean, it's so very important to have a bright shiny metallic bean smack on Michigan Avenue to attract mindless tourists after a day of shopping the mag mile and lunching at the American Girl Place. As far as I'm concerned the whole of Millenium park is a complete fucking eyesore. And worse than even the bean, those god-awful fountains that sit incongruously next to the Art Institute's architectual loveliness. And then don't forget the music pavillion, that looks rather like a plane crashed in Grant Park (which I suppose goes rather well the spaceship that landed on the parthenon that used to be Soldier Field a bit further south). Daniel Burnham must be spinning in his grave..
Have been busy today going through the July batch of submissions for wicked alice. I’ve determined if I take care of them one month at a time, it’s not quite so overwhelming. Then I can look at August’s batch in September and hopefully have the issue up mid-month. I’m also in the process of planning the first-ever dancing girl press reading with the local poets (well two local and one who’s coming to town then). if I can reserve the date, it will be mid-January at Quimby’s. I’ve never hosted a reading before, which somehow makes me even more nervous than actually READING.

I’ve spent the last few days altering the order in the fever almanac, the title of which I finally decided for good. Though it’s out to a bunch of places, I never really was altogether content with my ordering. But since I couldn’t see any other options at the time, I sent it out. It’s more coherent as it exists now, same poems, but organized differently. I decided to throw out those other feign poems, about 10 of them, very different than the others. Maybe I’ll rebuild feign as an entirely different manuscript, those and the more recent poems from this last spring, which was how it was initially planned before I merged them together.

I’ve vowed to stop obsessing and just let what happens happen. Yeah, we’ll see how that works out.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Just learned that Simone Muench's "Drowning by the Light of Oranges" is featured over at Verse Daily today!!! And yes, it was in the lovely Wicked Alice print annual. My squeal of delight was not appreciated by my co-workers in the library, but I myself am tremendously excited by this news.Also good news on the website front. I finally bit the bullet and upgraded my angelfire accounts last night, procuring ad-free sites and domain names for dgp and myself (Wicked Alice is already free and clear). You may now reach dancing girl and my page via So now, we're much more professional and all...

And as per Brandi's tag

"List five songs that you are currently digging - it doesn't matter what genre they are from, whether they have words, or even if they're not any good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying right now. Post these instructions and the five songs (with artist) in your blog. Then tag five people to see what they're listening to."

And since it seems everyone I know in blogland has either done this already or would slowly eviscerate me for tagging them, I'm only going to hit-up my little sis all the way over on xanga for answers.

Five songs:

Tori Amos-"Sweet the Sting"
Damien Rice--"Volcano"
Low Millions--"Eleanor"
Cowboy Junkies--"Sweet Jane"
Counting Crows--"Holiday in Spain"

Saturday, August 13, 2005

It's absolutely glorious to be sleeping in my own bed again. This morning I woke up to pouring rain and cooler air. Unfortunately, I arrived home last night to find nothing but rejection in my mailbox, two book prizes and a regular rejection for the manuscript. Spent the evening unpacking and sullenly vowing to Cafe Press self-publish under the imprint Bad Kitty Books. (hmm...maybe I SHOULD be writing erotica). We'll see how I feel about this after the rest of those announcements come rolling in later this year. It's an option.

And then I start question WHY I want a book so bad, I mean, besides a fetish for glossy covers. I don't really NEED one, having absolutely lovely chapbooks. And the audience that typically finds its way to my work does so mostly online and through readings, not bookstores. Lately, my manuscripts fall toward the shorter length anyway. And I like that cheaper volumes sometimes attract more sales, that I can give them away on occasion. A book would be nice to have available at readings and such, but maybe it goes back to that old belief that real writers write books, plain and simple. And what's funny is, yes, I've written them, but no one wants to publish them, at least not in the contest system where they're clamoring for attention with a thousand equally competent manuscripts. And someone else wanting to publish them is integral, as well, not merely self-publishing. I think this myth sets in my head right next to the thought that I really should have published a book right about now, by this age(31), by this point in my career, by this whatever--and together they make me insane. And I'll be the first to jump to the defense of chapbooks, but somehow in the end, I also want something a bit more hefty, more solid, more permanent, not a booklet, but a book. There also some revisions I've done since the chapbooks came out, some more polished poems that might benefit from a final, more definitive version. There's a sweep, a scope to entire collection, a tying in. Maybe I need that validation, somehow, even though I regularly claim to need none whatsoever. Sometimes I just say fuck it--I'll just continue publishing chapbooks, maybe with other presses, maybe just myself, but then I look at the stack of books on the nightstand and my heart sinks. It's totally stupid, I know. But I'm not quite ready to give it up.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

While I have my own reservations regarding certain book contests and their fairness in judging, this irks me a bit. Basically, the gist seems to be that if you're not part of some trendy little group of insiders, at least one of whom is lucky enough to run a press, you're not interesting enough to be published anyway so just forget it. I think contests when they're run well, can introduce us to books we might never see otherwise, that editors might never see otherwise. I have to admit that while I would consider myself loosely involved with a few different cadres of poets which are great from a support standpoint, none of us have the capital to start publishing each other's work (at least in mass-market book form). Poets tend to be very poor people. And loners for the most part. If you don't have a buddy who's an editor at a press, big or small, you're up the creek. Of course, ideally, over the transom submissions would work, but this feels as hopeless as the contests--at least with the latter you can take comfort that hopefully at some point, it stood a chance on equal footing with the others and maybe someone read it.

A lack of community doesn't necessarily mean less book sales, in fact, it might mean more. Sure, you publish a book and all your friends buy it because it conforms aesthetically to what they think poetry should be, and they'll gush all over about how great it is, but no one else gives a damn about it. And lack of community certainly doesn't inform quality in any way. In my experience, in most of those incestuous little inside publishing cliques, I think quality suffers immeasurably. No one reaches out to a greater audience, beyond their circle jerk, beyond everyone who thinks and writes exactly like they do.

I think contests DO level the playing field if fair and un-shifty. And while I don't really follow any particular contest series year after year, I will note that at least 80% of what I read and like are contest publications (whether the winner or other manuscripts picked up in the process) And indeed some of my favorite authors have been introduced via contest books. Olena Kalytiak Davis' And her Soul out of Nothing. Mary Ann Samyn's Captivity Narrative. Larissa Szorluk's first two books. Simone Muench's The Air Lost in Breathing. Karen Volkman's Spar (and her first one I think was also a contest winner.)Christine Hume's Musca Domestica. The only notable exception of my own favorites I can think of is Daphne Gottlieb, and her career in poetry hasn't been quite as traditional, coming out of the performance end. And maybe Arielle Greenberg and Nick Flynn. Would the others have been published if not for contests? Maybe..but then maybe not...And of course, maybe the contests gave that extra boost in readership that allowed me to find them.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

once again raiding the photo albums

circa 1977
At this point in the summer, things are always a little too lush and overgrown, the plants straggling from their pots, everything a little wilty. Wisconsin was just as hot as here, but pine tree laden and sandy as always. Saw some deer, bought some cheese. Thankfully, since I have to go back to the city, I'll be spared the camping trip in a couple weeks. Already I am antsy for fall.

I've been writing new stuff the last couple of days which I will post soon. Always hard to get the engine turning again after a few weeks of slacking. I did read that the megascript...aka feign...aka the fever a finalist in the Three Candles Book Prize. (yeah!!) though spotting the name of one of Columbia's faculty at the top of the list doesn't help my chances of winning (or a couple of other great poets whose work I'm a bit familiar with.) Still, I live in hope...The damn thing is out to like seven other contests, plus a couple presses, all in various versions. Something has to happen, right?