Tuesday, July 28, 2009


broadsides, paper swap goodies, chap covers, oh my...

Monday, July 27, 2009


This week, I am busy with assembling the two latest titles and getting the next round ready. Since my experiment with working on them in batches had me pulling my hair out, in the future, it's going to be more like working on one at a time, week by week up through the end of the year. We have titles set up through January 2010 but I will be taking a couple month break afterward to recharge (and probably catch up) before launching into the 2010 series. I'm a little freaked by about 300 submissions still in the inbox and a month still left to go until the reading period ends, but I'm totally taking the denial route. I can stave off the melt-down til September. This week, it's finishing off the new wicked alice, working on Jen Blair's Outgrowth and cutting the broadsides for Printers Ball.

I plan to have most of this week's work wrapped up in time for next weekend, when I will be heading out of town for some time off work on Saturday, an entire week, in which there will be bridal showers, sitting out under the stars, maybe writing a few poems, reading trashy books, thriftstore prowling, and perhaps, if I'm lucky some Wisconsin State Fair going. I've actually been having a pretty enjoyable low-key summer (outside of lame poetry-related stalker issues and all). Things are humming along nicely compared to previous summers, both personally (no boy drama, no anxiety, no stress, no crying on the bus) and writing-wise (I am half way into the new bookish thing and it's not falling apart yet, nor have I surrendered to heat related legarthy). The weather has been mild and beautiful, and I'm dreaming up new crafty projects for the fall, some of which may finally involve me learning how to use that virgin, untouched sewing machine I bought two summers ago. Usually by the end of July, I'm ready to climb the walls, but I'm much more zen these days. Summer seems to go so ridiculously fast if you don't stop and pay attention.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


and in the etsy shop. I've been hoarding some vintage dishes ever since I went scavenging a few weeks ago in the studio, as well as working on some new little things over the past couple of days...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

new from dancing girl press

Stephanie Anderson is also the author of In the Particular Particular (New Michigan Press). She co-edits Projective Industries and lives in Chicago.

Rachel Jamison Webster grew up in Northeastern Ohio and now lives in Evanston, Illinois, with her partner Richard and their daughter. She teaches at Northwestern University and edits the online anthology of international poetry, www.universeofpoetry.org. More writing is available at http://racheljamisonwebster.blogspot.com.

get yours here...

Monday, July 20, 2009


For some odd reason, I keep stumbling across emptied pistachio shells. Last week they were strewn across the sidewalk near the bus stop on Michigan. Today, two perfect styrofoam cups full sitting on the sidewalk on Sheridan. Perhaps some weird omen, but more likely the same pistachio addicted fellow commuter. Still, I have an automatic recoil when I see them thanks to this movie. In fact, now that I think about it, some of my greatest life lessons have been gleened from watching Sissy Spacek movies. Do not accidentally swallow pistachio shells. Don't go to your highschool prom. Don't sleep with sailors. My favorite movie as a child was Coal Miner's Daughter, the Loretta Lynn biopic, where I first encountered the idea that, yes, planes could fall out of the sky even if they were carrying Patsy Cline.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

midsummer art sale

I'm trying to make some room for some new projects in the studio, so I've marked down most of the pieces currently in the etsy shop...take a look...


Yes, indeed I have finally mastered the elusive art of three column blogging miraculously without botching or losing the entire thing. It looks very pretty, and gets rid of all that pesky white space at the edges and allows for infinitely more sidebar content and widgets. I have also been adding new images and such to both this and the calendar blog, which despite all the brouhaha, is looking a bit spiffier these days. Since we're actually getting some steady traffic, I figured I might as well make it more user friendly. I want to add more content in the fall when I've caught up and can catch my breath (though that, too, seems elusive these days.)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

self-publishing, gatekeeping, and the like

The panel discussion today at Depaul has had my gears spinning all afternoon regarding books/chapbooks and self-publication, pros and cons. I was the only panelist who seemed to be in favor of it, but it's hard to articulate the WHY and the caveats. I think I always have issues with the ideas of "gatekeepers" and "legitimacy," those ever present hobgoblins. Since I guess being an editor no matter how small the operation puts me among the "gatekeepers," that's probably exactly why I dont put all that much stock in them. I tend to publish what I like, what I feel needs to get out there, what strikes me. I make no claims to be creating literary culture (although by default, that sort of happens). I know the huge amount of subjectivity that goes into how editors, how presses choose what they publish. How many factors can make one mss. succeed while another fails when the work in both is similar, is just as sound.

I've always suspected audience plays a role here. I'm thinking in particular of those awful books of inspirational poetry one finds at B&N...not my cup of tea, certainly not the sort of poetry I like, but someone must be buying them if a chain store is willing to carry them. But then, even poets who I'm supposed to, as a "serious poet," love (Billy Collins /Maya Angelou-like poets) sometimes strike me the same way--not my thing and yet they sell more than most poets I know ever will. To your average non-poet, there is no distinction between Helen Steiner Rice and Mary Oliver. So if there seems to be audience for everthing, doesn't it seem to follow, indeed, that anything goes?

The gatekeeper analogy seems suspect, seems to bother me most, and I'm not sure why. That somehow there is a test you have to pass that allows you into the poetry world and that you can try and yet be found wanting. During the panel, however, the subject of community came up. And it does make sense, that sometimes self-publication does eschew the idea of such a literary community that one gets by proxy when one publishes with a press, when one engages with the traditional activities of publishing ones work in journals, in networking, forming connections with other writers and editors. In that respect, self publishing would seem to be self-defeating, unless you had some sort of framework set up to benefit from such community while still issuing your own work. And of course, much of it depends on how you define your "community". In the spoken word poetry community, a large number of poets put out their own books and sell quite a few of them at readings. In the academic world, you might as well shoot yourself in the foot.

As for the work, I would like to say the poet just KNOWS when he/she is ready to put a book or chapbook out into the world, but even that seems to be faulty. Sure, I thought I was writing great stuff fifteen years ago, but was it definitely wasn't ready to be put out there. But there are also other guages to determine if you're not just kidding yourself--critique groups, workshops, academic programs, journal publications. I saw a chap mss. from a poet last year during our reading period that seriously depressed me. It was a segment from a full-length book that was a bit too traditional for dgp, but in the cover letter the poet talked about her struggle over the last 17 odd years, years in which she had published all the poems in the book in journals, had been a finalist in over 20 book contests, had won numerous things like grants and fellowships and yet this poor book limped sadly on still unpublished..It made me sad. It made me angry that there was the general consensus, at least, that this was entirely comonplace and even acceptable. Maybe I'm just impatient. Maybe its generational, my quick fix MTV generational angst. From the time I put together the first version of the fever almanac in the summer of 2003 until it was picked up in fall 2005 was the longest unbearable stretch of time, you would have thought it was 10 years instead of 2..I felt like I was waiting for something to begin (what I don't know, not much changed..I had a book, then I had two, but my life really isn't any different.) I felt like I was holding my breath.

And of course, the necessity of the book I waited those years for in my head still seems slightly hypocritical to me, slightly at odds with my DIY-Screw the Establishment Ethos. I wanted that book like you wouldn't believe even while running around and saying that it meant nothing. I have always wanted to be one of those writers who just writes for their own gratification, never showing it to the world, completely content to scribble for days for their own enjoyment and then just burn the pages. Perhaps that is "writing" in its purest form. But I've always needed an audience. The poems don't feel finished until they've reached their logical conclusion.

But, we always come to the bottleneck. One would suspect that it has eased over the years, grown wider with the accessibility of publishing, the formation of micropresses, the advent of POD. I think it's easier, than say 20 years, to get your work out in the world these days, but that ease has, of course, corresponded with more and more poets pouring out of MFA programs (as well as non academically trained writers)all competing for the same things. So I'm not sure if it's really easier, or if, in fact, it's much more difficult. Looking around at the poets I know in my age bracket (early to mid 30's) it seems book publication comes eventually, sometimes quickly, sometimes after much angst, but still it happens, so maybe we are lucky. But I've no clue if this is the general experience among people actively sending out mss.

Just some notes on my thinking. I still have no conclusions.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Julie Hunt reviews The Sad Epistles and interviews Emma Bolden at Publish Chicago..

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

news & notes

*The summer wicked alice is nigh, though I am still working my way through the inbox which I've been slacking on since submissions closed in May, so bear with me. In dgp news, I am in the final stages of two books (Blue Grotto by Rachel Webster and Stephanie Anderson's The Choral Mimeographs), so will be posting new releases soon. Three others are underway, and I intend catch up by the end of summer on the schedule if it kills me (yes, she says, while wasting valuable time blogging.) Of course, admidst all this, I vow next year will be a lighter load, but of course will be overexcited by submissions and accept way too many books to publish yet again. It's a vicious cycle...

*This weekend I will be sitting on a panel discussion "Publishing Chapbooks and Books" at the DePaul Summer Writing Conference with Tony Trigilio and Joshua Corey, which should fun. The conference is a bit spendy, but seems to have a great line-up of workshops and discussions offered and well worth the money and conveniently right downtown.

*I'm having one of those flighty, weird rushing days where I can't concentrate on any one thing for very long, alot like bees in the brain. I'm working on some new postcards for the shop, as well as some carousel horse necklaces. I am also going to attempt making blueberry cobbler from scratch with some yummy berries a co-worker brought back from Michigan. Watch the news to see if I manage to burn our apartment building down.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


I was just perusing the lineup for this years Grant Park Film Festival and noticed they will be showing Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the end of July. I have a massive love of all things Tennessee Williams, but this is one of my favorite film adaptions of his work--a hunky young Paul Newman and a saucy, slip clad Liz Taylor, what more could you ask for? They are also playing Psycho at some point later in the summer (they always seem to work a Hitchcock in there somewhere). The film fest is one of my favorite things about summer in Chicago and is definitely worth checking out..

Saturday, July 11, 2009

flora and fauna

see more here...

Last week, I went around taking some shots in the area around my parents house out in the country. I was struggling with light levels. Earlier in the day the sun was too bright, but then, of course, it was getting too cloudy and dark toward evening. In the end, only a handful were good enough to mess with (I am totally addicted to playing in Picnik.)I did manage, however, to get a shot of this little wren--apparently she has babies in the giant bluebird.

Friday, July 10, 2009

13 things I am loving

1940's inspired dresses
drive-in movies
italian sodas
Carol Guess' Gaslight
Dr Pepper Lip Gloss
tissue paper flowers
old farmhouses
sail boats
french soap labels
bleached white sheets
vintage cameras
blue glass jars
anatomy books

Thursday, July 09, 2009


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Nested Object, by Dawn Lonsinger, has been named a July 2009 featured book over at the Publish Chicago blog..check it out..

(also on the list, the Kathleen Rooney's Onieromance...)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

a little freaked out...

Leave it to my sister to pull me to a full stop. I admit, this whole calendar controversy has been, at best, both annoying and amusing at the same time. I guess I never considered myself in any danger because the offending party wasn't known for any particularly violent behavior, at least when sober anyway (though I did watch as he was thrown out of a reading yelling at everyone and apparently once got thrown out a bar for fighting with two other poets at Around the Coyote a few years back). She posed the possibility of someone, outside of all this who doesn't know the history, believing all the lies and negativity posted on the 6 hate sites and somehow retaliating with violence which I have to admit, has me a little freaked out. Even the offending party is obviously seriously disturbed and possibly unstable, as well as apparently prone to anger management issues. As I thought more about this this morning, I realized how vulnerable I really am and how possibly dangerous all this is. At first, people seemed far more worried about this whole thing escalating than I was. And I admit, in the spirit of laughing in the face of bullying, we egged him on a little, depite my knowing it's never a good idea to feed the troll...However, it ends here. Game over. I talked to some family members over the weekend who work in law and they suggested filing some sort of libel charges, but I am not particularly litigious, nor really in need of money for damages, and it all seems like such a big monstrous hassle. I doubt his statements will have any effect on my reputation or press sales, etc, considering the source, but they say I might have case. His intent, whether successful or not, fits the definition exactly--lies stated in order to harm my reputation and business. So, in the interest of a possible lawsuit down the line (or harassment charges, restraining orders and the like), I shouldn't be saying any more about this. I've also talked to someone at a cyberstalking hotline this morning and she made me feel a little better.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Just had an excellent weekend that included shopping, mini-golf, ski ball, fried chicken, cute babies (the kind that are thankfully not mine so thus remain adorable) and fireworks. I also managed to get out into the garden to get some pretty floral shots I hope to do something with, mostly hydrangeas and hollyhocks. I get another longer vacation at the beginning of August, but there is too much to do at this point in the summer to take anything longer than a couple of days. I am working on the next batch of chaps that will bring us up to date on the publication schedule entirely (by Rachel Webster, Sarah DenBoer, Jen Blair, Stephanie Anderson, and Sarah Gardner) as well as filling a huge batch of orders. (thank you so much to those who have shown their support of dgp amidst all the cyberstalking unpleasantness by buying our books and supporting what we do..you guys rock!) I will be getting everything out this week.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

a final word on the madness

(thanks dancinggirlpressrocks!)

Perhaps foolishly, I think the best response to cyberstalking is to let every single person within shouting distance hear about it rather than suffer in silence and refuse to engage the bully (like all the advice says). I think for far too long the person in question has been bullying people into getting what he wants and terrorizing the poetry scene. Since I do not agree that he has dominion over all things "Chicago Poetry,I have absolutely no plans to give into his demands to change the calendar's rather generic name--despite his harassment, his threats, his obvious anger issues. His response has been to bring my physical appearance under attack (not at all even remotely related to the issue at hand as well as being rather mysoginistic), and when called on it, insist that my calling him "crazy" was somehow a criticism of the metally ill, a bullshit indignancy routine if I've seen one, an endeavor that launched not one, but TWO hate pages.

Perhaps this is only adding fuel to the fire (and sadly perhaps bringing it down to his level, but maybe there is no where else to meet him that he understands). However, I refuse to be manipulated and bullied and people really need to know what's going on. He can call me fat, pick on my sister, bash my friends, my work, tell everyone how awful I am, and, gee I am still NOT backing down. In the end, he can say anything he likes about me. People know what's true and what isn't. In my 12 years in Chicago, I have pretty much only ever had a conflict with 1 person. In that same time, I have seen this same person have a conflict with over 20. Sorta makes you wonder.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


*I'd heard rumor that this existed a couple months ago but was so unbelievably excited when I saw someone actually reading a copy on the bus tonight.. (see a review here). As if some genius thought to combine two of my most absolutely favorite things EVER. I must get my hands on one this as soon as humanly possible.

*Yesterday, I recieved an e-mail from a new gallery/coffee house space, Art on Clark, in Andersonville that will be opening up soon, asking if I might like to host a monthly reading series, which opens up some exciting possibilities. More on this soon..

*This year I'm taking part in a SuburbanPenPal's paper swap (everybody makes papery goodies and then sends them around to the other participants.) I'm working on some handmade postcards and some broadside like things (which will be handed out at The Printers Ball this year as well.)I will post photos of what I send and what I recieve in the next month or so.

*Tomorrow night I will be off to the boonies for all the usual 4th of July festivities, potato salad, fried chicken and neighborhood illegal pyrotechnics. It's a quickie trip home, but I'm always aching to get out of the city during the summer anyway. Yesterday, my apartment building hallway smelled like an odd mix of pancakes, bacon, and insect repellant and I so badly wanted to go camping. All of which seems like a good idea until we usually actually do it.