Saturday, October 28, 2017

This morning, as I rolled out of bed to start the first of two weekend shifts in a row at the library, my radiator was humming and clanging, and outside, I kept repeating these lines of the Mary Oliver poem "Wolf Moon" (even though I sorta hate Mary Oliver in general.)

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

and though the poem is really about January it always reminds me of November, when all of the leaves are gone and the woods are naked and still and dark so early. And that feeling of  dread that always creeps in at the edges of late autumn.  November is my least favorite month--less so than even January, which has it's own sort of lull and endlessness, less so even than march when I am crawling out my skin usually. Halloween I like.  Thanksgiving I like.  But there is a weird stretch in there between as we downslide toward winter that always makes me super uneasy. 

So I try to concentrate on interior things and poems and plans.  I have manuscripts to read.  And layouts to attack.  Covers to design and maybe finishing up transcribing the unusual creatures notebook, a project which seems to suit this time of year perhaps more even than the horror movie poems I was trudging away on earlier in the month. Tonight, I get a few extra hours in the studio picking away at orders and author copies and probably streaming STRANGER THINGS, which I intend on binge watching before the weekend is out. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

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Sometimes when talking about being a writer (which honestly for as much as I obsess about it, it happens very infrequently in the day to day life of jobs and commutes and daily grind) occasionally I get asked, mostly from non-writers, what I write about.  It's a tricky question, almost in fact a trick question.  And I can say I write about horror movies (/SLASH/), about taxidermy and robot girls (unusual creatures).  About hotel ghost stories (postcards from the blue swallow motel).  About childlessness (the science of impossible things).  That in the past, I've written about mermaids, sideshow women, rural upbringing, the apocalypse, atomic-era america, zombies, bad road trips, pop culture, James Franco, Joseph Cornell, victorian women, ghost stories, urban legends, phobias.  But sometimes I feel like getting to the root of it is a much more complicated answer, and maybe one I'm not even completely capable of answering.  Sure, there are themes in there, most of them having to do either directly on tangentially with feminism I suppose. And lately, I've been trending toward prose poems more than lineated verse. But it's hard to give any sort of artist-statement worthy, nutshell description of my writing people seem to expect (or I assume they expect somehow).

I've been musing for a couple of years about perhaps starting an ekphrastic project devoted to Francesca Woodman's work.  Friday during the Indie Press Fest I met a freshman poetry student who was super excited about ekphrastics and bought my Salvadore Dali poems zine. Her enthusiasm  somehow fed my enthusiasm and my mind turned again to the Francesca-inspired poems, and then yesterday, like a sign, there was a volume of her photos lying on the table by the new books shelf, which I quickly snapped up and brought back to my desk. Mind you, it falls in line behind all the other plates in the air at the moment, but alas....

This weekend, I am library-bound, and declaring Saturday a layout frenzy day for the remaining chaps coming out this fall and winter. But I also want to get some things submitted to some places I've been solicited.  Also some new venues.  I'm currently working on a little resource zine of online markets for innovative work for the library, so I should have a good list when I'm done.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

I am bus bound again for Rockford, but just a quick note to say the last two days have been a whirlwind of literary goodness, starting with the Little Indie Press Fest on Friday, where so many publishers, artists and authors made the afternoon a delight and really brought home the amazing talent coming out of Columbia on a regular basis (and I even sold some books and prints--enough to buy a whole bunch of goodies myself.)  Saturday was my reading over at the Wit Rabbit series, where I read some Strange Machine pieces under twinkle lights and drank enough jack and cokes to leave a little bit drunker than I started.

This week, it's a bit of a breather until Friday's Horror Movie Trivia, which I am slowly working through questions for, and just general press doings and business. I've been finalizing a bunch of books and will be dropping them this week, as well as making my way through the last legs of summer submissions and making final decisions. I'd like to have responses out by the end of the month, but it will more likely be November.

In the meantime, it's been fall-like enough to wear some corduroy and drink hot cocoa a couple of days, and, yesterday, switching buses and walking a couple blocks down in my old LP hood, I got a little nostalgic for me of 20 years ago, who was newly hatched into the world and  walking those same leaf-littered streets, but also glad I am not exactly her anymore, and much the better for it.

Saturday, October 14, 2017


I have this incredibly lofty goal to both write everyday and make some sort of gesture toward art everyday and usually I end up failing.  The writing happens in fits and spurts and sometimes a mad dash toward either an external or personal deadline.  So much falls into the path on a daily basis that I end up cutting myself too much slack and the next thing I know, I get that itchy, dissastified feeling that I'm not devoting sufficient time to my own creative pursuits and too much directed toward library and press things, and just time wasters and general life stuff.   It's easier with art--to just dive in and make something happen on the fly, but writing is an altogether different beast--one that has to happen under the right atmospheric circumstances--sort of like a tornado, the correct science of air masses and currents to actually get spinning, and sometimes even when it's spinning, it doesn't always meet the ground, let alone do the sort of good damage you want it to.

So thus, there's always this overwhelming feeling of not living up to potential (I just mis-typed "poetential" there and that seems incredibly fitting.)  Projects that have been conceived, and sometimes even named with titles that are waiting to actually happen.  And we won't even talk about the writing-business side, the work that is done and very little time/energy to send it out in the world in any sort of effective way.  Just getting the writing done seems hard enough when your juggling dayjobs, and editing/bookmaking work, not to mention commutes, housework, errands, and lately trips out to visit my mom on the weekend  (and even I admit it's so much easier than for other women because I don't have children and am entangled romantically with one of the only people I've ever met with more creative & work time commitments than me).

Granted I wrote & submitted more in the early 2000's (both before and during grad school, the former because my obligations both inside and outside the day job were simpler, and the latter because I HAD to. )  But then there was the press and the crazy etsy shop ride , and then just the press but steadily growing all the time and still growing.  And then more creative fun opportunities library-wise with A of R, things that I also work on sometimes on my own time but also make my experience in the library far more rewarding than it used to be just pushing papers around and supervising the circ desk.

Even still I've managed, as I occasionally have to remind myself, to produce pretty well, even since finishing my MFA 10 years ago, maybe not at first, but the last 6 years or so finishing about a book a year and making lots of artist books, chaps, and zine projects that at least make me feel a little more productive.  But then there is so much unwritten or half written or merely conceived as a tiny glimmer at the back of my brain. And so much more to do and it feels like so little time (not just daily time, but approaching / possibly already middle age at 43, and so, you know , facing my own inevitable mortality kind of thing.) It's this sort of low-key, but steadily building, panic sensation.  What if I never get to the end of the project to-do list?  What if all those things go unwritten?

Of course, today. my only rare  day off and obligation free, I wake late to a cloudy overcast day, drink too much coffee, and waste time on social media and pen this blog post instead of a poem.   But maybe I'm just sitting here waiting for the right winds that make one possible.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

While the temps this week have been in and out, up and down and weirdly humid, this afternoon, fall seems to have arrived in a fell swoop of wind and rain that set my apartment door rattling in it's frame and leaves spinning from trees and into the air.  Some trees are already yellowing & dropping, but I feel like the major turns are set to happen in the next couple weeks and by month's end, all will be gone except the tree outside my bedroom--the one that takes a really long time to get full in the spring and a long time to go bare. As such, my mind turns to fall things--apple pie, hazlenut hot chocolate, horror movies.  Tonight, I'll make my mother's ghoulash recipe and watch something spooky (though sometimes, it takes some starting and stopping and flipping aimless through Netflix.  Tomorrow, and early trip to Rockford again (my mom's foot is looking good according to the surgeon and her personality back to more normalish, but she's still going to need a lot of physical therapy to get her on her feet again.)

Library-wise, the latter part of this week has been devoted to getting ready for Wednesday's Zines in the Classroom workshop.  I was I was reminiscing over my passion for book arts and was thinking about my high school English class junior year and our teacher's predilection for interesting arty projects vs. boring essays and how much that year influenced me as someone interested in more creative manifestations of the written word (and thus the possibilities inherent in zine-making for classroom projects and how much more engaging those are for students.)  We're also about to go into full scale preparations for the Little Indie Press Festival, so I'm lining up readers and thinking about which dgp things I'd like to make available at the table. And then, hell, it will be nearly Halloween, and my yearly indulgence of double feature action in the library (this year, Bucket of Blood and some delightful mermaid horror, Night Tide.)

Art & writing-wise, I'm looking to transcribing the last text parts of UNUSUAL CREATURES out of the spiral and into the computer.  Also, making some more progress on /SLASH/, which has brief distracted me from some other poem projects, but it seems, seasonally , to be the best option. There is still a few more poems to write in the last section of the big book manuscript in the works that pulls together some of the smaller projects, but I'd like to finish and maybe start sending it out by the end of the year.   Meanwhile there are collage experiments and ad-hoc zines  (see above) and art projects aplenty.  (We' also having a paper mechanicals workshop next week Jen is leading that may prove fruitful--particularly for something I'm thinking of doing for our Grimm selection for Book to Art Club. )

As for dgp, mostly making big batches of books for a couple authors and slogging through the latter half of summer manuscripts, which are so good, they make me anxious about decision making when the time starts to start winnowing down.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Perhaps it is just the heaviness of the world lately--the violence, politics, politics that are a sort of violence. Perhaps it's merely seasonal fervor, but I am working on a new poem series of cut-ups of old slasher movie shooting scripts.  A different kind of horror, and making some new collages to go along with those poems.

I was recently reading an article about how women should be most afraid in this world of violent, angry, white men, and the comment resonated through so much of what I've been witnessing in the world lately---both at large and in the smaller literary arena.  There is some of this in my love poems series, that started out as a gesture toward the love poem, but ended up being more about women and men and how can love even happen when the world is the way it is.   And yet somehow it does. I probably do fear and try to avoid angry white men more than anything else on a daily basis (they are the ones who are, at best,  either ignoring your voice in meetings, or at worst, shooting up a public space.), and yet, as a straight woman dating men (men that have been, with a couple exceptions, mostly white) it's kind of hard to avoid men altogether.

My literary world is mostly small and circumscribed by women--by the press, by the publishers I send my work to.  By the poets I know in real life and FB.  But I hear the horror stories--the web trolling, the nasty responses to rejections, the general creeping on women writers--most of it committed by one demographic.  I do not know what to make of it--and have had many men in my life  (both actual and literary) who were not angry white men, but in this I am far more fortunate than others. As a woman, I am more likely to be killed by a man I know  in my own home than I am in a mass-shooting, but this isn't exactly a comforting fact.