Monday, October 31, 2005

happy halloween

I've had exactly nothing to eat in the past 24 hours that wasn't snack sized candybars, tiny orange and brown frosted cupcakes, and chinese food. I may die.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

I've decided to go with little red riding hood this year costume-wise. I wasn't able to find a plastic axe to pull off the lizzie borden (and somehow I think the CTA might frown on me carrying a real one aboard the bus or train.) I bought a couple of yards of red crushed velvet and some lace and am going to see what I come up with. Though I've seen alot of uber-trashy costume versions in my search, mine will only be slightly trashy (I DO have to wear it to work.) Was thinking of going to a friend's party tonight, but likely it will just wind up making me feel like the oldest person there, which is quite possible these days. So instead it's likely a few trashy horror movies the next couple of nights. Did finally get to see Sean of the Dead last night- damn funny.

Friday, October 28, 2005

holy hell

I've found the freakin mother load on cheap, lovely paper...
MUCH cheaper than Paper Source, and better color selections...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Had a 4am moment of clarity this morning. Last night before class there was a meeting to dicuss the new thesis requirements for the MFA Program. Though I'm not taking the seminar until next fall, I suddenly freaked out over the critical paper portion again, wondering what the hell I could write a paper about that wouldn't bore the hell out of me..long sustained scholarship and concentration not being my strong suit...

I started thinking about my education up to this point. As an undergrad, my coursework centered largely around 19th and 20th Century American Literature. I had a lot of drama and theater history classes in line with my minor, and my senior sem focused on Paradise Lost (not by choice), some Shakespeare, some survey courses in British Lit in general. For my MA, in addition to the various period requirements --medieval, renaissance, enlightenment, victorian, modern--I took a number of electives in women's literature in particular, mostly American (actually as an undergrad as well.) Now, here at Columbia, my craft coursework has tended toward the twentieth century's more innovative writing by and large, (Karen Volkman's radical poetics class, hybrid genres, new media poetry), and my lit classes have thus far fallen into more recent American stuff. I've always had a strong interest in the early 20th century and modernist women writers--Mina Loy, Anais Nin, Dorothy Parker, HD, Millay. And there are others I've never given due attention to like Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, and Gertrude Stein. So it occured to me this morning that perhaps I should find a focus there, something in that era. I did some research couple of years ago into some of the French women surrealists--might be a way to go. Or maybe something on Loy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

still giving it away for free (until Nov 1st)

Kristy Bowen
free for a limited time
dancing girl press

a series of rich, strange poems exploring the tensions between Victorian femininity and literary genre.

E-mail me at wickedpen74 at if you'd like a copy.
Tonight I was working on doing some preliminary research and trying to come up with a topic for my craft seminar critical paper. I decided not to focus on the book I'm presenting in class--which is painfully dreary and dull--and instead do something on Jana Harris' pioneer woman narrative We Never Speak of It. I find that I really love doing the research part, which is why I get so into creative projects that involve research of some sort---the Archer Avenue project, the book of red, errata, my Cornell inspired series--but hate, HATE, writing papers. Not a good thing for a former English major. I used to see them as a necessary evil of the English program--now, I'm even more impatient with them. *sigh* perhaps I'll focus on landscape, or the persona poem as genre. I don't know. I'm so stunningly unenthused.

from Archer Avenue

Sweet Mary of the ballroom, the rum punch and sly grin. Mary of open car doors, cold spots. Fox trot, slow dance. Mary of the table knock. Mary of pick-ups, blue lights, and power lines. Threadbare Mary. Truck-stop Mary. Mary of the culverts. Dance hall, car crash, borrowed dress. Blue eyed Mary. Bloody Mary at the end of the bar and gasoline Mary. Tavern chill and black sedan Mary. Mary of the gearshift, Mary of the burn. Abandoned Skylark and parking lot Mary. Mary of the argument, the dark stumble. Trailer park, cakewalk, charmschool Mary. Mary of hair ribbons and the unhinged. Cartwheel and kolatchke Mary. Mary of the big bands, tire ruts, screen doors. Lipstick and jitterbug. Mended hem and ankle turn. Apostrophe Mary. Catastrophe Mary. Mary at the edges.
Interestingly enough, in my research on Reurrection Mary, I came across a couple of films that have been made. Apparently one, the most recent, of them was done by a Columbia graduate and is playing out in Park Ridge at the Pickwick. I am, however postponing my evening trip out to cemetery until after Halloween. Apparently, the cops keep a pretty close eye on that that stretch of roads to deter the teenagers from fucking around out there.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Yesterday's reading went well, despite the dismal rainy weather. Victoria's was cozy little bookstore in very nice little downtown AH area. I read about ten minutes worth of material, the stronger pieces that don't make me cringe at how unpolished they seem. Maybe not unpolished, but young, unformed. Piling image upon image, those sentences winding forever and never ending. I like to think I have a little more snap to my poems now. A little more bite.

Suddenly, we seem to have plunged headlong into fall, the trees bursting into full color almost overnight, the park district pushing the sand into piles further up the beaches to stop them from eroding completely. Soon those orange drift fences will go up. Last week, late, they were putting lights in the trees along State Street. I have so much work to do that's taking me away from writing time it's pathetic. I do have three days off next week (a canceled weekend out of town) so I hope to knock off all the extraneous crap I have left this semester in one fell swoop, the craft seminar paper, and a review of one of Naomi Shihab Nye's books. Then I can concentate solely on the creative project.

from Archer Road

In ditches, the discarded tires
resemble murders. Or daughters.

Slender pickets of crosses
lingering at their margins.

There’s a racket in the things
left behind. Each name a handbag

or a hairpin. The forked heat
of backseats. My limbs are

riddled with sisters lurching
along interstates. Their low

lights and windshield gloom.
How they all lie down like this.

Lie down like this.Lie down like this.

Friday, October 21, 2005

from one journals' guidelines:

"We will not consider work which is discriminatory, contains nonconsensual sex, underage characters, bestiality, or covert or overt bigotry, sexism or libel."

hmmm...probably shouldn't send them girl show....

Thursday, October 20, 2005

this sunday

Moon Journal Press reading at Victoria's Bookstore, Sunday, October 23, 2pm, 13 W. Campbell, Arlington Heights. I'll be reading from The Archaeologist's Daughter--what or for how long I'm not sure yet. Actually, I'm not quite sure where Arlington Heights is geographically. So lets hope I get there.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Today sported one of those cold, nasty northern winds that shake the leaves from the trees and makes the lake all grey and churny. In lieu of workshop this evening, a reading and discussion with Susan Wheeler and Jeanne Marie Beaumont. Still not sure I know what was going on with Wheeler's Source Codes, but hearing a couple of the poems helped a little. They were talking about the whole idea of "branding" in poetry, how writers feel pigeonholed into one style, or voice, what have you. About the tension between the more traditional and experiemental camps and some poets' reluctance to see beyond whichever one they're a member of. Very sad and true.

After looking at a couple of different apartments yesterday, I'm tempted to stay put. Both had tiny kitchens, and overall, were sort of small and cramped, the living rooms not even as big as my current bedroom. Tiny nook-like dining rooms and a serious lack of closet space. I did realize what a deal I'm getting now for what I pay, even if they DO up the rent every year. My opinion on moving fluctuillates daily, so who knows what's gonna happen.

Yesterday, in the mail, some very cool horseless press chaps that I may one day have the free time to read. Also, the latest Poets & Writers, with a short article on how poets, even when faced with the alternative of a wider readership via other means, still would choose a book, even if it meant only a few people would read it. I wonder how much our fetishization of the book as object plays into it. I know it does in my case, though I'd probably opt for the other if I had to choose. Still part of me can't quite love a webpage the way I do a book.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Tonight, I was checking in some books from our teaching materials section (aka kids books) and was suddenly very nostalgic about my old elementary school job. Granted, I was seriously underpaid and spent alot of time crawling around on the floor shelving books, but I had an unusually good time w/ the storytimes, and formulating my own discussion questions (much cooler than the ones we were supposed to use according to the district plan.) And damn, just how excited those kids were about books and reading, which after 5th grade so seriously dwindles and you end up with the near-illiterate like I deal with NOW. I also had fun having little trivia games with prizes, and coordinating our school's district-wide creative writing contest. Since there was one district librarian for every ten schools, I was pretty much running the library, with the exception of ordering books. My bulletin boards and book displays kicked ass. Mind you, I was so mentally drained by the end of the day I virtually wrote no poems in the year and a half I worked there, but I at least had some outlet for creativity. I mean, you had your good kids and your bad kids, but some of them surprised you. I wound up coming off as an infinitely cooler, younger librarian than what they'd had before...and certainly cooler than my own elementary school librarian who was, if I recall, a beast who wouldn't let me keep Little Women out an extra week so I could finish and once yelled at my sister for not sitting Indian Style like everyone else during storytime.

For my first five years in school, the library was in the center of a "pod" that lovely 1970's idea of arranging schools. (Incidentaly, Hillman, where I worked, had a similar arrangement and basically sat out in the middle of a big octagon of classrooms divided by partitions or shelves, or whatever worked.) It had orange carpeting, squat shelves, and a sunken floor. My favorites were a small section of tiny Peter Rabbit books, largely becase the pages were glossy and smooth and the books looked old and schoolish. On the shelves, where the teacher materials were, was a pickled pig in a jar that disturbed me beyond belief. When we moved as I was going into fifth grade, there was an actual library with taller shelves and a ratty green rug for storytime. We weren't allowed to renew and all the high demand books--then Judy Bloom and Beverly Cleary--were hard to get hold of anyway. As were the Shel Silverstein's (Incidently, twenty years later it was still the same.)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

good news...sort of the mail. While the fever almanac did not win the Crab Orchard First Book Award, it was apparently a finalist!! I CAN take some joy in the fact that someone in this whole business that at least I'm somewhat a contender in these things--of course I could go on being a mere contender for years from what I've heard from others--but I'm still a bit psyched about it....

Plus, the manuscript, having been freshly reordered and gussied up even since that version went out in the spring, along with several other contests the jury is still out on, is WAY more polished now. Maybe my decision to ditch contests entirely after the batch from the spring comes back was a little too hasty....(see, throw her the tiniest bone and she always comes back...)
Well it looks like little sis may have secured herself some reputable employment, ergo, I might be able to relenquish the remaining months of my lease where I reside now to her in favor of a nice, quiet courtyard building where I will no longer be woken in the middle of the night by breaking beer bottles and drunk girl yelling. I briefly thought things were better last weekend when I could close my windows, but they were all apparently on October break and last night, yet again, the annoyingness. I think the problem lies in the density of immaturity going on. Every since they started adding bedrooms, you have one more person per unit. When I was living in Lincoln Park close to DePaul, in a building full of studios, it was oddly quiet, even with thinner walls. Not like you could have a rowdy crowd in something like 320 square feet. But with a large apartment, 2 or 3 students that live there, plus their friends on the weekend, it's unbearable. I'm done with it.

It's blissfully mild here in terms of temperature, mid-seventies, clear. I'm just waiting for that early October darkness descending after the time change. Today, another Saturday in the library. I'm going to do some further research for the Archer Avenue thing, whose prologue I have finally whipped into shape. Plus formulating some questions for my interview/oral history project. If I AM in act moving at the end of the month, there's a whole lot of stuff for classes I need to get wrapped up before the chaos.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Recieved the coolest little packet of books and such from Persephassa Press today, and they made me wish my bookmaking skills were more advanced, and that I HAD chosen to study book and paper arts instead of poetry at the MFA level. I think I'd be a much happier camper. These look awesome--a very nice photo accordian book and a dos-a-dos bound collection of poetry, which looks to be good from my short perusal on the ride to work. Also some notebook/journal pages in an envelope.

On the dgp front, I tweaked the website, which now sport basic black until I find something else I like. Also, began working on laying out the next chap, Marissa Spalding's What it Meant, the very snazzy cover design of which I just procured from its designer. That one should be out near the end of November, and then it's on to next year's lineup, which I'm still making some decisions on for the the final two books of the year, but which already includes Rebecca Cook's The Terrible Baby, Christine Hamm's The Animal Husband, and Kristina Marie Darling's The Traffic in Women.

I did finish my book review this afternoon on Susan Wheeler's Source Codes --begrudgingly--but I did finish. Also readied the inventory poem for workshopping in the Chicago Poems class (an ordeal I find annoying in a craft course where we could simply show and tell and still get the same out of it, ie. how people chose to interpret the exersize,etc. and not necessarily fine tooth combing it, and thus taking less time in a rather largish class.)

Good ole Mary and the Archer Avenue project is humming along now rather nicely. I'll post more soon.

Friday, October 07, 2005

very cool--
Hoops. The jumping through kind.

This is one of things that bothers me, being back in school after all this time. The fact that I really want to spend what precious free time writing actual poems and working on projects but instead I wind up working on things that, while I'm sure they're meant to build some sort of skill or whatever, just feel like a bother, something distracting me from what I should be doing. Case in point, workshop. A couple book reviews we need to write over the semester on books by reading series poets. I used to write reviews for fun, back when it wasn't all poetry all the time and I read alot of novels. Now...meh..I'm over it. And the fact that I HAVE to do it, instead of WANT to irks me. For the Chicago class, a critical paper of course, the bane of academia, and an interview/oral history. I have absolutlely no inclination to work on either. And didn't I fufill my quota of lame papers the first time in grad achool when I still thought they were important?
Despite my regular bitching about open admissions and the stunning stupidity of the some of the patrons, sometimes I feel really good that I work in such a cool, creative place. You can't turn around and there's not something going on--an architecture lecture series, photography exhibits, gallery walks, concerts, plays, film festivals. Not only a wealth of talent among our student workers but my co-workers as well. While some of them fall into condescending, commitee-loving, myopic librarians, others are actually pretty cool. Among the "non-professionals" alone we have a couple of painters, a photographer/filmmaker, a fashion/graphic designer (who just happens to be designing dgp's next chapbook cover), and circ manager who makes odd and cool sculpture projects. One of our librarians is an awesome book artist. I'm not sure I could stand working in a terrible corporate job where there wasn't that freedom, that undercurrent of artsiness. I mean where else would I get to enroll in MFA classes at a 50% discount, or get to take occasional summer workshops down at the Book and Paper Center. Or have such a wealth of resources available at my fingertips. Pretty freakin cool.

Plus, between myself and two of the student workers, we actually have three poets working in the library this semester...

Thursday, October 06, 2005

from Archer Avenue

My ribs are a lovely museum you know,
all spooks and idling chevrolets.

Amazing, the glow that finds its way
into open spaces. This mouth like a

broken reflector, a length of silver chain.
By now, I've burnt your maps.

Brown edges curl among the foxglove.
I've carved a heart in the tar

that lines the shoulder and assembled
my name in bottlecaps. In ballrooms

down the road, women spin bluish
in taffeta for fifty cents a dance.

Lucky for you, I'm easy.
My pink shoes abandoned at the turn.
Sometime in the last two days the trees in the park across from the library have started to turn. Today, it's colder. I feel unfocused and fuzzy lately, like I can't finish any of the things I'm in the middle of. It doesn't help that I'm very blocked creatively just at the point where schoolwork seems to be piling up. An unproductive slump just when I should be in full swing.

I've been looking at the feign poems--the odd 30 or so that I finished in the spring and which weren't included in the other book. As that dreaded thesis project gets ever closer (well technically still a year away) I'm thinking I may just keep working on the manuscript and call that the thesis collection and be done with it. Since I'm focusing on the smaller projects--that is when I'm capable of focusing at all--it may take me a year to finish those poems. Since the whole book publication thing doesn't seem very likely at the moment, I'm not sure I even care any more about either full-length project. May just sell them for scrap and keep working on chapbooks.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Last night I took one of those Haunted Chicago tours, justifying the expense as part of my project research, although we didn't actually go anywhere near Archer Ave. They did talk a bit about the story--including that she is particularly fond of buicks--when we passed the down el I-beam where, in one version of her origins, she supposedly was killed in a crash. This seems the least tenable of all the possibilities, however, but the most commonly cited.

We did visit the alley behind the Oriental Theater, formerly the Iriquois circa 1900 where a bunch of chicago style corruption resulted in a terrible fire that killed a whole bunch of people, many of whom ran out a fire escape exit to find no fire-escape actually attached. Bodies piling up in the alley and now it's supposdly haunted. It was hard though, to find anything deeply creepy about a well-lit alley in the Theatre District in the middle of downtown. Similarly, the Eastland Disaster site, again, upper Wacker Drive not so creepy. I always get a little freaked out about places where people have died, especially en masse, I suppose, but only becuase I KNOW that's what happened. It's mental, not supernatural. Hull House was a bust, and my least favorite stop, since all we could do was tromp around on the porch and look through windows. Not to mention it sits right in the middle of the well lit and populated UIC campus. The only other place we got out of the van was the St. Valentines Day massacre spot. Considering I used to live like a block away from it-not scary at all...(Though I was somewhat disturbed being in proximity to the awful Starbucks I once worked at.) The rest of the tour involved talking about things we were passing--like Harpo Studios (a makeshift morgue after the Eastland sank), an Abraham Lincoln Ghost Train, an unruly mummy at the Field Museum, and a CandyMan-inspired drive through the heart of Cabrini Green. Though things are supposedly much safer than ten years ago there, that was probably the scariest part.
This is interesting, and he is right on the mark. It's weird, I've met a slew of great poets in blogland, but there seem to be a lot of different cadres even within webspace providers. What I've seen on blogger does lean toward the more post-avant, while xangans and livejournalers less so (of course this may just be the folks I've encountered--nothing like broadsweeping inaccurate generalizations.) As for online journals, they are all over the board. There are more traditional style publications like Melic, Stirring, Blue Fifth, and Caffeine Destiny. And then there are ones like Tarpaulin Sky, Octopus, Typo,and Moria leaning the other way. And all sorts that are rather eclectic--Diagram, Drunken Boat, Aught.

And these are only a small sample of ones that I personally peruse, who knows what others are springing up even now. I think one of the benefits is that internet poetry IS decentralized. There are a whole bunch of different ways of approaching the genre, and you can find webzines represent just about every facet of it (which I would also argue of print journals on the whole.)There's no ruling aesthetic that alienates certain poetries and embraces others. If your poems are too out there for one journal, there's another out there you'll fit right into. And it's all more diverse and on a wider scale than print, largely because it's a whole lot cheaper to found a web journal than a print one. The poetry world, as it exists, no longer depends on funding from universities and other bodies that determine its direction. The gatekeepers are no longer quite as powerful simply because theings are roomier in the poetry world, no longer quite as tight and claustrophobic. Good thing, since you can't swing a stick and not hit a very talented poet these days. I think the poetry world is becoming perhaps a bit more like the visual arts world, which always seemed wider and more varied than poetry, small galleries and studios all over the country, not just in big cities and people doing all sorts of interesting things.

My tastes run all over the board when it comes to poetry, and I think wicked alice represents that. I'd say the majority of submissions do tend to be rather mainstream (Duh, which is why it's considered mainstream), and I think this probably true at most journals, unless you specifically promote yourself otherwise. And of course, some journals are better than others. If the internet poetry is that large, you're going to have a few clunkers. Mostly, readers will gravitate toward what they like.

As for my own writing, I always felt that online journals were more open to reading work by someone like me--as an English grad student/no MFA, tiny print journal credits. I barely knew any other poets, just budding scholars, let alone had any sort of connections in the po-biz arena. A nobody. And yet I found some sort of audience, some sort of reinforcement in my writing there. I imagine the same can be said of merely posting your work yourself, or critique boards, but I do like having an editor involved...who would most likely filter out the good from the mediocre, even among a single writer's work. And they tend to operate on a smaller basis, I at least felt like my work would be read an editor and not disregarded by slush pile readers. But then I'm most likely preaching to the choir here...