Monday, January 30, 2006

the green series

I keep having this odd form of dyslexia lately where I substitute "where" for "wear" and "pears" when I mean "pairs," and just yesterday "to" for "two."

And my thought processes seem to take even stranger turns these days. This morning on the bus, I found myself thinking about Girl Scout cookies, thin mints in particular, and when the ones I've ordered might be in my hot little hands. Admittedly I was just hungry, but then I found myself wondering when I remembered getting them in the past, or when I was a Girl Scout, when they came in. So then I remembered getting them in the sixth grade on the same day that our neighbor's garage just burst in flames while we watched from the patio doors (he had apparently left the car running in it for mere seconds when the whole thing went up. (Of course this brings to mind another neighbor a few houses away, also in January, who while working on his car in the garage, had somehow inadvertently doused himself in gas while under the car (I'm still not to sure how this happened) and had the misfortune to accidently break the trouble light he was using, created a spark, and was seriously burned over 80% of his body. This was much later when I was in college, though.)

Anyway, the day when I was eleven and the garage next door burned down, earlier I had been laying on my bed sucking on cherry Jolly Ranchers (that I'd picked from the rest of the bag and always ate first) and reading this really trashy horror novel about vampires which had a multitude of sex scenes involving all sort of combinations of folks and was probably the dirtiest thing I'd ever read up to that point. And boy, was I was riveted. I have a feeling my bedroom could have burst into flames at that moment and I'd hardly have noticed. And then I realized that was something like 20 years ago, and amazingly I still have such an unbelivably vivid memory of that day its scary. Hell I can't distinguish one day in particular at work from the last ten, but all that's clear as a bell.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

why I love Anne Sexton

"For I pray my two cats will enter heaven carrying their eyes in little tin sand pails."

--The Death Notebooks

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

As you can see below, we started with litanies in the forms class. It looks like the lit class will be alot of reading and writing, but the other doesn't look too daunting. I'm extraordinarily happy to be finished with workshops on the whole, so I'm starting off the semester on a high note. Plus I just polished off my last archer avenue piece, at least for now, and can put that to bed for a few months until I'm ready to publish or send it out. Now I'm free to work on whatever my little heart desires, though I'd like to get those thesis poems under wraps. I still need at least nine more at the very minimum, and I know I'll want to cut stuff later.
how to read this poem

I suggest a system. A lifeboat. Or at the very least a bathtub.

I suggest you sit down.

I suggest the bird at your shoulder be ruby-throated with a milky eye. That it say inapropriate things at inappropriate times.

I suggest bringing something ruined. Or broken. Or drunk.

I suggest you take the south road. Slip beneath the piano and out the trap
door. Sneak up on it from behind.

I suggest you take a snack. An umbrella. A dictionary.

I suggest you start slowly.

I suggest you read the red skirt as a metaphor for sex. The fistful of poppies
languishing in their vase.

I suggest everything is a metaphor for sex. Even the bird.

I suggest you mind the foil, toiling in the background. It’s all very
Shakespearean. Even her red hair, very Shakespearean.

I suggest you take the setting into consideration. Or here, where the narrative
slips off its track.

I suggest you look askance when the woman opens her arms and lowers them.

I suggest you be kind. But distracted.

from archer avenue

midnight at chet’s melody lounge

Again, I dream I’ve killed you.
The back of your dress taking on
rain and the windows fogging over.
I dream a radio and a bedroom.
I dream a button and a bead.
Someone who looks like you
but more like me, moaning
into the backseat.

We both smell like sugar and wax.
Trace our names against the glass.
Like sisters. Only better.
Bless us for our mothers.
For the yellow hair dyed black.
For the rum in our cokes
that makes us lovelier.
This thing that burns behind us
grown fierce and clumsy as our fingers.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Tomorrow it's back to class, three semesters left and counting. It's turned colder again, Friday night entailing quite a nasty blizzard I got caught coming home in after I snuck off to a movie after work (Tristan and Isolde--a little medieval bloodshedding and doomed romance.)

The last couple of days have been good mail days..I went on a chapbook buying spree a couple weeks ago, and they've started filtering in, including one from Jeannine Hall Gailey, (which I finished in one sitting and LOVED, btw). Also stuff I haven't yet cracked open from Katalanche Press and Hot Whiskey. Also Christine's The Salt Daughter which I hope to get to this weekend. And lots more on the way. (I went a little crazy with my pay-pal profits from dgp, and then some.)

I also got a delightful acceptance from Swink for two poems, and the consignment contracts for our books which are now available at Woodland Pattern in Milwaukee for all you cheeseheads.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

from archer avenue


I am bending toward the headlights
when the sound goes out. One minute
the wind in my throat, my hair,
and the next nothing. I had three sisters,
I tell you, and each of them a ballerina in a box.
A man, he took my sweater and gave me a drink.
Took my keys. Took my name down in a book
and offered to drive me home. I can’t stop
these headaches. The jagged glass beneath my
tongue. I wear my quiet like a charm bracelet
tinkling at my wrist. This body practically
a crime scene by now, all dusted and closed.
My sisters cry and make wreaths. You wouldn’t
believe how hot my hands are right now.
How tiny my fingers.

Friday, January 20, 2006

another cautionary tale

This one begins with girls,
candied and small boned as mice.
Begins in kitchens or hallways.

On the phone or in cars beneath picnic
blankets. When the killer comes
from the bushes. From the closet.

From the backseat of a blue Cadillac.
The girls line up like a seam. Fight back.
Fashion a rope from their hair, a compass

from a compact. When their date goes
for gas, they stab the psycho with a nail file,
hide the evidence beneath pink twin sets.

Harbor something black and lush as licorice
beneath their tongues. Swallow the man
with the hook, the stranger inside the house.

When left alone, poison the boyfriend
and bury him beneath the cellar. Slaughter
the narrative, read it backwards like gospel.

The dirty, dirty word in their mouth.

the necessity of a feminist press, pt. 2

I’ve been mulling over this exchange in the latest Poetry the past couple of days, and it’s very much related to the last post. I think the term “women’s poetry” was used historically as a way to offset and devalue that contained within. “Women’s writing” in general has been seen this way --Hawthornes’ damned mob and all that. Terminology used as a way to marginalize women from what was considered “serious” writing and the once overwhelmingly male critics, scholars, and canon-makers.

I’d like to think this is not the case anymore—that all things are in fact on equal footing. That’s what we’d all like to believe. I, in fact, want desperately to believe it. So then let’s say “women’s poetry” is not something lesser than “poetry” in general. Not necessarily a subset, but perhaps, like poems written by doctors, or cowboys, or blue collar workers, merely a lens of experience (albeit a broader one), which filters the universal, the poetry with the big P. The great universal.

Is it then defeating to claim the label “women’s poetry”—to celebrate and revel in what just might make our poems different in some way than that written by men, be it subject matter, tone, stance, or the way we use language itself? Is “holocaust-poetry” or “African-American poetry” loaded with the same negative connotations in the broader field of poetry, or are we simply worried that by embracing the term, we risk regressing back to that same marginalization. Why are we so worried that someone is going to take us less seriously for calling what we write “women’s poetry” especially if, best case scenario, 50% of the literary world and its readership is composed of women? Why would that be seen as lesser or separate or marginalized?

But then I realize we do not live in that ideal world I just constructed. Yes, half of the literary world is women, but a majority of those who have the power, the editors, the critics, etc… tend to be men. And some of them, though certainly not all, but the less evolved of them DO think “women’s poetry” denotes something lesser, something other. And there are women poets themselves who possibly agree with them which makes for an even sadder state of affairs. (I think of a classmate who once expressed a distaste for "chick poetry"...grr...) So what do we do then? When the very terminology that could be used to form cohesiveness and community (anthologies, journals, etc) becomes derogatory in the wrong hands?

And this doesn’t even begin to touch on readership. The question of poetry written FOR women. Les’s say you DO write predominantly for an audience of women? Why would that be considered inferior to writing for a more gender-neutral audience? Lets say a male poet set out to write a very male-centered book, lets say about bow-hunting or his oedipal complex (though this does not necessarily mean women wouldn’t be drawn to the books also). Would we say it’s less of a book because it’s going to attract a heavier male readership (I assume). Why do we think because things are written for women that they are somehow less important, when we buy an even greater portion of the books, compose a larger percent of the audience, and are increasingly tipping the scales in writing programs. I don’t think writing for a certain audience can’t, in itself, have a universal appeal. Just because a poet writes for an audience of women doesn’t mean there won’t be something to be found there for men. And vice versa. And perhaps all great canonical works in poetry somehow straddle both sexes in their appeal. But that fact shouldn’t make women touchy about writing for a female audience. Or beg the question that if they ARE, that their work won’t resonate with men or have a universal appeal. Why are men so often considered the integral half in the equation? What about the male-centric books that hardly appeal to women?

I DO think experience is gendered, and this will vary from person to person. And I don't think that's a bad thing. My own work has a very distinctly feminine or "girly" feel to it and that in itself is part of my greater project. And that forms which writers I'm drawn to as well. It's when we start imposing value-judgements on things that it becomes bad. That poems about motherhood or dress-shopping are less important than grand heroic quests or bow-hunting.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

the necessity of a feminist press

Sometimes I think my conception of wicked alice/dancing girl as a feminist journal/press is a little, dare I say it, quaint and old-fashioned. It feels like it shouldn’t be necessary in this day and age. That all things, at least in the literary world, should be on equal footing pure and simple. A given. Not that I want to flount that victim complex, that we’re so oppressed propaganda that’s incredibly defeating, but occasionally I hear someone say something, or something surfaces that makes me think that a feminist press is not only important, but damn necessary. My aims were not quite so political so much when I started, but honestly grew more from my interest in women’s writing , from what I studied to what I read on my own.. My own work tends to be very particularly concerned with questions of the feminine and feminity (in the same way that culture or race inform in an authors work) and I sought to seek out and publish similar writing . Not to say the work of men isn’t wholly welcome. I’m apt to publish any good poem that comes across my desk if I really want to, but we still remain “women-centered” no matter what the gender of the author.

Anyway, then something happens, like I see this a while back. Or now, how I see all the National Book Critic's finalists are men, when I know what freakin awesome books by women have been released in the same period of time, and I get my panties all in a bunch and start questioning how much running a feminist journal/press is a political gesture. Or is it the sort of separation, the sort of closing off that only makes things worse? A sort of girls only club that's just as bad? Or do we have a right to a girls-only club since so much is closed to US and overlooked? And is that even what this is given my original intent? For instance, if I said I wanted to start a journal that only published unicorn poems, unicorn-focused poems, that certainly wouldn't be seen as a gender-based issue? Or philosphy-focused poems? Or Chicago-centered poems? Yet immediately the term "women-centered" is politicized, somehow, whether you want it to be or not.
A very awesome reading last night, an excellent crowd and lots of fun. The Quimby's folks rock, setting up chairs, promoting the event, and selling the books. Plus, where else can you read among so many delicious oddities--chapbooks, comics, zines, and a damn fine selection of litmags. We had only two poets who could make it in the end, but it was SRO for awhile there. I wound up spending almost the equvalent of what we took in on books, but walked away with a bunch of goodies chapbook-wise.

The weather (I just accidently typed whether instead) is gorgeous today, the season almost fooling us into thinking it's spring before bitch-slapping us back into winter. Yesterday, I went into the bookstore to procure my books for the upcoming semester, and found that I only actually had to buy one. No books in sight for the forms class, and only Contemporary American Poetry: Behind the Scenes for the lit class, along with last years BAP (which I have at home but have yet to read) and Poetic Culture: Contemporary American Poetry Between Community and Institution (which I pulled off the shelf upstairs). I've been finishing up the last two archer avenue pieces and will post them shortly. Haven't particularly accomplished as much during the break as I'd planned but when do I ever?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Join dancing girl press for our first-ever reading/book signing, featuring KR Copeland, Carol Davis, and Marissa Spalding.

Wednesday, January 18th, 7pm.
Quimby's Bookstore
1854 W. North Avenue

details here

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Amid all the blog talk of the importance/unimportance of publication , I’ve been thinking this morning about how I personally choose where to submit my work and why. It’s not an exact system I suppose, but there are a few over-arching tendencies. I typically tend to send work to places that:

a) publishes work that has an affinity to mine, work that speaks to me. Thus, I’m not very likely to submit to journals that publish a whole lot of very vanilla lighthearted verse, nature epiphany poems, or heavy on the innovative langpo sort of stuff. I like quirky, and a little dark and strange. Serious, but not heavy on the over-intellectualization. Language that is beautiful, or new, or interesting.

b) ideally have a certain prestige factor, or at least a reputation for publishing good work. I think this ties more into the above than any random decree by some arbitrary poetry god, and more to do with where the poets I most admire are publishing…ie. who I’m rubbing shoulders with. Therefore appearing in X journal with poets like Larissa Szporluk and OKD would rate much higher than appearing in Y journal with Billy Collins and Ted Kooser.

c) have a snazzy looking publications. Nice cover and design. A certain hipness and un-cheesiness to these elements. I’m easily impressed by flashy slickness, but also like the same things in a saddle-stitched publication, or even a nice handmade, DIY vibe. For webzines, a cool design can make me want my work to appear there and a terrible one to avoid it. I’m also a sucker for interesting titles and names instead of (Insert Geographic Location Here) Review. (completely all arbritrary, and not the defining way of picking journals, but a factor nonetheless.)

d) have a serious devotion to poetry. I like at least an equal ratio of poems to other stuff page-wise: fiction, reviews, essays. It seems poetry gets lost among the short fiction somehow in some journals, and that a lot of readers just skim over it. Historically this wouldn’t have been a problem, and due attention would have been given to all genres, but it feels like poetry is the poor step-sister in some journals where fiction is the the focus.

e) I guess I also have a fondness for locally produced journals and ones that are edited by folks I know, and/or places I’ve appeared before. It might be that I like the community aspect (or at least a smaller community). As for the discussion in a few blogs recently, I suppose I don’t see any issue with submitting and publishing in journals where you know the editor personally. However, any journal that seems ONLY to publish the same in-group of writers is immediately suspect. (As is any writer that only appears in publications edited by their friends.)

Friday, January 13, 2006

in the black

A brief and informal examination of finances for dgp in 2004-2005 shows we are still 70 bucks ahead of the game. Whoo-hoo!


oops...scratch that...I didn't tally in domain stuff since I started paying for it ...we're only about $30 in the black.

In other press news, production and design is underway with Rebecca Cook's The Terrible Baby, with an awesome painting by Lauren Mathews Levato, a Chicago artist/poet gracing the cover. It's going to look fabulous.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

from archer avenue

the vanishing hitchhiker: a study

You see, the limbs are accidental. Riddled by vagueness and blue-checked aprons. Her back arcs against the seat and the sweet black mouth of the soprano opens and opens again. The myth delineates her leavings and arrivings. The dirty books hidden beneath her bed, her lips red-dark and unruly. When you inquire after her address, she offers a taxonomy of saints. Spreads her thighs and shows you her phobias. The creeper vine at her throat won’t let her sing anymore, but she’ll gesture erratically. Offer assorted sundries, hotel soap and chewing gum. Her eyes like lemon cake behind the glass. Sugared and untouched.

last call

In the parking lot, all
the dancers are lovely
and drunk. Symmetrical.

Kissing in the blue dark.
A girl pins a tiger lily
to her shoulder, itches

beneath silk. Comes
closest with the boy
who still smells of his mother's

laundry soap. Still opens
his mouth to her like a door.
When the yellow of her dress

singes against the spotlight;
when she heaves into the
hydrangeas, he still loves her.

Everything glittered
and moving through violet.

next wednesday at quimby's

Join dancing girl press for our first-ever reading/book signing, featuring KR Copeland, Carol Davis, and Marissa Spalding.

Wednesday, January 18th, 7pm.
Quimby's Bookstore
1854 W. North Avenue

details here

Sunday, January 08, 2006

I have spent the last week or so poring over the fever almanac , putting the finishing touches before I have to send the final version to Ghost Road. In an effort to make sure that everything was exactly the way I wanted, and I wasn't missing anything that would make me groan later, I retyped every poem start to finish, which took me a while but resulted in fixing quite a few punctuation weaknesses and rhythmic things. It seems like this is such a final version..not merely a publication or a chapbook, which are more ephemeral somehow, but a book.....more definitive, final. I'm going to go through one more time reading the poems outloud, just to make sure before I send it.

Have had a blissful, quiet weekend at home..the whole two days of it for once...spent doing serious cleaning and organizing. My mind needs order and spareness, everything in its place and a place for everything.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


The girls you love make beautiful suicides.
Breaking off heels and losing orchid
corsages beneath the backseats of buicks.

This one speaks through the curtain
of her hair, the sweet blonde number,
soft machine of her ribs humming

like an engine block full of bees.
The dark has too much rigging. The moon
projected on a screen with tinfoil stars.

Is full of holes. Bankrupt gas stations
and the backs of women's calves.
Your flares set fire to the homecoming float.

Set fire to the gym and all its paper
carnations. All the mouths gone metallic pink,
harboring tire irons and rhinestone tiaras.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Found whilst googling myself last year (guilty pleasure when doomed to the circ desk late at night), a really awesome and comprehensive site...I have been directed to many a good poem...including these by Arielle Greenberg.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

like hotcakes

get yours while you still can...

dancing girl press special

5 books/ $15


The Resurrection of Trotsky / Adrianne Marcus
Anatomically Correct / KR Copeland
Under the Shuttle, Awake / Taylor Graham
The Violin Teacher / Carol V. Davis
what it meant / Marissa Spalding

Sunday, January 01, 2006