Friday, September 30, 2005

I've been giving further thought to my apartment plight. Nothing I've found seems to be right. They all have ugly cabinets, not enough closets, sliding closet or shower doors (something I just have a huge aversion to), dining rooms that are too small to fit my giant table in (or none at all.) Granted I'm only looking at what has photos online at this point in the game, but with the exception of the practically-on-the beach/frenchdoor/sunroom/gorgeous moldings/ohmygod $1150 a month option ($300 more than I'm paying now)--it's a bust.

And then I started thinking about how much I really like my place overall...despite my neighbors...Why should I let a bunch of freakin adolescents force me to move? More than likely, these particular noisy ones will move out anyway. Fresh from Mommy & Daddy's shiny tract house in the burbs, they'll inevitably have issues with the noisy radiators and the cracking paint (all of which I resigned myself to long ago), the lack of parking, and the intermittent elevator issues. It sounds like a dump I know, but it's quite lovely regardless, a big towering art deco, gorgeous parquet, big rooms, huge windows. The bedrooms in those other places also look unreasonably tiny, like you'd get out of bed and run into the wall. I love the way my furniture looks in the place, the art on the walls. Even my pink bathroom tiles. And the location, 1 block from the express bus, and 1 1/2 clocks from the train, can't be beat. And then there's always the lake, a mere block over. I don't think I could move inland--it's my trade for not getting to live by an ocean.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

At work, I feel like I'm currently in the midst of a one of those hamster wheel weeks where I'm working my ass off but getting nowhere at all. I fill 20 requests for materials, and 40 more appear. 60 more surface somehow overnight. I spend a ridiculously large amount of time waiting for the elevator, running between my desk on the first floor and the fourth floor office. It's insane. And I'm splitting half the responsibilties with a student worker, so it could be worse. Usually, I fill in on the coordinator's vacations, which typically happen in lull of summer. The mid-semester thing, when everything's in full swing, is exhausting. Plus, I need to accomplish what one person does in seven hours in only three hours before I spend the night on the circ desk. And tomorrow's Friday and I have to do it all over again. (on about six hours sleep most likely).

Writing wise not much happening. But then all that seems like a hamster wheel sometimes too, submissions sent out and returned. Sent out and returned. I'm going near nuts waiting on so many things anyway. Yesterday, in a general funk all day in both classes. People did not get my art deco poem... some thought it was a building speaking, some a woman, no one had the imagination to concieve of it as both. I like it any way. Did have a really damn good sandwich at Corner Bakery while it poored buckets outside. Managed to write another section of the Archer Avenue project. The one highlight of the day. I'll take what I can get.

Saw the first mums today in the planters lining Michigan Avenue...actually they were purple. And it's cold out, the trees taking on that terrible yellow tinge under the green. I finally had to trade in my sandals for shoes this morning. I saw people wearing coats and thought they were a bit overdramatic...jacket and sweater weather yes...but a coat is pushing it. Earlier, I was giving some thought to my halloween costume and am considering little red riding hood or possibly lizzie borden. .

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

wicked alice fall 4th anniversary issue!!!!

featuring work by Gillian Devereaux, Erin Elizabeth, Rebecca Cook, Lauren Matthews, Robyn Art and it....

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I was going to direct y'all to the stunning new issue of wicked alice, but sundress is all wonky at the moment and I'm not sure when it'll be back up. Amazingly finished only a couple days behind schedule. I'm going to have to change the publication schedule to accomdate being in classes three weeks earlier. Usually, nothing was happening in September--dead time in the library and nothing else really for me to work on. Now, insanity for the first few weeks while I get back into the swing of actually having to do stuff for classes, plus I'm still flying solo in interlibrary loan, which means I actually have to work at work..the horror...

Spent this morning on the circ desk critiquing workshop poems. I DO like doing groups of pieces instead of one at a time. Allows me to concentrate on four poets a week instead of twelve.

I've been thinking about moving when my lease is up in March, scoping out apartments further north in Rogers Park. I like my apartment, and for the most part, my neighborhood, but apparently the new owners have been walling off the dining rooms and making 1 bedrooms into 2 bedrooms, 2 bedrooms into 3 bedrooms to cater to the Loyola crowd (whose campus is a block and a half away). They must have offered a good rent September deal, and after five years of quiet and a lot of vacancies, the place, at seventeen stories and eight units per floor, seems overly full these days. Where one bedrooms tend to draw singles and couples, they're packing them in like rats now. The building buzzes like a fucking frat house. Not to sound like a crotchety old dame at my age, but since I like to live with other grown-ups and not in one that basically amounts to a dorm, complete with loud drinking games going on next door, I'm thinking of vacating next chance I get. If it was loud music, I wouldn't mind quite as much, but it's squealy giggly girls and loud obnoxious drunk boys. My previous neighbors on that side were a Russian family with four little boys under the age of five and were still far less annoying. In a new place, wood floors are mandatory (carpet makes me gag), as are nice big windows and high ceilings. And cat-friendly. A balcony or porch would be nice. Actually I'm fnding most are cheaper than what I'm paying--maybe because they're not as close to campus. Anyway, I did find one place about $200 above my budget, and spent hours salivating over to the moldings and french doors...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Tonight was this fall's first opening for the Art of the Library series, which contains some of my own collages --actually the peep show box pieces without their boxes. I gave up on the boxes when they closely resembled fifth grade diorama experiments and just mounted the collages on black paper. The way they framed them, though, surrounded in black, evoked something similar.

Yesterday, for our Chicago Poems field trip we went on one of the architecture riverboat cruises. Very cool, but I was so wrapped up in listening and looking, I didn't get much writing done except a few scribbled notes. I've watched a few of those tours on channel 11 before, but it was lovely to be out on the boat on such a gorgeous day for it.

The second week of workshopping and already it's wearing on me. I have a hard time telling anyone what they should do with their work honestly--either I like it and can't see anything really wrong, or I'm indifferent it and just don't care enough to bother. Maybe this is just an area where I fall short in my workshop responsibilities. I tend to take poems on their own terms, and while I can point maybe out where the rhythm, stumbles, or something loses me, I'm not much good for anything else. Maybe this comes from editing--my take it or leave it philospophy. Lately I like the poems, which is good, but I can't come up with the required critiques.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

now available

Kristy Bowen
dancing girl press
go here for details

a series of rich, strange poems exploring the tensions between Victorian femininity and literary genre
In the realm of the tragic and freaky, two of my library co-workers were on that Metra train derailment Saturday morning. My ILL partner-in-crime was apparently in the car with the two women who were killed, though she escaped with only a few stitches. I didn't hear about the whole thing until Sunday night, having went to a movie and to bed early Saturday night and then straight to work on Sunday. Only then did I remember she had sent out an e-mail saying she'd be in Saturday to make up for missing Friday and from my vantage at the circ desk, I hadn't remembered seeing her come in or leave. I spent a couple hours slightly freaking out and trying to find her cell phone number (inconveniently located in my desk drawer at work) until they released the victims names. After that, I at least figured she was okay, but knew instinctively she had to have been on that train--there aren't as many runs on weekends, and it happened about the time she'd be coming in. One of our cataloguers was also on the train and was pretty bruised up.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Yesterday, I finally made it through the last of the submissions for the next issue. Once again, I've probably made the content larger than ideal, but to hell with it. Managed to get most of the pages finished, with the exception of five or so I need to do tomorrow night. There are some awesome poets in this issue--some of the regular suspects and a few poets who I hadn't encountered before who blew me away--Gillian Devereux, Robyn Art, Melanie Dusseaux. Will be a great issue if I can ever get it finished.

errata is finally ready for comsumption, after having waffled endlessly over whether to release it and when. It's not going to be to everyone's taste I imagine, nor is it neccessarily easy to promote and read from at readings. But it's there and I believe in it, so that's that. (Plus, I'm just in love w/ my cover design and the nice grey paper, despite losing a dozen sheets or so to paper jams because it was too thick.) I'm going to stop obsessing so much over whether this book or chapbook will be published and when. I'm juggling four different manuscript projects and that's where my focus needs to be, not on already finished work. What happens with the submissions and the contests be damned.

Have been doing a bit of overzealous shopping lately, ordering all sorts of chapbooks I've been meaning to get but told myself I couldn't afford. Stuff from Persephassa Press, Horseless Press, and others. Plus a couple of Amazon pre-orders. In the last couple of weeks, have only gotten a couple things, the Diagram chap which I mentioned, and Arlene Ang's The Desecration of Doves which was an iuniverse book though actually pretty nice. Also bought Best American 2005, and Anne Carson's new book, but have only given them a cursory glance thus far. I'm really liking CD Wright these days. Also Julianne Buchsbaum.

Friday, September 16, 2005

from Archer Avenue

draft removed

Thursday, September 15, 2005

In my research on good ole Mary, I stumbled upon this site, which if you scroll down, you’ll find Rockford-area hauntings. Theatre folk are just ripe for ghost stories it seems, and the Jefferson High School thing must be recent. While I recall that freaky prop deck ladder I refused to climb--a steep climb and deadly fall, I don’t remember any ghost stories related to it. Nor has anything like that actually happened since far as I know in the last 13 years since I graduated. The Rockford College weirdness is well known among the theatre majors. I’ve always wondered if the feng shui in those buildings, built in the 60’s and 70’s, most of which are built into hills, aren’t causing some sort of wackiness. Layouts are maze-like and convoluted. Hallways too long and narrow. I’d never heard the thing about Adams Arch or Burpee Center, though. The radio station had gone kaput around the time I showed up, and all of it’s stuff was moved over to another building and then finally sold at a yard sale. My sister, who lived in mcGaw for a year, I think told me that one of the floors as supposedly haunted. And there was no suicide at Talcott in the early nineties (when I was there), though a girl was attacked at knifepoint and assaulted in the adjoining dorm building by an ex-boyfriend., leading to a campus safety hysteria.

Clark Arts and Maddox Theatre are another story. Personally, I don’t think I ever experienced anything hands down paranormal that was completely unexplainable.. When I was stage managing my first show, in the Maddox booth alone, sitting at the light board when door to the booth suddenly slammed loud enough for the audience to hear. No one around. I was more freaked out about getting my cues right at that moment, but later, it bugged me . Could have been wind, but I’ve always wondered. There was also a weird music stand incident in the green room, in which utterly alone, I walked into prop storage from the green room carrying some lampshades,, turned to come back out and found a music stand in my path which hadn’t noticed before. (Not completely impossible it hadn’t been there before but unlikely since I would have had to step around it..) Tales abounded there, first hand accounts of piano music from the empty green room, the scenery lifts going up and down (this came from a faculty member and not a hysterical actress), things gone missing, lights doing odd things and once, again a faculty member, someone walking toward him in the hall, but when he looked up again, was gone, and no doors between them. I used to tread carefully when I was charged with locking up and turning out lights after rehearsals late at night. I had to cross the nearly dark stage to get from one set of switches to another and of course it felt a little creepy. The smaller theatre, in the basement of the building was even odder. In the summer, when we used to rehearse student shows, we’d argue over who had to go up to that booth to turn on the lights. I played the girl card and thus avoided going up there by myself. The basement, exposed to the outside by one set of doors, does have wind issues. The Cheek theatre doors were known to burst open when you opened the outer doors, and I sat for a whole semester in a room where one of the doors-- leading to another little stage alcove-- rattled and whistled all semester. My sister, who took a lot of art classes over in another wing, reported a general overall creepiness that made her get up and leave at least once when there alone working in the studios in the early morning. That bell story sounds vaguely familiar and sort of funny since I actually brought in a bell from home for a prop (it was porcelain white and had a flower on the side). We couldn’t find one in the cage for the show, a Neil Simon play, but I never took it back and it, along with this cheap plastic fake gilded wall mirror were incorporated into the prop collection. Maybe MINE is the ghostly bell,. oh the horror!! Here's another article featuring RC.

I’ve never been able to say either way whether I believe in ghosts, ie a spirit that has a conscious presence, and agenda, what have you. As an agnostic who’s not even sure she believes in an afterlife, it’s sort of par for the course. Not to say I don’t believe in hauntings though, maybe some sort of electromagnetic impression left in certain places, in regard to certain things. Things like violence and murder, or war, leaving some sort of residue. There was a show segment I watched once about a school in Florida that long-closed still harbored children’s voices, even though none had ever died there, nothing tragic had happened and all the kids had grown into adults and were still alive and well. And yet the school was haunted somehow. New Orleans, already filled with ghostiness according to stories, must be brimming with it now. Might be it’s being surrounded by water on almost every side makes it some kind of vortex. In the Mary stories, Archer Ave is said to be nearly surrounded by various river, canals, and small lakes and seems to be a hotbed for other spookiness besides Mary. Who knows ?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

just too cute

my new mom's new kitty, as yet unnamed...

resurrection mary

Nearly every region in the US has its own version of the vanishing hitch-hiker legend: the mysterious woman who when picked up by a hapless driver vanishes from the car continually at the same geographic spot. Or the figure which steps suddenly in front of the car, is hit, and then disappears immediately (or at least before the police arrive). Chicago, in particular, has Resurrection Mary-- rumors of a fair-haired apparition in a white dress who appears along a stretch of Archer Road on the Southwest side of the city. Sightings go all the way back to the 1930's, when people reported a young woman along that stretch of road who would attempt to jump onto the running boards of their automobiles. The sightings supposedly peaked in the 1970's (some blamed the renovation of Resurrection Cemetery) and have tapered off since. Like any urban legend, many sightings have probably been hoaxes, though there are a number of well-documented accounts of eerily similar experiences over the last eighty years. Archer Road itself which runs through a wooded stretch and past a number of cemeteries is now largely populated by condos and occasional strip malls. But certain stretches are still wooded and darker than many urban dwellers are accustomed to. And thus, just ripe for a ghost story.

As someone who used to drive creepy dark rural roads without streetlights, this was a story which as a teenager set me ill at ease. Supposedly there was a similar story of a girl on the twisty riverfront road from Rockford to Byron, IL (though this one was always naked and only seen by men--wishful thinking perhaps). Since I'm both a ghost story and urban legend fanatic, I've done a lot of reading on various Chicago hauntings over the years, but this is a story that has especially interested me. Whatever the story’s validity, I’m intrigued by the legend's possibility as a subject for art. Questions of the story's origins, varying accounts of the haunting, the idea of ghost stories and urban legends themselves--how they represent the concerns and focus of the communities from which they evolve.

There's also this idea of the spectre herself, always described a young, vulnerable to the elements, and beautiful--- and the overwhelming number of sightings by men in particular (though not exclusively). The story's origins in the young girl who fought with her boyfriend, took off walking from the Willowbrook ballroom, and was struck by a car. Or a young girl killed in a drunken accident. Of certain dangers in transgression.

I’m not sure just yet what form the project will take—whether a single long poem, or perhaps a series of pieces, or perhaps a hybrid piece of some sort.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Today, I was making my way through the wicked alice inbox and was surprised, yet again, how awesome the submissions are in general. It used to be pretty easy...I would take anything that I liked and reject the rest. Now it's harder because I basically like most of them...and only a handful are really bad and definite rejections, and now I have to hone down what I would normally say yes too simply because of issue size. While technically we can go as big as we like, I'm limited by the amount of time I can invest in layout. Things have to completely knock my socks off to make it into the final round. Going into my fourth year of this, I find myself secretly hoping we DON'T grow any bigger in terms of notoriety and submission rates. Is that self-defeating somehow? I'm also thinking of doing another Chicago women poets issue, perhaps as a supplement to the winter issue. There's a lag between the winter release and the spring issue that would be a good time for it.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

In the mail yesterday was a copy of the Diagram/NMP winning chapbook, Rachel Moritz's The Winchester Monologues, which, to my delight is focused around the Winchester Puzzle House. As an avid watcher of way too many shows about haunted destinations on cable tv, I was somehow strangely delighted by this. I mean, how cool is that? I'm looking foward to delving in later this evening.

Last night's Around the Coyote reading at Subterranean was good fun. That, and a ridiculously pricey Bucktown rum & coke, cheered me up a bit after the huge clusterfuck of the preceding 24 hours in which I saw a crappy movie (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) in a theater full of packs of roaming adolescents, arrived home tired to find my Loyola student neighbors (a loud dude and two squealing giggly girls) in full swing, and then to discover my DSL wasn't working and to top it all off, I had to be up at work yesterday morning at nine, at which of course there were new hardly trained student workers and an unusual number of patrons pissing me off for a Saturday. grrr....

Friday, September 09, 2005

this weekend

Chicago 's Wicker Park neighborhood will once again be filled with art from September 9-11 th for the Around the Coyote Fall Arts Festival. This is fourth year the Poetry Center is partnering with Around the Coyote as poetry curator for the festival.

The Poetry Center will present two nights of poetry at Subterranean, featuring 16 Chicago poets, as well as two children's poetry programs in Wicker Park .

At 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, September 10th and 11th, The Poetry Center will present a diverse group of poets at Subterranean ( 2011 North Ave , Chicago , 773-278-6600). Performing poets include Tony Trigilio, Director of the Undergraduate Poetry Program at Columbia College; three poets native to Romania: Gene Tanta , Mirela Ciupag and Stella Vinitchi Radulescu ; mother and daughter Ixtaccihuatl and Ixta Julieta Menchaca; Kristy Bowen, The Poetry Center's 10 th Annual Juried Reading Winner; 2005 Prix Trillium finalist Nathalie Stephens; Bob Lawrence; Alyson Paige Warren; Chris Bower; Michael Kadela; Parnesha Jones; Joe Weintraub; Anne Holub and Belen Neira.

On Saturday, September 10 th , from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., The Poetry Center of Chicago will team up with the youth of Wicker Park to create “PoeTREES,” trees decorated by lines of poetry written on colorful strips of ribbon. Children may either write their own line of poetry, or choose lines from The 2004-2005 Hands on Stanzas Anthology . The PoeTREES project ventures to make poetry a part of Wicker Park 's children's daily activities and to provide a park beautification activity that can be done by and for the community.

On Sunday, September 11, at 1p.m., Cecilia Pinto, one of the Poetry Center 's 40 poets in residence, will lead a group poetry reading by students from Walter Payton College Preparatory High School .

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Joseph Cornell
untitled (Hotel de la Duchesse-Anne) 1957

Well, both classes seem to be off to a good start. The Chicago Poems class involves a locally themed project that already has wheels spinning in my head (more on this later) and the workshop, well, who knows how it may turn out in the end, though I'm intrigued by the idea of doing groups of three poems by each participant at a time, which I think offers a bit more perspective on each author's work than poem by poem.

We were out of the afternoon class early, so instead of hiding in the library for four hours, I decided to wander over to the art institute to get some inspiration for my J. Cornell series, which is stalled at the moment. I've been looking at pictures in books mostly and thought perhaps seeing some boxes in person again might trip something. They're just so freakin cool. Wandered through the moderns, the surrealists and the impressionists. As always, nearly got lost in the maze of galleries trying to find things. Bought some postcards on the way out. I was still way too early for class.

In thinking about my project for the craft class, I've always been intrigued by this. I think perhaps a long poem or series might be in order. Given the dynamics of it, as an urban legend and not merely local folklore, and as a cautionary tale. How the girl is always associated with the whole transgression..promiscuity, drunk driving, hitchhiking, strange men in cars, the cautionary it fits into my body of work as a whole...and the fact that I just LIVE for this sort of junk--ghost stories and urban folklore--anything that hints at the gothic.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hell of a shock when I stepped off the bus this morning to find my beloved Rain Dog Books and Café on Michigan no longer there and in its place some other random café soon to be opening. I am not a happy camper. I was just in there Friday, and while I think I’ve only bought one or two books over the last five years, I’ve made it a daily coffee stop on my way to work. Every day a caramel latte and some variety of croissant. And yet there it was, the bookshelves and cool jazz pictures all torn out and some ugly modern art thrown up on the walls. Gag. It was part of my routine, my daily splurge, enough to put me in a fairly decent mood before work could piss me off. Plus, they had the coolest reading/performance space up on the third floor. I do not like change in the least, and while it’s loss nothing on the scope of national disasters of late, it still makes me sad somehow.

The official first day of school today, and the air somehow seemed redolent itself of freshly sharpened pencils and elmer’s glue.. I’m still determined to hang onto summer tooth and nail. Intend to keep wearing my shorter flouncier summery skirts and drinking iced tea. You will have to pry my damn flip-flops off my cold, freezing feet. First goddamned mums I see, I’m ripping them out of the ground.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Last night's reading at DvA, the first anniversary extravaganza (with cake), went over well. My ass is a little sore from sitting on the floor of the gallery for so long--lots of poems about New Orleans it seemed, and lots of politically charged pieces. What was cool was that it featured a huge cross-section of Chicago poetry world, from academics to more performance-oriented stuff. And while yes, there were a couple of duds in the mix (mostly involving bland bad rhyming stuff), it was still enjoyable. I decided to read some of the dulcet poems, which I haven't really put out there yet--they're a bit raw and unpolished yet. I'm finding the prose poems have a different sort of rhythm when read aloud.

A couple more days and I'm back in class. I've been looking over some older work today and came to the realization that my first semester in the program I was writing mostly unsalvageable crap. There's so much that I'm not even up to trying to fix written that fall. By spring it evened out--the poems also got shorter. By the next fall, good poems outweighed the bad. I don't know if it was just a transitional thing or I was suffering growing pains or what. There are quite a few pieces written between 2001 and 2003, before coming back to school, that I decided to include in the book manuscript, but only one or two, and those heavily revised, from fall 03. Most of it is bloody awful.

Maybe this MFA thing works after all.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

I just procured my textbooks for the upcoming semester, one of my favorite things, and yet one of the most frustrating. For the craft seminar in writing Chicago Poems (and other regional-inspired books apparently), there was, of course, Carl Sandburg's book, Jana Harris' We Never Speak of It (Idaho/Wyoming), Brenda Coultas' A Handmade Museum(New York), and not in the bookstore, CD Wright's Deepstep Come Shining, and Merrill Gillfallan's Magpie Rising. Also Eleni Sikeliano's California Poems (which I've had checked out forever and read through once last winter.)All very interesting.

The workshop requires the Poetry Daily anthology, which I’ve toyed with the idea of buying in the past, but talked myself out of it, and another, Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry, which looks to be rather bland and typical. I decided to pass on buying this one, and checked out the library’s copy, an older edition with roughly the same page count, which means nothing has been added really. After two degrees in literature, my shelves sag with those sad anthologies, always replaced with a new edition every couple of years w/ a hefty price raising. They're pretty much useless, since most of the damn poems can be found online. (Although I admit I recently consulted my Norton Modern Poems to find a Heaney poem I couldn’t track down online.) The quality is terrible, thin paper and crappy spines. I really don’t need another one.