Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The night sky has been unusually lovely the last couple nights with its perfect crescent moon, its single bright star (I think it may be a planet.) and the velvety blue backdrop that makes me think of old movie house ceilings. By day, I am doomed to a 9-5 spring break shift and some pesky pollen related unpleasantness. But while I am so tired today I can barely function, there are so many things to be excited about-projects and books on the horizon, kitten antics, new dgp releases, Printers Row book fair plans for summer, raspberry lattes, people who make your heart spin cartwheels sometimes. (even if sometimes things maddenly don't always work out the way you want them to).

I am pushing ahead on the poems that accompany the artwork for the Shipwreck project, and finishing the rest of the collages for it. I'd like to have it finished to debut at the book fair, for which I'm also ordering a new banner and some book stands so that things don't always have to lay so flat. I also finished up and ordered the cards for the Selvedge zine project, which will arrive after the first of the month. (not sure yet on what they will actually be going into, depending on whether I can print on glassine or not or make up some little bands maybe.)

Friday, March 23, 2012

bloom: a postcard

I've been thinking alot about ways of being a poet in the world than the officially sanctioned and commonly acceptable ones. About audience and poetry in the context of people who do not typically read poetry, who tend think it is this musty academic thing that happened sometime around the beginning of the last century but rarely (if ever) happens now. About what I want poems, as an art form, and particularly my poems, to do, and how I want them to engage with the world outside the closed in society of poets and critics. What form of distribution, publication, dissemination serves that engagement. I've been thinking alot about the idea of "permission" in many contexts, personal, relationship-wise, but mostly in regard to art & writing and the practice of such. I am working on a couple of guest blogs about these things and am making notes, so more soon..

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

We have a brand spanking new way to purchase dgp titles that I am really excited about. Don't know what to get? Don't have a clue where to start? Looking for a sampling of the most incredible emerging voices? Then the dgp mix-tape might be exactly what you are looking for, featuring 5 randomly chosen titles from our entire list of books. Details here..

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Once again, this week is graced with some lovely weather, the sort that beckons you outdoors even though there is so much work to be done inside, poems and collages to be finished, guest blog posts to be written, books to be laid out and finalized. But who can be overwhelmed amidst this gorgeousness? Already, barely spring and there is a signifigant amount of green on the trees in the park and and the magnolias close to blooming near the bus stop, things which usually don't occur well into April. Already I have pulled out the flip flops and fall sale sundresses I was hoarding longingly over winter in my closet. Already, all the windows are wide, wide open.

My weekend, however, was pretty much all indoors, mainly focused on acclimating this little monster (aka Madeleine Maxx) into the household and kitten proofing the apartment, though she he seems to be settling in well and is still too small to do serious damage to anything yet (though I remember thinking the same thing about the gingers until I knew better.) The rest of the time, I was tending to groceries, organization, cleaning, all the while fending on ninja attacks on my ankles and dying of cuteness.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

spring feverish

We have been blessed with some amazingly lovely weather this week, so I am totally feeling it, craving ice cream and wanting to pull out the flip flops, though its really to early and no doubt winter will come back to bitch slap us at least once in the next month. I am still moving slowly in recovering from the tornado that hit the studio the last few weeks, but I am hoping to have all requests and orders out the door by tomorrow night that I am behind on and a couple new sets of galleys going out to their authors, plus a couple new releases by Emiliegh Barnes and Jane Flett coming in the next few days. There is always so much to do, and I soon as I think I'm catching up a little, I'm behind again. There are also some new things I will be adding to the shop in terms of zines and art prints that I've been meaning to, plus some originals if I can get them photographed.

My insomnia project plotting from the other morning is hatching even more fortuitously than I thought. I've been wanting to work on something that is horroresque, vaguely Lynchian, and sort of surrealistic (well, even more than usual). Plus it combines these things with a recent obsession with Americana and roadside motels (it's a little bit Psycho meets Shining in that respect.) We'll see what comes of it.

Otherwise, there are new collages I've been plotting, new kitten additions pending, excitement over next week's Hunger Games movie release, zombie relationships (not relationships with zombies, but old connections that are resurfacing and which I am wary of lest there be more drama like before Christmas) new poetry book aquisitions to read, and general contentment amidst the chaos.

Monday, March 12, 2012

tortoises and hares

Over the weekend, I think I put what may be the final touches on beautiful, sinister (aka the narrative project). In the end, after I combined some parts amd weeded out some garbage, it is only about 25 pages, which seems sort of short considering the foundation was laid, and the first pieces written for it, nearly 5 years ago. I tend to have two ways of approaching projects. One is quickly and doggedly spilling things out and rounding them up. The other is more a slow burn. Usually for every latter case, there are a couple of the former that get done while I'm still tinkering.

The Joseph Cornell series that wound up in at the hotel andromeda was a slow project, about three years from inception to completetion. And now this thing, which seemed all the more slow going becasue I was telling a story and had to figure out what that story was as I was writing the pieces for it. There was alot that was plotted and cut, and alot that I wasn't sure exactly how it would go or fit til just the last few weeks. It's a little bit of relief to finally be happy with it. I think it will just exist as a chap somewhere down the line, for which I already have a pretty specific idea on cover design. I'm going to let it settle and then come back in a month or so and see what I think.

Meanwhile, it is onward with the dream house poems and the mermaid series, and just maybe something new that I plotted out in this morning's odd insomnia (I went to bed far too early last night intending to get to the studio, but somehow couldn't get back to sleep from around 3am on, so there was alot of creative thinking going on amidst the tossing and turning.)

Thursday, March 08, 2012

yet another session with the "legitimacy" goblin..

I was thinking again today about the po-biz ickiness I've been feeling the past week or so, which has nothing to do with the actual work I'm writing (or publishing for that matter) but maybe more about prevailing ideas that I see tossed around in other peoples blogs and facebooks regarding the age old "legitimacy" goblin. Today, it got another jolt with the Html Giant piece on the NEA / Blazevox issue (basically since some authors kick a percentage in to subsidize their books with the press, them, and any Blazevox titles do not help meet the published books minimum for applying for the grant.) I tend to be of the opinion that the work itself is going to be the primary determiner of "legitimacy*, ie if it's great work, no matter how it's brought into the world, it will be read and made "legitimate" as such. Why in the writing world does helping fund your ventures make one thing less "art" than something else, when it doesn't really anywhere else--the film world, the music world, the art world?

I think what irked me is that, all things about a given work being equal, something you helped subsidize would not be "counted" in such a situation, yet something published by, say a friend's press, or a lover's press, or your best friend from your MFA program's press would be "counted". Not that there is anything really wrong with that, or self-publishing (obviously, I do it all the time), but it seems like the party line is award-granting/official po-biz position is that the only way to get a book legitimately into print is the over the transom or contest model (or at least something that SEEMS like it). Also well and good, but less and less likely to happen in these days of dwindling publication funds and pricey open reading periods. Good books come into the world in all sorts of different ways, and privelging one way over others is sort of ridiculous. Yes, it's very easy & tempting to self-publish a not-so-great book (but also not-so-great books get published by presses all the time.) The question of whether you can get someone to read it and develop an interest in your work, if you can build an audience, that's a whole other thing. (Of course, people are obviously interested in what I might call bad poetry and someone else might call genius. You never know.)

Admittedly, I've been lucky a couple times in the so-called "legitimate" way. I had no prior connection to some presses that have published/will publish my work (Ghost Road, Black Lawrence, NMP), but in a couple other cases I probably benefitted by knowing the people choosing manuscripts (at least as a former contributor and/or blog aquaintance--like Susanna Gardner at Dusie who I sent in the bird museum becuase I knew she shared my love of Victoriana). Everything else, I've pretty much put out there myself. I can't say my "legitimately" published books are any better than my "illegitimate" ones.

My opinions on this occasionally get me into trouble when it somes to some conversations about this, particularly in academic circles, certain panels where I've disagreed with other writers on this point. Mostly people just get really uncomfortable when I talk about it. Some just look sort of scared, like I'm in danger of upsetting the fragile poetry eco-system and sending everything to hell in a handbasket.

I always struggle with this sort of thing when deciding the fate of certain projects. When Ghost Road dumped girl show back in my lap after having it under contract for almost 3 years, I thought maybe I might just publish it as a Lulu book or make it into chap since it was, at that point, sort of older work.(at which point someone actually told me I shouldn't since, if I put it out under the rubrick of dgp, people would take the press less seriously--I guess she missed the fact that over the years I've issued several little chaps of my own amongst the other titles..) I sent it to Black Lawrence, who ended up taking it, but when they did, I was already thinking of just making it a chapbook somewhere down the line. I'm happy they took it, and no doubt their readership will spread it wider abouts than just me and dgp... but it really would have been okay if they hadn't. I would have eventually just put it out myself. I sort of published havoc instead of submitting it anywhere, because I don't have anything really new to sell at readings or promote at the moment. I would like to get the james franco series in't a journal as an e-chap, but it that doesn't work, I'll probably maybe make a little book, or maybe, make my own e-chap somehow and just link it off my website or here at the blog. Ditto with beautiful sinister.

I struggle sometimes with the desire to spread my work across more outlets in general and my control freaky desire to just issue and control everything myself, but once in a while, that "legitimacy" thing comes up and I realize some people probably see me as lesser a poet because I do release my own stuff on occasion. I start to wonder I should send stuff out to other presses, but then wonder if I'm only doing that because I'm afraid of the alternative. That while I feel like it's a system that needs to be torn down, I still feel beholden to it. It sucks. Everyone wants to be seen as "legitimate" I guess, important, worth reading. It sends you into this self-doubt spiral. Other people sometimes make it better or worse. It becomes this messy knot of contradiction. It's made even more complicated by the disprepancies between the art and writing worlds I exist in. No one bats an eyelash if I produce an artists book or zine with my visual art, but many writers I know would quickly dismiss a slender chapbook of poems for the mere fact it doesn't have someone else's name stamped on its spine.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

love, margins, and other randomness...

At least once, probably twice in the last year, I've found myself talking about wishing that for once, amongst all the romantic missteps and miscommunications, the misfirings and misguided affections, I would find myself with the upperhand when it comes to emotional attachment, or maybe more that just once, someone who I was into would be more into me than I am into them (and that's not even counting a couple of ridiculous completely unrequited situations I've stumbled into the past few years.) I keep getting into the same sorts of relationships where I feel like the other person always has the upper hand, where I feel like I need to tread carefully lest I frighten them off by seeming TOO interested (I've explained it like trying to coax a mouse out from under stove.) Maybe it's just me, but I find myself holding back always in danger of liking someone too much and being disappointed when it all goes to hell. Other people have told me this is always the case, and maybe it is. That there is always the lover and the beloved and probably in your life, the dynamic, sometimes even with the same partner , will go back and forth. I've been involved with people where it really doesn't matter who holds the upper hand, if anyone does at all (usually the less serious sort) but others where it matters very much.

I think I've realized that really, it's not possible. I tend to be pretty quick to cut things off if I'm not totally twitterpated over someone. (unless it's fwb arrangement, but even that has certain criteria in terms of chemistry). When it comes to emotionally charged relationships, If I'm not all that into someone, I usually let it go, regardless of how strong they may or may not feel about me. Usually, I'm sure that the lack of chemistry is universal, but in at least one recent situation maybe I was wrong, which has me questioning. Do I bolt too fast? Am I guilty of not letting things develop at a normal pace? Is it all or nothing? Should it be?

So while I have been thinking about love, I have also been thinking about the narrative project, how sometimes it feels finished and other times does not feel so at all. I was playing with the text on the page this afternoon and discovered that centering a slender column of words in the middle of the page rather than just a left justified paragrapgh did wonders in helping someone get through the denseness of it, which is how I often feel about prose poems (or at least MY prose poems anyway.) I did not want to break it into lines, but it felt sort of off the longer it gets This may have fixed it, though I will take another look tomorrow. My deadline for completion (self-imposed) was the end of February, but there are still rough patches. I'm not sure about submitting it or just issuing it on my own as a small edition..I am sort of feeling control freaky and a bit ambivalent about sending things out for publication again and I'm not sure where it comes from. I tend to exist in my happy little editing/creating/bookmaking bubble, but sometimes some of the seedier po-biz stuff creeps in and makes me feel gross and jaded. Maybe it's a little AWP whiplash.

Otherwise, I am having odd sinus pain in my cheeks when I lay horizontally, which has me waking up intermittently and sleeping far too lightly. I am also craving Mexican food like you wouldn't believe (completely unrelated, but yummy). I am working slowly on the remaining books for authors and finishing up some other layouts this week and trying to get back into my daily routine. Hopefully, I will return to full productivity by Friday.

Monday, March 05, 2012

post conference re-cap

As with most plans, even the best laid ones are sometimes sent awry. I was still a bit behind schedule getting ready for Saturday, so I forfeited some panels and readings to spend more time in the studio working on things, which was probably better anyway, given how crazy everything seemed to be over at the Hilton and the book fair. Thursday, I did manage to make it over to the Beauty Bar for an awesome reading with the Sundress folks. I am loving the venue--it's retro beauty salon vibe and sparkly walls-- and may perhaps think about hosting a dgp event there at some point. I wound up reading several poems from havoc, which people seemed to like, and while I didn't try any of their specialty martinis, I did inbibe a few jack & cokes, which had me a bit blitzed while hunting several for some paper on my way back to the studio to squeeze in a couple more hours work.

Friday's panel went off splendidly, I would say probably around 60 people, many of whom told me afterwards that it was helpful. I love talking about press stuff (which I always feel is more practical and hands on than poetry). Afterwards I took in a friend's reading at the Columbia reception and then hung out at the bar in the gorgeous Palmer House lobby for a few hours. Saturday's open studio was alot of fun, and a chance to show off the latest dgp titles, hang out with the people who wrote them all afternoon, and in general, move a whole lot of books and artsy goods that should keep us in lovely paper and ink cartridges for quite awhile.

Despite the absolute chaos leading up to and during these things, I do always walk away from them creatively energized and excited by all sorts of possibilities, ideas, and projects coming down the pipeline in the coming months.