Friday, June 17, 2016

weekend hi-jinks

a peak at the upcoming cover art for LITTLE APOCALYPSE...

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

the mermaids have arrived!

This morning, got my hot little hands on these copies of SALVAGE (which you can pick up your very own at the BLP site.).  Whenever a new book comes out, I try to think about all the work it took to get there. The writing of the poems, the assembling of the pieces.  These poems were mostly written from 2012-2014, when I first vowed that I would write a book about mermaids (and it's not all mermaids, but the "Shipwrecks of Lake Michigan" makes up a huge chunk and sort of centerpiece of the manuscript  There are also poems about illness and creepy midwestern landscapes. Unlike the last book (major characters in minor films), which did feel a little like the blood jet kind of poetry, a sort of purging, there is less purging here and more contemplativeness.  More stillness.

I also felt a little bit more like I know what I'm doing when it comes to putting together a book that is less of a focused project sort of thing (like girl show or the shared properties of water and stars)  I definitely feel like these sort of books (which includes in the bird museum and major characters) are more like collection of short stories than a novel.  The newest book just picked up by Noctuary is similar--four distinct parts that stand alone but work together thematically.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

notes & things

1 )My copies of SALVAGE are now on their way into my hot little hands as of this morning.  I am super excited for the release and will hopefully try to plan some sort of release reading in the coming months.   The icing on the cake is that I received word yesterday that Noctuary Press wants to publish my latest manuscript, LITTLE APOCALYPSE, in  early 2018--my little romp with post-atomic life, underground living, and zombie girls. I realize how crazy fortunate and lucky I am-- not only to have one super supportive press buoying my work, but like three of them (Noctuary, Black Lawrence, and Sundress.).

2.) In the realm of new creative things, I've been working on some collages to go along with the DIRTY BLONDE poems (see above), which likely manifest as some sort of zine project down the line.   I've been playing with vintage shampoo ads and working digitally, which I am really digging lately.  Also more, flower painting (mostly acrylics now), which has become a sickness almost, but I am enjoying my weekends working on them.  In poetry, I'm sort of treading water and still working (mentally anyway) on the Dali-inspired pieces.  My discipline for writing has been shit lately, but I am willing to let it go for awhile, especially since I am accomplishing  a lot visually.

3.)As we close in on the middle of the submission period for dgp, I am set to start reading manuscripts in the next week or so.  I am excited to see what this summer has bring, and will no doubt be wrestling with some tough decisions.  Already, the pile is closing in on 200, so it's time to get to work. We'll have new books releasing from Mary Lou Buschi, Wendy Vardamen & Sarah Busse, and Sarah Adams soon, so watch the shop for those...also, Colleen Barry's THE GLIDDEN POEMS, which is a little deck of poems in an envelope.

4.) There is another interview up at Cowfeather Books, as well, in which I talk about design process and book arts. Enjoy!

Friday, June 10, 2016

over the hill and under it

So it's Friday and I am looking forward to settling in for the weekend, complete with giant pitchers of iced tea to quell the impending heat, a sizeable amount of cherries and blackberries, and a whole stash of new canvases to play with.  This morning, the library was unusually quiet, so I spent some time organizing dropbox and email files to attempt something like order.  I also spent some time giving the old blog a makeover, the first in probably like 8 or so years, making things a little bigger and brighter and less cluttered.

As I sit on on the very eve of the release of SALVAGE,  my sixth full-length book of poems, with copies due in my hands in a matter of days, I find myself wondering if one can say, at this point, that I've reached that strange, sometimes elusive, category of "mid-career" which is sort of weird when writing hardly seems like a career at all mostly and largely, that we, as poets, always seem to be waiting for that break that will make us--the right publication, the fellowship, the award (though admittedly,   I don't really pursue any of these things with so much on my plate.)  How can one be mid-career, when sometimes I feel like I am waiting for my "career" to even start?  And what is that even--a large adoring audience? critical success? money?

Every once in a while I like to re-read my blog posts from 2005--the year that I was working on finalizing what would become that first book, the fever almanac, which would be accepted that fall and would be released a year later. I had a weird, but very common hunger to have that first book out in the world, not so much because of the book itself, but because I felt like that would mean I had finally "made it" whatever "it" is. I was cresting 30 and desperately needed some sort of validation that the writing I had been doing for the previous 10 years (on an off at first, but solidly for about 7 of them.)  I was also in the midst of an MFA program, which may have fueled the urge. I compared it to baby fever, but in this case, not a baby, but a book.  My own shiny, glossy, bouncing creation. With an isbn and a sleek spine bearing my name. I'd published chaps of course, had issued a lot of little handbound bound and saddle stapled volumes (and still do). But the book was the thing.  I still sort of cringe at that seemingly arbitrary marker of success (usually marked off in a line with things like top-tier journal publication, major award or fellowship, tenure track position.)  But while I never wanted any of those other things, I wanted that book.  Badly.   Desperately in a "I can hardly think about anything else " sort of way.  I was close, about a dozen "nos" but a couple finalist and semi finalist nods.

I was obsessed, and it happened.  one morning my sister, who was living with me for a while handed me the phone and it was Ghost Road Press, offering me a contract.  I spent the whole day in the sort of high that you can never really reproduce. I had spent the summer of 2005 rehauling and re-ordering, and GRP was the first place I sent the final version to.  So there was that book, and a couple years later, another.  Then 5 years later, a quick succession of  3 more after a gap.   I still continued to issue small run chaps and zine of my own work.  Continued to send smaller mss. to  a couple to other presses and projects.  But it still seems sort of surreal that I have any books at all. That I've actually written 6 books (well actually 7, but the latest one is still out in submission).  Perhaps it's just poetry--I imagine working on a novel is very different.  Poems happen one by one and then you have something solid. And then you have a book.  And then you have the next.

But life goes on pretty much as it usually does.  I still have a day job where very few of the people I work with on a daily basis even know I'm a writer, much less that I have 6 books and something of a "career" .  Most of whom do not read poetry at all. .  I hide my poet-ness like my superhero cape.  When someone randomly on the street asks me what I do, I usually say I'm a  librarian, since when I say I am going to "work" that is what I am going to do (though technically I do not possess and MLS degree, so that is up to interpretation.)  On facebook and most online media, I list my job as running dancing girl press (which I also do, and where most of my  efforts and passion lie.)  Nevertheless, there is like this third leg of the tripod of efforts that is my writing "career"  that is almost invisible to the naked eye. I imagine most poets with day jobs feel this way, particularly outside of academia (which I am both in and out of since I don't teach, but I do work for a college.)  Being a "poet" sometimes feels very disjointed from the real work of living, even the work of someone immersed in poetry every single day and publishing other people's work.

As such, I am a little startled when I think about being a "mid-career poet"..mostly since it's almost like saying I am a "mid-career" mermaid. Where is the beginning?  Is it that first book 10 years ago?  Was it those first horrible poems at 15?  Was it the real work, the solid work, that started when I was in my mid-twenties?   Somehow I feel like I fumbled through those years as a novice poet and landed here.  Middle aged --I deny this to the death, but here I am 42, probably halfway to death (and that's if I'm lucky enough to live into my eighties.)  Mid-career, I guess, and chugging along...

Thursday, June 09, 2016

So the other day I woke up to the news that HRC had clinched the democratic nomination and, while I don't follow politics all that closely and think all of Washington needs a good overhall (or at least a thorough disinfecting), I did feel a little rush of excitement that took me back to age 19 when the Clinton's took the White House for the first time and everything seemed all hope and possibility.  I was under the impression that the world was changeable for the good then.  That things were becoming kinder, more progressive, that ass backwardness were this thing way in the past and the world would only get better.   And also, there, a first Lady who was involved in a real way in policy making and governance.

The lot of the 90's were that way, that we had emerged from the dark ages of the eighties and Reagan and things would only get better.  But then Bush happened, and I got older, and wiser, and less positive about the general level of intelligence of my fellow human.  The generatiion that was emerging under me seemed even more conservative sometimes than the one above me.  The internet, while overall a good thing, seemed to allow the pockets of hate and bigotry and grossness to fester and spread, to become part of the culture  in a way they never had been before (the media throughout my lifetime having been sort of left-leaning and progressive in and of itself, at least as much as 80's America would allow it to be. )

HATE became this tangible, palpable thing, that only burned more with every story on the news, even as politically things got better with Obama years. So even so, Wednesday morning, after Hillary clinched it, I still got this rush that made the 19 year old in me happy. That here was a strong, female candidate, and that we were closer than ever to having a woman in the White House.  That it was possible to have this thing happen in my lifetime.

Of course, a few seconds later, I scrolled down on FB to read the Victim's letter in the Stanford rape case and felt the wind knocked out of my sails.  There is this weird disconnect when I think about about feminism and living a world where in one minute we are celebrating the possibility of a woman achieveing the highest ranking position in the US, while at the same time a rapist is not only getting off scott free, but  the victim suffers sometimes worse after the assault than during it. That rape culture is so fucking ingrained in our attitudes that this sort of thing can happen and happens all the time. I can't help but think as soon as we think we win one, we lose so many more.

Friday, June 03, 2016

It finally, for the past week or so, seems like summer. I am already settled into my summer routines and hours, and blissfully have my free weekends back, in which I mostly plan to loaf about and do some painting and writing. Maybe some napping.  Last week's glorious 3-day indulgence was much needed. I also managed to walk away with a sizeable stack of new watercolors to boot. Since I am still keyboardless at home for the time being, my writing has mostly been limited to notes and snippets in my notebook, but I intend to work them into something like finished during week, There is also an erasure project I've been contemplating that I'd love to make some headway on that does not require typing.

Summer has slowed down at the library to a trickle, but we had a decent turnout for the A of R Salon Series last week, despite a stormy deluge, and we have another planned for later in the summer.  We are also taking our Bookwrecking workshop on the road to the Small Prestivus Festival in Griffith, Indiana in July. Plans are already underway for Fall workshops and events, including the return of the Little Indie Press Fest and some more printmaking fun.

While I haven't dipped into the inbox just yet, submissions are in full swing for dgp's reading periods this summer, I will likely start reading submissions in the next couple of weeks and choosing manuscripts for 2017.  We had a surge in releases and are nearly back on schedule for this year's books as well, with so much goodness still set to come.   So stay tuned...