Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

Here is to a new year filled with poetry. With little bookish projects, new collage endeavors, and layout marathons. With plenty of studio time, readings, and cocktails with friends. With lovely dresses, italian sodas, and grilled cheese. With AWP exploits, the Hunger Games movie release, and turning 33. Again. With batches of new candle & soap scents, with weekend sewing projects, with productive thrifting expeditions. With penne rosa sauce, and ginger cat antics, and vintage pillowcases. With yummy lotions and long hot showers. With road trips and beach picnics and trashy novels and horror movies. With all the fun things and much less of the anxiety provoking ones.

Friday, December 30, 2011

available @


There is always this weird, sort of depressive lull after Christmas, which was disheartening at first, the dreary sunless days, the half price gift baskets at Walgreens, the faded bedraggled decorations that have been up for the last month. I was crawling out of my skin at first, but the plan was to stay on task and finish up some projects, both art and writing related, and focusing on those seem to have abated some of the cabin feverishness. My mood improved enough that I even decided to stay here through the new year hoping to keep up some of the momentum on the narrative manuscript and go back Monday (I suspect this weekend would have been given over to unexciting things like housecleaning and errands had I gone back today anyway, so I might as well save myself from that.)

Tonight, I am eating Belgian seashell chocolates and putting in supply orders for the new year on cardstock, paper trimmer accessories, packing tape. And later, there will be more writing and some reading and a little bit of hiding from the world as long as I can.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

now available from dancing girl press

It took a while to get everything together, but my little havoc book is now available for order. Initially, this was some of the poems that were part of the now dismantled kissing disease manuscript (actually the title poem of that collection is in this chap.) That whole thing was just too big and sprawling and messy and ultimately I decided this segment of poems made a better chapbook than full-length. (the rest of that manuscript, the text, actually became another project that will be more box-like and less book like, but more on that later.)

I feel a little like these poems are the first departure from the sort work I was doing in my MFA years (but then again my work was changing even then--a shift from the bird museum poems to the girl show ones. It might just be cosmetic (there are more first person poems in here than any other project since the fever almanac. But I also feel like, if the poems in the earlier books were these little machines, that havoc is witten INSIDE the machines, if that makes any sense. There is more of a whirliness to them, even though they deal with the same sorts of subject matter, a more interior viewpoint, in among the grease and the gears. And indeed, the tension between order and disorder (or havoc), I guess is one of the biggest themes.

I guess I have my own personal closure & catharsis reasons for being relieved this is finally finished and out there, but also, since it's a while before the next book and I have some readings coming up after the new year, I'm happy to have something new in tow for people to take away. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

once again, a new year on the horizon

Now that the presents are put away and the holiday food coma dwindling, it's time to come up with some resolutions for the coming year. In 2012, I will do my best--

*to make public a lot of poems I have been sitting on for the past three years
*to organize my cd collection, my bookshelves, my linen closet, and the studio shelves
*to write a series of poems about mermaids
*to distance myself people who are more trouble than they are worth
*to hold close the people who matter
*to buy more boots to make winter bearable
*to make more zines
*to learn lots of recipes for easy but delicious meals that neither require too many expensive ingredients nor require dirtying too many dishes.
*to master book binding
*to find the perfect vintage chenille bedspread for summer bedding
*to finish all the half finished projects at home and in the studio
*to eat more strawberries
*to be creative in using up supplies and not just buying new ones
*to find a working record player
*to take more walks on the beach and in the neighborhood
*to buy more poetry books
*to finally learn how to knit
*to create a dictionary of entirely made up animals
*to spend less money on Starbucks and more on cocktails

Friday, December 23, 2011

photo courtesy of pinterest

After working most of this week in that weird pre-holiday vacuum where all of the students are gone and most of the staff and the library eerily quiet, I am very much exhausted from finishing off a huge batch of book orders, getting up way to early, christmas shopping and wrapping and general holiday preparations. Me and the kitties are firmly installed at my parents for the weekend and the bulk of next week and plan to eat cookies and work on poems and collages and not think much about all that still needs to be done at home and in the studio. I do have a handful of books set to go live next week though, including havoc, so there is those as well as a couple of sets of proofs to go over a final time.

Since I will have a few days off work when I get back, I hope to get a good amount of submissions out of my own work--one area where I have been extremely negligent this year despite solid resolutions and plans to the contrary. I feel it's at the bottom of the list and thus gets waylaid way too often in favor of putting out other fires. And since poetry focus time (for my own work) is at a premium, I hate to spend it doing mundane boring stuff like reading guidelines, deciding what to send where, tracking submissions, and actually getting them out the door ( metaphorically anyway, more like out of the sent box. Increasingly, I am much less likely to bother with printing and SASE-ing hard copies to presses who haven't joined the 21st century no matter how fancy their pedigree.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I was watching a movie last night called The Romantics, and it was all very prettily shot and cast (Katie Holmes is still stunning even if she's married to an idiot..and Anna Paquin, depite not really being able to act, is very lovely). It was very much a boy meets girl, boy meets other girl, boy & girl are off and on, boys marries other girl despite being in love with first girl story, but the main point seemed to be that out of control passion does not necessarily make for sound & sane marriage. The scene I was rolling my eyes over, in particular, was one in which the main guy character (Josh Duhamel, also hot) finally has his way with Katie Holme's character the night before he's supposed to marry Anna Paquin and presses her passionately up against a tree while reciting Keat's "Ode to A Nightingale" between kisses, which all seemed sort of ridiculous. I always have this weird disassociation of poetry from ordinary life, which perhaps as a writer and editor I shouldn't. Anyone who stopped to recite Keats while attempting to seduce me would probably get an awkward laughing fit followed by an "".

The idea is romantic, but it seems a little pretentious and silly, and the sort of thing that makes me self-conscious about being a poet. But then, I think, wasn't one of poetry's major roles throughout history as a sort of seduction? Isn't this probably what Keats himself was doing, whispering his odes to some breathless, corseted lass? Admittedly, alot of the poems in havoc are addressed to men, not so much specific men in most cases, usually a distillation or amalgamation of certain people. Since they are more about relationship anxieties, I probably wouldn't be willing to share them straight off with a new relationship. When the fever almanac had just come out, I'd just started seeing a couple different guys, both of whom were interested in my writing enough to want a copy, something that made me VERY self-conscious about the poems therein. Maybe it's just the poems I write, none of which are love or erotic poems per se (there might be any of the above in the poem, but the goal is something else.) Even the greats and poems by other people, you probably wouldn't find me sharing them with a least not reciting them (I have e-mailed poems to men before for various reasons, but not really as any sort of seduction.) I would just feel a little silly saying the words aloud.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Today, I've been working a little on cleaning up the above-named series. Besides having a lot of fun with it, I feel like it's helped me break out my creative rut, something I tried to do with havoc, but it really came to term with this. Not only is the subject matter and voice a bit different from the usual, but there's also a sense of playfulness I usually don't get (largely since I wasn't really taking it all that seriously in the beginning and felt no pressure to make it conventionally "poetic".) Initially, it was meant to be a bunch of letters addressed to James Franco and how annoying people find him to be with his 10,000 graduate degrees and pretentiousness. It eventually turned into more of study on reading and writing poetry within a culture that doesn't prize it all that much, in which Franco serves more as a conceit or vehicle for such meanderings. Also anxieties over gendered writing, truth and untruth in creativity. etc..I was initially going to send some of the poems out piecemeal to journals, but now I wonder if I shouldn't just make them available as a chapbook at some point next summer since they work best all together and are meant to be read in one sitting. Even better, it seems to have broken something open stylistically with the beautiful, sinister project, which is also prose poems, but quite a bit bleaker and more fictional. They feel looser somehow and less like previous work I've done.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Yesterday, I woke up to enormous floating snowflakes, or more accurately woke up, burrowed further under the covers, and then fell promptly back to sleep. I tend to sleep even more than usual when things are bothering me, and this last week, there have been alot of fires to put out, alot of fire alarms (the emphasis on "alarm,") general chaos and brewing disontent. The dust has settled and once again I am picking things up, putting them back where they belong, deleting numbers and messages and talking myself into just moving along. December is always a doozie in the drama department and this one is no exception.

Meanwhile I am dreaming of labyrinthian downtown hotels and secret holiday office parties where I wear ridiculous dresses and follow certain uninterested formerly romantic targets around like a hopeful puppy. I'm sure this is all related somehow. This week should actually be pretty quiet at the library, though I am tempted to bring in slightly alcoholic treats (drunken wine-laced fruit salad, gummi bears soaked in vodka) for those of us remaining til Thursday. I am also tempted to relive childhood shool traditions and have everyone make construction paper stockings bedazzled in glitter and cotton balls.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Today I am skittish and sugared up from workplace treats, so bear with me. Today, for the first time this week, there was sunlight and a late start and my polkadot dress. Also, a little bit of romantic meltdown, certain things come to light and people twisting things all over the place and I'm not sure who is more in the wrong. (well, I know he's more in the wrong but my response to it was a bit innappropriate and now there is further friction because of that) Combine angry text messages in the middle of the night and accusative e-mails back and forth most of today, and I'm a bit emotionally wrought this afternoon. Otherwise, I am trying to focus on good things and ignore the unpleasantness. Said good things include pretty origami birds, lovely chapbooks, my newly dyed deep brown leather bag, banana bread, plans for Christmas bookstore shopping expeditions next week, and an entire weekend to work on a new little art project. (Also this photo which freaks the beejesus out of me, yet I am strangely drawn to.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Many thanks to Jeanine who posted this article about the economics of poetry on her blog, which got me thinking about money and how much an average poet makes doing this crazy poetry thing. I always joke that the money that I’ve made from poetry would probably, with a dollar, buy me a cup of coffee. In reality it’s probably around three grand (for 14 years of serious writing, pretty sad), which includes my Poetry Center prize for a third of that, and most of the rest, workshops I’ve been paid to and reading honorariums. Since I’m bound to Chicago and a full-time job, I do less of these probably than someone without these restrictions, but still, even without them, it’s probably not much. You can add in a little for royalties and the occasional paying journal, but I have probably made more money publishing and selling my own projects and /or selling author copies from other presses than I have in royalties. If you compare this to my income from visual art and crafty things (about $10,000 after taxes per year on average since 2007) it’s pretty sparse…luckily I’m not about to quit my day job.

This discussion brought to mind this other article I’d been meaning to write about the last couple of months. Admittedly, I never had any ambition when it came to being a teacher of creative writing (which seems like it requires another sort of temperament and skill set than actually just..well..writing). Also, I always thought teaching it might (the same as if I had to put a pen to paper 8 hours a day, 5 days a week) make me less likely to find any sort of fun in it. Simple English Lit might have been okay , but at one point, straight out of undergrad and planning to get my Ph.D in the late 90’s, I'd already resigned myself to the glut of scholars in a very small field (let’s not forget my own ambivalence toward serious scholarly work) and decided to look elsewhere for a means to a living (pretty easy since I still don’t think I have the amount of patience it takes to run a classroom nor the required extroversion to not dread it.)

All along, whatever it was I planned to do to make a living (ideally a fun, bookish job that allowed the time/mental space to create) I still saw poetry as the center of things. When I went for my MFA, I felt like sort of a rare bird as someone who wasn’t interested in academia. I was primarily in the degree program to further my own writing since I already had a job/career in library work. I had also already embarked on editing projects (had already started wicked alice a few years prior, was about to start dancing girl press) when I enrolled, so it’s hard to look at that time as something that was necessarily setting me up in a career of any sort. Was it useful? Of course, so much as a sustained period to focus and work on my writing, launch various projects, forge connections and look for feedback. Did it further my “career”? Probably, but more in intangibles (see previous sentence). Would I consider myself successful? Well, in America, “success” usually equals ”money”, so obviously, those folks coming out of programs who eventually land tenure track jobs, that’s an easy thing to track. Publication is a little trickier, since royalties even for laureates are pretty small beans in the publishing world. Maybe prizes, grants, fellowships, are an indicator if you seek them out.

Honestly though, I’ve been thinking about the whole “successful” question and I think it boils down to one simple consideration. Are you still writing? Are you still working on things (published or not)? Does writing poems still make you happy? Feel like something worthwhile despite the financial bleakness. Or even more generally, for some people, who perhaps write less than they did in their MFA years, but who devote their time to other things ( journal, presses, readings series). Is poetry still important and central to your life? Is it worth it even knowing the fiscal rewards are pretty slim and sometimes it actually COSTS money to be a poet (in SASE’s, in entry fees, in funds for projects). And even if you never ventured into MFA territory, are you still doing the things it takes to put poems out in the world? To further and develop your work? If you answered yes to any of the above, then hell, yeah, that is success. I remember someone once throwing a statistic around that only a certain very low percentage of degreed writers were still actually writing 5 or 10 years after graduation. This feels almost like an urban legend to me since I would venture that most of the folks who graduated the same year I did are very much still writing and publishing their work, and many have gone on to do even more interesting writerly-related things. They don’t all make a living at it, but they are very much still doing it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

from Pinterest...

This weekend, I am struggling to get into winter before it, I guess, gets into me. Or gets to me. I am still not quite convinced, and while I would like to find something pretty in all of it, mostly I just feel fragile and panicked when the weather gets chilly and snowy, like I'm minutes from some impending disaster. I just have to focus on good things: boots, sweaters, blankets, peppermint ice cream, paper snowflakes and winter break, which is coming up fast and during which I hope to sit down and get to finishing up the narrative manuscript.

Last night's open studio was successful and traffic was amazing, sold alot of jewelry, candles, and vintage slips. The halls of the Fine Arts were stuffed with people and all sorts of things going on--readings, performances, openings...Today, I have been hiding out in the apartment and catching up on sleep. I do plan to try to put up the tree tomorrow, probably while watching Emmet Otter's Jug Band and making chocolate chip cookies (or more likely eating the dough before I actually bake the cookies.)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

A few nights ago, I dreamed that me and my sister had inherited an old Victorian apartment that had been abandoned, but was filled with all sorts of interesting things--a large vintage typewriter collection, armoires and sideboards, beautiful old bed linens, not to mention it was a huge maze of a place that seemed to open onto room after room of treasures and glorious space. Everyday we would dicover a new room, new lovely things. We decided to live there in separate parts of the apartment, almost like a duplex with a shared kitchen. This immediately followed the dream where we were on a vacation and my mother hated me for some unknown reason and locked me in a room while the entire extended family was outside of it having fun. My subconscious is a very odd place lately.

Otherwise, this week has a bear, wrapping, packaging and prepping for the open studio, laying out new books, assembling the latest the titles, and packing orders. As usual, I feel as if I'm never really ready for such things, always more things to make, more details to attend to. Meanwhile, the cold makes it hard to crawl out from my cozy bed. I'm beginning to feel like each winter is something I have to survive, to emerge intact from on the other side, tattered and barely alive sometimes. Meanwhile I reward myself for just about everything with hot chocolate and new clothes to soften up the edges just a little. It also turned out that what I thought was oversensitivity to caffeine was probably not that at all, which means I was just nervous and jittery because I was nervous and jittery.

Monday, December 05, 2011

holiday sale !!!

From December 5th thru December 15th, we are offering 20% on all purchases over $20 at Just use the code "HOLIDAY2011" in your notes to seller and the discount will be refunded to you after purchase.

In addition to all of our latest chapbook series titles, we have an awesome selection of paper goods, accessories, artwork, and bath goodies that make perfect gifts. All proceeds help dancing girl press & studio continue doing what we do. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

teapots and other tempests

I was musing over this little poetry-world spat in the New York Times and the whole idea of anthologies and what they mean to be and what they actually are. I have long been suspicious (and usually dismissive) of much of what claims to be the "BEST" of things. Best according to what criteria? According to who? Someone asked me recently why wicked alice and dgp do not nominate authors for the Pushcart Prize and truthfully, given what usually turns up in the anthologie's pages , it seems like a fixed game, something that plays itself as democratic and inclusive of the vast world of small presses, but really only chooses pretty much the same authors, work from the same publications ad nauseum. Every.single. year.

Not to say it's not a cool thing to be nominated, but moreso on the smaller level of the individual publication, that the editor appreciates your work, thinks you are among "best" of what they published in a given year--definitely a much smaller and more manageable field than the morrass of contemporary journals. The Best of the Web anthology actually does this very same thing and is definitely more democratic and varied in it's aesthetic (again, I'm a little biased since WA is technically a Sundress Publication.). Even still any anthology still comes down to the particular aesthetic bent of the judge doing the final choosing. But once a nomination has been sent off into the esteemed Pushcart world by most little guys & gals, it's like dropping a quarter into the ocean.

Admittedly, I have a dislike in general of most of what Helen Vendler has ever said (especially if it's woefully racist and elitist like this), and am definitely biased toward Rita Dove (whose Thomas & Beulah did much in the way of my own poetic development about 15 years ago). I immediately take issue with the 175 poets comment. I can name at least twice that many whose work is of interest living and writing in the anthologie's timeline (not even including the younger folks writing now born after 1971.) Any anthology is simply a sampling of the work that that particular curator feels lends itself to being brought together and put forward as a grouping for consideration. This is true at any level, every journal is pretty much the same thing, every press's roster of titles, same thing.

I would never have the ego to say that what we are publishing with dgp is the "best" work by women authors out there, but merely the things that I come across / get to consider that strike my own fancy in some way, that I feel compelled to put out into the world because of their awesomeness. Again "best" acording to who? to what? Dove, in her response, gets it spot-on here:

Assuredly, many acclaimed poets are no match to Shakespeare—probably not a one, not even Walt Whitman. But The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry is not meant to be an in-depth scholarly study of pick-your-ism; it is a gathering of poems its editor finds outstanding for a variety of reasons, and by no means all of them in adherence to my own aesthetic taste buds; my intent was to offer many of the best poems bound into books between 1900 and 2000 and to lend a helping hand to those readers wishing to strike out on their own beyond this selection. Part of the problem with the phenomenon one could call poetry politics is the reluctance of many scholars to allow for choice without the selfish urge to denigrate beyond whatever doesn’t fit their own aesthetics; literary history is rife with stories of critics cracking the whip over the heads of ducking artists, critics who in their hubris believe they should be the only ones permitted to render verdicts in the public courts of literature.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Today seems to be a day for endless signatures, both my renewal lease on my apartment and my contract for BLP, all of which require me to sign / initial in so many places, I'm afraid I'll miss something. I've been a little jumpy and overcaffeinated lately, and I blame too much soda over the holiday, which I had all but given up before that. Of course, my week is not progressing as fruitfully as I would like, which possibly means spending Saturday in the studio catching up and getting ready for next Friday. It doesn't help that I keep getting sidetracked by new ideas and little projects, which seem sort of bittersweet when I know there is no time for executing them anytime in the forseeable future. I did indulge myself with a couple of new collage ideas, which I think might go over well next week if I an manage to get them matted and/or framed before then (a pain now that easy access to Utrecht has been eliminated and I'd need to walk all the way to Blick, though supposedly there is another art supply shop on Wabash I might check into.) I did conceive a couple of lovely covers for some December releases (books by Jane Flett and Becky Peterson), and am progressing on the November books, including havoc. I have hereby declared Fridays as a day devoted to my own writing and the business thereof, so I'm hoping to get it finished up and available tomorrow, as well as some work off to journals that have requested it and some more administrative tasks (blurb soliciting, marketing plans) for girl show which I hope I can get underway.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

wind and other ghosts

All last night and into this morning the wind was howling in from the lake, which meant I kept waking up all night and then wound up sleeping til noon and going strait to work still sort of drowsy and out of it. On the bus ride downtown, though, the water was brown and churny with fast moving, gargantuan waves that on days like this, sometimes rival the ocean itself. There was even sizeable surf in the inner harbor at Diversey.

Yesterday was basically a wash in terms of productivity, and more about getting my bearings, making a plan of attack and forging a complicated to do list with bullet points. Today, there are e-mails to be answered, books to be finalized for printing, meetings (the monthly library town hall and the paranormal kids**) that I may play hooky from anyway in favor of dealing with actual library paperwork type stuff (mangled books that need billing, invoices that need processing) that I put off till after the break, especially since I'm feeling rather non-social, non-meeting friendly today. I'm rather looking forward to installing myself at my desk with some hazelnut hot chocolate and having at it.

**a co-worker and I are faculty/staff advisors for the newish campus ghost hunting club, which we hope might provide some interesting amusements. Mind you, I'm not exactly sure I believe in ghosts (it's hard to believe in ghosts if you don't believe in an afterlife). But I do know a heck of a lot about them & other weird paranormal stuff...

Monday, November 28, 2011

I am headed back to civilization in the morning, and to work shortly after, so it can be expected I am having trouble getting to sleep tonight and instead am thinking about how so much of my time is spent decoding certain silences. I guess it can really be any sort of silence that seems unusual or somehow lengthier than it should be, a submitted piece of writing or application, a friend who simply forgets or is too occupied to return an e-mail or text or phone call (but then I am guilty of this all the time due to my own flightiness and chaos-and thus, am endlessly forgiving of it.)

But then I am thinking more about the silence of men, more specifically the ones I get entangled with. Recently, a lover, my having missed both confirming and showing up to a breakfast date (I had not checked my e-mail in which he agreed and then had slept in missing the message til I was already at work), and then, of course, was subsequently very late when we actually got together the next morning due to LSD traffic, made a comment that he thought I was mad at him, that I was blowing him off, which seemed, in the moment and given a certain longish history of him occasionally doing it to me, pretty hilarious. Usually, I have no problems telling people whatever my emotional weather happens to be at the time, good or bad, whether they want to hear it or not. If I'm angry or happy or sullen or excited, you will know it. If I have feelings or no longer have feelings for you, you will know it, believe me (probably more than you want to know it). Sometimes, its a little embarrassing, both for me and the intended audience, how forthcoming I tend to be since I tend to not only wear my heart on my sleeve, but tend to occasionally throw it into other people's laps unbidden.

Men are especially good at being silent at all the wrong moments. It's maddening. Some of this no doubt has to do with getting burned one way or another over the years by guys who are not so good communicators (well and in one case, pathologically awful at it) Things ranging from merely dwindling or diverted attentions all the way to evasion, betrayal, lying, legal issues. Even the simple fact that on dates, especially the early ones, I tend to talk way too much, so much so that I always feel the flow of info in general is so very one sided. Admittedly, I am at fault for simply chatting too much to let anyone get a word in, and also not wanting to be too prying and inquisition-like, but thus, it tends to lead to alarming holes in the greater picture--some, rather innocuous, like where someone grew up or their favorite food, others like, "btw, I have a wife or girlfriend I'm looking to cheat on." (this is a whole other post.)

I realize how much mental time and energy I spend with alot of men attempting to decode that silence, looking for information, clues, things that probably aren't even there to begin with. I'm reminded all the time by friends, those privy to this stuff, both male and female alike, that men's minds are very different, not quite so prone to thinking and overthinking, to turning every gesture, expression, word over and over like a stone in the hand and trying to read it the way women do (or least this woman does). And god forbid, mulling over it endlessly with their friends looking for other people opinions on what this or that brief or prolonged silence meant.

I really feel like I want to be done with it, all the decoding and overthinking. With guys who shut down instead of talking it over or giving the simplest answers to the simplest questions, who would rather sulk than seek to somehow change whatever it is they are sulking or distant about.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

autumn landscape with pie

So it has been a rather wallowy non productive week, only one poem written, some vague plans in terms of new additions to the shop, a couple books in galley stages glanced through but not quite proofed. Also, two thrifting expeditions ( mostly linens, old frames, a mirror). Two thanksgiving feasts, a successful attempt at scalloped corn, one load of laundry, an entire bottle of Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey, 2 seasons of Vampire Diaries, and an unglodly amount of peanut butter/chocolate rice crispie treats. This week, I will be paying for my laziness with early mornings in the studio filling orders, making books, and getting ready for next week's open studio. The spectre December seems long, busy, and sort of bleak, but it would help if the heavy snow held off and at least it was a little warmer.

It is time again for the big holiday Open Studio event, where there will be all sorts of new books, artwork, paper goods and accessories (alot of things steeply discounted from our website prices). There are also all sorts of other artsy happenings in the way of performances and exhibits occuring in The Fine Arts that night for your wandering pleasure, so come check it out...

Friday, November 25, 2011

confessions of a book fetishist

Dreamed last night of roaming packs of cats dressed in costumes, including a two headed one. They kept turning into children and trying to get into the house. Also that I was living in a hotel downtown and kept falling asleep on public transporation and forgetting who I was. Today, there are turkey sandwiches and leftover pie, not to mention round 2 of Thanksgiving with my Dad's side tomorrow. I am not venturing far today, since Black Friday and the crazy consumerism freaks me out a little. I did browse around online for gift ideas for the passle of little ones, and think I may keep it simple and just buy books for all of them. (they range in age between 2 and 10, so I should be able to find something appropriate even for the non-readers).

When I was 7 or 8, my mom (or Santa) bought me a boxed set of illustrated classics, filled with things like Swiss Family Robinson, A Tale of Two Cities, A Journey to the Center of the Earth. (they looked like these, but mine were paperback) I read them all, but my favorite was War of the Worlds, which I must have read a hundred times (and the single book it looks like this set is missing). I also liked to take them out of the boxes and fondle the smooth, glossy paper covers, their little thick square shape, muse over the cover art. I was almost as enamored of them as I was the Peter Rabbit books from the school library. I distinctly remember devouring most of them during Christmas break, sprawled across the bunk beds I shared with my sister. I think the only thing I hated was Huck Finn , which I never really warmed to even after a couple readings in college for my courses. In the next couple of years I would abandon the classics in favor or trashy horror novels passed down from my aunt and assorted library finds. Somehow, I seem to have lost them all admist the chaos of moving, but I still remember exactly what they looked like, felt like, even smelled like.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tonight, I am overfed and drowsy and feeling more contemplative than usual. As the year starts to come to a close, I always like to take a look at plans and resolutions (and then of course in the next four weeks work furiously at some of the easier ones to actually feel like I acomplished them.) Some of them were easy, more art, more cooking, more poems, taking more photos, blogging more. Otherwise, I took more chances, read alot, recorded my dreams, did a little bit of traveling in the spring. I learned to trust a little more, love a little more, made new friends (but also developed sad, sweet, utterly hopeless crushes on said new friends. I do this at least once a year lately it seems, but I did fail utterly at my resolution to be less of a girl about these things). To my credit, I also finally walked away from something (someone) bad I'd been struggling with for 5 years (though at the same time then continued an interesting little fling with someone sort of wrong for me, or at the very least, too young for me, but really a lot of fun.) If anything, I became a little more at home in my sexual/romantic skin.

Next year, I still plan to get in the habit of more organization in general. I'm still bad at finishing half done things, and my life is sort of littered with the remnants of mid-stream projects, art series, poem series, half-manuscripts. Both the studio and my dining room is filled with supplies and beginnings of project started or concieved as early as two years ago and never completed. I recently came across a large box of slender jewel cases I intended to help me organize and streamline my CD collection that I purchased in late 2008 then shoved away in my closet until I could get to it. It's time to wrap these things up and move onto all the new ideas and projects filling my notebook.

I do, however, feel I was better at being in the moment more, whatever that moment was, be it spending time in the studio doing what I love, writing, making things, enjoying the fruits and pleasures thereof, but also making time for frivolous, mindless fun, which is hard for me sometimes. I worked my ass off in 2011 (so many dgp books released, printed, assembled in addition to my own creative work) but also took life in general more leisurely.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

on thankfulness

Part if me likes waking up in my sun-drenched childhood bedroom, but part of me always feels a little suffocated here, something like a hand closing over me and blocking out all the fresh air. I don't think it really has to do with my parents, who I enjoy visiting, but more the place, Rockford and all it's associations. And again maybe it's just a touch of cabin fever, since I don't really notice it in the summer when the outside is welcoming and warm and in bloom and I can spend hours outside waiting for the stars to appear. There isn't this quick plunge into dark and we're all stuck in the house. It's ridiculous, but sometimes I feel like I need be careful lest I get stuck, get trapped here, this house, this town, this brackish landscape. Eleven years ago, after I finished grad school the first time around, I almost did, almost settled for something I wasn't sure I wanted, but was willing to want it because it was easy. Luckily, things worked out the better way, espeially since I can't imagine life here, working 7-3, going home so tired I can do nothing but stare at the television, the hassle owning a car (one of the best surrenders I made moving back to the city), a lack of stimulation, of culture.

I was discussing with a friend a couple weeks back how amazing the city is to live in, how there's a feeling that anything interesting or unusual or interesting can happen at any moment, how there's a certain freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want, with whomever I want. Sure, I'm pretty adhered to my routine of studio time then work then home, but I have more leeway to do whatever I want outside of that, which somehow seems less of a possibility in a town that rolls up it't streets at 9pm. Let alone all the creative stuff (my writing, the press, my artwork) I'm not sure would have stuck if it didn't have a steady culture to evolve in, the writing friends/poetry scene/ literary culture I am part of, the collage workshops/galleries/creative environment that has spawned so much. There are a million things I could be doing at any possible moment (readings, museums, galleries, productions, film screenings, bars, restaurants, picnics in the park, street fairs) and even if I don't do them all, it's immensely satisfying to know they are there.

Almost exactly eleven years ago, I took my job at Columbia very suddenly, packed up everything I had and moved in two weeks and started the Monday after Thanksgiving in an apartment pretty much with only a bed, a chair, and Christmas tree. There was so much snow and so very quickly that year. It was amazing and exhilarating and sort of scary, but one of the best decisions I ever made.

Monday, November 21, 2011


This week I am in Rockford again for the holiday, where there will surely be tons of family and lots of food of the turkey based persuasion.. Todays' haunts included the craft store (where I procured some fancy papers and some $1 rubber botanical stamps) and a couple of thrift shops (where I found some old floral pillowcases for my bed, a grey blue bedskirt, a ballerina painting, and a tiny framed pressed flower.) I also loaded up on smaller frames for the impending photo project at the dollar store and some sparkly snowflakes to hang in my windows, since it appears Christmas is faster on my heels than I would like it to be.

I also realized how tenuous my mood is in this early dark. I don't notice it much when I'm working since we don't have windows on my floor, but it's a little unsettling when I'm not so busy and I notice how long these nights really are. There's a point somewhere between sunset and 10pmish when I don't really know what to do with myself. I'm napping a little too much and missing any chance to be at all productive. I was hoping to do a little work on the narrative project since I have been woefully neglecting it in favor of other newer, shiny projects, but so far, not much is happening.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Tonight the spectacle series made it's grand debut in the library's third floor gallery space. This is probably the largest amount of work I've ever exhibited (well, physically largest was probably the winding words that spanned three floors in the stairwell and all around the first and third floor ceiling. Or maybe the banner installation I did not long after.) But this was the largest in terms of scope and number. I love the grouping and the mismatched frames as well (I harvested most of my own frames and some vintage/thrifted ones to make it happen). It will be up for the next couple of months, so if you're in the Columbia neighborhood, stop in check it out..

Monday, November 14, 2011

mix tapes and projects

Great discussion here regarding poetry contests and the mix tape vs. project manuscript. Having been on both sides (the fever almanac was more of a mix-tape, while everything since has been more project oriented, or in the case of in the bird museum , several small projects strung together.) However, while the poems in the first book were written poem by poem with no thought of a larger picture, you could argue that I definitely had a project there, even though I didn't really know what it was until I was putting it together and certain things started emerging that tied them all together. As a reader, at least when it comes to full-length books, I don't really tend to prefer one over another, though as an editor looking for chapbooks, I do tend to find myself drawn more to projects than mix tapes, since a chap is such a limited field of engagement. Even the more mix-tape like things we take on tend to be thematically and/or narratively tight in some way.

When I was working on girl show, however, which was a project from day one, I really felt how hard it was to sustain something so focused over the length of a full-length book. I probably wouldn't set out to do it again unless my project was much larger and more expansive. Of course, I'm tending toward shorter more focused projects these days: the narrative project, beautiful, sinister, the james franco poems, the text pieces from dreams about houses and bees. havoc is actually more mix-tapey, though I was consciously threading things a little while writing it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


some loveliness from Pinterest...

Otherwise, I have been holed up this weekend working on a couple things for the shop (a couple sets of new hair clips, some gift tags, some french coin cufflinks), watching movies (both horror and foreign and foreign horror) and making enough chicken & dumplings to eat for the next two days (well that wasn't what I intended but there wound up being a lot). I have so much to get done this week (books proofed, layed out, released,) since I will be out of town the week of Thanksgiving, which is somehow, miraculously already on the horizon. This time of year always whizzes by so insanely fast, fast enough that the holidays will be here and gone before we know it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

why i love where i work

Another Thursday night in the library. Everyone just act naturally.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

the solidness of objects

On my ride home last night I found myself thinking more about the old photo project, for which I will be basically scanning a whole bunch of old photos, tintypes, cabinet cards, etc to work with for some collages. It was a huge batch of photos my aunt gave me last time I was home, and while she didn't seem particularly attached to them really, she thought I might be able to do something with them. They seem to be primarily from my maternal grandmother's family, though with a couple of exceptions, so many generations back, it's hard to know who is who. My first impulse was to get scans of them, digitize everything for posterity's sake, and then use the originals in the art project (I guess since, as physical objects, they don't seem to have any sentimental value to anyone in my family). I have conflicting impulses when it comes to such things, hating clutter, the incessant hoarding of things, hating the idea of photographs mouldering away in boxes where no one sees them (and most likely getting thrown out anyway as soon as someone dies--witness the antique fairs are filled by the binful with these orphan photos). Why not use them to make something interesting, something beautiful, something useful since they are neither particularly sentimentally valuable nor particularly financially valuable (this sort of stuff being very common).

But I just can't do it. Something makes me want to hold onto them for dear life. Maybe it's the pure nature of them as objects, as the very same photo that some woman, most likely some woman related to me, held the very same photo in her hands that I am holding in mine. I'm not sure if it has anything to do with being people related to me or not. It seems important that they were any people, people who sat for long photo sittings, wore strange hats, and probably paid quite a bit for a session in those days. People that ate dinner, took walks, read books, held conversations. Whoever they were a 100 plus years ago and how they are related/not related to me, it doesn't matter. So much is always lost, but so much is also kept. I remember after my grandmother died when I was 8 or 9, sitting at her coffee table piled with hundreds and hundreds of photos my mom and aunt were sorting and dividing among family, alot of them just snapshots of family, friends, people she had know and feeling, I guess crushed by history, by the weight of things, objects, the stuff we leave behind, what does or doesn't happen to them. When I was in college, I was part of a volunteer group to help in some Mississippi flooding clean-up, and remember the house we worked on, the wreckage, the water laden boxed of albums and ephemera, the black & white photos pasted to the floors and walls by the mud and water, how I was struck by a wave of nausea over the lost things that couldn't be fixed or maintained.

It seems odd in the era of digitization, where most of my own taken photos never leave the ether of the internets, but somehow, digital things seem even frailer. In theory they are preserved that way, made available for everyone, filed and stored away on Facebook, on flickr. Millions of bits and images all available at the touch of a button, but yet, somehow, they don't seem quite as real as something on paper. This might be part of my resistance to e-books and digital readers, my love of hard copies, my need to put papery things out into the universe, if only, a hundred years from now, someone to hold one of our chapbooks, or a piece of art, or a postcard, a letter, in their hands and feel that connection to the other people who have ever held that same object in their hands, read the same pages, left their fingerprints, smudge marks, marginalia.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

paper moons, art projects, and plans...

A friend at work created this amazing giant 7 ft. paper moon for photo-ops during the Halloween themed fundraisor event which was really sort of awesome and subsequently got me thinking about a potential project for all of those old photos I picked up from my aunt last time I was in Rockford. Before I can move onto that, however I spent a few hours yesterday finishing up the Spectacle series collages since there might be an impending need for more art for the next library show. Since they are all different sizes I had to track down some frames and reharvest some matteboards I'd been using for my own walls, but I'm hoping for maybe a grouping effect (there are 18 pieces of various sizes total).

I'm feeling particularly visual-project oriented the last couple of weeks, but I'm hoping to get back to both the silly series of prose poems I was working on and the narrative collection this week. It's hard to stay balanced and soon as I get overwhelmed with my to-do list, the writing, which takes a certain concentration, tends to get pushed aside. Friday, I also finally put the finishing touches on the little landscape/architecture zine I've been dawdling with since the summer, so I'm hoping to make that available soon.

I realized with a start that Thanksgiving break is now a mere two weeks away, which means I am so very behind schedule in getting the shop all ship/shape for the holidays. I'm planning for a little bit of rush, some new goodies, and was even thinking about re-opening the etsy shop for the season, at least with some of the more popular, less work intensive sellers (hair clips, flasks, paper goods). I will probably miss the extra cash if I don't (though I will not miss the 3am making/wrapping soap binges and the shipping marathons of years prior). And there are always new book titles, a slew of them before the year is out, including havoc, which I am starting to get excited about releasing.

Otherwise, I have been trying out some recipes in my quest to make actual meals, including a delish Penne Rosa sauce and, today, hopefully a successful chicken pot pie crumble. I'm still a little frightened of more complicated things, but it's better than spending so much cash on frozen food and takeout. Otherwise I am catching up on sleep from all of those lost weekends and mostly hiding out in the apartment.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

zombies, libraries, and my weird, weird head...

Horror lover that I am, I have zombie dreams quite alot, of various persuasions, some scary, some downright silly. Last night was the first time my slumbering mind combined a zombie dream with a work-related library dream and it was sort of one of those long, epic, cinematic dreams with sub plots and minor characters. It began with dolls, dolls we had somehow figured out how to animate, Barbie-like dolls that could walk and talk. Only one of them was also an angry library patron who kept yelling at me when I kept spelling her name wrong on the computer and was up to all sorts of mischief whenever we looked away, knawing her way out of her cage, slicing her way through the window screen to escape. Soon the dolls were running amuck, filming weird doll porno, biting us with their oddly sharp teeth, stabbing each other with tiny knives, reproducing with alarming frequency in tiny plastic eggs.

Every human bitten by one of these dolls would become a zombie, and by the time we called a meeting in the library to discuss the problem, only a few of the staff remained immune, gathering in a meeting room crisscrossed by railroad tracks, and for which we had to keep moving around to avoid the trains. Me and a co-worker, A, were actually more concerned about the Taco Bell we were eating getting cold than the zombies, but soon, they were busting through the door. We then decided to divide into groups to each take a floor with the intent of wiping them out. I killed a few by swinging a rotary phone at their heads, and even faced off against a batch of zombie kittens I was too chicken to kill and just stepped over. The goal was to get back downstairs when we were done, and I arrived to find no one else, but then a door opened into this weird underground room where everyone who had survived, having failed to take the zombies out, planned to build a new society.

The room, suddenly became town, a park, a public square, and we all assumed we'd be safe. But of course some dumbass had been compromised and suddenly, I was surrounded by zombies with nowhere to go. I managed to fight some of them off, then crawl behind some bushes, where one attacked me and pushed me to the ground. In the knick of time, I was saved by a truck full of survivors. Though since I was getting into the car and it was already too full, it was decided that another co-worker, K, would have to ride on a skateboard pulled by the truck to serve as a diversion or bait or sacrificial lamb something. The last scene of the dream is fleeing in the car, pulling an empty skateboard. Roll credits.

Monday, October 31, 2011

I realized today that I am getting ever closer to being caught up in terms of our publication schedule (well at least I am midway into the books I am supposed to release in October anyway, which is closer than usual.) At some point I am actually looking forward to being on schedule and staying there. Right now, I am looking forward to November (okay, if not looking forward to it, perhaps holding onto it as the last vestige of fall before the bleak winter.) I really don't like Mary Oliver (the blandest of the bland), but she has a poem that I always think of this time of year with these lines:

now is the season
of iron rivers,
bloody crossings,
flaring winds,
birds frozen
in their tents of weeds,

--"Wolf Moon"

Mostly I am vascillating between content and discontent and unsure, as always, which is which sometimes. This weekend was filled with some Halloween festivity drunkeness, a horror movie marathon, and a ridiculous number of snack-sized candy bars. I'd initially planned to stock up on groceries and make all sorts of soup (wild rice & mushroom, Greek lemon, baked potato) and other things (chicken & dumplings, ghoulash, chicken fried rice) and freeze them for easy meals during the week, but it didn't quite happen. I do have all (or most) of the ingredients, though, so maybe this week. I am trying to eat less of pricier takeout and pre-frozen dinnercicles to free up some money for utterly frivolous things like more sweater dresses and a new bag. We'll see how that works out. plus I have all sorts of yumminess saved at Pinterest that I am determined to try out.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I will not be just a tourist in the world of images, just watching images passing by which I cannot live in, make love to, possess as permanent sources of joy and ecstasy.
~Anais Nin

Monday, October 24, 2011

In what is fast becoming a yearly tradition, we headed to Detroit over the weekend for the annual Theatre Bizarre Festivities, this year housed in Masonic Temple (which is apparenly the largest one in the US.) Built in the 20's it's a pretty amazing building and the events spanned seven floors, all of them dark, red lit, and labyrinthian, with all sorts of interesting things tucked in rooms and corridors--suspension performers, burlesque dancers, bands, and various carvival acts. The building itself was lovely, and you have to admit, all secret-society style creepy.

Since we got back, I've been marveling over the entire thing as John Dunivant's project, the creation of it's own little world with it's many characters, and themes, and plot lines. I am also reminded of this artist, who creates these little worlds (a perhaps, darker twistier version of Cornell's work). Not so much the creation of a piece of art, or even several pieces, but the creation of an entire world of their own.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

This week has been filled with much fun cover design endeavors for the next few books, incorporating all sorts of cool things like collages, illustrations, and vintage maps. It has also been full of cold windy, blustery weather--the kind where the wind howls all night long outside my windows, making it much harder to crawl out from under that cozy down comforter. I've been bribing myself with hazelnut hot chocolate and new creative projects of my own, one the spectacle series (see below) and a series of new, quasi-humorous prose poems/snippets I am having fun with (more on those later if they pan out) Otherwise, I am just enduring my long, long week without a break and putting the finishing touches on my Halloween costume for Theatre Bizarre this weekend.

There are also preparations for havoc, which I am just starting to work on the layout now that I am caught up mostly on other chaps. This is just a mock-up of the cover, I'm thinking the final type may be slightly different, but look for it in the shop around the beginning of November.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

new: spectacle series

I've been thinking of doing a set of collages like this for awhile, so today while I was doomed to the circ desk I played around a little with an idea that had been shaking around in my head as a possible book cover. There will be more, no doubt since it turned out rather nicely. I was so excited I had to take it right over to the studio to scan it after I left the library (along with another collage I did for an upcoming dgp book to be unveiled shortly.)

update: I've started posting new ones in this series in my flickr account if you want to follow along....

Monday, October 10, 2011

view from the bus stop

Yes indeed, it does appear I have a cold. Today, though, was a beautiful sunny day with lots of color in the trees and I just had to snap some pics on my phone while on the way to the bus stop. I'm excited for my trip to Detroit via train in a couple weeks since we saw some beautiful shading along the route last year (rivaling Wisconsin's). Otherwise, I am just coordinating some new releases, printing and assembling copies of last week's, and getting some stuff in order for Black Lawrence (blurbs, marketing info, etc.) The book's publication is two years away, but the way things go, it will be here before we know it.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

oh, indian summer

We've lucked out on some beautiful mild summerish weather this weekend, which happened to coincide with a planned cookout out at the beach rather nicely, so there was that yesterday, then work today, and I'm about to start one of those endless weeks that has me in the library the next 12 days. (I'm hoping to bank some comp time for around Thanksgiving). I'm already sort of exhausted so we'll see how it goes. I plan to take an easy this week and sleep in a couple days instead of hitting the studio so early, especially since I seem to be coming down with a cold to boot. I did manage to lay out 5 new books this weekend, so those will be on their way shortly, which almost puts me right on schedule for the November books, and hopefully completely caught up by the end of the year (considering I haven't been able to say that since, oh, 2008, it makes me very happy). There are also some new things in the shop I've been holding all summer and seemed to never get them photographed and listed, including rabbit notecards, new flasks, and some wallpaper journals...

And though I am a little tired, I am buoyed by much good poetry stuff, including the acceptance of a manuscript by Black Lawrence Press (who does amazing things), my own little havoc chap project that I will be releasing next month, and the novel in verse thing, that is going swimmingly still and that I've started submitting various bits of around and about.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

I have a new set of collages (Botanica Automata) on exhibit as part of the Art of the Library series. There are a couple more at home, but this is the bulk of them and they incorporate all my very favorite things. One they come off the walls, I am plotting some prints and maybe some postcards.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

This weekend I was at my parents house, and it was a weekend filled with thrifting, shiny glass alumni awards, meatloaf, autumn birthday celebrations, and weird fall slants of light. I managed to get some more artwork for my apartment, several shadowboxes and wood plaques for future art projects, as well as a collection of old family tin types, photos, & cabinet cards from my aunt I'm excited to start working with. Tomorrow it is back to the city and work. I have three new chaps set to release this week and some publication news of my own to come (actually a couple different things as soon as the details are ironed out.) Also autumn barbecues, preparations for an open studio on the 14th, new art up at the library, and some new plans for the next issue of wicked alice.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Given I will be once again back on the RC campus this Friday, I've been waxing a little nostalgic for the four years I spent there. It's still one of the prettiest campuses I've seen, particularly in the spring, tucked back off the main thoroughfare through town so much so that you wouldn't even know it existed. I spent alot of my time there in the arts building working on theatre related stuff, alot of time in the library between classes, either upstairs making my way through the collection, or in the basement napping amongst the periodiocals. Now I probably would have spent all that time online in some computer lab, but then, I barely knew what the internet was. My classes were heavy on women's writing, also with alot of theatre history and drama, and a couple writing classes thrown in. Through the middle years, I actually wasn't writing all that much, but a jag of it that started in the spring of junior year that continued through graduation. So much of my developing interest in women's writing, which would lead me to where I am today with my work and the press has it's foundations in that period. I was rather spoiled when it came to having amazing professors who made women's writing as central to the canon as men's, or who offered women-centered courses. I guess at the time I didn't realize how rare and wonderful that was, particularly at the undergrad level. I continued to seek those sorts of courses out at DePaul, of course, but the offerings seemed less abundant even though the department was exponentially larger.

It actually had it's start as a women's college a hundred fifty years before (the most famous alum is Jane Addams) and was once located downtown along the river. There are all sorts of archival photos of turn of the century ladies dong collegiate things like prancing around the maypole and rowing boats. They moved to the new campus in the 60's, so there are some interested mid-century buildings (at some point while my sister was attending they actually modernized alot of the classrooms in Scarborough Hall, but I sort of liked the weird built-in tables, greenish tinged walls, and institutional furniture. I wound up there almost accidently after coming back from North Carolina and fully intended to go somewhere else, but the next fall landed there because it was close, I could live at home, and they let me attend almost for free because my transfer grades were good. It was actually the perfect little liberal arts college I needed with very small classes and really great professors--a bit of a change from UNCW which was big and overly laid back (though by no means as huge as Chapel Hill) and where you could easily feel a little lost.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Today, the light was very fall-like, and dusk here noticeably earlier than even a week or so ago. A little hungover from last night's activities, I woke to rain early, went back to bed, and woke again only to have to shut all the windows due to the chill. This is probably my last weekend all to myself, since next week I will be in Rockford collecting an alumni award from RC, and then am doomed to the library the following two weekends. The weekend after that is a trip by train to Detroit again for this years Theatre Bizarre celebration. I am mostly decided on a Carrie costume complete with prom dress, tiara, and a whole lot of blood. The other possibility is a Spanish Dancer since I already have a dress that works and just need a fan and some accessories. Either way, I am looking forward to it.

Otherwise, my time is spent getting books ready and made in the studio and shipping orders out. We're set to release a new slew of titles in the next couple of weeks that are almost ready to go, including work by Stacy Kidd, Montana Ray, Kristina Jipson, Gretchen E. Henderson, and several more I'm working on layouts for. I'm also scheming over AWP planning and it looks like we'll be hosting both an open studio and a reading somewheres with some other small presses perhaps (in addition to the chapbook panel I'm on). I've recently finished up a set of collages (see a sneak peak above) and working on sections of beautiful, sinister. I also managed to successfully recover some lost random art images from old collages that I posted to Flickr. Fall always makes me almost manic in terms of hatching new ideas for things, and already I have a list of new little creative projects I want to do in the coming year...

Monday, September 19, 2011

@ dulcet

all through the rest of September, choose any two notecards, postcard, or gift tag sets and get another of your choice free (feel free to mix and match.) Just let me know which free set you would like in the notes section of your order...

wicked alice 10th Anniversary issue

is now online...

featuring work by Sarah Neal, A.E. Loveridge, Noel Sloboda, Jessica Rainey & Edward Smallfield, Sharon Venezio, Valerie Loveland, Jessica Young, and Leah Stetson.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

giving it away for free

Because I am tired of kicking this box of them every time I cross my legs under my desk at work, I am going to be giving away a copy of The Archaeologist’s Daughter to anyone who wants to take one off my hands (please, take one!) This is older work, circa 2000-2001 and put out by Moon Journal Press a few years ago. I wound up with a whole lot of copies and have been hoarding them and wondering what the hell to do with them ever since. Considering at some point we will moving the library and everything in it, I would like to get rid of them before I have to schlep them somewhere else. A handful of the poems wound up in the fever almanac later on in different versions, but most of what is in here is exclusive to this particular chapbook (and unless you were lurking around on several internet zines in the early aughts, you might never have seen any of these.) A lot of them are poems about history, mythology, art, literature, evoking everything from Pompeii, Gold Rush brides and Rapunzel to Columbus, Degas’ dancers, Salem witches, and Helen of Troy. Moon Journal made a very pretty book as well. Get yours now by shooting me an e-mail and I will send one your way.

Monday, September 12, 2011

from Pinterest

Today has been one of those days where I start a million things and finish nothing. It began with a poem shortly after getting out of bed. I am knee deep in the narrative project, which I am working on the structure of in blog form (well, private for now while it's taking shape.)I have alot of fragments, as well as ancillary texts that need to be woven in, also links to research, art, it seems to be working out wonderfully. I feel a renewed passion for it now that I can see it actually taking shape. I am built for story-making and this feels good, even though they are just prose poem snippets. Later in the studio, I was able to pack a few orders, but am stuck waiting on toner til tomorrow to do any serious printing and assembly. I also have the landscape/architecture zine project almost ready to go after I fiddle with the images a bit more. And the wicked alice issue mid-stride. I just keep telling myself not to panic, it'll all get done.

Otherwise, fall is creeping in a little more every day. Some of the trees down in front of the Congress Hotel have started to lose their leaves and are looking a bit brown around the edges.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

a peak inside dancing girl press

Since the Blazevox discussion has alot of editors talking about their various publishing models (all of which vary delightfully and offer potential authors a glimpse into different experiences), I thought I might offer a rundown of how we do what we do at dancing girl the best I can.

Of course, like many of other editors offering a glimpse behind the scenes, the we in dancing girl press is pretty much singular--mostly I mean me. I have occasional assistance in the assembly part, but for the most part, I make all editorial decisions, read all manuscripts, and handle design, layout, and publicity efforts. I have often thought of rounding up an intern or two, but am also a control freak and fear that having another person underfoot might be more of a hindrance than a help given the odd hours and catch as can time I tend to spend working on things. ( I work 40 hours a week elsewhere in addition to the 3-4 hours a day or so I spend on the press.) I sort of have a finely tuned production system in place (some might say an OCD system) so it’s not all as chaotic as it might appear. I like to think the we, though, also includes the of the authors we’ve published , who take a pivotal role in not only penning the works, but in offering suggestions (general or specific) for cover art, proofing, promoting their own books and the press in general (scheduling readings, interviews, suggesting placement of review copies.)

What We Publish

The bulk of our titles come to us through our open submission periods every year, typically during the summer months with a few solicited works thrown in here and there (usually these are manuscripts by local poets I seek out or work by wicked alice contributors that have caught my interest.) I read all manuscripts and sort them into three folders, basically a yes, absolutely file, a maybe if I can fit it in file and a no thanks file. Then I battle it out from there.

We tend to get between 300 and 400 submissions, and I usually aim to take around 20 manuscripts at a time, but the “maybe” file sometimes gets me into trouble if there’s too much in there that I feel I may want to publish. (which is why we weren’t open for as long this summer, I took more manuscripts and extended that schedule into mid 2012). I try to schedule only a year ahead, otherwise it seems rather long to wait for chaps, which feel like they should be somewhat more immediate than full-length books. I also try to take on as many manuscripts as I want and feel comfortable publshing, since I feel like the larger a press' reach the better the returns, ie the more authors we publish, the more corners of the literary world we invade, the better exposure for both press and all our titles and the better the chance of people finding us and taking an interest in what we do. It's alot of work, but very much worth it. I suppose it's the difference between a small drop in the poetry universe and a small trickle.


I do all pre-production design work, printing and assembly in our studio space (well, and sometimes during long lonely service desk shifts at my day job). Each title is usually started off with a run of about 50-75, with additional smaller batches produced as needed to fill orders and /or author needs. We try to keep each title in print for as long as we can, though some are limited editions (usually due to special material needs or author’s request.) Cover designs are usually based on author ideas and /or my own. I have perfected my system of layout over the years and typically have several projects afloat in various stages of production at a time. Late in the year, we sometimes fall behind due to variations in my own available time which fluctuates throughout the year, but I try to keep with in at least a few months of my predicted release dates (or do my best to.) Once the initial layout is completed, it usually goes to the author for proofing and any changes. I tend to accept work that I feel doesn’t need any sort of editorial suggestions on my part (ie that I am happy with from the beginning) but I may occasionally make suggestions for consistency or layout reasons (line length, page breaks, etc.) Once the final corrections have been returned to me, I will make the changes and begin printing and assembly, which usually takes me a week to two weeks, during which I make the book available on the website and push forward on marketing efforts. Typically, we see an initial burst of sales upon release which tempers off to a handful every month on each title. It would be hard to pin an average on books sales. Some titles do only sell around 30 copies total while other popular ones sell 300 or more. A lot of it depends on the author’s notoriety and support network, as well as how well they market their work in the period after their book is published. Since our goal is to publish new & emerging authors, some of whom lack an initial following at this point in their careers, I’m willing to invest in some slower moving books in order to get the work out there. Sometimes those slow sellers hit a burst of sales later on as the poets gain a wider readership.


In the beginning, the entire endeavor was funded totally out of pocket and remained that way pretty much for the first three years. In 2007 we broke even, and with the help of the other paper and craft items I was selling, we were able to rent a studio space, which allowed for expansion in terms of our number of books per year. Other expenses usually include printer maintenance, utilities, paper, postage, and shipping supplies, other art & craft supplies, etc. We continue to mostly break even on the books, and as a whole with the other things we sell besides books, usually make a small profit (about a $800 each of the past two years when all is said and done.) Ideally, the goal would eventually be to make enough to pay myself a salary and quit my day job, as well as pay the authors some tiny royalty, but as you see it might take a while. Tax and business-wise, we are considered a sole proprietorship and a for-profit business.

We never require or accept any sort of subsidy or fee from authors either upon submission or acceptance. I tend to like to keep the art and commerce separate, and feel like even contest fees (or the lack of them) hinder some artists from being able to afford to submit (just the sort of author I may want to publish.) Also, contests seem like a logistical nightmare, so I would rather not run one. While we can’t yet afford to offer the poets monetary compensation, we do pay in initial author copies and a steep discount on additional copies needed (which some of them sell for full price at readings/events which does allow them a little income for themselves at least.)

Publisher/Author Responsibilities

We try to do as much as we can to promote each book upon its release, including promotional work, social networking, press releases, placement in some indie bookstores, distributing review copies, and hosting readings for local and/or visiting poets, etc. I’ve been trying to use our facebook page lately in particular as a way to promote our authors both before and after the publication of their chaps by offering links to new work, new publications, interviews, etc. Still, as with most small press publishing a lot of the burden falls on the poet to find opportunites throughout the months following release, but we do whatever we can to help.

I think dgp is very fortunate in that we have managed to build a good steady audience base for our books that seems to grow with each new title and that are books seem to find their readers even if it takes a while.