Tuesday, May 29, 2018

exquisite damage: a midwest gothic

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"Dear Reader.  I write you a small bird in a box.  I write you a box with only feathers inside. I write thrashing and wild with hoarfrost and heavy cream  At the beginning, the dream of foxes.  The scream of rabbits in the middle of the night forming out of silence. I was born in a time of transams and black velvet paintings. Of kidnappings and nightly suicides. The world was drunk with hope, though, all the drawers emptied and the house swept clean.  Clean enough to eat an egg off the floor and swallow it whole. Clean enough to take a bar of soap to your mouth and polish you til you shone bright like a god."

A couple months back I decided to try out Tiny Letter--not merely as a newsletter, but as something more on the creative side.  I've been chipping away at a little lyric fragments project focused around the idea of the gothic, and by extension, horror movies and victorian novels Right now, it's a bit fragmented and disjointed, but you can get a little bit of it delivered weekly right into your inbox, old school subscription style.  I've been thinking about how social media serves poetry in new an interesting ways, and have been using instagram to post the zodiac pieces. I am still unsure of what possibilities Twitter holds, both for work and just in general. But some mediums seem to work better than others. (unless I were writing really short poems, or visual poems, maybe, which tempts me to dig in on that diagrammatic project I've been toying with the idea of.)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

notes & things | 5/20/2018

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Yesterday was the Chicago Zine Fest, where AofR had landed a table, which meant we got to take our freebie resource zines on the road, as well as our new anthology projects, plus some other zines & merch from me and the others, including our Chicago Cryptozoological Zines, which moved crazily more than anything else.  We did laugh at the fact that the more art & writing related products sold far less while the zines we made up in like an hour as a joke made us more money than the pursuits we've spent years working at, but such is the world.  Even still, I celebrated by ordering tacos with my new-found cash, and thought about the differences between something like Zine Fest and the AWP book fair, where dgp usually does pretty well--I guess the difference is people looking for a different sort of content.  I've often thought of taking the chapbooks to zine-oriented events, but I'm not sure they would do as well as they do in other places. 

Mostly I am finally reaching the end of my labor intensive pursuits at the library and settling back into the usual groove, though we are soon to be planning for fall, including what may turn out to be my favorite exhibit/focus topic ever--BEAUTIFUL MONSTROSITIES: BITCHES, WITCHES, SHE-BEASTS, & FINAL GIRLS.  We've decided to push back the mass delusions topic til spring since we are planning the larger conference event.There are also some other writing projects in the works about libraries and resources underway that I now get to turn some attention to.

I am still playing catch-up in the studio, but am looking to launch a bunch of new books in the next few weeks as well as get to work on the pieces of the mermaid anthology, which I am determined to have wrapped up by end of summer. I am also playing around with the idea of switching back to issues for wicked alice, which was what I veered away from, but seems like a better idea than the infrequent updating I've been plagued with the past couple of years. Maybe having goals or deadlines will not allow it to slip to the very bottom of the priority list quite so much.

As for my work, I am working on daily bits of the EXQUISITE DAMAGE project...my sort of lyric essay, memoirish, prose-poem thing. (which you can get a taste of by joining my Tiny Letter mailing list.)  The zodiac pieces are also still writing themselves, so look for more of those..(I'll also be tossing some of the scrolls that did not sell at Zine Fest into the occasional dgp order..)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Sunday, May 13, 2018

the first of many mothers days without mothers

Sometimes, the past 6 months or so seems unreal.  Sort of like that season of Supernatural where Sam's memories of all that time in the cage with Lucifer in hell was placed behind a wall by Cas so that it wouldn't make him mad. Sort of like something that you know is there, but just aren't really quite yet able to mentally deal with.  These months have been a lot like that--sometimes there's a hole in the wall or a crack and I shore it up again and hope for the best. I have this fear that it will all come rushing down and bury me entirely.  There will be moments when it occurs to me that, yes, in fact, your mother is really dead. There will be times I'm not even thinking about it and it occurs to me midday, like something I've forgotten is a fact.

Maybe it's both a blessing and a curse that I live quite a distance away, and that most of my hardest times will always be when visiting there, and very rarely here, where, besides our two weekly phone calls, she wasn't as much a part of my daily experience.  That, if not for those cracks in the wall, she could just as easily be alive for all I know, and just doing her usual thing.  I cannot even imagine being quite as calm were I living in the same house, or even the same town. I can't even imagine the sort of grief my father deals with on a daily basis, the lonelinesss  amid his weekly phone talk of getting the gardens ready, cleaning the house, cooking his own meals. I can't imagine what's in my sister's head, as well, being a little closer to home.  Sometimes the pain is like running a knife across your palm, but sometimes it's just a dull toothache.

I mostly deal with uncomfortable things by ignoring them until they go away, and sometimes they do, but obviously, that won't work in this situation.  Winter made it worse, of course, her death in early November followed by a rather horrible brutal weather that has only eased up the last couple of weeks. All along there have been the weird dreams about her being alive and not realizing, even herself, that she was gone. Last Mother's Day, of course, she was still alive, and though in some pain from the allergic reaction, not yet in as dire circumstances as she'd later be. I wasn't able to be there (the semester usually ending right about Mother's Day and sometimes having to work meant we were not always in the same place.) I usually spent a bit of time in the spring and summer there, anyway, so it wasn't that crucial, but then it will probably always seem like it was never enough.

I am always a little haunted by the last words I heard her say--the Sunday phone call with my Dad and when he asked if she wanted to talk to me, and she never did in those months, talk to anyone on the phone--and she said, weakly and really out of it-- "Tell her I'll call her tomorrow.."   By Monday afternoon, she was gone.  But it wasn't until it actually happened that it seemed possible--I was certain she would pull through it, that she'd eventually be able to leave the bed, and if not walk b/c of the injury, at least be somewhat mobile again with a chair.  I mean, how could she NOT be okay?  I always am conscious of it, but pathologically assume the best, so the worst occasionally slaps the fuck out of me. There was so much there that went into it--the earlier heart attack, the allergy that left her unable to comfortably walk, the loss of my aunt in June, the wound on her foot, the infection that settled into her system by the end of summer.  Like a row of unfortunate dominoes falling one after the other, proving that it is not the grand, dramatic things that will take us all out, but the tiny ones.

But then, perhaps, today shouldn't be a dirge at all--but more a celebration of mothers.  I am obviously not one--and probably have not a motherly bone in my entire body. (Unlike a lot of others, have never really seen pets as furbabies--more like occasionally rude or affectionate roommates that wreck your stuff..lol..)   But I did recently finish my own sort of baby, the new manuscript, which includes the hunger palace series about my mother and the imaginary daughter poems.  I will be sending it out in the world later this month, awkward and leggy like a newly born colt. As for today,  I intend to spend it cleaning most likely, my apartment that looks like a tornado hit it this week, and maybe listening to her favorites again--Barry Manilow, Air Supply, the things she would put on the turntable while she cleaned the house every Saturday. I don't necessarily believe in the afterlife, but if there is one, she would no doubt approve.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

new collage series

notes & things | 5/6/2018

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It seems spring took forever to get here and now it has arrived all at once--everything blooming and green (and as a result afflicted me with a nasty sinus headache, something that doesn't usually happen when spring is more gradual in its reveal (my autumn allergies have always been worse.) This week has begun serious preparation of both the Grimm project and other Zine fest offerings, including the tiny zodiac scrolls. This Friday, during Manifest, we will be unveiling the former in all its glory

In press news, I am still playing catchup in the studio, but am moving further into getting author copies out and on their way at a better clip.Since I am working today, I have some extra studio time this week before I go to work, which will be helpful.  I am working on a batch of May books, as well, that will be debuting this month, as well as a bit more progress on the mermaid anthology which I am can turn more attention to after I get the Grimm completed.

I am continuing my daily poems, at least during the week, including more work on ORDINARY PLANET, which just may be ready in time for Zine Fest (it will probably be the June offering in the Books & Objects Series.  So far, the images are outnumbering the poems, so there is more work to be done there, but I might be able to finish it up by the end of this week. (I've posted a sneak peek at my website.)

I did finish laying out my chief contribution to the Grimm project--my little zine of Hansel & Gretel poems and images and it turned out rather nicely. (see above)

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

notes & things | 5/1/2018

And so, we move into May, and for once the weather is on point the past couple of days. It's almost a physical thing, the looseness  and unwinding in the body when you are not stepping outside into cold (or hell, freezing inside your apartment)  I have triumphantly finished NAPOWRIMO--my first time ever making it past Day 10, and I am very happy with the results.  I not only finished off a project that was already in the works, completed another short series for the Grimm project, and started something entirely new that looks promising.  I am hoping to continue drafting new things daily..they say it takes 21 (or 66 depending on who you ask) to form a new habit, so maybe I can get into some kind of groove.  Sometimes I TRY to write daily, but can never sustain it.  Too much gets in the way in regard to other obligation, but I rather like prioritizing the writing earlier in the day.  Maybe it's sort of like exercise (another habit I am never able to manage to make stick.)  Eventually I do it enough and it will feel weird NOT doing it.  While I usually spend my breakfast/brunch time reading e-mails and perusing social media, I've now just started opening the file and working on a poem.  By the end of the day, no matter what else I feel like a failure on not getting done, at least there is that.

We are getting closer to the end of the semester and we've managed to wrap up most of our A of R programming and all that's left is the Grimm Anthology, which is shaping up nicely (see above).  Then, we just have to prep for Zine Fest (where we will be peddling said anthology, other A of R  / Crypto Society zines, as well as some of our own & library student zines. ).  I'm looking forward to some down time in the summer to work on some more library-focused writing projects, as well.  plus planning for fall, which already has a Focus Week mini-conference in the works--a way to bring scholars and artists together around our topic--Strange Fevers:  Mass Delusions, Confusions, and Obsessions. 

Since I am still playing super catch-up on press business this month, I've decided to postpone our dgp open reading period opening back to June 1st, just to make things less crazy on this end.  Even though I usually don't start reading in earnest til June anyway, it will help to keep the inbox a bit less of a morass as I am working through things.  As soon as June hits, I will be settling into my usual summer reprieve from chaos, so that will help.