Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Once again I appear to have survived the holiday intact. The usual Christmas Eve mass hysteria, the lull of Christmas day. I wound up with loads of lovely presents, including a 2006 Poets Market, some delicious smelling bath products, a Buffy book and Radio Sunnydale CD, plus some more practical things like a new broom vac and set of white mugs (the cat has a habit of pushing them one by one over the edge of the table). Also the first season Lost Dvd, which I've been partaking of bit by bit via late-night viewing.

Now it's a week at my parent's house, but I'm already feeling all cabin-fever restless.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Judging from some of the titles, "Ode to Fellatio," "Indecent Docent, Sex Deprived Tina," and "A Night with my Feminine Side" you might think the new wicked alice was just a little smutty and foul-mouthed. check it out...

it just might be...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I spent the morning and much of the afternoon getting up the latest wicked alice, which shall go live as soon as I proof it tomorrow with a fresh and unfoggy head. It's a smallish issue and fairly non-traumatic(except for me shouting expletives at my computer when my coding went bad and I couldn't find the problem.) I also somehow inadvertently wiped out my index page when making a change, so it goes directly to the Fall Issue until I can fix it tomorrow.

I was about to say I've sworn off poetry this week, but with the above, I realized I haven't really. Though at this point it's just alot of cutting and pasting stuff I've already accepted. I just won't be writing any, or reading any, or thinking/obsessing about it over the holiday. Though I AM smuggling some books and journals into my luggage for that dreadful week-long lull between Christmas and New Years.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

This post got me thinking about publication. The why of it. I've always liked sending work out and seeking publication because, hey, that's what writers DO--all genres--seek an audience somehow. ideally, the biggest audience they can find. So that's what I did, at first in online journals that seemed more open to new writers, and which in the end probably garnered me more readership than print journals ever will. Now, I find myself submitting to print journals more frequently, and it bothers me a little. My ratio of online to print submissions is still about 50/50, but then I wonder why try getting into those print journals at all if audience is really my focus. So, I'm a hypocrite. Because I feel a need to be validated by Pleaides, or Triquarterly, or Agni, or wherever I'm trying to get in. Almost because if good poets appear in there, and so do I, that might mean I'm a good poet. Or something like that. But then I'm terribly insecure...

But publication in general..how can one NOT associate success with publication...of whatever kind? I've only seen this attitude with poets, mind you, rarely with fiction writers. Like poetry is pure, above all this rabble. Yes, there's a kind of success when you write a beautiful poem, but that's only half the equation. It needs a reader..ideally many readers...It has nothing to do with CV filler....and like any art or profession, one wants to make a name for oneself with good work, and to do that, it needs to get it out there. So unless you start writing poems on the side of city busses, journals are a necessary evil. And, yes, some are corrupt and incestuous, but some aren't.

Outside of trying to convince myself that I'm in league with other good writers (which is not ALWAYS the big big-name journals, but sometimes smaller, but well esteemed ones like diagram, or Cranky, or Melic Review where poets I love appear,) sometimes I submit places where I like the journal's name, or vibe, or website. I tend to do it all rather scattershot, not really with any grand organized plan. I have a list of places I want to submit to, that I think will be open to my work, and as things come back from other places, I send them back out elsewhere, sometimes with newer stuff. I don't really simulataneously submit, unless it's been like six-months and no word,then I'll send stuff out again. I have a tendency to fidget with poems over time, so there's rarely a finalized version of anything, even after it's been published. There's a poem called "Nebraska" that appeared in one version online, another in print, another in The Archaeologist's Daughter, and now, another revision in the fever almanac. People have seemed to respond equally well to all versions, it's just me and my neurosis at work...how I never leave well-enough alone (akin to my weird habit of re-arranging furniture and artwork in the middle of the night). But then there are those poems that haven't changed a letter since they were concieved. Usually these are those rare,rare moments of brilliance when I'm so ON, I scare myself. Most of the time I'm just trudging along. I DO tend to work on a poem by poem basis. Revise it until it's how I want it, or damn close enough and let it go. Files of unfinished poems set me ill at ease. This summer was the first ever mass revsion project on the book and it felt odd and chaotic to me.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Am planning on presenting this photo of Alaina's as possible cover art for the fever almanac. They mentioned they were open to suggestions. If not this, then something in this vein...
Today in the mail recieved my contributors copies of Spoon River, which not only has my poems in it, but also a delightful one by Marybad. ( I didn't yet read any further in the journal than those, but it looks promising.) I also found out this evening I'll be running a workshop on "creating a web presence for poets" during Po Month at CPL. it's good to think all the screwing around on the internet I do can garner some extra income.

It's still damn hell cold here. I was just in the laundry room downstairs where I swear I could see my breath.
an excellent post on the morass of the contemporary poetry world..

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Amazingly, it is December 18 and I am pretty much done with Christmas shopping. A good thing since tonight's epedition involved a minor meltdown. I had gone to a store after work the to procure some stuff for my sister, but afterwards waited for the bus for over a half hour (complete with annoying teenagers who were singing and being loud.) Finally, my feet were frozen from the cold and I decided to walk to the train, figuring if I even got on the bus, it might take hours to get through mag mile hysteria. So half-way there, so cold barely take a step without my toes aching, I needed to stave off hypothermia and stopped for some hot chocolate. The place was somewhat crowded already, but in the time I was there, I was accosted by the proximity of not only a stinky garbage bag toting homless man asking for money (may sound crass but I'm damn sick of getting spare changed every block), but this bitchy overly made-up woman who kept staring at me, AND and a raucous large group of children-toting tourists. By the time I left I was convinced I desperately needed to get the hell away from this fucking cold, away from these fucking people. I wasn't even sure I wanted to go outside again, to even try to venture home again. The el was still a whole block away. I started crying, all the while trying NOT to look like I was crying. I untimately finsished my hot chocolate and made it to train unscathed where I thawed out during the ride. But when I came home, dumped my bags and coat on the floor, and slept and slept.

Regardless, I have managed to finish shopping. I decided this year that I was going to simplify, getting everyone a combination of yummy bath accoutrements and/or gourmet goodies like chocolates and flavored coffee, and books according to various interests. The only exception being my mom, who's present was already taken care of--and incredibly pricey at that (and much bigger than that pic now.) I'm not however that much of a masochist to show up completely empty handed.

Friday, December 16, 2005

I was eating a poptart from the vending machine at my desk this morning and thinking about Olena Kalytiak Davis' poem from her first book, "The Weathered Houses on Ptarmigan Road," that ends

They'll never again dream
of that other mother
who smells like cherry Pop-Tarts
toasting, not yet burnt.

Good stuff. The poetry that is. Not the pop tart.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

work today, the end of the semester and books everywhere

2006 dancing girl press series

The Terrible Baby / Rebecca Cook (February)
The Animal Husband / Christine Hamm (April)
How to Study Birds / Sarah Gardner (May)
Vestigial Portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls / Robyn Art (June)
Failed Star Spawns Planet/Star / Lina Ramona Vitkauskas (August)
The Traffic in Women / Kristina Marie Darling (October)
Parapherna / Donora Hillard (December)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

this evening's episode of poets behaving badly

So it's my last workshop of the semester. My last workshop of the program (the last one ever god willing) and so far, it's going allright. The final four people in a more laid back, snack accompanied setting. Piece of cake, you'd be thinking. Well all went well through our first three poets but something went horribly wrong with the fourth. Now mind you, this is the poet who has always had an issue with the criticism of her work from day one, got into a argument w/ Clayton Eshelmen second semester and dropped his class, who got into a shouting match with another classmate in the hall last spring, and is the one person I can uncategorically admit should never had been allowed into the program given her shoddy talent (of which she is, of course, uber-defensive about). She was far below par in the initial group I came in with, and certainly moreso among the second and first years.) For the last three sessions, she had been bringing in pieces from a longer poem from the serial poems craft class. Now each time, our criticisms would be met by "But last time people said this" or "last time workshop thought I should change it" which bothers me anyway since it's totally innacurate since "workshop", as a whole, rarely agrees on anything. So not only is this the revision of the revision, which is honestly getting sort of tired, but she makes it clear from the start she's not up for our suggestions and not only that, but defensively and bombastically rebuffs each one. The situation is getting highly uncomfortable and awkward at this point and the entire class falls silent while the instructor is still attempting to point out things just aren't working.

It's also getting to be at least ten minutes after class is slated to end and people are starting to fidget, put on their coats talk among themselves, to which we get a stern reprimand from the instructor while she continues to argue with this the poet who keeps replying "I ain't gonna change it.." and "But in the serial poems class, yadda, yadda..." The rest of us are all staring at the floor and trying to get out as quickly as possible I imagine when the instructor says rather pissily and abruptly. "People just go. That's it." Stands up and walks away. Afterwards, we all sort of filed rather silently out of the classroom. THAT was how the semester ended. We know the student is a joke, but I think the professor might have handled the situation a bit better and with a little more authority, and just let it the fuck GO....for gods sake, say "Alrighty then." and dismiss the class a little more politely and less childishly. It seems since she was frustrated with this particular student she chose to take it out on the rest of the class.. And not like we were engaged in any sort of real discussion at that point. Basically we were all sitting there watching the two of them argue about work that's so bad it's pretty much hopeless. Thank you for confirming, on a final explosive note, why workshops fucking suck. And here, given the feedback at least from my fellow students the past couple, I was thinking they might be helpful on some level. Stupid me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I had a dream last night I came into posession of a beach house somewhere where it was winter but not snowing, not sub-freezing. Probably the Carolinas. It had old oak floors and a porch, and was painted a delightful grey blue. For a lark I looked at the UNCW website, which was where I did my first semester as an undergrad back when I wanted to be a marine biologist. They have a library assistant position open at like a 5,000 per year paycut. But then I remembered I have to finish my degree before I can go anywhere. And I don't want to leave Chicago, not really, not most of the time. Besides, not like I could afford a beach cottage, and if could, Wilmington gets hit by a hurricane like what? every other year? Still it's nice to dream...

Monday, December 12, 2005

I just polished off the Nye book review and printed out the final version of what I have so far on archer avenue. Far, far from complete, feels more still like just a framework for the sort of stuff to come. But it's as much as I can do for now since I'm turning it all in and presenting what I have on Wednesday. Another semester in the bag, however, so I have that oddly euphoric freedom feeling. At least for the next few weeks. I want to do some more work on the project however, and would like to wrap it up before Christmas. Add in the manuscripts for dgp I need to read, the issue of wicked alice I need to get posted, and all the shopping I need to do, and it's not much of a vacation, at least for the next twelve days or so. In January, after I get back into town, I'm hoping to make some progress on the thesis book mss. during my sojourn from classes, since the spring semester is likely to be a time crunch nightmare. I'd like to have a working complete version by the summer so I can play around with it before I offically have to get serious about it in the fall. I have thirty pieces to date for sure, and maybe a title, but it SO needs to be filled out. Most were written last spring and this summer thus far, since this fall's been all about the shorter Mary project. We're required to have at least 48, but I'm aiming for the maximum of 60, so I'm halfway there. It's already began to divide itself into sections, slender as it is, which might save me some organization anguish this time.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

from archer avenue

justice, IL

Maybe the landscape holds them,
water on three sides and the dead
too many to count. A profusion
of clotheslines and baseball diamonds.
How the streetlights dim as the third
shift kicks in.

The waitress at the diner
has no tongue but says enough
with her eyes, her beautiful limbs.
Maybe her dreams are treeless.
Every car wreck a broken cassette
tape rattling in her trunk. Every
ghost expected.

Her husband keeps
a roadkill deer in the freezer,
hits her only when he needs to.
Calls his mother cvet.
The telephone poles have her name
all over them,the foxglove grown
over in the ditch.

Friday, December 09, 2005

from archer avenue

the luxury of borrowed dresses

She’d gone near dizzy in the dressing
room. All capelet sleeves and velvet piping.
Shoes akimbo and gathered tulle fuzzing
the chandeliers. Much too cold for organza
anyway. The crème chiffon. The bias silk.
And this fringe, so last year. Her friends
glittered and glossed as pearl pocketbooks.
And her, slipping into each gown like some other life.
This one with enough flounce to forget her mother
sewing buttons, French ones, for 5 cents a bit.
To forget the shop girls. Their sad, tidy lunches.

(a Marshall Fields inspired poem)

tomorrow night

Release Party.
December 10th,
Mojoes Hot House,
2849 W. Belmont, 6pm.

what it meant
Marissa Spalding
dancing girl press, 2005
buy it here

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Ten years ago, I’m in college, living with my parents. I’m taking three advanced lit classes and writing lots of papers. I’ve just finished managing a community theatre production in Rockford where the actors were still iffy on their lines opening night. And I think I am still planning to teach high school English at this point. My first poem in nearly a year of being distracted by other things will come sometime after Christmas and start the next semester’s downpour. I listen to a lot of Tori Amos and 10,000 Maniacs. I am still an idealist.

Five years ago, I’ve just moved back to Chicago after a year and a half away post-grad school. I’ve recently obtained the first job that will actually allow me to support myself somewhat. My new apartment is clean and empty, furnished only with a couple of living room chairs, my bed, a small table, and a Christmas tree. I’m euphoric and in love with the city, which is already covered in snow that year. I probably haven’t written a poem in months, but have notebooks of short stories from the summer before that need revision.

One year ago, I’m plugging away at the errata poems. I have just finished the complete, though hardly final, version of the fever almanac and am lamenting my sudden bout of book fever. (that dubious affliction akin to baby fever that strikes women writers over thirty). I am procrastinating as always on my Christmas shopping. I’m STILL somehow in school and working against deadlines. Plus I’m nursing a nasty sore throat. I’m thankfully not as depressed as I was the year before at that time, but nor as ecstatically in lust as I was two years before.

Today, we go on a writing field trip for Chicago Poems to the worst place possible to venture into three weeks prior to Christmas. Marshall Fields. The masses of retail-crazed women in appliqué sweaters from the burbs gives me a headache. We do not, as planned, eat at the famous Walnut Room, but in the food court after deciding the two hour wait is not worth it. I buy a discounted tree ornament, and go home, skipping workshop. It’s ridiculously frigid outside and I want to sleep until spring.

playing with the new camera

la cuisine

les livres

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

from archer avenue

the graveyards of chicago

You can see our lawns are lovely.
Their fences precise. No shoddy stones
or wilting gardenias. See how well
the steel mill provides. The highway.
The misstep and tidy sickness.
Our angels line up row by row.
Almost god. Or close to it.
And ghosts.? No ghosts.
Only nightshift gin and kids
fucking in the bushes.
See how our marble shines.
Even the pigeons love the dead.
The vernacular of plots and greening.

Monday, December 05, 2005

And here I was having a crappy anxiety-ridden day--weather, money, printer, work woes. Nothing terribly serious but just endlessly annoying. But then, first, the awesome news that Agni accepted the prologue for archer avenue for the online edition. And now, I just found out that Cranky editors nominated "Lake Effect" for a Pushcart. It just may be a good day after all...

from archer avenue

the imagined lives of ghosts

Perhaps they are, after all, godless.
Licking the finials and mothering
strange black dogs. The boxwoods
alone accumulate thousands,
precarious as jukebox lovesongs.
All of them enamored with objects.
In love with birthday cake and
the backs of stamps. See how they
rhyme in couplets, how their
shoes don’t match their skirts.
And velvet. Yes, velvet.
As if any of us have enough.
As if the low-watt gleam
of silver guardrails doesn’t charm us.
How even the road bends to meet them.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

This morning I caught the end of a hgtv landscaping show filmed in Hawaii and nearly cried over how green and lush it was when it's so nastily cold here and grey/brown. And now fucking snowing--not beautiful, not white, but sludgy and slippery. Yesterday, I finally got the last remaining booshelves upright and filled, but then decided to have them swap places with each other and had to do it all over again. The dining room ones, the shorter 3 -shelf ones, were HUGE and completely out scale with the other furniture in the room. The tall slender 5-shelf towers look much less lumbering. The shorter ones are now in the living room where their dimensions are not quite as noticeable. So now it's fiction and novels in there and reference books and poetry collections / chapbooks in the dining room, which puts them in easier reach from the table. But I'm a little sore from all the lifting and shifting.