Friday, December 31, 2010

resolution #2 through #30

write more poems, cook more, give more, take things in stride, make more art, not be such a girl when it comes to men, go on more walks, eat more fruit, write love letters, blog more, say what I mean, mean what I say, stay more organized, be less of a control freak (okay this is probably the one I will fall off the wagon on first) eat more ice cream, go to the beach more, love more, travel more, trust more, watch more movies, be braver, finish everything that is half done, organize my poetry shelves, go to more museums, take more pictures, sing in the shower more, pamper myself more, eat breakfast more, record my dreams better, be in the moment more instead of pushing on to the next thing.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


In the midst of unpacking yesterday, I realized I was coming down with my second cold of the season. I am all stuffed up and just want to hide under the covers and wait til March. I am back, and there are things to do and organize before I head back to work next week. Yesterday I took a nap and dreamed about a chaotic re-modeling of the library. A bookshelf kept falling over on me and I kept losing my shoes and my camera, which seemed very important. They were ripping up the carpet and the walls. No one found this alarming but me. I don't, as a rule, like change, and this probably has everything to do with it.

Monday, December 27, 2010

resolution #1: poetry, po-biz, etc.

It sometimes alarms me a little how much my priorities have shifted over the last few years in terms of where I put my greater efforts. About 5-10 years ago, the po-biz stuff was primarily (perhaps the only place) where my head was, obsessed with where to send poems, book manuscripts, things to apply for, ways to market myself as a poet, golden rings to reach for.

I find myself still with poetry at the center of my life, but it's different, more focused on building something than just getting it out there. I hoard poems these days in a strange way and only occasionally send them out, and then usually only when someone asks me to. Part of it is simply time, the business of being a poet falling very low on the ladder. And very often, my focus is not even my own work at all, but moreso the work I do with the press. I get just as much joy bringing these books into the world as I do spawning my own poems (also there is much less writerly anxiety).

Perhaps every poet feels this way after a couple of books, after they've gotten some footing and an audience and the struggle is not so paramount. While I can't help but mourn a little for the ambition bird dead in it's box, it's also incredibly freeing somehow, almost like I'm getting away with something, scribbling poems and hiding them and not running about waving them saying "look at me!" "look at me!" like I used to.

It might be partially a post MFA thing, that whole too many cooks in the kitchen syndrome, the very publicness of it, too many people in your poems and creative business to the point where you couldn't breath sometimes. To have someone making judgements on your "body of work" based on what they've seen of it when really they've seen nothing. Some of what I heard and witnessed there still turns my stomache. After three years, you'd think I would be over it, and yet, the feeling is still there.

It might also just be a diffusion of my creative efforts. I am not nearly so type A about my explorations into visual art or the crafty stuff. It's all much more open and low pressure, and also a bit more subject to simple supply and demand (ie..I make things, people either want them or they don't). There's no angst over whether or not it's good enough, important enough to warrant an audience**. Even if it sometimes regulates po-biz concerns to the back burner, it's what keeps me sane (and outfitted with paper & art supplies, studio space, little luxuries and all manner of other frivolous things beyond my paltry day job salary.)

And still it's sorta nice to write something and not be obsessed with where to send it, the poem as currency, the entire book as currency for what? career? respect? acclaim? The stakes of poetry are so laughably low and so very important at the same time it makes my head spin. But then again, any poet needs an audience. Really an audience is all you've got in the end, people who discover and like your work enough to take an interest in it. And to find those people, certain concessions need to be made. The poems have to make it into the world hell or high water. And yet so many of us still feel trapped in a system we sort of despise, the do's and don'ts of a poetry "career", the rules, the heirarchies...the stuff we feel we are supposed to want, but maybe don't really.

So I plan this year to be better at it, at least in terms of audience if not the typical po-biz stuff, better at finding ways to get what I want and discarding all the rest that's been fed to me. It feels scary and exhilerating at the same time...we'll see what comes of it...

**And granted alot my starry-eyedness when it comes to visual art is just being oblivious to the inner workings of the art world, which I suppose are as troubling as those of poetry, I guess I just don't see them from my vantage as an outsider, someone not really part of the gallery circuit, totally unschooled, not really hanging out with many people in that world. Part of me kinda wants to keep it that way. I sort of get nostalgic for the years I was writing poetry as an "outsider" who had no clue about the inner workings of the poetry machine (or that there was a machine). Actually, I think there is less of a machine than there was 10, or even 5 years ago, thank god, but it's still there, some people holding on furiously with their fingers despite it falling apart.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

december doldrums

Oddly, I am looking forward to January, even though I usually hate it...somehow, it seems less depressing than dark December. Almost as if you are on the downward side of the mountain and the worst is over. I'd like to think the worst of winter would be behind us, though February seems to be pretty nasty the last few years as well. Still, it's a new start, a crisp clear mindset, and time to devote to all sorts of new pursuits and projects. In addition to a slew of new dgp books coming right along, there are also my own new poems to play with, all sorts of cool projects that of course, occured to me, or found their way to me, in the midst of pre-holiday craziness that luckily I jotted down, including a couple of zine-like things I've been plotting, a load of new unmentionables for the shop, and some pretty new business card holders. Also tasks I've been putting off, certain very patient friends I've been neglecting. Hopefully, I can catch up with all of it.

Christmas was the usual routine of food, family, and gifts. Everyone seemed to like the handmade (mostly) ones given and I wound up with a new mattress & box spring, fluffy green towels, a new set of white sheets, yummy orange Bath & Body Works Lotions, a Starbucks Gift Card, a Hot Cocoa Mug Set, cash, and enough chocolate to choke a horse. Now I am settling in for a few days in Rockford before I head back to the city and hopefully a little bit of resting and pulling things back together after the chaos. I treated myself to some new boots, tights, and a new dress on the condition I clean my messy bedroom closet when I get back, so we'll see how that works out. If I keep bribing myself with clothes I will have a million things to wear and no where to put them.

Meanwhile, I am eating turkey sandwiches and my mom's cookies and watching a mix of Buffy marathons and Christmas movies. I will no doubt be hitting the thriftstores at some point in the next couple of days and will surely blow all my Christmas money on dishware and fabric for things I never have time to sew once I am back in the midst of ordinary life. I have pretty much given into the idea that there will never be enough time to get to everything I need to right when I want to. Perhaps this year's resolution should just be to embrace this fact and not freak out about it.

Friday, December 24, 2010

silent night

One of my absolute favorite things was always coming home very late Christmas Eve after leaving whatever extended family gathering(s)we'd been to, when most everyone else was in bed, the roads empty, the stores all closed. We'd be tucked in the backseat, with our gift haul, anxious to get home and to bed for Santa. It was almost like all that pre-holiday chaos explodes in a chaos of family, food, and wrapping paper earlier in the night and there is this rather peaceful silence afterward. When everything that could have been done to get ready for Christmas has already been done and you just give in to enjoying it. I'm not Christian in any sense (and certainly don't believe in the Bible as anything but interesting mythology), but there is something almost holy and magical about it, especially when I was still young enough to really believe in magic. Christmas has always been more about family and getting together and warding off the winter dark for a few weeks. Sometimes I almost forget the religious aspects in my more pagan and secular context. Still, I always say that the true tragedy in finding out there is no Santa is that it draws an end to the possibility of anything beyond the realm of the real world (the Easter Bunny, fairies, monsters, miracles, etc.) For this scientifically minded agnostic, for a little bit every Christmas Eve, I can almost convince myself that I still believe at least in some sense of wonder and mysticism.

To all my readers, have a happy and merry holiday season, with hopefully a little time for magic, some introspection, and maybe a little booze.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

wintering along

Another weekend, and even though I noticed the early dark, there was a rectangle of sunlight on my wall mid-afternoon that made me happy. It's still ridiculously cold and I nearly got frostbite Friday night when I was putting packages in the blue mail box on the corner without my gloves. The lake has taken to being churny and brown-grey with enormous and impressive waves. Luckily, I have a new, cozy, tailored black wool coat, that is not so drafty and holey as my old gray one. Still, I am fortifying myself with near daily hazelnut hot chocolate and trying to make the best of it.

The holiday shop rush is slowly winding down, and even though it had me in hysterics earlier in the week, the last batch of pre-Christmas arrivals will be going out Monday morning. After that, all bets are off. It was doozie, triple my usual business and I am exhausted. This weekend has been devoted to making Christmas gifts for the people on my list, reading in bed, and having odd continuous dreams that continue even after I wake up to move a cat off my head or re-arrange the pillows. I spent last night watching movies (Black Christmas, which seems far more disturbing now than when I saw it as a teenageer) and Two Days in Paris (I heart Julie Delpy ever since Before Sunrise/ Before Sunset, and this almost felt like her continuation of those films but without the annoyance of Ethan Hawke).

This week I will be getting the remainder of book orders out, as well as the latest batch of copies to subscribers. I also want to give you at least a sneak peak of the books ready that will be coming right after the new year (titles by Britanny Ober, Jules Gibbs, JoAnna Novak, Emilie Beth Lindemann & more as I finish the layouts I am dreadfully behind on, even more so since December was so crazy in other respects), as well as finish up selections for the 2011/2012 season of books. I made it down to the last 20 Friday and realized I was just too poetry-jaded to continue, so hopefully I can look at them with fresh eyes on Monday and get my decisions out before I head out of town.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

knock on wood

I realized the other day how often I much I regularly say say or do this, outloud or in my head, with others or all alone. Almost pathologically so, as if a hoard of woodland fairies are just waiting in the shadows to screw me over. Sometimes, I will say "knock on fake wood surface" when I am at my desk at work. I do not consider myself superstitious when it comes to most things--black cats, the number 13, ladders and spilling salt. I know as soon as I say how good things are going, how lucky I am, or how I haven't yet gotten sick this season, inevitably circumstances will change. I try not to be so obvious about it when other people are around, and it's almost embarassing, but there's a slight panic that sets in when I can't find any to knock on...

This probably just goes along with all the other weird idiosyncracies, phobias, routines that I just don't notice are odd until someone points them out, ie. my need to sit on the right side in vehicles, my compulsive to-do lists, occasionally reading poetry books backwards, etc..

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

To help facilitate pre-holiday delivery, we are offering free Priority shipping upgrades on all US packages ordered between December 14th and December 20th on all orders over $20.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

little miss crankypants

I'm having one of those days where I feel invisible and cut off from the world, which is usually gloriously relaxing, but combine it with general restlessness and such early nightfall and I'm a little glum. There are gatherings I could be going to, friends I could be seeing, but instead I thought I needed the weekend to turn off and regroup after a rather exhausting week with always too much to do and never enough time to do it in. Maybe that was not what I needed after all. I have spent the day wrapping soaps and lip balms whilst watching zombie movies, but overall I am exhausted, the bone weary sort of exhaustion that renders me tired within a couple hours of getting up. I am too cold mostly and achy, and thought perhaps I was coming down with something earlier this week since everyone seems to be sick around me. I cannot tell if my symptoms are mental or physical but I just feel out of whack, out of focus, out of it in general.

Monday, December 06, 2010

These lovely little cards will henceforth be tucked into all packages sent this season with a small thank you discount. Not a jackalope, but a rabbit nonetheless.

In other news,winter is already grating on my nerves, pretty much the minute I had to actually, you know, go out in it this morning. I was more than content to spend the weekend tucked away in my apartment and while I did little more than huddle under my comforter and drink endless amounts of blueberry tea, none of it involved venturing further than the lobby of my building to collect my packages. And packages there were, including all sorts of new fun things to play with in the way of supplies. I managed to make about 10 batches of soap, but now am in need of some elves to wrap them (if you see any, let me know..) as well as some votive candles. Tonight, I have some jar candles planned (Cranberry Citrus) and always, various odds and ends of things. I am rather scattered today without my notebook and to-do list, so I am probably forgetting something really important that I need to do. In general, I've been sort of loopy and unfocused since I got back. I think I will just keep plowing through the rest of the dgp submissions, tonight, though since I missed my December 1st deadline for results by a mile.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


When I was a teenager, a friend sent me a jackalope postcard from South Dakota. It was a couple years before I realized these little guys did not, in fact, exist and part of me is still a little heartbroken over it. Tonight, I am back at home, rifling through a dead friend of my mother's glorious collection of vintage slips and petticoats that have been bequeathed to me. The bag also included some beautiful hankerchiefs I plan to use in my pillows. I feel slightly voyeuristic, pillaging the unmentionables drawer from someone I sort of knew, but everything is almost in pristine rarely worn condition. Otherwise, I took a nap this afternoon in my own glorious bed and have made five batches of French Market soaps, including Apricot, which is one of my favorites but sans oatmeal this time around. I ordered a boatload of supplies this weekend, including some vintage cigarette cards I am thinking of using for a little project, candle wax, coins for cufflinks, jewelry findings and a new lip balm base with beeswax. I also finally had enough cash to restock the postcard varieties and order some new business cards. Now lets hope I actually have time to make this stuff...

Monday, November 29, 2010

thrift store haul

I've been nursing a severe case of cabin fever, due to it just being way too damned cold to head out into the cruel holiday frenzied world. But today was moderately tolerable, so we hit up a couple of our favorite thrifting haunts.

things procured:

lavender floral china plates
assortment of cute animal framed pic and plaques
a sweet little wooden bird
assortment of pillowcases and sheets for fabric harvesting
a pretty chipped flowered bowl for holding odds and ends
stack of rose dessert bowls
adorable ceramic raccoon
beige pyrex mixing bowl (sorry, but I think I am going to have to keep this one)

*pics forthcoming, but I didn't bring my camera on this trip, so they will have to wait til I am back in the city whereupon you shall find them in the shop...)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

yes, this

this photo by Francesca Woodman makes me both gloriously happy and very uneasy at the same time..

Saturday, November 27, 2010

fancy new look

I had some extra time tonight and decided that the splash page for the dgp main site needed a little sprucing up (all of those blissful vacation hours have to be spent somehow usefully, right?). It used to take you directly into the books and let you navigate out of there, but I decided to add some more clickable images that take you more easily to all things dancing girl (the books, wicked alice, the shop, this blog, my website, etc.) This makes at least a little more of a central landing strip for everything. I'm also going to be tweaking and cleaning up some of the main pages on the site.

Friday, November 26, 2010

all weekend!

@ dulcet

The season has once again snuck up on us, so in honor of etsy's nifty new coupon code availability, we'll be doing an across the board 25% off on all purchases--a perfect opportunity to pick up the latest chapbooks, the perfect gift for your favorite art/bookish/vintage loving friend, or maybe a little something for yourself (after all, the holidays are hard work, you deserve a treat..)

Sale starts on Thanksgiving Day and goes through Monday...just enter "holidaysale2010" upon checkout.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

a little list things I am thankful for this year, from the sacred to the mundane:

my crazy sprawling family
work friends
poetry friends
romantic friends
mongrel kitties
this gorgeous city
my cozy apartment
good health
design blogs
down comforters
used bookstores
papery things
my studio space
mary janes
dgp authors
beautiful things
lake michigan
long hot showers
really good mexican food
vintage dresses
hot chocolate
white stacks of printer paper
wool coats

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

a little holiday decor inspiration

clickable version

Since the great tree tipping incident of Christmas 09' courtesy of Isabel I am shopping to replace quite a few of my glass ornaments, including some pretty balls and vintage German glass birds. I've always been more into the pastel, glittery Christmas hues instead of the traditional green and red, so I've been swooning over the feather wreathes and vintage reindeer and those tiny little houses and bottle brush trees.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Settled in at my parent's house tonight and I was startled by how bare and bleak the landscape is here, something which I never really notice in the city, where even some of the trees are still clinging to their foliage in my neighborhood. Out here, it's grey field after grey field, broken only by occasional bare branches and puddles of brackish water. It's definitely chillier here as well, since yesterday's tornado conditions gave way to bitter cold and dry weather. I am settling in for a few days of turkey coma before I head back and into the breach and have been prepping for the big sale, packing orders, and getting photos of everything I want to add to the shop before Thursday. I only brought one project home with me, the photography/poetry book saved on my laptop, which I intend to put the final touches on and get done in the next couple of weeks. Otherwise, there will be lots of turkey and pie, lots of family, and maybe a little Black Friday thriftstore venturing.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

art, or something like it

These are some pieces I have in the current art show at work. I might make some prints available in the shop in the next couple of weeks, so keep an eye out. They had been hanging in the studio for awhile and blending in among the chaos for so long I'd almost forgotten about them. I was initially planning on submitting some pieces from the Dream House project, but they are moving a little slower than expected, so these had to do. I'm toying a little with paints and colored pencils lately, but I'm wishing I'd squeezed some art technique classes in amongst all the poetry. I'm not good with the drawing (even straight lines elude me) I was a nightmare even in my set drawing classes back as an undergrad, but I'm good with general painting and blending. Pretty much why I usually stick to assemblage.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It took me a while, and there were alot of revisions on both the pattern and the handle design, but my first bag is finally done and available in the shop.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Often the difference between a successful person and a failure is not one has better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on one's ideas, to take a calculated risk - and to act.
--Andre Malraux

Sunday, November 14, 2010

and so it goes

I am obsessed this week with old crumbling landscape paintings in greys and blues and browns and want to cover my walls with them. I am still chugging along trying to get things done, books and things packed and made for the shop. The past couple of days have included a bit of relaxing, a pinch of housework, and a little dash of lovely oddness, but in a good way. Otherwise, there is the usual routine. I made my way through a couple of mending projects on my own clothes this evening and finished the barkcloth purse (I had to get smaller bamboo handles). I like it so much I might just keep it for myself. This week will be devoted to getting some layouts to their authors, this latest batch of subscription copies out, catching up on orders, all before I head out of town early next week for the holiday. I have the whole week off, so will be able to squeeze at least a couple of days entirely in the studio, good since things are already on the upswing. And there is so much to do that I've yet to even order supplies for.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sunday, November 07, 2010

more anxiety dreams

I warned you, the dreams were getting plentiful and weird. I took a nap this evening and dreamed that the Zoebella (what I call the two headed beastie otherwise known as the ginger twins) and some others were having kittens, suddenly and without any warning. They were having them in the closet and on the bed and under the bed and in the dresser. I kept trying to find them all, twenty or so, because we needed to get them to eat, but I was bleeding from my mouth, a thick metallic blood that just kept coming and coming, like I had given birth to something orally myself (words? poems?). One of the kittens was my cat who died a few years ago reincarnated and I knew that one was supposed to mine again, but another grey striped was still lying in the closet with it's eyes closed, not moving, a stillborn. I reached in and grabbed it, planning to throw it away before anyone saw it. But it was still breathing, faintly, it's eyes half open, almost gasping. I knew we were supposed to rub it between our hands, like starting a fire, to help it's circulation, so I kept doing it and soon it was wide eyed and purring. I have no idea what this means, but it seemed important somehow.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

It's getting to be that dark, fretful time again, but I am trying to keep from being both too dark or too fretful. I am, as I mentioned, sleeping alot, having odd dreams about bloody, firey car wrecks and our house on Pennsylvania, which in the latest, has been remodeled into a glass fronted condo. No matter what they are, they are pervaded by an overreaching sense of uneasyness. I am tired of trying to convince myself of things in them. It's the weather, and maybe the fact that I cannot seem to get warm anywhere but the studio, which is usually way too hot. The apartment is too drafty with all those windows, the bus subject to chilly air coming in the doors, and the library tends to vascillate between extremes, which this week means cooler than it should be. My skin feels rough and dry, like I might just flake off and blow away bit by bit.

I am making steady progress on books, and should have another set of galleys ready to go by the time the ones in this batch are all up. And I just need another pass and to add the blurbs to the photography/poetry collaboration. I still feel like I am running out of time though, even though, if this year is like last year, I will stil be getting this year's books out in January. I should just accept it. It doesn't look like the situation is looking any better for next year. I am a little over half way through submissions and have already earmarked a good twenty for "yes". I accept far too much, but too many are just too good to pass up. We are small enough at this point that I am keeping it at about a 10% acceptance rate, which seems sort of high, but I would say we get far less absolute "no" manuscripts and many more "maybe"s. Or it might be that we are still small enough that word of mouth brings the right people in, or maybe submitters are just more savvy these days about what editors may or may not like. And I am pretty open to many things stylistically, so that probaby has an effect as well. It creates more work for me in the end, but it's good work, worthy work, and is probably a better use for my time than most of the things I get up to these days.;)

Friday, November 05, 2010

new from dancing girl press

Experiments in Light and Ether
Alexis Vergalla
dancing girl press, 2010
available here

Alexis Vergalla has had poems appear in various journals including Diode, elimae and Anemone Sidecar. She earned her M.F.A. from the University of California, Riverside where she was Editor of CRATE magazine. Her chapbook Letters through Glass came out in 2009 on Finishing Line Press. She currently lives in Seattle, Washington where she volunteers for the Richard Hugo House, is a board member of the arts organization Heroes ( and is on staff for Poetry Northwest. Her blog can be found online at

Thursday, November 04, 2010

new from dancing girl press

Chrysanthemum Oratorio
Grace Marie Grafton
dancing girl press, 2010
order here

Grace Marie Grafton's first chapbook won the Poetic Matrix contest. Her book of ekphrastic poems, Visiting Sisters, was published by Coracle Books. Her most recent book, Other Clues, prose poems, was published in 2010 by Latitude Press ( She has worked for many years with CA Poets In The Schools, teaching young students to write poems, and has received numerous grants from the CA Arts Council for her teaching programs.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

random bits

I was reading some past entries yesterday and realized I had forgotten to show you some recent things going on in the poetry corner.

A couple months back, I had some poems here in a lovely new journal with some other fine folks, Vinyl. Check it out...

also, a super kind interview at what is becoming one of my favorite blogs,We Who Are About to Die.

Monday, November 01, 2010

november again

things to do in november:

~finish my series of poems about houses in dreams

~drink lots of hazelnut hot chocolate

~make fried apples

~take photographs of dioramas at the Field Museum for an art project

~find the perfect green tea moisturizer and a perfect pair of riding boots

~buy more sweater dresses

~re-read Wuthering Heights

~release several chaps (by Emilie Lindemann, Britanny Ober, Grace Marie Grafton, Alexis Vergalla, Joanna Novak, Julia Cohen/Brandon Shimoda, & more) and Dear American Lovechild, Yours, The Beautiful Undead

~stock the shop with more earrings, cufflinks, flower hairclips, magnet sets, more flasks, brothel coin necklaces, tea towels, totebags, long necklaces, handbags, journals, recycled book envelopes, and jelly jar candles.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

So another week has slipped away and the weather has turned windy, cold, and rather nasty. The cats are going crazy over the leaves blowing outside and I really need to straiten up the tornado that struck both my dining room and the studio downtown. But there is work, and making books, and photographing things. Plus, I seem to be needing an inordinate amount of sleep function lately. Last weekend found me hopping a train to Detroit and Theatre Bizarre, which was sadly canceled at it's intended locale due to code violations (no doubt related to the funhouse, all the stage constructions, and the ferris wheel) but was moved to a theatre downtown instead, and was still glorious fun, all circus banners, sideshow performers, amazing costumes and more. I hope they get everything squared away for next year since we merely got a taste of the whole event and definitely want more.

Otherwise, I am still working slowly through various projects and trying to keep reasonably warm. I have fixed my toner issues, so the chaps from the sale are, for the most part, on their way (or will be tomorrow.) as well as the last two weeks of general orders. I am making progress on book layouts and am halfway through next year's round of submissions, which are once again making me angsty.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


The days, the weeks, and heck, the months seem to be creeping out from under me in a furious whirl of projects, work, and mundane tasks, the going to and fro. I've been amiss in posting, mosly because I scarce have a second where I shouldn't be working on something else, and once one dragon is vanquished, one fire put out, another appears. Some days are good for work, clear headed, cutting and precise, and others, dull and muddy-watered.

Last friday's reading for dgp was awesome and I am continually amazed by the poets who allow us to publish their books. And there are so many more to come, including the big poetry/photo collab by Robyn Art & Robin Barcus Slonina (who incidently had a write-up on her State of the Dress project here). I am working my way slowly through the backlog, and will be releasing some new titles in the next few days, so keep an eye out.

Otherwise, there are Halloween preparations and television vampire indulgences, as well as household tasks and re-arrangements. I moved the poetry shelves into the living room with the fiction ones (which also allows room for expansion), then moved all my fabric and sewing supplies into the dining room instead, where I've actually been using the machine. (not like I'll be hosting any sit-down dinners anytime soon anyway). I've been sewing some more pillows, and have a good start on a bark cloth purse, as well as some necklaces involving the coolest repro vintage brothel tokens. (some of them rather racy and hilarious..)

Friday, October 08, 2010

The days are getting shorter, the weather cooler, and it's very tempting to spend the day curled up under a blanket with your favorite dancing girl press titles. So that means it's about time for a sale. From now through Halloween, get any 5 dancing girl press books for a mere $20...

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

in brief

There are so many interesting things afoot, experiments, cats in bags, new projects, that I'll be sharing in the coming weeks I scarce know where to begin. Fall always means a renewed sense of purpose for me after the long, lazy summer . I'm feeling a bit more like myself these days, a little more fired-up and organized (as opposed to smoldering, damp, and all unruly). The poems are coming again and for the first time in a while, I don't hate them. I have a couple of art series I am in the midst of and a sketchbook full of more ideas. The Arcana projects results so far as AMAZING and went over well at the Myopic event, and I have about 8 chaps in various stages of layout that will be coming very soon. No doubt my moods will get a little shifty as it gets colder and greyer, but I'm hanging in there. New dresses help, as do copious amounts of apple related baked goods. By virtue of some very generous wholesale orders, I managed to do a good filling out of my shoddy fall wardrobe (sweater dresses, cardigans, tights, boots, all after living blissfully most of the summer in warm-weather dresses and flipflops), bought a new router to replace my wonky one, and managed to assemble and amazing Halloween costume for Theatre Bizarre. I am hoping to get to work on putting it together this weekend since it's fast approaching and there is much to be done in the way of fake blood and gauze bandages...

Sunday, October 03, 2010

an evening with dancing girl press

with readings by Naomi Buck Palagi, Sara Tracey, Jamie Kazay, Susan Slaviero, Kristy Bowen & more...

friday, october 15th, 7pm
potbelly sandwich shop
55 e. jackson (jackson & wabash)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

some rabbits and books I've loved and lost...

The elementary school I spent my first five years in had this amazing collection of Peter Rabbit books that were probably the first books I really fell in love with. Very similar to the ones in the top left corner, they were pocket size with worn gray covers and glossy illustrated pages. The entire series took up quite a bit of space on the end of a section of shelves in the "learning center", a huge central sunken orange carpeted space in the middle of the the "pod" structures that were all the rage in the 70's. I was probably in first grade or so when I discovered them and then subsequently checked out, read, and fondled every single one. It might even have been kindegarten, since I'm not sure I even really could read them early on so much as I loved the tactile sense of them, the smooth dove grey book cloth (though some might have been blue or green), the illustrations, the little library pocket inside that was almost as big as the cover. I remember sitting through the story time, anxious to get my hands on a new book every week.

Spotting those books on etsy also got me thinking about the Weekly Reader/Scholastic Book Club and how I pestered my mother endlessly with the thin little folded catalog, how I would go through and x everything I wanted and then negotiate with mother how many we could afford. Then, of course, all that excitement the day the books were delived, all glossy and shiny in their plastic bags. (Later, I would also get sticker books, which is a whole other post itself.) I was also in love with a set of encyclopedias my grandmother had, a weird multivolume set where each book had a theme, my favorite of which was one devoted to literature and songs (these I think are in my parents garage or basement.) I remember "reading" those before I knew how to read, and later, when we'd inherted them, used them as makeshift textbooks when we played school.

And I was always ridiculously excited about textbooks, especially shiny new virgin textbooks, and even remember the thrill in college/grad school every semester when I stocked up on books, mostly novels and anthologies, then later poetry books. I would get them home and lay them all out. I suppose it's only natural the turns my life have taken me that landed me in libraries, in publishing, amidst so many books (quite alot of them). I still get excited when I get a book in mail, drool over them in bookstores, and it's still as much a tactile thing as it is a reading thing--the cover, the paper, the font, the heft. This is probably why I'll never quite be able to get with the whole Kindle thing, how intimate can you get with a hunk of metal and some pixels....

new from dancing girl press

silver roof tantrum
naomi buck palagi
dancing girl press, 2010
$7.00 (includes S&H)
get it here

Naomi Buck Palagi brings an eclectic array of work and life experiences to her writing. She loves shaping things such as wood, fabric, sound, and words. She has work published or forthcoming in journals such as The Spoon River Review, Moria, Blue Fifth Review, Otoliths, Wicked Alice, and Blossombones, among others. She lives, works, writes, and loves in Northwest Indiana.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

saturday night

Saturday, Oct 2
7 p.m.
Myopic Books
1564 N. Milwaukee Ave.

ADMISSION: Free and open to the public.

The Myopic Books Poetry Series presents Two Way Tarot Mirrors, a collaborative writing project which is part of the Fifth Annual Chicago Calling Arts Festival, and Chicago Artists Month. Two Way Tarot Mirrors involves people in Chicago working with people elsewhere, on projects wherein tarot cards are part of the collaborative process. Participants will include:

Kristy Bowen
Janina Ciezadlo
Dan Godston
Billie Maciunas
Ira Murfin
Larry Sawyer
and other TBA individuals.

Unlike one’s reflection in a regular mirror, the playback/feedback in TWTM isn’t an exact reflection of the original thing that’s sent. As Alice enters the looking glass, she finds that what’s on the other side is something different than she had expected; similarly, the two-sided mirror brings about something different and unexpected. A mirror can seem to be flat, yet it can become three-dimensional, and it can lead to dream worlds. Mirror games don’t end up with perfect parallels; i.e. Harpo and Groucho’s mirror game in Duck Soup.

Chicago Calling is organized by the Borderbend Arts Collective, a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to promote the arts, to create opportunities for artists to explore new directions in and between art forms, and to engage the community. Annual Borderbend projects include Chicago Calling and the Mingus Awareness Project. Other organizations partner with Borderbend to enrich and extend the reach of its project, such as the Experimental Piano Series, which is co-produced by the Chicago Composers Forum and Borderbend, in partnership with the PianoForte Foundation.

I am excited about this and sharing the tarot cards which are still coming in. I'm thinking of having the audience choose the cards from the deck for me to read. I could do something more complicated involving an actual reading but I'm not versed well enough in how to read the cards...I'm good on their meanings and such, but haven't ever tried laying them out the correct way...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

medieval manuscript drawing

This image caught my interest last night. Looks like the stuff of nightmares, beaten to death and flayed by bunnies. I was looking for antique images of cute woodland animals (foxes, hedgehogs, rabbits, deer) for some new notecards, which should be in the shop soon. Maybe I should use this one.

The weeks seem to be going so fast now that we are moving into fall. I've been library-bound every weekend this month mostly so I can get my required Saturdays out of the way before it gets cold and that 9am Saturday shift is more painful. While I'm looking forward to some work-free weekends the next couple of months, things are still happening. Next weekend I will give a sneak peak of the Arcana project at Myopic Books, then the next weekend is our Chicago Artists Month Open Studios (Friday & Saturday). Later in the month is the awesomeness that is Theatre Bizarre, followed by Halloween weekend, then we're already into November and the craziness begins. I still have a week's vacation I am trying to figure out what to do with and might just use it to get stuff done for the shop before the rush starts.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

nostalgia is the best invention

When I was a kid, my parents were members of the Moose Lodge in Rockford, so we spent a considerable amount of time in the basement bowling alley. I think early on, before my sister was around, my grandmother came along to keep me occupied. I remember having a collection of coloring books, notebooks, magic slates to keep me busy. How exciting it was to get Cokes from the bar and snacks from the vending machine (the old style pull handle ones). There were old school pinball games I sometimes got to play, and later, arcade games that were just appearing. While I was confined out of the way to the tables at the back, sometimes they would let sit in the colorful seats up near the lanes with the fancy drink holders. I looked up a pic of those lanes this morning and they were so small but seemed so vast at that age.

I dreamed about them last night, about the entire lodge, although in my dream, it was much more lovelier than it actually was. In reality, it was the 80's, and there was a big circular bar upstairs, a couple of ballroom/dining rooms where they held receptions, dinners, and once a year, a much looked forward to kids Christmas show with magicians and Santa and those stockings filled with hard candy. (I can barely eat a butterscotch button and not think of this.) There was a comfy lobby with a central fireplace and one of those table pac-man games, and somewhere a sideroom with a pool table. The bathroom had some sort of lounge area outside it with a couch and chairs (I remember this and there are photos of me as a toddler that seem to have been taken there.) So much of my childhood is pieced together like this (thus the great unsolved alien baby movie mystery). My parents are little help, and my sister was too young to remember much.

I was thinking earlier how much I've no doubt lost to shoddy memory. There is an entire span of years that contain things that may have been real, but also may have been dreams. Odd snippets, bits and leads that don't make alot of sense. I feel like they are getting foggier the further away I get from them. I found myself wishing I'd had some sort of diary as a child to record things. Nowadays, so much is documented (facebook, video, blogs) that there are more relable sources than the human mind for retaining them. I have a few photos, my own odd disjointed fragments.

In last night's dream, they had re-opened the lodge (which closed about 10 years ago completely) and we had gone to visit the basement and I was hit with such a gleeful sort of nostalgia I was almost in tears. Upstairs, though, was totally different from the actual, but a bright glitzy sixties cocktail lounge with sunburst wall decor, all rhinestones and yellow and aqua, a dance floor, and blue drinks in martini glasses that seemed to glow from within. It was definitely more Vegas than Rockford Moose Lodge, but it was so gorgeous it also made me cry in the dream for being something so lost and unreal. (and yes, I have been known to get overly emotional about vintage design).

Friday, September 17, 2010


Today is one of those lost days. I had intended to get down to the studio on my day off to finish up the newest book and get some other shop related tasks done and noticed last night the tickling in my throat that indicated I was coming down with a cold. It's a couple weeks later, so I thought I would avoid my annual Sept. illness, but no such luck. As soon as the weather changes it's inevitable. I slept late, hoping to sleep it off before it set in (which sometimes works, oddly) but still awoke to a bit of general snottiness and congestion. Hopefully tomorrow, I will be more productive. Meanwhile, I am drinking a lot of tea and plan to order some General Tso's chicken and wonton soup to clear my sinuses tonight. I did manage to get the new hair clips I photographed on Wednesday into the shop, as well as snapped some pics of some new, more manly man flasks (ie not bedecked in flowers). I've been feeling that chest crushing feeling that I will never be able to have time to get things done, so even small things crossed off my list are a relief of sorts. I have tomorrow off, thankfully, but will be in the library on Sunday. The tarot project, code named Arcana, is underway and it's a little eerie how some folks have somehow randomly wound up with just the right card for them (so they've told me).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

some thoughts, 9 years later

I always predicted I would never write about 9/11 until enough years had passed to keep me from freaking out about it all over again. It seemed ten would be a good number of years, and yet, I still don't think I'll be ready. For all my love of disaster movies (mostly the fictional, apocalyptic kind involving huge explosions and maybe brain eating zombies) I have not yet brought myself to watch any of the number of movies made years ago detailing the events. In 2003, I wound up watching a documentary about the firefighters on PBS and could not finish it. I will probably also never be able to write a poems about it, not only because anything I could say seems so hackneyed and cliche, and SO not important about it from my small vantage point amidst the huge horror, I'm am not even tempted to try. All I can say is I had nightmares for months. The worst were the ones where I walked outside and the city was falling down around me. The best was when I dreamed that the characters on Buffy could save it.(you know, with spells and girly magic, which could surely trump war and violence).

For years before, I had had plane crash dreams, but they took on a particular terribleness that fall. I also had public transportation nightmares that occasionally resulted in getting on and off trains (this was before, and perhaps a little bit why I switched to mostly bus travel the following spring) and once, actually calling in sick to work because of an overwhelming feeling of dread. It was sort of silly in hindsight, but I still sometimes very much believe in dreams that foreshadow something, and sometimes they do (little, unconsequential things...but enough of them to make me give some creedence to them). The worst was a train dream, where I was standing in a car holding on to the pole when a little girl appaeared in front of me and warned me that I would be dead within a year right before a wall of flames swept through the car. Since I'm still here obviously 9 years later, I'm sure it was just my anxieties working overtime (as with most of my dreams.) but it freaked me out and had me spooked for a year. Any time I would get stuck standing on the Red Line, which happens rarely as far north as I am, I would get off and catch the next train. It happened over and over again.

It was almost pathological, but then, in some ways, the feelings I had about it were a little pathological. Perhaps had I lived elsewhere, been elsewhere when it all went down, it wouldn't have been quite as traumatic. On one hand, it was probably the first time I didn't feel safe in my smug little American bubble. It's a little ridiculous that I ever did, given other metropolitain areas that are always under threat of bombings, violence, etc. But it seemed impossible in this great gleaming city (like that other great gleaming city) that there was ever even a threat. And perhaps it was worse that I was just leaving for work when the first footage spread across the news and casually thought flipping off the remote, " odd that planes don't accidently crash more often into skyscrapers." By the time I arrived at work, the second plane had hit and everyone knew it wasn't an accident. I was covering the fifth floor AV desk and internet traffic made it impossible to bring up CNN. They sent us home soon after (after hilariously telling us not to panic the students), and I swear there were more people on the sidewalk than I have ever witnessed since, all of those buildings emptying out completely mid-day, everyone sort of stunned and wandering. It was a gorgeous day, much like NYC,and I remember feeling like I was safe in the library, but would be less safe on the Red Line, especially since planes were still rumored to be in the air and the Sears tower sat a mere few blocks away from us. Of course, nothing else happened, not here, but after we emerged from underground, I kept looking back over my shoulder at the skyline from the north side, half expecting it to be in ruins. The rest of the afternoon, I watched the horror unfold, after, of course, calling to assure my mother I was still alive. For awhile I was fascinated by the people's who had been SUPPOSED to be there (either in the buildings or the planes) and were not, the close calls, the near misses. The tiny decisions/uncontrollable circumstances that caused them to stray from their usual or predicted path. It caused me to dwell and dissect my own paths on a regular basis, my own variations from routine.

I still catch myself doing this. Say if I take the train today, will it derail? or was my impulse to take the train saving me from a bus accident? If I cross the street on one side or the other will I be hit by a car? What if I cross the street and THEN am hit by a car? Which impulse should I follow? Which decision will entail my certain doom? When my head gets like this, it's difficult to make any decisions at all. While my disaster dreams have lessened over the years, and usually are just plain weird and much less traumatic, I also don't watch planes in the sky for fear they will a) explode or b) crash into a building. And you still probably won't get me on one, at least not alone. 80's and 90's movie scenes involving the towers still jolt me, and even this morning, I was a little stunned by seeing the images in memorial when I brought up the Yahoo homepage which bought the general wave of unsettledness back again. A few years ago I stopped watching the news. It was a combination of war/violence overkills, also how one morning, five stories in a row were about horrible things (kidnappings, abuse, rapes, murders) that happened to women and girls. I sort of shut down and stopped paying attention. Another dead girl. Another dead soldier. I can't deal with it on a daily basis and still function. All very ironic coming from the person who regularly indulges in slasher film marathons and zombie gorefests, all of which are much more palatable than the news on a daily basis...I know that the actors, whatever happens will all take off their costumes and makeup and go on to their next part...

Friday, September 10, 2010


I recently ordered an large stash of vintage wallpaper for the journals and can't wait to tear into this lovely's the thick textury kind that makes good covers. I have some more that was in rolls I will show you when I get photos. Some of these I can't imagine having a whole wall let alone a whole room papered in them, but in small doses they are gorgeous.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

call for submissions (artists who write, writers who art)

I am working on a project that is half for a Chicago Calling event, "Two Way Tarot Mirror", and half for an idea I've been tossing around of creating a tarot deck (or book of some sort) for dancing girl release (initially it was just going to me something I did, but I think it will be much more fun if it involves you (yes, YOU over there). Right now, I'm thinking we'll just stick to the major arcana, but possibly may expand that if this goes over well. How it works is I need 21 people willing to create a two sided 4 x 6 card using whatever artistic medium they would like. One one side, the image side, it would be more image based (drawing, painting, collage, whatever) based on one of the major arcana cards I will choose for you at random (I plan on just drawing you a card from the deck I have.) The other side would likely be text prose, poetry, knock-knock jokes, instructions, recipes related to your card in some way.) Since I will be reading and sharing them on Oct 2nd, time is of the essence, so I would need them ideally mailed to me by September 25th. For the actual book project I plan on going through the whole deck possibly...but for now I will be assigning cards to the first 21 people who e-mail me wanting to participate so contact me if you are interested in being a part of this. dancinggirlpress (at) yahoo with the subject heading of "tarot project"...

Saturday, September 04, 2010

september, again

It definitely feels a little like fall the last couple of days, and I even had to close my windows in the apartment last night when I got home. I am already craving soup and baked things. I am starting to get cracking on restocking the shop for the holiday rush which will be here before we know it. I've added some fall flavored slips, some new notecards, pencil boxes, letter openers. Also some collage prints are available of collages that the originals have long since sold (or they were never available in the shop). As always there just doesn't seem to be enough time to make and do all that I am inspired to do. This week, I will be making more hair bobbies (I had a huge vintage earring score) and finishing up some journals I've been working on (small wallpaper covered notebooks, sadly not the coptic bound ones I am still trying to perfect.) Next weekend I plan on sewing some more pillows that are larger than the little ones I started out with. And always more soap to make and wrap.

In dgp news, I am hoping to have the new chap by Naomi Buck Palagi, Silver Roof Tantrum, done this week and then finishing the layout on 5 new September releases (books by Julia Cohen/ Brandon Shimoda, Emilie Lindemann, Joanna Novak, Alexis Vergala, Britanny Ober, and Grace Marie Grafton.) We are still woefully behind my original schedule, but there is a new one I am hoping to keep to. Otherwise, the dgp inbox is full of about 350 new manuscripts to read through in the next couple of months. (you know, the books I will be woefully behind on next year.) The nice thing is I am back to the nightshift and will have plenty of circ desk reading (especially next weekend when I am pulling a double header in the library.)

I am fighting a little bit of melancholy, even though I was waiting for autumn, it's sad to see it here.

Friday, September 03, 2010

next friday night

We'll be having our first open studio of the fall season next week and there will be all sorts of new little surprises, especially lovely papery things like new notecards, journals, dgp titles, letter openers, pencil boxes, and collage prints. Also, pillows, fall slips, and new jewelry...oh my!

Friday, September 10th
The Fine Arts Building
Studio 921
410 S Michigan

Monday, August 30, 2010

new from dancing girl press

(al)most delicious
Cati Porter
dancing girl press, 2010
available here

al)most delicious is like the thoughts of a figure in a painting. But more than that it is a kaleidoscopic meditation on the theme of artist and model. Or like a room of mirrors in which looking and being seen are erotic, and creator, creation and observer are locked in a love triangle of reflection and illusion. Enter, listen to the voices and the music, you will be rewarded.

-Richard Garcia

Sunday, August 29, 2010

7 things I am loving

natural history museums
tweed skirts
vintage floral wallpaper
raspberry lattes
old flowery teacups
leather satchels

Saturday, August 28, 2010


A lazy Saturday in which I've done nothing much but read art & design blogs, drink tea, take photos, and clean up the carnage of late night cat hijinks (one set of vintage dessert plates that hadn't yet made it to the studio massacred when Isabel knocked them off the fireplace to lay there in the photo above.) Not surprisingly, very few glass objects survive in this household. Giles took out a little dish full of sea glass on the bookshelf earlier this week. But there are pretty things I've kept around that have (so far) eluded breakage..

Friday, August 27, 2010

fashion friday: high drama

Considering how much time I used to spend working in theatre, it's amazing how little of it I actually get to these days, and I intend to fix that this season. Like the beach, it's one of the reasons I moved to the city, but I'm usually too busy/poor to go. This dress gave me thirties vibe, which reminded me of the old Coronado in Rockford, with it's red velvet seats, gorgeous gilt architecture and blue starry ceiling. They revamped it a few years back, but to me it will always represent a certain grandeur and decay. My favorite part was the women's bathroom with it's dressing tables and tufted stools. I saw everything from the Nutcracker to bad 90's act Nelson in concert there. Every year, my mom's company would have their christmas show, which involved cheap kiddie gifts, old cartoons, novelty acts, and Santa. I was always far more excited about the theatre details than I was the show going on.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

weekly covet: seaward

{clickable version}

Labor Day weekend is always a little depressing, the end of summer and all the beaches closing. I am hoping to make it back to ocean again in the next year, but the lake will do, even though it's a little less salty.

Also, I've been playing a bit more in the treasury and making daily lists. I probably won't post them all here, but you can check them out here...

Friday, August 20, 2010

sometimes it feels like this

Salvadore Dali, Invention of the Monsters

Besides the Cornell boxes and the Chagall windows, this is one of my favorite peices at the Art Institute. I think what I like is how disturbing it really is when you examine all the details. The flaming giraffe is particularly alarming. Perhaps a good poem works in the same way, is a little alarming upon closer inspection. Perhaps life in general is. In my idleness, I have been musing over art projects, books, zines. One involves architectual renderings and my dreams about houses. Another, cuts up of old letters from a lover (I wouldn't call them love letters, exactly, but my other alternatives are to to burn them or send them back to him.)

fashion friday: late summer soiree

perhaps the best cure for August doldrums is a party. Nights out under the stars, a few bottles of wine (yes, I would tend toward Boone's Farm), a good pasta salad, and maybe a stray guitar...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

dog days

I think we've definitely reached that point in late summer where it starts to wear out its welcome. The gardens are messy and overgrown, buggy and sort of soggy. Soon the house will be filled with tomatoes and my mom will start making salsa. I am convinced that any extended period of time off from the day to day leads only to more sleeping and when awake, more obsessing over various things, poetry, my relationship truamas, the to-do list that awaits me when I return to the city. I have written three e-mails I should not send. I have written two poems that are actually pretty good. Yesterday, I hit the thriftstores and bought back 9 slips, a gorgeous 60's yellow floral table cloth, a framed woodland themed embroidery piece, an owl perfume bottle, and two little bird drawings. I am trying to clear my head an occupy myself with trivia and watching chick flicks with my mother. There is just alot of time to think about stuff which is not always a good thing. I live more inside my head out here than anywhere else if that's possible. Sometimes, it's a very rough place.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I have been here for the last few days where there was much extended family fun, yummy food, lounging about on the beach and in hotel swimming pools. I almost hate to come home since, despite my longing for school supplies, a return from the annual Black River sojourn means that summer is almost over and especially so this trip (which happened a little later than usual.) I am staying out at my parents for a few extra days, during which I plan to do little else than write, since time has been incredibly short for it lately and I miss it. I would like to send some poems out this fall, but I need a kick in the pants. Also, the new manuscript needs a home and I've yet to send it to a single place. I look forward to not worrying about all the usuals (work, commuting, boy/dating drama, book layouts, packing orders) and get to do the fun things (sleeping late, going on mini-adventures, tackling thriftstores and flea-markets galore) I don't even have to worry about dinner since I plan on taking advantage of my mother's bountiful cooking and filling up on things I rarely/never make myself (chicken-n-noodles, meatloaf, pancakes...) It's a nice little hide-from-the-real world cave for just a little while and much, much needed...

Friday, August 13, 2010

fashion friday: back to school longing

Every year, I get the craziest nostalgia for back-to-school purchases--pencils and pens, clean, shiny notebooks, new clothes, and a clean start. The nice thing about working in academia is you still that new start everytime fall rolls around. We still have a couple of weeks or so before the library fills up with students, and maybe it's the heatwave the last few days, but I am especially longing for cooler temps and fall weather, and most importantly, sweater dresses and boots.