Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 retropective

We're now in that hushed period between X-mas and New Years, a time of year when the claustrophobia of winter sets in, if it hasn't already, and I sort of drift through the days not knowing what time it is, who I am, where I am, or what I'm supposed to be doing.  I am back in the city after the usual brisk round of celebrations, toting an amazing gift haul that includes art supplies (new watercolors, abundant paper, and canvases), booze (kalua and an amazing orange tequila liqueur), a couple of much needed electronics (a mini Fire tablet and a new roku), and have already blown through gift card for Modcloth--- all gifts which touch on all my favorite vices, so I'm stoked.  And of course, I kept on budget this year for buying gifts, so I've indulged myself some more dresses and a couple new coat options as presents to myself. (and amazingly, we actually got a holiday bonus at the library this year, so things are not as tight financially as usual this time of year.)

I've spent some good time in the studio the last couple days as well. working on the loose ends & orders I didn't finish last week running out the door, and a round of assembling the newest titles, which will soon be on their way to their authors. We are actually mostly on schedule with just a handful of 2016 books debuting after the new year, and then so many 2017 coming down the pipeline.  I was copying out a full list in my new sketchbook, and revisiting the titles I've chosen over the latter half of this year and am so amazed continually by the work I get a chance to help bring into the world.  (We incidently have a 10 for $30 mixtape deal going on for the next week or so if you. too. would like to get your hands on some of the wonderful books we published this last year, check it out.)

 In retrospect, I guess, one year, and over 60 books out in the world by women authors, which seems important in these bleak times more than it ever has before--to be a feminist press, to be offering a venue for women's voices, to be chipping away at the white man literary patriarchy book by book. To be working toward publishing a good number of POC and LGBTQ authors every year and still striving to publish even more. There is still more work to do here and I hope to continue to make it happen. Also, to put out books that are rich and diverse stylistically and thematically and from a variety of places and aesthetic viewpoints. (the sort of variation that includes collections of Oulipo and found poetry, but also, for example, something like Eva Schlesinger's upcoming third dgp chap of wacky rhymed pieces.) A healthy dose of works in translation or bilingual, collaborations, books with visual elements.  And then the work toward getting books into more hands, into libraries and bookstores, into review outlets. I've put wicked alice on a mini-hiatus the last few months, but am hoping to line up some new work there in the next few weeks and maybe some other things like short reviews and reading lists--it's a valuable, but sadly neglected space that I hope to use more of in the coming year. Also the mermaid anthology, which needs some more work, but is clicking into place.

Writing wise, there has been fits and starts. The year began with fine-tuning the apocalypse manuscript (all nuclear anxieties and sci-fi and zombies) and sending it off.  Then this summer's acceptance from Noctuary for next year's release (which seems oddly appropriate somehow given the election results.). I wasn't writing much at all for much of the year and mostly focused on painting over the spring & summer ,but  then was writing a lot through the fall, most of it Plath centos, which, though initially just some text elements for an artists book of floral paintings,  suddenly spiraled into something else entirely and I found myself with almost a whole book of them- book about marriage and domesticity and maybe Plath herself a little. I finished up the manuscript right before Thanksgiving and am hoping to find a home for it perhaps if others take a liking to it.

SALVAGE was released in the summer and Black Lawrence as always making it something even more beautiful than I imagined with it's Sailor Jerry tattoo mermaid cover. These were the newer poems from the last three or four years, spanning the Shipwrecks of Lake Michigan mermaid poems and the radio ocularia body/illness poems. I also had work in a handful of journals--Handsome, Rogue Agent, Leopardskin & Limes, Paper Darts--a couple interviews and reviews of earlier projects at Entropy, Cowfeather Books, Sabotage and Red Paint Hill. One new zine issued, STRANGE MACHINE, complete with some pinup collages and a sampling of the LITTLE APOCALYPSE mss. I also managed to finish up the poems written after Dali's Inventions of the Monsters painting and will be issuing those as a little zine in the next month or so, and probably the DIRTY BLONDE pieces with accompanying collages later in the spring.

Right now, I'm sort of in this weird limbo between projects, with a couple things on the back burner (the hotel murder mystery poems of course, perhaps a longer, deeper, revisiting of the beautiful, sinister chapbook which has been something I've been thinking about, especially since it was initially intended to be a much longer book) and something else, an epistolary series, taking shape in my head and itching to get down on paper.  Also things I occasionally flirt with ideas and notes--poems about Renaissance era dog girls, writings about sexuality and polyamory and kink.  Poems about body image and food obsessiveness.  Text pieces that accompany the freaky little unusual creatures cabinet card collages. And probably another five or so things I am forgetting about now but have noted I want to do. (granted I may not get to all these things by 2025, let alone in 2017, but I like to think long-range.)

It was actually a more fruitful year for visual art than for words.  I've been painting a lot--mostly florals and some landscapes.  I also did my first attempts at ink painting and nature printmaking, which I am hoping to do much more of in the new year.  There was also quite a bit of collaging, both paper and digital, both for my own purposes and for dgp covers, which I am really happy with. I managed to round up work for not only this years WORDS|MATTER show, but also some collages for the KrampusLauf! exhibit in Elgin.  Then there is florographia, with a handful of the Plath poems that are botanical focused and a smattering of the floral visual work I've been doing this past year. (which will be a book or a box or maybe a bit of both.)

In the library, things have been busy during the semesters--with our how-to art/craft workshops, the Uncanny Specimens week, Little Indie Press, and general programming (zines, salons, game nights, oh my) and general blogging and exhibit prep. We've also taken the fun on the road--bookwrecking at Small Prestivus, zine making at a conference in Michigan, snowglobes for public schools. November was mostly wrangling together the ACRL Excellence Award application (ie. using my writing skills for good instead of evil and for something I actually get paid for), so fingers crossed, we'll see how that pans out in the next month or so.  I've also written up a couple program guides for ALA and a Library as Incubator piece on marketing arts events. There are couple more library related wriitng projects I'm hoping to make happen this year and next, and of course, planning for the Spring semester of Aesthetics offerings and exhibits  as soon as I crawl out from under January's reserve processing and annual purging craziness that awaits me during the J-Term.

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Otherwise, 2016 was not a bad year on a personal level, despite the weirdness of living in a country that apparently is more hateful and intolerant than I imagined it to be in my odd little urban, academic, artsy bubble--a bubble that's apparently made me more than a little myopic, but oh it was a beautiful mirage for awhile.)  It was actually a pretty promising year til November anyway.  I actually got to take a real vacation, in January New Orleans and fell in love with it (to the point of idly scouting French Quarter apartments and public transportation and vague plans to open a little paper/art/poetry boutique--a nice fantasy until you consider I can't really afford to do it and would probably run screaming from larger, more tenacious, southern insect-life. (also, Chicago, like a bad boyfriend seduces me every spring and somehow makes me forget entirely its sub-zero temps and mountains of dirty snow--April -November I only have eyes for this big, glittering, city***.)   Throughout the year, there were other awesome everyday things. booze and tacos and books.  Taxidermy stores and boat rides and cottages in Michigan. Dresses, of course.  So. Many. Dresses. (to the detriment of my wallet sometimes) And, of course,  good people in my life--family, friends, romantically (and shedding and/or tactful evasion the not good people).

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So here's hoping 2017 turns out as promising as it can...

***Anyway, in 2017, while I'm not moving south, I'll be going back  in the spring around my birthday for the New Orleans Poetry Festival where I'll be reading. (and where I intend to eat my weight daily in beignets and jambalaya, drink large tacky plastic cupped booze concoctions on the sidewalk, and ride around on streetcars.)   If I don't necessarily want to leave Chicago altogether, I can have an occasional no strings fling with the Big Easy..,it's only right.