Friday, March 31, 2006


Rhino Release Reading
Sunday, April 2, 2:30-3:30 pm
Evanston Arts Center
2603 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL
(847) 475-5300

Join the RHINO 2006 kick-off reading at this elegant Sheridan Road landmark. Last year’s reading was lively and varied, and we expect the same this year. Scheduled readers Kristy Bowen, Marc Frazier, Geoffrey Forsythe, Paul Martinez-Pompa, Ellen McKnight, Daniel Johnson and Jacob Saenz.


attention, please

Tomorrow officially kicks off reading season for dancing girl press, so you, you, and yes, YOU should all submit. Check out the site for details...and the lovliness that is Rebecca Cook's The Terrible Baby, our latest release.

I am also taking poems for the 2nd All Chicago Issue of wicked alice. And the ALL ALICE ANNIVERSARY (oh how I love alliteration) due out in the Fall.Have already gotten some awesome pieces for this--so keep them coming.


In other news, the weather yesterday and today is absolutely freakin gorgeous and I can feel that nasty winter moodiness dissipating. It was so lovely to step outside and not feel my body tighten against the cold. I’m all primed for writing a poem a day again in April, and I’m also going to try to read a book (okay, a chapbook) every day and try to do mini-review/highlights here. Try being the operative word. And I’ve given myself the financial license to buy whatever books I want…my birthday coming at the end of the month…

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Juliet got me thinking, about how we organize our work as writers--not just poems, but journals, scraps, ephemera. Because it seems important somehow for artists in general, and writers most of all. It may be that latent librarian in me, but I've always been a little obsessed with archiving—even scrapbooks….(not in that frou-frou housewifey sort of way) but just keeping clippings and various stuff in photo albums. Highschool. College. Writing stuff. Until I started blogging, I'd kept written journals in those marble mead composition books since 1994. I lost a nearly full one in 1996 when my backpack was swiped in Mississippi, and feel sometimes like I lost a year, or a limb. Since summer 03’ it’s all been online-first xanga then here.

For poems , I've managed to keep a file folder for each year's poems and scraps. I used to keep drafts, but it gets a little paper crazy, so now I toss them. I actually have one for high school poems (pre-1992) one for college poems (1992-1996), one for grad school poems (1997-1999) and now yearly ones. I occasionally go back to laugh at the high school and college ones, and occasionally with other years to scavenge for usable stuff in poems I've trashed. The high school poems are handwritten on various kinds of stationary and notebook paper, and explore various unrequited crushes and generalized teen angst. I had a fondness for yellow legal pads in college, and regular old notebook paper. I banged out a lot of drafts on my electric typewriter (utilizing lots of whiteout and correction tape.) My poems were really short and minimal, political often, and some typed two or three to a page on very thin, nearly transparent typing paper.

In grad school, I have the original drafts on notebook paper and the word processed versions (I used a brother desktop publishing machine then, which was significantly cheaper than buying a computer in those days. ) I was really organized then—probably because I didn’t actually do much besides go to class and write those couple of years. In 2001, when I really began submitting, most of the typed drafts of poems were typed on my work e-mail, and then sent out to e-zines. I must have trashed the original drafts, mostly (and still) written on whatever scrap paper is lying about, the backs other copies of poems I don’t need, work forms, mail. I try to get rid the random ephemera of the workings out of a poems asap, but some of I’ve found here and there in the files. Now, poems usually get typed in first in word files, or sometimes on the blog, depending which computer I’m at. I have a few working notebooks that I collect off bits of things, but I'm not that attached to those, and usually toss them when they get to ragged, recopy everything I haven't used yet into a new notebook, and start anew. I actually seem to have moved away from the notebooks at all of late, and wind up carrying loose stuff around in file folders.

A few months ago I went through everything and it’s like a little archaeological dig into my life. A terrible poem about loneliness scrawled on the same purple stationary I used to write pen-pal letters on. A poem about some professor my freshman year who made some snide comment about feminism written on a Student Government office form. Others on various college class handouts (a lot of them written in class when I was pretending to take notes.) a fragment of a poem written on the back of an archaeology lecture program I was forced to attend once. Several poems printed out senior year of college on the old dot-matrix printer in the lab at RC.

And still, I’m anxious. Blogging for example feels very un-permanent. I fought off the urge of printing things out, since a lot of what I write in my blog is goofing off, and not at all what I’d write in a private journal. There’s also the public aspect of it, these entries being like half-letter and half journal. So I’m not even sure I’d need to keep them. I’m tempted to go back and weed out the important stuff in a word file. Just to be on the safe side if something terrible happened to technology—you know --plagues, terrorist attacks, zombies.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Today, I managed to finally get my apartment windows all clean and shiny.. There's a very narrow window of time that I can actually get them cleaned, not before it's too cold to open them but before the giant spiders take up residence outside them. Late March is about right. The spiders are rather wicked looking things, their bodies round and fat as small grapes and short legs. Of course, outside the highrises downtown their are ones with legspans about the size of silver dollars, so I'm not complaining (ditto the orange/yellow striped garden ones at my parent's house). Luckily not many get in, too big, I'm convinced to shimmy through any possble openings. Their slenderer sisters occasionaly wind up on my ceilings, and with bugs, I'm a stone cold killer. No mercy. (This is a girl who once broke her finger slamming a door to get away from a bee.) Between the spiders and the giant roaches in the library (some large enough they could be put to work shelving) it's like fucking wild kingdom sometimes. And rumor has it, with construction on both sides of us down at Columbia (the old Blackstone hotel to the south and the new Spertus Institute to the north) they may be shakin up some rats who'll be looking for new homes. Wonderful. Remind me to check beneath my desk before I sit down.

Otherwise, I'm in the last throws of my paper for my lit class--half-assed as usual. Hopefully I can pull it together tomorrow. I've ordered the paper for the next chap, The Animal Husband, from a new place--it's supposed to have a slightly linen-like texture. Let's hope it doesn't get stuck in the printer. Also got some textury laid paper for archer avenue, which I'm planning to issue probably late May. Have also started talking to an artist about the May release, Sarah Gardner's How to Study Birds , who sent me some lovely samples and is cooking something up.

I'm planning on trying to do NaPoWriMo this year, again. Last year I got to the 20th and petered out. Though I did get some good stuff if I remember correctly, so it's worth a shot. I need to flesh out the girl show poems now that I've wrapped up the other projects. I did wind up sending feign out to a contest (I just like their books too much not to) after all my bellyaching, though I'm not going to let it make me crazy this year. I'm the new, lower-key, chilled out poet this year--not the manuscript weilding obsessive mess I was last summer.

And summer, yes, god, could it possibly get here any faster?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Tonight, on the way home, the lake and the sky were the exact same shade. It looked like Granville just dropped off into blue. The better part of this afternoon ivolved a staff convocation, where basically all the higher ups present various goings on and initiatives to the college staff, including slides with fiscal numbers and pension plans and what not. Snore. The only part that had me interested were the new buildings planned for campus, the library getting more room in a build-out into the building next door (we have serious space issues.), and the renovation of classrooms in the English Dept. It’s really sort of repulsive over there…filthy walls and carpet, bad circulation system, bad acoustics, broken desks, not to mention either no windows at all or ones facing out onto the noisy el. I’ve never seen that sort of neglect anywhere I’ve gone to school. After this summer, we’ll no longer have to worry about the ceiling panels falling on our heads.

I’m still undecided on the whole contest issue. I don’t want to wind up throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

I did just hear that the latest issue of Rhino is now, pretty, and with poems by me (and a review written by Marybad). For anyone round Chicago, I'll be reading with some other contributors on April 2nd at the Evanston Arts Center at 2pm at the release party, which should be lots of fun. I figured it was a safe one to invite the parents to--daylight, in the burbs where they can drive, and a small number of good poets. My mom says she doesn't get most of it, but seems to like to come nevertheless.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

self publishing whore, pt 2

Fuck it. I'd rather be illegitimate. Some sort of bastard child of old world handmade books and new world internet. I'm going to do what makes me happy. I'm going to split the difference. I'm going to stop banging on doors where I know I'll never be welcome. I'm not going to always write with that potential future editor in mind who thinks everything I write is just wrong, wrong, wrong. That I'm not hip or post-modern enough to play with the cool kids. I'm going to write poems the way I want to write instead of poems I think the way everyone wants me to write. I'm going to stop obsessing. I'm going to stop wanting things from poetry, and perhaps it will be a much kinder, gentler beast when it comes to putting it down on the page. I was content once, and not nearly so muddled, before I started paying attention to certain things, the games and manevers, before coming back to school. I want to be there again.

See where way to much caffeine and too little sleep will get you.

Monday, March 20, 2006

confessions of a self-publishing whore

I've been thinking about the chapbooks again, reconsidering entering the Diagram/NMP contest, determining what I want to do with both feign (and ultimately archer avenue when it's finished). I'm so dissolusioned with contests on the whole, the fact that the odds are so steep and other people surely with better poems than mine, and the whole culture of competetion thing, and whether it's a good thing, that the cream always rises to the top, or whether it's just the luck of the draw, that the screener and the judges tastes match up exactly with what you wrote. Even having helped judge a couple things I know it's all so ultimately arbitrary.

And while I love the chapbooks of many presses--like NMP (one of their latest offerings Murmurations, is great) I know I can't win...not if the other poets they publish in any given issue is indication of the sort of stuff they get--it's all too good. Too many really damn decent poets out there in the world and all of us wanting the same things. So I'm tempted to throw in the towel. All of these little random projects I've got going, to just do them myself, to get them out there on my own, which has worked in the past to a degree. (Though I am aware that my distribution in no way rivals some of those contest presses.)

I go round and round in my head sometimes, arguing that isn't the best way to do justice to my work to let it win a few contests? Let it attract some attention that way? And aren't I undercutting things a bit by going it on my own. But then I think of the benefits of creating each project and it's publication more as an art piece than something sent out and always knocking on doors. Submitting things year after year to no avail. And as you know, it excites me to no end, the aspect of laying something out, designing it, playing with paper and fonts. All the aspects of creating something--holding the finished project in your hands. And I am a control freak, completely, so there's that. Plus, I like to give them away on occasion, which I'd feel really guilty about doing if they were published by someone else.

On that note, I'm putting either feign or archer avenue --not sure which yet--out there sometime this spring. I've cut the fat out of it, the filler, and have about 30 or so pages of really good stuff. It's sort of project spun from errata, though not Victorian really, but working off that whole idea of women and knowledge, women and corruption, that I started to to work on in the other chap. I feel like I need to get this stuff out there, especially since I tend to think my work is stronger as a whole, not just individual pieces scattered throughout random journals, though that's well and good too, but they have more strength in conjunction with each other.

But then, there's one thing that makes me hesitate. The whole notion of legitimacy, whatever it means. That I'm just being self-indulgent with the whole thing, and that it somehow reflects badly on me or my work...this ceaseless self-publishing..that it (and I) won't be taken as seriously as it/I would be otherwise. But what creates legitimacy--competent work or how it gets distributed? I've seen lots of bad work get distributed by "legitimate" channels. So is even that a faulty concept? I try to make a correlation with the visual arts, how if you're doing serious work, it's a given that you're an artist, whether or not you show in the right gallery or whatever. But being taken seriously as a poet seems to depend so much on being accepted by certain cadres, moving in certain channels. And really, it all makes me sort of nauseous, uneasy.

And I ultimately hope I'm not just being self-indulgent. The poems are good, solid work. Most of them have, or will be soon, published either in print journals or electronically. And I do, after all, have a book that was decent enough for a good publisher to take a chance on. Hopefully, I'm not just fooling myself.
So there will be books, hopefully more than one, and and lots & lots of do-it-myself chapbooks because, hell, I'm occasionally pretty prolific (not at the moment, sadly, but sometimes).


In other news, last night's reading at Myopic was awesome, lots and lots of people, Kristy Odelius'work great as always, and the response to the Resurrection Mary poems I read really good (they'd never been out for test drive before.) Though, I think the majority of the folks were there to see the other poet, I'm still blessed with the knowledge that it was very unlike my first reading at Myopic back in the summer of 03 where like three people showed up, and they were friends of the host.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


In one story, she falls open
like a clock, her insides blue
and chaotic, all gears. Wires fashioned
into vowels and finches spilling.
At the bottom of ditches,
the unlucky float in dresses lined

with metal hooks and fishing line.
Pink lips moving, opening
like gills. They take on ditch
water, their hands bluish
and imprecise. Another version spilled
from a movie fashioned

from a book fashioned
from a song. Her voice is lined
with velvet and hidden, a spill
of gold leaking into the open.
The expanding blot of her blue
sundress. Long after they ditched

her in the canary grass, her skirt ditch
dirty and out of fashion,
my fingers went blue
gripping the trawl line.
The morning opened
with a grayish spill.

In my version, she spills
the goods, the truth, ditch
weed all unruly. Opens
her throat and fashions
the hole in the plot, a line
through the blue

arc of sky. Sings filthy blues
in the club, her drink spilled
on the table, licking the line
of her lip. Her a last ditch
effort, sipping an old fashioned
in the opening

scene. Took a spill, ditch
dark fiction being all the fashion.
The line of her mouth open and blue.

Friday, March 17, 2006


creepy archer avenue piece up at Agni.
Also some pieces at SaucyVox.

wicked alice print annual 2006

In a supremely blonde moment, I accidentally deleted a bunch of e-mail addresses from my address book that I need in order to get in touch with a bunch of poets regarding their work in the print annual. (bad, bad editor) I have some of the one’s below, but I’m severely in need of the italicized ones. Does anyone out there have current e-mail addresses for any of these folks? If so, could you backchannel me? Pretty please?

Ona Gritz “Last Tango in Pyramus”
Maggie Porter “San Panteleone Sees Anne Sexton on the Corniche in Beirut”
Esei Murasaki “Epigraph to A Transcontinental Love”

Liz Dolan “Interruptions”
Alison Daniel “Somersaulting”
Susan Yount “Humoring Me”

Juliet Cook “Engulf”
Jayne Pupek “Forms of Intercession”
Katie Fesuk “Carol Burnette, Inebriated”
Heather MacPherson “Residue”
Susan Cronin “Document”
Arlene Ang “Crimson Down the Gutter”
Maurice Oliver “If the Shoe Skits”
Gillian Devereux “In My Secret life as a Porn Star”
Erin Elizabeth “How the Gailtling Sister’s Fared the War”
Lauren Mathews Levato “Mother Fabric”
Robyn Art “The Female’s Incarnation as a Ring of Salt”
Melanie Dusseau “Girl’s Guide to Pugilism”
Rebecca Cook “If I Had a Needle”
Elizabeth Glixman "Shirley Temple Curls Near the Dinner Table”
Lightsey Darst “Temple Door”
Jeannine Hall-Gailey“Her Nerves”
Carly Sachs “Indecent Docent, Sex Deprived Tina”
Roxanne Carter “bankrupt of all her hopes”
Brett Griffiths “Ode to Fellatio”

The rest of the non-italicized people I have addresses for but need to dig them up elsewhere still. If any of you are reading this, I’ll be getting in touch with you shortly.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I'm getting suffocated by that nasty to do list this week--papers to write, ends that need to be tied, sestinas to pen. I'm drowning. Last night, a 2am marathon folding and stapling the Terrible Babies. Something I could do without too much mental energy. I'm feeling rather fried, frazzled, and frayed. I've managed to get through the leviathon that is the wicked alice inbox, so if I haven't sent you a rejection, you're still in the running. Hope to read through a second round, then make decisions early next week. Also, I'll be getting in touch with poets who made the print annual this year--another bout of terribly unhappy decision-making.

In other news, I've decided on doing the ALL CHICAGO issue for summer (submit! submit!).And then in September, in honor of our 5th birthday (which is like 20 in zine years), I want to do a special "Alice in Wonderland" themed issue. Maybe an indulgence, but fun nevertheless. I want poems, stories, artwork, essays, whatever. I'm going hunting for already-prublished stuff to solicit too, so any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, March 13, 2006

sunday sunday sunday

I'll be reading at Myopic Books (1564 N Milwaukee) at 7pm with one very well-named and awesome poet Kristy Odelius.

Two Kristy's, no waiting.

I've been fussing over possible cover ideas for archer avenue, for when I decide to publish it. I'm still trying to shake loose a couple more peices that I know are rattling round in my head. It's pretty spare anyway, a mere 16 pages of poems. I thought about contests, but with sending feign off to to one anyway--the perennial favorite NMP/Diagram, I'm going to let this one sit it out. It's a little short anyway. I think I've finally got the cover, though, which will be rather simple, probably white cardstock and a photo of the Willowbrook Ballroom sign. I want to find some paper with a more texture since it's so plain. of course then I worry that it's too soon to be putting out another chapbook, what with errata still realtively new and the book coming out in November. Screw it, I'm antsy. I want something new to read from this summer, and since I'll most likely wind up giving them away anyhow, I suppose it doesn't matter. Still I worry about foisting too much of my work on people..being some sort of brazen self-publishing hussy, but it's so damn fun to produce and put something new out..and it's a long time til November...Incidently Ghost Road has a snazzy new website design and a blog--check it out...

In other publishing news, The Terrible Baby is proofread and done and all set for the printing. Will be doing that tomorrow, assembling on Wednesday, and getting copies out to Rebecca, Lauren, and everyone else who's ordered one. Soon. Have started working on the layout for Christine's The Animal Husband, who has blissfully already provided a cover design. And then we have books lined up one a month until July, and the print annual, and then three more later in the year.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Ahh...the annual St Patrick's Parade here downtown today--a million green clad and soon to be trashed suburbanites making all forms of public transportation hellish. I would prefer to avoid the loop at all on days like this. It is, however, absolutely gorgeous weather-wise, the first day I've felt I could actually put away that damned grey peacoat and go with a sweater--first time since October. I've been attempting to articulate my thoughts on this week's chapter of readings for the lit class on slam poetry. Not easy, since I can't condemn it completely, nor can I embrace it. Those who know me will agree that I'm extraordinarily wishy-washy on all things poetry-related and thus why I never write reviews. I can say one thing today, and another entirely different thing tomorrow about slam poetry and both of them be true, but here's what I'm thinking today anyway.


I ‘m willing to admit that the minute I hear the term “slam poet” I’m apt to roll my eyes, fearing the worst. I actually know a number of poets who used to compete in slam events who are now enrolled in MFA programs and were reluctant to mention their slam credentials on their applications, fearing a similar response. It’s odd, but the people who seem to have the biggest elitest response to slam poetry tend to be the more experimental poets (who are simultaneously the most academic ones as well in my experience), which is ironic given how Beach sets them up as both in opposition to “official verse culture” and “workshop poetry.”

I also, however, take serious issue with how Beach doesn’t seem to do a very good job of distinguishing between “performance” oriented poetry and “slam”—a question of a style, or styles of writing for performance, and something that is simply a venue. While the possibilities for performance poetry—everything from spoken word as it’s usually defined, to multimedia extravaganza, is exciting and opens up a lot of possibilities, slam competitions, however, seems rather reductive, often catering to the lowest common denominator (as does most contemporary culture in the larger sense, I would argue.) I suppose it’s a likely outcome when competition is involved. And yet it doesn’t have to I suppose. I’ve been waiting for a more literary slam for years to no avail.

I agree with Beach, however, in his discussion of one poet, Paul Beatty, toward the end of the chapter that such terms can be limiting, another type of branding that puts everyone in neat little compartments and only makes things even more divided and chaotic. Consequently, one faction doesn’t take the other seriously, and at least in Chicago, you have this fractured sort of poetry scene where nobody knows what anyone is doing except their own little corner, which is I suppose representative of poetry on a larger level, and hearkens back to Beach’s overly-simplistic dichotomy between mainstream and experimental poetry.

Even though I can’t place myself within the boundaries of any camps with much comfort, (being an academically trained poet who’s a little suspicious of it, neither really mainstream or really experimental, and also as someone, at least on a social if not aesthetic level, who tends to gravitate toward open-mic type readings and the poets found there.) I think contemporary performance poetry is given a short shrift because of how the term “slam” is consistently associated with it, shutting off the potential of merging literary poetry—that which excels because of image, music, attention to language—and performance. So many poets I go to see read are rather uninspiring and flat in their delivery and to me it somehow hurts my interpretation of their work afterwards, much as my reading of Sexton and Eliot are colored by having heard their voices in recordings. (both sort of badly). On the other hand, a good dynamic and performative reading can make me see things I may not notice on the page itself, and make me like work I may not otherwise.


In other news, we have dispensed with the ridiculous anthology were were using, and are bringing in a poem each to make a sort of organic anthology-like construction that we'll talk and write about each week. Found only one gem among this week's offerings-something from Christian Hawkey's The Book of Funnels, which was so very cool it made me go in search of the book. I'd brought in something last week from Daphne Gottlieb's Final Girl since we were talking about performance this week--and Gottlieb is one is one who embodies both--the performative and the literary--so well.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

elegy for lost houses

The mice still run beneath bathtubs
in my grandmother’s two-story.
Nest in the rusted swing set on

Park Street, where my blue cotton
nightgown hangs rotting from the line.
In a trailer in Monroe, the paneling

is buckling from the water we can’t keep out.
My sister and I sleep, tight fisted, beneath
yellow covers; fear uncles, the devil, the hairbrush.

Even so, I dreamed I took them all back once,
the houses, painted each room the softest eggshell.
Stripped the shag down to the gleaming boards.

Polished every window and pushed every
bed against the wall. Claimed them each,
dish by dish, chair by chair.

Mended the broken lamp, the frayed curtains.
Lit the pilot light and swept out the crickets.
Unlocked every cabinet to find my mother

crouching inside and everything I ever misplaced
come back to me: my red barrette, a roller skate.
Every sock paired and folded in the drawer.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

It looks like a snow globe outside the library windows today..and of course I'm stuck working, which has tied up my whole weekend and hasn't exactly led to any sort of productivity...and now, bad weather, which just makes me more cranky. No poems, no fun, no nothing.

I am, however, in the works of putting the final touches on The Terrible Baby, which shall be delivered very soon. Just some more proofing to be done, and we're ready to go, possibly by the end of this week. It's such an awesome book and so lovely in its presentation, I can't wait to get it out there. I also just got an e-mail from a small bookstore in Massachusetts who's looking to stock indie, DIY stuff, and wants some of our books. Yeah!

(mopey and damn near happy in the span of time it takes me to finish a blog entry--I'd say accurately gives an indication of my current fluctuations in mood. Toss me a little bauble of good news and I'm singing.)

Thursday, March 02, 2006


I've been a little ambivalent the past week about just about writing, poetry in general, school work, work work, all the crap that I have to do, all the ends I have to tie up. I'm on the verge of finishing a couple projects in regards to my own the archer avenue chap, which is still in need of a couple more pieces somehow, and the other thing, manuscript #2, aka feign. It's finally got a little heft to it (about 50 pages), and to be honest, I'm so done with it right about now...probably the hazards of working with something with such a narrow focus, so driven thematically. I am glad, however, I didn't just lump them in with the other book like I'd planned at one point, a 4am panic-driven decision. They're coming from a different place, a different poet even, I think sometimes.. I'd planned on just waiting and using that as my thesis, making it larger, but I'm sort of tired of it, and can't imagine having to work on it in any sort of group process like the seminar (double blah).. So it will be the girl show stuff that I'll be plugging away at from now on until then, of which I have a decent but very rough chunk of at the moment. And sideshow freaks are much more fun than eerily evocative feminist statements, don't you think? :)