Monday, January 29, 2007

gratuitous use of cuteness to sell books

I've gotten word that Feign is now officially available for purchase at the NMP site. Also signed ones at etsy directly from moi. (that is, if I can get the cat off the box without injury..)

Also banking on the cuteness above:

Brandi Homan's much awaited Two Kinds of Arson is now available from dgp for order as well. I have the insides all ready to go and am waiting on my new inkjet printer to finish the covers tomorrow(long story involving a monster paper jam and my own stupidity in trying to remove it). They should ship by Friday at the latest...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

odds and ends

Ugh, this ekphrastic class may be a bust. It's team taught by a MFA faculty and a rather stuffy old-school literature guy (not one of the one's who usually teaches lit to grad students).. I was ready to slit my wrist after about twenty minutes of tediously explicating "Ode on a Grecian Urn."(for probably about the third time in my tenure as student). Even Chaucer was looking mighty exciting compared to that segment of class, which consisted of everything I ever hated about being an English major--line by line vivisection of the text, long pauses, the instructor asking "what does this mean? anyone? anyone?--come back to haunt me. Whats crazy is I used to just grin and bare it. But now I'm spoiled...even my lit classes have been rather rambunctious and untraditional, the discussions, while just as in depth, more organic, more open and fun, instead of doggedly led along by the instructor to cover certain amount of material. I'm hoping the creative aspects of the class will save it, and already we've talked a little about painting, what draws us visually, how that relates to what sort of poetry we like. I'm already thinking of how some things are applying to the Cornell poems, how my pieces are a mix of response directly to and pieces inspired by but only loosely attached to the actual boxes. This week, we're meeting at the Art Institute,and I can't help but remember that only four years ago, Karen Volkman took our poetics class to see the Cornell boxes (which in previous jaunts, I always missed in favor of the Impressionist galleries) and I was smitten. These poems have sort of been in the works for almost that long. (I think I wrote the first in 2004) so it will be good to finally finish off the project as soon as I put girl show to bed. It's something that keeps getting shoved aside in favor of bigger projects and manuscripts.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

FEIGN: coming soon fromNew Michigan Press

It's here and it's pretty, and the paper is to die for, all lineny and this lovely creme on the outside, dark green on the inside. Again, it's always surreal to see the book, which poems now face one another, how they work together. Dead smack at the center fold is "the book of red," the longest piece in the chap (5 pages--rare for me). Couldn't have worked better if I planned it that way..

It will be officially on sale at NMP on January 30th.


I just realized, reading the syllabus for Chaucer that we have a final exam? I haven't had one of those since undergrad days, since *counting on my fingers* TEN YEARS AGO!! I've been out of college TEN YEARS! How the hell did I get so freakin old...

Of course, maybe it doesn't seem like that long ago since I've never really been OUT of school, even those few years in between when I worked for schools, which is still like being in school in some odd vicarious way (I rather enjoyed my elementary library stint--all those bulletin boards and storytimes--LOVED it.) Then working here where all I deal with is students and faculty, even before I enrolled again. I guess being on campus in general makes it feel like college. Two years at Depaul for the MA, four working libraries, and now four more years in the MFA program, yep I guess that equals ten years. Damn.

(*Actually now that I think about it, I did have the mother of all finals--my MA comp exam back in 99'--six hours, ten books, stuffy, stinky English Dept. basement computer lab. How could I have forgotten that.)
I’ve been working (again) on organizing girl show and think I finally have it. Sections no less. It was just too much too much as one long non-breaking collection—I think we need some breathing room between poems. A good place to pause, to go get some tea and a snack, go to the bathroom (if you’re the sort to read books strictly front to back..) So I’m thinking of the structure of sideshow/carnival experience—the teaser, the collection, and the big show—aka, as section titles “ballyhoo,” “menagerie,” and “bump and grind.” The poems that will go in the first section are the lures, the tease, the beginnings of things that happen in the book, since a lot of things are threaded through the whole thing (body image-issues, the grotesque, transformation, identity/disguise, categorization). The second, the menagerie, are more static poems, a lot of them personas and portraits, less tease, more substance, also more weirdness. And the third, where things start to happen. The really volatile poems, the angrier, more disturbing, more frenetic pieces end up here. Of course, I’m still unsure in a few cases where certain poems belong, but hopefully I’ll figure that out. I still have titles and ideas for about eight more pieces as well, though I sort of know where they’ll go in the end. The cummulative effect will be as if you were wandering deeper and deeper through the spectacles. Granted, it's not all sideshow poems, but the regular poems have a sideshow feel and vice-versa.

In other news, Chaucer will hopefully be interesting enough to keep me awake on those early days (Tues & Thurs. I go to work at 10am, go to class from 12:20 to 3:30, then go back to work til 10 pm. in order to put in a 8 hr. day) If not, there may not be enough caffeine in the world. I do like Chaucer’s passive aggressive snarkiness, so THAT should at least be interesting. And admittedly, this is a gap in my education (of course, I’m sure I’ve forgotten nearly everything I learned in the first round of grad school anyway). Mainly I wanted the daytime classes so I could get everything out of the way during the week, still close the library every night, and have free and clear blissful two whole day weekends. It may very well kill me before semester’s end. But at least this is the last one.
Dusie 5
in the company of Michelle Detorie, Simone Muench (w/Bill Allegrezza), and a passel of other great folks..

Monday, January 22, 2007

The last couple of days have been devoted largely to dgp matters, gearing up for AWP, assembling extra copies of chaps I'm running low on from last year and fretting over the budget (yes, amazingly, I'm trying to be organized this year). It does not help to be ordering pink scarves from etsy and chapbooks from Octopus with the paypal account.(which is actually empty now and thus emptying my bank account.) I did, on the more legit side of things, order coverstock, toner, and stamps--which definitely ate up the proceeds of this months actual sales, plus my first-ever royalty check from Ghost Road. (getting actual money for my poetry oddly made me, for once, feel something like a professional writer, and not just someone who plays one on TV.) Plus, I managed to get out all of nearly two weeks of orders, so they should be on their way.

In other news, I've been preparing a e-mailing list at NMP's request for feign. You all should be hearing about the release soon (sorry in advance for the spam.) Trades will, of course, be welcome also. My copies are on their way to me as I speak, so I should have some pictures soon.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Friday, January 19, 2007

in my bag

Because I'm bored and inspired by this post:

cell phone
mp3 player & headphones
Body Shop Almond Oil Hand lotion
Giant bottle of Advil
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
green flowered Chinese make-up bag
a mix cd made by my sister I’ve been carrying around for months
burgundy umbrella
condoms (sounds really bad, but always the girl scout)
Vaseline Cherry Lip Therapy
a bootleg copy of Freeway from someone at work
a legit library-owned copy of Jan Svankmajer’s Alice
USB Drive
girl show manuscript
three bags of Plantation Mint tea
cough drops and nasal spray
small notebook
3 pens / 1 pencil

coming January 29th

from dancing girl press

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I’ve been spending this last week of freedom before classes start trying to get little things taken care of, publicity stuff for the press done, poems submitted, things mailed out, getting girl show in order, and novels read. It’s damn cold here now after all, the air too dry and staticky, the sun too low in the sky. Tomorrow, a trip to the art store and a venture into the bookstore to see what the damage might be this semester if I decided to buy instead of borrow my books. Plus, I have a craving for hot chocolate not of the Swiss Miss variety.

Recently, I’ve been in paper heaven--having stumbled across this, and been clued into this by Jen Tynes, both of which have much subtler and delightful shades than everyone else I’ve been buying from. I tend to buy heavier plain white laser paper for the text block because it’s cheaper, but the last batch was way too smooth and bright white, so I’ve gone back to the recycled, slightly ivory paper from Staples.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Now that I am through posting shameless cat pictures, I will redirect you to the newest issue of Siren for some poetry.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Monday, January 15, 2007

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Reb Livinston has written a couple of excellent posts, one on contests a week or so back that I meant to mention, and today, another on submitting and dealing with submissions. One the whole, my dealings with poets in regard to work they send to wicked alice and dgp have been good. There was one incident I remember of sending a rejection to a guy and getting this angry immediate criticism of my taste and editorial choices, to which I responded, very kindly and politely, that I actually liked his poems and would absolutely have taken them but they didn't fit the thematic emphasis of the journal. Oddly he backed down. Then there was a little squabbling over the local issue guidelines last year .. I hate to say it, but bad behavior tends to, in about nine out of ten cases, to come from the guys (sorry boys, but it's true), which we don't deal with as much given the project of the journal. But then the guys we deal with regularly an publish are cool as hell, so I hate to stereotype (about 10% of our subs come from male poets). I'd be interested to hear what other editors have experienced. Or to speculate WHY this is the case.

My own response to rejection is either to try again if it's something I really want to get into, or to just stop sending work if it seems a hopeless cause for whatever reason, not to get angry and file off attacks to the editors. When I think I've sent work that has been given the shaft, I still realize are so many variables: maybe the editor was sick of poems about x or y, or hates poems in couplets. Or it just didn't click immediately. Or maybe one editor loved it and two others hated it. Maybe it was just like everything they'd seen before. Maybe it wasn't. In my case, editors have occasionally taken poems because the subject matter, as opposed to technical splendor, appeals to them, or so they've told me. So often editors take the filler poems, you know, the ones you don't think are quite as brilliant, as the one you really want them to publish, but are still sound publishable poems, but really do a good job filling the envelope.

Why I personally take a poem is also a combination of variables. Subject matter, voice, authority, if it's different from ten other poems I've seen and rejected in that sitting. I try not to read cover letters or bios or to let them sway me, though if someone whose name I recognize and I respect their work, I'm apt to pass it along to second round. Ditto people who we've published before. But I love finding that person who I've never heard of, or who's barely published a thing.

I like being published, I like getting work out there, but some people are rabid about it, fiendishly blanketing editors with submissions and then responding like jackasses when they're told no. Get a life. If one journal won't publish your work, eventually you'll probably find someone who will love it. And if you're really bad, you still might find someone to publish you given the number of journals hungry for competant, if not excellent, work. Submitting is part numbers game anyway, sending the right thing at the right time. Don't take it so freaking seriously.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

new at etsy


Another chilly weekend in which I have vowed not to set foot out of the apartment unless it's on fire. And better, a long weekend, much needed. I've been fiddling with book design stuff today, and plan to work on a couple collages and maybe a poem later. I still feel like it's only in winter I have this OCD compulsion to keep on top of household tasks, so I'm always straightening and organizing like a mad woman. I think I've finally, with the help of container store, cleared the morass on my dining room table. Next on the agena: the linen closet and about a half dozen almost empty shampoo bottles.. The fact that there's not one dirty dish to be found shows the extent of my illness. Come spring and I'm busy with other things, the plates get scary piled in the sink, but in dark January, I'm a domestic goddess.

I'm still trying to get girl show in some respectable state before I turn anything over to Arielle. I've been switching out poems and cutting and rewriting the crap. She told me before break she wants to push me to make my work even more disturbing, which given my subject matter, I'm all on board with. I know there's still a handful of poems I need to write, for subject matter and length reasons (it's about forty pages after cutting, with another 3 or four pieces waffling I hope to tackle this week.)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A couple of hours ago, someone returned a copy of Devil in the White City, which I'd been meaning to get my hands on for a while (a perfect mix of Chicago history and the macabre apparently). What's funny is, in the time I've been sitting here at the desk, FOUR people have noticed and commented on the book, having all read it (both students and faculty--I think it might be required reading at CC). I was blown away, since no one ever seems to read the things I do, and was thinking how excited I'd be if it were POETRY they were all so excited about. Alas...

In other news, you should check out a little remodeling at my etsy store--a new look and a couple new things (and one old thing reposted). Watch the space soon for more notebooks, collages, pencil boxes, and some little accordion books, to be added as I finish them. Today I finished work on the first set of galleys for Two Kinds of Arson, so it should be coming very soon after we make the corrections. Until then, we still have oven fresh books from Donora Hillard and Kristina Marie Darling available here.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

because I am way excited about this

Here. Go see.

especially since, though I read alot of the journals listed, there are some new journals and poems I've never encountered. As Erin says in her editor's note, it's true no one says an anthology can't be electronic and be relevant, especially since that's what we're fighting for in the first place.
Of course in my 3am freak-out session about money and how to pay my ever-mounting student loans, and, good god, my rent which jumped another $50 this year, I breifly considered, after I finishing up the projects I'm in the midst of now (girl show, the Cornell poems, and dulcet)of just throwing in the towel permanently on the whole poetry thing next fall and redirecting my energies toward semi-smutty trashy novel-writing (ala VC Andrews) with much better financial prospects--under a pen name of course. It could happen.;)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Somehow, as I was sitting here, wearily pushing poems around my desk and thinking about the structure of girl show, I started thinking about that winter eight years ago, when this whole poetry thing started to take shape, to be a possibility, a way of living my life (if not a way to pay for it.) I used to sit at my wobbly, busted table in my tiny little studio in Lincoln Park, drinking pot after pot of tea and writing like crazy, sometimes two to three poems a day. Granted I did nothing else then but go to class and live off student loans-no job, no real responsibilities outside school, but I wrote dozens upon dozens of poems that winter--all pretty awful of course. The deluge had started in the fall and carried on for another six months. It was then, in the midst of PHD applications in Literature, faced with the possibility of a life burdened by scholarship and publish or perish, I decided, since the writing was going, in my mind, fabulously, to just finish my MA, get a reasonably bookish job, and continue to write poems. (Easier said then done, I realized that next summer as I searched like hell for someone to hire me with my ridiculously small amount of skill and hardly any experience) That was the winter I got my first acceptance from a journal and began submitting more regularly, even vigorously. The winter when I put together my first manuscript and entered it into a contest (I'm sure I gave my fellow Yale Younger Poets competitors a run for their money that year). When I finally felt like I was doing what I should be doing.

Until then, I'd always been obsessing over what I really wanted to do with my life. I had finally narrowed it down into an academic career of some sort, but there was still some waffling--what area, what doctoral program, what genre. I even toyed with applying to Northwestern's Performance Studies program, or possibly getting back into theatre, maybe dramaturgy. (this still seems like a really cool job). It was freeing somehow that winter to give up all that plotting, that planning, all my lists of conferences I should submit papers to (papers I hated, and still hate writing), places I wanted to teach, religiously reading the Chronicle. To just focus on the poems--what I wanted to be writing- instead of all those boring literary essays I felt I SHOULD be writing even though I had no inclination to. To just be the artist and not the scholar I've never been very good at being. But it was also scary and exhilarating, to let go of that net, to be consumed enough by what I was doing for the first time, that nothing else seemed a possibility.

I sometimes seem to have been doing this so long --writing poems (actually tack on another five years of undergrad badness), putting together manuscripts, submitting and researching, things which occasionally feel like, well, work (all against the backdrop of barely squeaking by financially)I forget sometimes that initial spark and exhilaration and how lucky I am to have had things work out so well. Now, eight years later, and a reasonably satisfactory amount of success--lots of poems out there in the world, some books, a small but faithful readership, some nice little publishing ventures--plus, a paying job that allows me the freedom and room to do all this-- I'd tell that girl at the table with her tea and her pen furiously scribbling she made the right decision, the only decision that would have worked.

newish work


Sunday, January 07, 2007

post-holiday sparkle

2007_0106christmas0008, originally uploaded by wickedpen74.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

After a flurry of a few days that included returning home, unpacking, cleaning, assembling chapbooks, and going back to Rockford for a funeral, I have finally landed at a point where I can blissfully relax with nothing to do--well sort of. Laundry still waits, as does a bevy of new poem ideas. Today, I succeeded in assembling my little ikea drawer unit, which will tame the collage supplies that have taken up residence at one end of my work table. I'm leaving the Christmas decorations removal til tomorrow. I always hate to take them down, though out on the street the straggly wreaths and bows are depressing. We've been lucky though with the milder temperatures and no January deep freeze as of yet, which is keeping me saner than usual this time of year.

In poetry news, Simon Dedeo has a little review up at rhubarb is susan of one of my poems in alice blue. That particular poem started out as a riff (or rip-off) on Jenny Boully's rather genius The Body. The piece, incidently, can also be found in my chapbook, feign, which rumor has it, has gone to the printer as we speak, and thus should be available in no time at all. More soon...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The first time I saw her after she'd read the fever almanac, my aunt, who is a reader mostly of John Grisham and Nora Roberts, good naturedly asked me, pointing to the enjambment in some of the poems and stanzas, how I could "get away with that." Apparently most of the poetry she’d read (I didn't ask her what this was) was always end-stopped, metered, rhyming. Anyways, my response was a brief mention of the last 150 years of innovation starting with Emily Dickinson and that it was important to think about why I might have done that and what effect it had on the poem as a whole. But by then, I think I’d lost her.

I've been thinking a lot about audience lately. I'd like to think that the fever almanac is pretty general in its appeal—traditionally lyric with a slightly innovative edge, not difficult at all or opaque, but I've heard various family members comment on how hard the book, and poetry in general, is for them to understand. They're supportive, but most of them have thrown up their hands and given up a few poems in. (The exception being by Uncle Ron, my dad's oldest brother , who said that he’d read it swiftly cover to cover, and owed it all to a really great high school teacher who had run them through the rigors of poetry interpretation. I'm not sure how much of that was medication and the cancer creeping into his brain (we lost him just this Monday), but it was probably the best response I've gotten.

Who am I writing for, I wonder, as my work becomes less and less accessible to the people I know (not counting other poets..)? Granted, with the family, at least the ones older than me, we're talking about a non-college educated bunch (most of my younger cousins have at least BA's in things like business and education). Most of them are pretty voracious readers of various things--romances, crime novels, history, mysteries, memoirs, news, so they're not exactly illiterate. I have friends who are sci-fi geeks, film geeks, theater geeks, all very smart, intellectual, creative, and yet, the subject of poetry comes up and I lose them.

I'm beginning to wonder how true that statement is about only poets reading and buying poetry. (which goes with my whole golfing vs. team sports theory). I can maybe think of one person I know who likes and reads poetry that doesn't write it. Maybe a couple of others who have dabbled in poetry but write mostly in other genres. Other-wise, its all fellow poets reading and buying poetry books, going to readings, etc....Yesterday, someone asked me, "But how does anyone make any money?" And the truth is probably no one is. I know that with dgp, what isn't eaten up in production costs, I typically wind up using buying stuff from other presses, supporting other poets, and I imagine that's true in alot of cases. Maybe we're passing around the same $20...Maybe that's not necessarily a bad thing..

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

dgp news

now available

also, don't miss our January sale, featuring 7 chapbooks for $25

in the works:

Two Kinds of Arson / Brandi Homan
See Also Electric Light / Jen Tynes