Monday, February 27, 2017

pretty, interesting things

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Poetry, I usually get. It's not like I've always gotten it, and in fact, there were many, many years of NOT getting it before I got it, but I move about in the poetry world with a fair amount confidence mostly in my practices, tastes, and abilities. Feel I can somehow articulate and speak with authority when it comes to other poets.  Art, however, is a different beast altogether, and sometimes, I feel most our of my element within in, no matter what medium I'm working in.

I was always the girl who tried really hard in grade school art class, but for whom things always went slightly awry.  I would carefully craft my tiny clay pinch pot only to have one of the sides cave in before firing.  I once made a wire sculpture of a cheerleader whose one arm was slightly shorter than the other. Was a disaster when it came to messy things..glue, paint glitter.  (this is still true.)  My artist vision was always sound, always brimming with ideas and thoughts about how things SHOULD turn out.  I was very creative, but lacked a certain amount of skill or hand eye coordination or making magic.  I still cannot draw to save my life.

My sister was an art class kid--one of the malcontents who felt most comfortable among the turpentine soaking brushes of the art classroom in highschool and worked mostly in oils.  I was probably a newspaper kid. Or maybe a drama kid.  But I never took an art class in the 6 odd years after elementary school. In college, I did paint sets though, during my bout with the theatre bug, and was actually pretty decent at faux techniques--fake stone, fake wood, the shadowing required to make 2-D look 3-D, but always thought that while my skills looked adequate from a few rows back, up close, there was always a certain amount of imperfection.

I learned early on I was pretty good with words--could write papers and essays and stories without battling an eyelash, so I didn't feel too bad about my lack of art skills--after all, there are many things I am horrible at--math, cooking. Making small talk. I moved about in the world not even mourning the lack of those skills throughout most of my teens and twenties. But maybe there were yearnings and inclinations that I didn't even notice until afterwards. I did spend long hours hand coding my websites (which I had taught myself on a super-basic levl) until they looked just right (the right colors, the right amount of white space, balance, fonts, etc.).

A couple of things coalesced around the time I turned 30 that sent me off in a direction  hadn't even considered. and one was the emergence of a library arts series, whereupon we were urged, as staff members, to submit and display our work.  As a writer, I wasn't sure if that request even pertained to me, but my first stab, at a co-workers urging, was an unrolling roll of text that spanned the first floor and went up the stairs to the 3rd Floor and around the gallery space.  Another was sheets of muslin hung museum banner style and covered in text. I was trying, but felt limited in just working with text, almost as if there was a certain visually-oriented desire itching in my fingers and about to be born.   Those installations, however, gave me a little confidence, and in 2004 I wound up taking a summer workshop down at the Book and Paper Center on collage techniques.  By that fall, you couldn't stop me.  Drawing I sucked at, but I could cut and paste like a pro. Mostly I just made things for either the art shows or myself, but in 2007, I started selling a lot of the originals pretty successfully on Etsy.  It was of course the early days of the venue, when getting seen was a lot easier than it would become later.

The other factor was the press.  When I started dgp in 2004, I was initially mostly using readymade artwork for covers, either photos or artwork the poet had arranged for us to use, or simple vintage images and graphics. My design skills were pretty much limited, and only in the next few years, did I actually start designing pieces, either digitally or manually for the books we publish.  We still use a mix of approaches--sometimes other artists/designers, sometimes me, sometimes even the author themselves, but I do get to work on a lot of covers every publications season, which is one of my favorites parts of running the press. Over time, I've graduated from paper and digital collage to other things--printmaking, book sculptures, painting. I'm still learning when it comes to most of these and still very uncertain.  Tomorrow night, I get to learn silk screening for the first time for an AofR workshop, which I am excited about.

Art has always seemed a more satisfyingly tangible thing than poetry.  Whenever I sell collages or prints or even paper foods,'s simple..I make a piece, someone gives me money.  I make another.  Very, very different from writing, where I write a piece.  maybe someone reads it, maybe not, and no one pretty much ever gives you money for it. In fact, if you enter a lot of contests, you lose money on the whole endeavor.  But then there seems to be much more demand for pretty, interesting things to put on your walls than there ever is for pretty, interesting words on your shelves.

In recent years, I've been working more to merge these two identities--working on more visual/text projects where they were always mostly separate before.  Collage series that become poems, or poems that inspire visual exploits. Sometimes the stars align and things are created in tandem (like with my recent florographia project.)  The zine series has done a lot to get me thinking in these directions, in both directions simultaneously, a foot planted in both worlds. I'm still unsteady in my visual practices, but fusing them with the words sometimes helps immensely (and this could probably be said for my cover design exploits for the press as well.)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

the poetry machine

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Last week, I was trimming some chaps in the studio and caught sight of my top shelf  full of all my own recent lovelies, which I joked on FB were probably the closest  thing I would ever have to children (not having even the slightest motherly inclinations) And books kind of are something you give birth to, some with longer gestational periods than others, which explains that exquisite sort of torment when you have manuscripts looking for publishers.   I currently have one book out in the ether and being considered by a favorite press that I hope will love it, but currently is in that weird in-between, full of uncertainty.  Is it as good as I think?  Am I deluding myself?  If I dare look at it again after a couple months of hands off-ness, will I find it severely lacking  I also, luckily,  have a project set to be birthed in the next year or so, LITTLE APOCALYPSE, preparations of which are well underway--cover designed, galleys edited, print details laid out.  

Not to mention the sort of first book crazy I fell victim to in the couple of years before my first  manuscript was accepted--the days of raking my fingers longingly  over spines in the bookstore and throwing money away on contests I would never in a million years win.   It was worse because I had just turned 30--felt, naively that if I was going to be a "young genus" that my expiration date was sadly nearing somehow.  The clock was ticking (all very ridiculous in hindsight).  We all want to be the precocious young poet, the overnight success, whose first book lands to applause and attention. Some all of my friends from the blogworld (pre-FB) were beginning to sign book contracts and make their way into the literary world by 2005 when that first book was accepted.  And really, it wasn't really ready until that final revision.   And  that  "young genius" thing really isn't applicable to reality.  Most of us will likely make small waves, and then hopefully, slightly bigger waves--the boon of being a slow burn is you're much less likely to burn out.  I'm not even sure the waves don't get bigger and smaller depending on the scope and appeal of what you write. I've also been of the opinion that any book is an excellent snapshot of the work you are writing during a given span of your career.  Obviously, I don't write the same way I did 10 + years ago, and I probably shouldn't if the goal is to be developing and evolving as an artist as you go. As a result I know some readers love certain books and not others, warm to given periods of work more than to others.  I often feel this way about other people books, so it's totally to be expected.

I've had the good fortune to have been releasing books at a brisk pace the past few years, after a five or so year gap of nothing happening. When THE FEVER ALMANAC was released in late 2006. I had already found a home for IN THE BIRD MUSEUM at Dusie, so those two were close in birthdays, but for a few years I was suffering both the demise of a publisher that postponed GIRL SHOW's release until it was picked up by BLP as well as just a slower output of work in general.  Post MFA,  I was half-heartedly working on the poems that would eventually become the MCMF book, and what would become my BEAUTIFUL, SINISTER chap.  I was also growing the press. moving into the studio, and selling a lot on Etsy, all of which took a lot of time and energy.  From 2007 up until late 2011,  when I undertook the James Franco project, I maybe wrote 20 pages of material. After that, it was like a dam broke, and things picked up considerably and I got back into a more normal routine of writing and publishing.

There were periods in there that I thought I might stop writing altogether--not because of any solid decision to do so, but just because my efforts were elsewhere.  I would get this weird sinking panicked feeling when other writers asked me what I was working on, mostly because I was working at it so little.  I had heard the stories of the people who had finished their MFA and never wrote another word. It was like an urban legend I suspected was more true than it wasn't.   And weirdly somehow that seemed like it would be so easy to do--to let it go so easily.  I'm not sure I could stop creating art or writing completely, or working to publish other peoples writing, but my own poetry, as genre seemed easy, even a relief, to let slip from my hands.  And not just the poetry, but the business of poetry that I have never really felt at ease in.  The posturing and unspoken rules and hierarchies and such that are sort of gross. To just walk away from it all (and it's not like I would be suffering financially by doing so.)

When I was working on the James Franco pieces, it somehow did so much to re-energize me and I have no idea why.  Maybe it was the low expectations going in--how it was just a fun little thing and not "poetry".   I could fail or, more importantly, let it fail because the stakes weren't all that high.   After that, was writing like gangbusters, finishing the rest of that book and THE SHARED PROPERTIES OF WATER AND STARS. Then all of SALVAGE and LITTLE APOCALYPSE, all within a span of about three years.  There were periods that were more fallow than others, but I would make up for the slow periods by insane periods of productivity. I still probably couldn't say I write on daily on the regular, though that's a goal aspire to, but I know how to deal with those restless feelings I start to get when life or other work gets too much in the way of writing.  I guess I feel lately that's its all less dire now..that no maybe things are a little quiet and dusty now with that poetry machine, but itll dust off and begin again. And again.  And again.

Friday, February 24, 2017

friday frivolity | for the love of coats

Like the idea of a vibrant bunch of embroidered flowers coming out of your coat pocket!:

We've had a brief spate of mild weather days that have had temps in the 60's--a good thing when winter has definitely already worn out it's welcome about two months ago.  In recent years, one of my winter month coping mechanism is the binge-buying of both boots and outerwear.  Long gone are the days of that sad single (usually black, sometimes gray) pea coat variation that I expected to carry me from beginning to end of the season (and usually only weathered a couple years before I simply wore it out or the coat became serious compromised by wear.)

A couple years back, I began collecting in earnest--my favorite Lands End design in a bunch of different shades (my grey go-tweed, raspberry, teal, tan)  A couple of oddballs--a leoopard faux fur, a red babydoll car coat, a pale salmon peacoat. And of course, a couple black wool and one gray,  variations on the pea coat that always work with everything.)  My faves are a grey tweed with a rich chocolate fur collar and a beautiful faux persian lamb super dressy coat.   I tend to shop Ebay exclusively for outerwear, so have gotten many of these at a steal, particularly if they're used, sometimes less than $20. This winter bought a more casual brown tweed number, as well as the most glorious pink tweed Lane Bryant long coat I stumbled upon a few weeks ago (above).  Also a  $12 70's rocker fur collared suede  that I haven't yet had the opportunity to wear.

Do I need this many coats?  Probably not..but when I'm hauling ass out into the winter tundra pretty much every day, at least I get to do it with a little bit of happy and flair, which is about all I can ask for. ( of course, my mild weather jacket collection is also a little unruly these days, which are usually cheaper and therefore more tempting even than cold-weather coats--so maybe that logic doesn't hold up at all.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


These are some floral acrylics I did back in the fall and that finally made it to the scanner..I'd been playing it bit with getting watercolory effects out of acrylic (mostly since I had depleted my watercolor set)  There are more to come from just after the new year (actual watercolors), so stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


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When I was in grad school the first time around, I got it in my head that I wanted to finish a book manuscript before I turned 25.  I had been writing, unsteadily, for about 5 years at that point, submitting a bit unsuccessfully, publishing in school lit mags, getting honorable mentions in college poetry prizes. Things had only recently been coming clear in my head about the potentials of "being a poet' in the year before that, my goals having been mostly geared toward teaching, however ill-suited I actually seemed to be for it.  Suddenly I was writing a lot (a combination of such clarity, a little publication success,  and no obligations outside my MA in Lit courses and studying for my comp exams.)  All I wanted to do was write, and was hoping to find some sort of stable, not horrible, bookish job that would give me the space (physical and mental) to actually do it. .  Even though my knowledge of both po-biz and poetry in general was seriously lacking, I had amassed enough copies of POETS & WRITERS to glean that to get a book published, you had to enter and win one of the prestigious contests advertised in those pages.  Easy enough, no?  I had always been a crack shot at contests--had won boring legal essay contests with cash prizes, free Noxema products from Seventeen Magazine for an essay about activism.  It never even occurred to me how bad my work really still was at that point--how long I had to go, how insurmountable the odds of winning even when you have a solid manuscript. I somehow zeroed in on the Yale Younger Poets seemed fancy and ever so prestigious.  It seemed suited to novice poets (lolololol). So I set about pulling that book together and entering it in the contest.

I had a lot of poems--most of them terrible really, some slightly salvageable (and some that even made it into my chap a few years later--THE ARCHAEOLOGISTS DAUGHTER.)  I liked to write about myth then, as all beginning poets seem to want to do.  Other art forms--history, literary characters.  Gunivere.  Calypso,  Degas' dancers.  Gold Rush brides.   In short, writing about other things helped me realize I had very little to write about myself at that young age.   By spring of 1999, I had about 50 pieces that I spent hours formatting on my sluggish Brother word processor   (I had access to PC's in the labs at DePaul, but at home was computerless.) I distinctly remember staying up late, word processor on my lap, sitting on the floor, back against the couch, typing while I watched endless re-run episodes of the X-Files. I had written a poem called TAURUS, that was all about the differences in how men and women view art--men as something to be slain and conquered, and women, the opposite.   So I decided this would be my title--the thing that bound it all together.  I thought I was so deep for that, surely a genius.  I paid my 40 dollars or so, sent the manuscript on it's way, and of course, did not win.  I've no idea what did win that year, only that it wasn't me.

Shortly after, I packed everything up and moved back to Rockford from Chicago.  Finished my degree, found a job. Found a couple, actually, but only one that stuck.  Moved back to the city about a year and a half later.  Life sort of swept me up in a current, and it was a while before I got back to the poems.  By then online journals were coming into prominence.  A year or so later, I had been publishing on the regular, finishing newer work, putting together a chapbook that contained mostly new poems, but also a handful of those TAURUS pieces that were more promising. The rest were shoved in my old writing archives and only pulled out occasionally for laughs.

Whenever anyone asks me about my first book, I sometimes forget there was anything before THE FEVER ALMANAC.   That was the book that was slaved over, and edited, and readjusted over about a 2 year period to make it into the thing it became. By 2001, when I wrote the first poems in that collection, I was actually reading and aware of other poets work, so there was a huge difference between those pieces and the stuff I was writing for TAURUS.  I was also never more sure of myself than I was working on that first manuscript, more completely clueless and naive. Sometimes I look at that girl sitting there on the living room floor and laugh at her naiveite.  Sometimes, I want to be her again, so clueless and hopeful and determined.

Monday, February 20, 2017

So ultimately, it has been a scary and kind of surreal week.  My mom had somewhat of a large heart attack on Wednesday out of nowhere, and while she underwent surgery and is on the mend and soon to be home from the hospital,  the scared, anxious part of me is thinking underneath it all that this is only the beginning--the sort of health decline all elderly parents fall into (she is nearing on 70 and my dad is 76 this year.)  The period of time that all people my age fear, if they are lucky enough to not have lost their parents even earlier in life.  The inevitability of them not always being there.

We've always been a reasonable fortunate family  with our health issues, though there have been some, pretty minor on the scale of tragedy --my dad and sister have intermittent seizures but are not quite epileptic.  My brother in law actually is epileptic and has lived with it his whole life.    I am probably the most fortunate,  a lot of bumps and bruises and a broken finger when I was a child --other clumsiness casualities like  last winter's bus ride tumble hurt wrist.   My sciatic issue a couple years back, my endless bout with mono 10 years ago.  A couple of unfortunate food poisoning incidents.    My mom has survived colon cancer when she was forty, gall bladder issues in her 50's (also something my sister endured.), as well as a scary bout with a twisted herniated colon that nearly killed her about 15 years ago.  She has also been diabetic since I was a child , but has been reasonable good at monitoring her sugar for over 30 years and is in pretty good shape with it.    But still, she apparently had some artery blockage that caused a very asympotomatic attack (no pain at all, but some breathlessness and some sweating while in the grocery store that eventually led to my dad forcing her to go to the emergency room.) That scary bus ride to Rockford is not one I wish to repeat, but it seems highly likely I will find myself on it again, and it won't always be as  fortuitous a recovery.  This makes me panicky, and anxious.  They won't live forever and I know this, but I've been pretty good at living in denial.

Thursday morning,  as I made sure the cats were fed, wrote out my rent check, went to the bank to get cash, and even packed up some dgp orders in the studio because I was early for the bus, I was operating on autopilot, almost as if I were watching normal Kristy doing all the normal sort of things while seriously panicking inside.   By the time I got to Rockford, she was already in surgery for angioplasty and on her way to recovering, but those few hours on uncertainty that began Wednesday night when my sister texted me about shortness of breath and the emergency room (which had happned a couple months back, but not so severe and coinciding with a bad bout bout of bronchitis she was recovering from)  and then my mother's call at 2am confirming that it was not leftover bronchitis and was, in fact, a heart attack, up until I actually got to the hospital, were the worst 12 or so hours in my memory.  What was the total damage?  Would it happen again?  Would she have to have full-on open heart surgery (which my aunt, while it it was a preventative surgery, is still slowly recovering from the one she had last fall with quite a few complications that make it hard for her to get around. .)  

While her kidneys took a hit, they are expected to  be on the upswing, and the surgeries, two arteries fixed and another in a month or so, should prevent future attacks, she still seems infinitely more fragile and ailing than she was before.  I mean, maybe the fact that she suffered a pretty big attack with nary an eyelash bat, proves how hardcore she is.   She tends to be rather no-nonsense about health things, and while she has had various aches and pains and weird afflictions (inexplicable hives, leg cramps in bed, shingles last spring, a pulled tendon in her arm  in January), she's pretty adamant about going about her usual business. She seems vulnerable now when she was always invulnerable.  and I'm not sure I'm ready for that, with her or my dad.

I spent some time with my mom in her hospital room the past four days (a hospital room she is very eager to leave as soon as they give the ok.)  But each time I left the room, or went home to sleep, I was haunted by the fact that n 1984, my maternal grandmother took a nasty fall and broke her hip,  While she was recovering just fine, and only in her mid-50's, she suffered a sudden blood clot because of the hip and died in the hospital one summer morning.  My mother had gone to visit her about 20 minutes before visiting hours ended the night before she died, but was rushed out, only to find out the next morning she was gone.  It was a weird freak situation that was forged and made especially tragic, by a number of random factors--that last rushed visit, her reasonably good health up til then, the blood clot, the nurse who left her unsupervised in the bathroom and didn't check on her til it was too late.  It haunted me every time I turned to go in that hospital and now everytime in the future from here on in.  Is this the last time I see her (or my father) alive? Of course, any of us could get hit by a bus tomorrow, and any day could be our last.  But I'm not sure I'm ready for the increasing likelyhood of that sort of finality. Not just yet.

Friday, February 17, 2017

friday frivolity | pick your poison

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I am typically not really a makeup person.  Maybe it was a slight failure to launch when I outgrew the novelty of playing with grownup makeup and was supposed to move into my teen years. I always had a marked fascination with my mother's rather large-ish nail polish collection--which eventually became my own collection hoarded permanently in my bedroom from age 10 on.  Mind you I rarely actually used them, but I liked having them lined up prettily on my dresser, liked to line them up by rainbow color formation . Similarly, I had a bunch of mostly unused cosmetics stuffed in drawers and kaboodle organizers.  Would buy cheap Wet & Wild glosses and lipliners every once in a while and vow to use them, but rarely did.  I kept them,  though,  until they fell apart or dried up, as if they were some sort of magic potion.  There if I needed them, but usually tossed in the trash eventually   My mom has always been a full-on makeup person, so maybe my aversion to actually using the thinsg I hoarded was slightly a rebellion against that--the time daily I watched her applying foundation, mascara, eyeshadow and lipstick (and she was actually far less maitenance than other women I have ecountered who go full eye makeup and lipliners and such)  I liked the  colorful bottles and the shininess of the colors, the slick packaging of cosmetics in general, but they seemed like something I could rarely be bothered to mess with in that brief 10 minutes after the snooze button-shower-throw your clothes--barely brush your hair beauty regimen.   (which is pretty much my routine still.)

I liked playing with them and marveling over them, but whenever I actually applied them, I didn't like how they altered my face--it felt so stagey, so over the top, a diminishment  rather than an improvement. While I decided early on that eye makeups  weren't for me at all, I liked lipsticks, but hated how they rubbed off, or dwindled to nothing and would have to be replied. (which I really didn't have time or patience for.) Lately, I've been a tinted lip balm kind of girl--Burt's Bees being a favorite, though I have very recently come to appreciate some super-long staying lip stains.

Nail polish is my one beauty indulgence, however, and the one self-care things I probably do on the regular every Sunday--always the toes, sometimes the fingers.  Granted my nails take a lot of abuse (pulling out crooked staples, ink, general damage) so they usually are looking pretty rough by Weds and need to be redone, but I do rather deeply enjoy the girly ritual of choosing a color, removing old polish, filing and trimming and repainting.  I've never been one for manicures since I find other people touching me to be kind of annoying and I rarely want to sit still that long (and paying someone for something I can so obviously do myself), But I do like having rather spotless nails for a couple of days (unless I've somehow already gotten paint all over them Sunday night, which happens now and again.)  I usually will go one polish color each changeout, but sometimes I'll do more daring or bold colors on the toes (sometimes, bright colors annoy me on my fingers since I'm looking at them so much. )  My favorites, of course are red (Opi's I'm Not Really a Waitress is a fave), since they seem to go well with my skin tone, but I love a dusty pink, sometimes just a jet black in the winter months.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

frivolity friday | love / hate

As time goes on, I've realized that sometimes the very things I find myself obsessing over and loving may have, in fact, been one of the things I once hated.  About 5 years ago, I found  myself in the midst, at least among plus size retailers of an animal print renaissance.  I hated it so much and had a hard time hunting down dresses that did not look like I'd just returned from hunting big game. , And while I am not generally very fond of most animal inspired patterns (snakeskin and zebra leave me cold.) for the past couple of years, I've been just a little obsessed with leopard print things--handbags, ballet flats, throw pillows.  I basically stalked a faux fur leopard coat on for two years until it hit a price I could afford. I splurged on a Ralph Lauren dress a couple years back  (above) that is one of my go-tos.  I have at least one other dress and two other skirts, and have recently scored a lighter weight trench on ebay. Granted, leopard is best used sparingly, but I feel very 50's pinup vixen when I wear it (or psychotic crying spurned girl).

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Thursday, February 09, 2017

AWP-ing without AWP

With all the AWP-ing happening on facebook, I can't help but feel a little bit like sad that I'm totally missing out, and at the same time, sort of relieved that I'm missing out (the whole experience usually falling in the immensely rewarding but horribly stressful category. ) On one hand, I find it so amazing  that we are all (and of course never really) in the same place and that the streets outside are swarming with writers.  That I get a chance to meet all of our dgp authors, and get books in so many hands, and hang out with other people that I never get to see due to distance.  That I get to feel, for a few days, at least, that writing is as much a convention-deserving orientation as that of a dentist or an optometrist and not something that just happens in my head sometimes and on paper.

At the same time, dang, that shit is expensive.  Travel , hotel and registration, even if you make it onto a panel is costly.   Book fair tabling--egads, even if you split.  I've done it, but it's always like this huge chunk of money out of pocket (and my pockets aren't that deep)  And I rarely am able to make it back, even the years that books are selling like gangbusters.  My student loans funded my 2007 jaunt to Atlanta. and  in 2014-Seattle , it helped to be staying with friends. The Chicago conventions I attended were easier since there was no travel or accomodations involved (I split a table with Switchback books in 2009 and  in 2012--I opted just to host an open studio down the street instead of a book fair table, and luckily was able to register as a panelist otherwise.)  A couple years back, I had all intentions of going--travel and hotel booked, a table slot paid for, and a financial setback at the last minute prohibited it.

And even money considerations aside, there is also the whole getting time off work issue (more difficult now because we're understaffed at the library), the getting places without a car and  extreme anxiety around flying.   The stress involved in making 80 lbs of books and carting them cross country alone on Amtrak (which I did for Seattle and will likely never attempt again.)  The making the 80 pounds of books in a short period of time also stress-inducing--making sure we have enough of each thing, but not too many.  Deciding where to draw the line on what to bring and what won't possibly fit on a table when we publish so much.

And there is also my mixed feelings on the mfa-cation of writing..AWP being the mothership of the academic-creative industrial complex and what that means for people outside it.  The people who feel like they do not fit in / cannot afford / do not feel welcome at at AWP.  AWP's reluctance to furnish childcare or offer a diverse enough array of panels. Also the pure bloat of it--the all consuming monster of it over the past 10 years.

Part of me wants to be there because all my friends are.  Wants to work it some way that I could avoid the actual conference hall but still hang out with other poets and do off-site readings and maybe even sell some books somewhere outside the book fair.  Maybe host a big dgp reading and party off-site while all the writers are in town.  But then there are so many readings and parties and it's impossible to actually get to all the things you want to.

I attended my first conference in 2004, in Chicago, pretty much only becuaue I was still an MFA student and it was free.  I remember how small it was relatively, tiny enough to fit in the Palmer House alone,  but how overwhelming it was at the same time.  I sort of drifted from panel to bookfair and back to panels.  I know pretty much no one in those days outside of a handful of fellow CCC MFA-ers.  The poets I did know outside of school, locally and from online were mostly non-academicly oriented and just not there. Or maybe they were there, but I didn't know where to find them or connect in that pre-facebook world.  I was still pretty much totally under anyone's radar, as a poet, as a publisher.  DGP was only a glimmer in my eye, and I wouldn't issue our first title til that fall.  (though admittedly I was leaving thick piles of wicked alice pliers on all the free tables as I went.)  I'd been publishing for a couple years regularly in online journals, but the book fair was mostly print pubs,so the editors weren't familiar faces. I hadn't published any books or chapbooks and no one really knew my work. I also was only beginning to read widely of my peers, so I didn't really know who anyone was--the authors reading, signing books.  I was completely invisible and it was at the same time both wonderful and terrifying.  I didn't feel in any way a part of that world and yet I wanted it.

It was actually probably the first and only time I got to go to a lot of panels that weren't my own (by 2007 I was bound to the book fair table almost the whole time.)  My choices were scattered--Publishing chapbooks, Hypertext Poetry, Blogging.  I went to one off-site reading up the street at Rain Dog Books that  actually sparked my obsession with Diagram / New Michigan Press (where I only remember that Ariana-Sophia Kartsonis read and it was amazing.  I proceeded to stalk NMP until they published my chap three years later and Sophia until she submitted work for dgp. (and we've published her Mind you, I was still too meek to introduce myself to anyone, so I watched and observed. I wondered downtown with my little black and orange totebag and felt like I was the most seriously writerly  creature in the world.

By the time 2007 rolled around..I was a little wiser in my ways and not so invisible.  (I ran into my as-yet-unmet-in person Ghost Road Editors in the lobby six months after the book came out and felt like such a celebrity.  I knew more blogging poets, more poets in general, forthcoming dgp-ers, whose list was growing every year. More journal editors who were publishing my work or people who had encountered either my poems or my blog or the press..   I definitely felt more at home, more in my element--as a poet, as a publisher.  What a difference three years could make.   Mind you, I still feel really introverted and awkward, but alcohol helped .(I'm pretty sure there were only a few sober hours at the book fair in Seattle 2014  my last go round. The rest of the time I was raiding the amply stocked  bar at chez Menacing Hedge and double fisting Jack & Cokes  through my Friday night reading. )

And that's the stuff I miss most about AWP--not so much the book fair and the panels, but more the social and community aspect. And maybe I do need to find a way to get the good stuff without the expensive and too-academic-ness of it all. One could (and some have) go to AWP without actually, ya know, going to AWP--be it taking advantage of free day at the book fair and going to all the offsite stuff.   I just might have to do that next year.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Monday, February 06, 2017

Today was all about a quick studio tidy (I can almost see the countertop, so it's a success) as well as printing a big order of chaps for Berls Poetry Shop and another larger author order.  Things get a little harried sometimes, with covers and books and paper trimmings pretty much on every available surface.  I've been thinking of some furniture rearrangement that will maximize some free wall space for hanging (particularly if I'll be opening up the studio in the coming months.)

I am trying to ease into my week, which is always a rough. bumpy experience after having the weekend off.  I'm succeeding in my obligation-free weekends, at least for the last month or so, my mini weekend retreats, which are paying off in some good new work, both visual and writing-wise, so we'll see if they can continue. It's nice to have that slight pause in the whirlwind to look forward to every week. I've been pushing myself harder during the week to get as much done as I can to guarantee that bit of breathing space, so it's extra necessary.

Friday, February 03, 2017

friday frivolity | oh the 90's

I tend to save many of my shorter dresses & skirts  for the winter season when I'll be wearing tights, mostly since I don't like having to constantly make sure my ass isn't showing in the sort of wind updrafts and downdrafts that haunt Chicago year round.   I have many babydoll cut dresses that work well with tights and boots and have lately been indulging my 90's nostalgia with things like burgundy velvet, small ditzy florals, and lace up boots.  While my actual 90's attire tended toward loose flannels and worn sweatshirts over leggings or jeans  and the occasional long hippy skirt as the 90's wore on (ala Friends) I like to think these are the sort of clothes I might have coveted were I were not in my early 20s and very poor. (and also doomed to stage set endless messy painting while I was in college.) 
Beyond getting the shoulder right this looks   like there wouldn't be much crazy fitting.:

I'm particularly loving rich fabrics--the velvets, the waffle knit dresses, the furs and flannels that dominated the decade, as well as the smaller, more winter/fall florals.  Granted vintage was having a hayday then, so a good amount of 90's fashion is actually earlier decades in disguise, particularly 30's, 40's and 70's, but there are certain lines and looks that seem definitively 90's. kind of makes me want to dig out my Hole CDs and dance around the apartment wearing fishnets and Doc Martens (but I probably won't.) 

Vintage grunge maxi dress, Music festival kimono dress, Vintage floral dresses, Retro 90's dress, True rebel clothing, Women's vintage:

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Tonight, I sent off the very first pieces of the new project to a couple of journals..the one no one has seen as of yet, the one that's making me a little self-conscious in its more personal subject matter. Coming off the last bigger project, which was the Plath centos (which I will talk a little about in due time more in depth), which had a little more distance obviously, both in language and subject matter, this is more in the vein of MCMF or the James Franco poems. It's more autobiographical in a recognizeable way and it kind of freaks me out. What's interesting is that what merely started out as a series of fragments/prose poems/mini essays on love poetry, have expanded to become a little bit more social comment, and about as political as my work tends to get. It's a weird time, I suppose, and these two things are just converging in my mind and flowing into one another.

The series tenatively titled HOW TO WRITE A LOVE POEM IN A TIME OF WAR is humming along at a steady clip and I have about 25 of them and more forming at the back of my brain. It could be a book, or a longer chapbook of some sort, we'll see.  It started as a Valentine, a love letter, a personal history, but is becoming something much more.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

We are finally getting a little bit of sun this week after an apparently historic stretch of cloudy days.  I'm not sure if it changes my mood, but I do know it's a little less brutal rolling out of bed, even mid-morning, when there is a bit more light outside. I've been about my usual business of chapbook layouts and assembly in the studio and so far am rolling smoothly through my week, though I'm getting that twitchy feeling when I don't get enough time to get any writing done, but hopefully I can remedy that by week's end.

In other art news, I will be scanning a whole bunch of new watercolors and getting ready to mat some for the shop, as well as adding some prints I've been hording since last spring and almost forgot about.  Also some smaller canvases and the framed Unusual Creatures pieces that are being stored currently under my desk at the library (where I am amazed they have not yet gotten broken.)  Things are getting a bit unruly in the studio as well, so I'll be probably doing a sale,  trying to unload older stuff. This week, I also managed to get the ghost landscape collages into the shop finally after matting and bagging them a few months back but there is still so much I am behind on.

I really need to get back to having monthly open studios, but it gets hard with my library schedule usually keeping me til 8pm on Fridays (at which point the last thing I want to do is deal with the public and try to sell stuff when I am already kind of drained from working all day.)  I feel like I do better selling art in person, much more so than online, and maybe its the impulse buy factor--especially with less expensive things like prints and notecards. .  Before anything, I also need to restock a lot of the paper goods and accessory stuff--so maybe in the summer when I get out of work a little earlier in the evening.