Wednesday, October 23, 2019

curated learning and the library

Today, we took the A of R show on the road again out to Tinley Park for the Illinois Library Association conference, where we were hosting a poster session in the exhibit hall titled "Curated Learning in the Library".  In the summer of 2018, we were doggedly in search of a phrasing for what we were doing in our pursuit of tying library resources to creative practice. We found the phrase above occasionally used to describe the act of setting up circumstances in which learning happens--like the arrangement of a classroom, or the layout of a museum exhibit.  Also, in a curated online content context, where content is chosen to be educational rather than for entertainment or recreation.  Since so much of what we do in the library is setting up learning opportunities in relation to resources, we thought it a fitting terminology that covers the endeavors that bridge programming in libraries, particularly academic libraries,  and learning beyond the usual bibliographic instruction model.

It is sort of an umbrella term for what we do with the initiative, as well as some other library programming endeavors that fit under it in collaboration with other campus units and with faculty. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

middle class horror & american anxiety

As we close in on the height of spooky season, it seems appropriate that some of the exquisite damage series is getting a little bit of airplay (see some of it here, here, and here.) It being devoted most singularly to a certain kind of middle class fear and anxiety as glimpsed through horror movies. In some ways, it was a project I was mostly just futzing around with spring before last, that is, until we went to the slasher convention at DePaul and something started take shape during the keynote speech--a comment about how, as people became more and more securely middle class, they started to seek out ways to get an adrenaline rush from the sensation of being unsafe.  I imagine, if you were starving, at war, or much less comfortable, further scaring yourself wouldn't be at the top of the list.   You see it in the golden age of gothic novels--in the audience of predominantly women, predominantly secure in their homes. In the late 70's, surely that middle class comfort level spawned slasher movies.  You, there, in your house, while outside, any number of killers could be watching you from the bushes outside. Growing up in the 80's was both a time of immense freedom and immense fear.  Yes, we could disappear for hours from our parents and come back at dusk, but everyone warned us of stranger danger, of the man in the creepy white van. When I was a pre-teen, there was a very high profile case of a teenager who'd gone missing from a park, her face plastered on billboards all over the area. A year or so later, they found her body in a forest preserve.

Fear changes though, and the fears we had as kids seems very different--almost hypothetical--from the sort of fear that teens have now--the world of mass shootings and social media bullying.  Barring that one girl, most of us were not abducted.  Most of us did not end up shoved in the trunk of our car. Or stalked while babysitting. But women are killed by men every day--not in the sinister serial killer way, but in their own homes.  It seems far more likely now that you may be shot just going about your day--at school, at the movie theater.

It seems that that net of safety has a whole lot of tears in it and I wonder how that transforms our horror--the sort of horror we seek out.  Does it skew us toward the supernatural as opposed to the human? What does horror do now?  How does it work differently?

Sunday, October 20, 2019

notes & things | 10/20/2019

Today has been spent setting up the new printer at home and battling drivers (a little trickier with wireless set-up and laptops without disc drives, but I seem to have succeeded and am printing off the last of a big order for new chaps and will be assembling them tonight.)  The nice thing is the printer has been running while I am doing some cleaning, so I feel extra productive.  Tonight, I can make books and watch horror movies.  All of this very good.

Yesterday's Indie Press Fest was fun, but rather sparse on attendees. We've usually made it happen on Friday during the art crawl, but our presentation at North Park on Friday pushed it back a day. I did manage to sell some crypto zines and a mothman print. The presentation on zines, however, was well attended AND the audience seemed enthusiastic, so there's that.  This week brings the Illinois Library Assoc. conference and our poster session on Curated Learning, as well as horror movie trivia at the end of the week, with the workshop-oriented things happening the following week.

The storage people come Tuesday morning, but there is still much packing and disassembling left to do in the studio that can hopefully be finished up tomorrow, including the shelves and tables. And much to throw out that I won't be storing, including about a half dozen old machines.  It's bittersweet--on one hand I am excited to get everything home and set up and in one place. On the other, it's kind of like I'm breaking up with something I wanted badly to work for over a decade, but was so very bad for me financially.  I do already feel calmer and able to work on things more when I want to. And this month hasn't been as bare bones in terms of money already. Over the next couple of months as I make room, everything will slowly return to one place and this is a comforting thought. 

Monday, October 14, 2019

songs for dead girls

"Zombie Girl writes down her name.  Writes a letter to her congressman. A classified ad.  Dead Girl seeking.  Dead Girl seeping through her days.  Zombie Girl makes a chalk drawing of her former lovers on the floor beside the bed.  Decides sex is beside the point when you are all body, all hunger. All meat moving through the world."

In honor of Halloween, I've been exploring some past spooky poems via social media the past couple weeks, but I have a whole new treat on hand today, an as yet unreleased as a complete series, songs for dead girls.  Originally part of my little apocalypse manuscript, these poems fit in well with it's end of the world ways, but only a couple of the poems have seen light of day on their own.

read the entire series here:

Thursday, October 10, 2019

nature, writing, & the ecogothic imagination

Yesterday, at the end of the reading at the Field Museum, someone in the audience asked if I consider myself a nature poet.  I realized I'd just spent a good  half hour or so talking about how I can't stop writing about birds.  About how a project that was supposed to be about dinosaurs and extinction would up also being largely bird-laden.  About the Cornell Boxes and my second book, in the bird museum. About how I'd made a bee-line on my first visit, not to the Evolving Planet exhibit, but to the Hall of Birds, the very same hall where I was giving that very reading.  And yet, I faltered and wasn't sure what to say.

When I think nature, I often think of Mary Oliver, whose poems, while I find a lot of them sort of facile, usually use nature as a means to teach us something about humanity. The nature is the tool by which we come to understand something more about ourselves.  I know many poets who write similar observances and explorations of the natural world, and in fact, have published a good many (much better than Oliver) with dgp.  But as for me, it's strange to claim it.  I would definitely say that I am endeared to the natural world in my visual  art.  Today, I was messing with the text/image pieces of the summer house, with it's plentiful bees and trees.  The poems themselves are about changelings and bee-children. I've  used bees as machinery in many series (the honey machine, how to write a love poem in a time of war.) I regularly use nature imagery in projects, old botanical illustrations, graphs and charts and diagrams.  Even my paintings, usually waterolor, are abstract flowers and landscapes.

And perhaps much of it has to do with the midwest landscape that pervades every book I've ever written (except maybe major characters in minor films, which seems more routed in urban life, but has it's share of critters).  In the shared property of water and stars, you had a natural landscape that was always intruding on the suburban one.  girl show is defined by it's fixing the carnival and it's women amidst a flat midwestern landscape (both actual and metaphorical). And maybe this is where things get weird.   The sideshow women.  The mermaids of salvage. The women as monsters in pretty much every other project. My love of amateur cryptozoology that filters into artwork and zines.

As I worked on extinction event, I've been reading idly a few pieces on the eco-gothic, whose gist is largely that nature is not just a background for human activity to occur in, but a force itself.  The menacing forest.  The haunted garden. The terrible sea. That nature (including plants, animals, landscape, weather) is just as much a character in any story as the ones with speaking parts. I like this sort of nature, the kind that is dangerous and may just kill you.  Much of that is where extinction event comes from with it's mutations and droughts. My answer to the question, in the moment, was that I tended to write a lot about horror and the supernatural lately--scary movies, serial killers, stabby adolescents urged on by Slenderman. But that nature is always present in them--weird or twisted as it may be.

Monday, October 07, 2019

@ the field museum

I've spent a good chunk of the weekend working on some final touches for Wednesday's reading at the Field Museum, the extinction event series, which has turned out a little darker.  But then, how else do your write a series of poems about climate change and extinction without them being just a little dark.  It's apocalyptic, but a different kind of apocalypse than my previous book--which was definitely imagining the end of the world in a more nuclear, or in some cases, zombified, way.  This is definitely more about humans, and our tendencies to try to love the landscape by destroying it.  To try to catalog and preserve the endings of other species and our own.  The very last segments that were written take place, like my series apocalypse theory: a reader, in a post-everything world, but these are more animal, and definitely bleaker.  They, and other reappearing threads are braided through, poems on dioramas, on taxonomy on the idea of museums as a place to preserve artifacts. The seeds were sewn as I walked around the museum that first time, and have come together much more smoothly than I imagined they would.  I'll be sharing them and a discussion of their conception on Wednesday @ noon (I'm reading in the Hall of Birds, but we'll start in the main hall and then walk to the reading space. ) 

Poets in the Field: Kristy Bowen
Field Museum of Natural History
Weds. October 9th, 12pm
co-sponsored by the Poetry Foundation
(meet in Stanley Field Hall)

Friday, October 04, 2019

notes & things | 10/4/2019

October is a beast--maybe a bear or a lion, and nothing to be messed with.  We have no less than 6 upcoming events in the library, some of which invoves lots of planning on my part, as well as two library conference things happening mid-month  (a presentation at the Chicago Research Summit and a poster session at the ILA conference.)  And then the studio move, and trying to make books around the chaos of that.  I may not make it out alive,  But by November, I hope to be settled back in to my new outfitted dining room and have everything in one place and at the ready.

Neverthless, it's a good crazy.  Last night, we had our kick-off for Lethal Ladies:  The Women of True Crime--an artist panel with some of the best discussion ever about women and violence.(both as victims and perpetrators.)  The art looks amazing, and I'm thrilled to have some fragments from [licorice, laudanum] amongst them.  Despite October madness, I am trying to slow down and, you know, actually enjoy the things I am doing, rather than rushing through them and then on to the next thing.   Suddenly a year passes and I feel like I've done a whole lot of stuff, none of which I have actually been in the moment for.

I am also gearing up and putting the final edits on the Field Museum poems for Wednesday.  They are dark and weird and filled with scales and feathers.  I'll probably eventually make some sort of chapbook out of them, but might try submitting some of them first.  I've gotten really bad about submissions, despite my 100 rejections plan, which went out the window in the summer. I did however, get some good acceptances from what I did send out, so it worked as much as I put into it.

Monday, September 30, 2019

lethal ladies: the women of true crime

Plans are in the thick for our upcoming focus topic this semester, the exhibit for which drops on Thursday with our kick-off artist panel.  I will have some of the {licorice, laudanum} image and text pieces up as well, since they focus predominantly on the women as victims and co-conspirators with Holmes.  Below is a peek at all the upcoming related programming happening over the next couple of months. 


As both perpetrators and participants in our shared cultural fascination with the subject matter, women have made vast contributions to true crime-related art forms. From murders to heists, deceptions to general unruly behavior, we will explore the patriarchal structures and societal constraints/expectations that true crime, and its subject matter, subvert and transform. Further, this exhibition shows how we as artists and consumers create and further these conversations within the genre.

“Lethal Ladies: The Women of True Crime” Artist Panel and Kick-Off
THURS. OCT. 3rd|  Library | 5th Floor | 7pm-9pm
Join us for a discussion with the artists featured in the Library’s Lethal Ladies: The Women of True Crime exhibit.
As both perpetrators and participants in our shared cultural fascination with the subject matter, women have made vast contributions to true crime-related art forms. From murders to heists, deceptions to general unruly behavior, we will explore the patriarchal structures and societal constraints/expectations that true crime, and its subject matter, subvert and transform. Further, this exhibit explores how we as artists and consumers create and further these conversations within the genre.
Each semester, Aesthetics of Research (AoR) addresses a portion of our programming to a particular genre, art form, movement, or special topic of interest via exhibits, displays, workshops, readings, lectures, panel discussions, and other activities. Focus topics reinforce the Library as a place of creative conversation and inquiry, bringing art and scholarship together, as well as to explore available resources in the Library, on campus, and in the greater Chicago community. 
Library Zine Night |  Lady Killer Edition
MON. OCT. 7th|  Library | 1st Floor | 7pm-9pm
Join Us for our monthly Zine Night, a chance for you to work alone or collaboratively on zines, comics, artist books, or other paper projects in the library.
You Need:
Ingenuity, creativity, and inspiration. A desire to show off or learn new techniques. A want to work and get to know other zinesters and artists…
We Have:
Staplers, trimmers, basic drawing supplies, paper, adhesives, scissors, discarded book scraps, scanners, photocopiers, and occasional guest how-tos.
Book to Art Club | The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death
WEDS.  OCT. 9th|  Library | 1st Floor | 7pm-9pm
In celebration of our “Lethal Ladies: The Women of True Crime” focus, we are venturing into non-fiction territory with Corinne May Botz’s The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, whose subject matter explores the life and work of master criminal investigator Frances Glessner Lee and her amazing crime dollhouses. We will be meeting to discuss the book, Glessner Lee’s work in general, her legacy on other art forms, AND to make paper dioramas of our own favorite crime scenes.
Book to Art Club Meeting
Wednesday, October 9
7 p.m.–9 p.m.
Library, 1st Floor
How to Participate:
  1. Check out a copy of The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death at the Library (copies are also available via I-Share Interlibrary Loan).
  2. Watch this space and Library social media for more resources and further reading on Glessner Lee’s life and work.
  3. Join us on October 9, when we’ll have discussion and diorama-making supplies aplenty for you to design your own paper crime scenes (both real or imagined, benign or grisly—your choice!)

SAT OCTOBER 19th |  LIBRARY | 3rd Floor East | 12pm-4pm

Join us for readings in all genres by Columbia & Chicago community writers celebrating both the women of true crime from all perspectives and the women who make them real through art and media.
CCC LIBRARY GAMING SOCIETY presents Horror Movie Trivia: Lethal Ladies Edition
FRI, OCT 25th | LIBRARY | 1st Floor| 5pm-7pm
The Columbia College Library Gaming Society invites you to unique variation on our annual Halloween season Horror Trivia Night in conjunction with LETHAL LADIES: THE WOMEN OF TRUE CRIME. From perpetrators to victims to survivors, women in horror movies play many roles.  Come test your knowledge of the women of horror and true crime.  Prizes!  Snacks!

Wicked Week: Domestic Goddess Gone Wrong |  Spooky Soaps and Bathory Bombs 
TUES, OCT 29th | LIBRARY | 1st Floor | 7pm-9pm
Join the Library and the Aesthetics of Research (AoR) for an evening devoted to making spookily-shaped soaps and bloody bath bombs devoted to everyone’s favorite Hungarian countess: Elizabeth of Bathory. We will also have resources on making your own molds and packaging. The workshop is part of the Library’s “Lethal Ladies: The Women of True Crime” AoR celebration.

THURS OCT 31st |  Library | 1st Floor | 7-10pm
Stop by the Library on Halloween night for some great public domain horror films in honor of LETHAL LADIES:  THE WOMEN OF TRUE CRIME.  We’ll have treats, flicks, and conversation.
Lethal Ladies: The Women of True Crime Panel
MON  NOV 11th |  LIBRARY | 5th Floor |  7-9pm
Join for a discussion with fans, experts and creators on the enormous popularity of True Crime in American Culture– the good, the bad, and the terrifying. What does the popularity tell us about our obsessions as a society?
Lizzie Borden Murder Mystery                                          
FRI DEC. 6th |  LIBRARY | 1st Floor |  5-7 pm
Help us solve our version of one of the most famous crimes of the century. Did Lizzie Borden really give her mother 40 whacks?  We’ll have clues, red herrings, and great fun for all.  Individuals and teams welcome. Sponsored by the CCC Library Gaming Society.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

changes afoot

Some decisions are the harder ones. My decision on whether to renew the lease on the studio space is coming up and I have pretty much decided to move the dgp operation back to it's origins--aka my dining room.  Each year, the rent goes up, both there and home. The past year has been like trying to rub two pennies together to make a dime, stretching myself unbelievably thin, occasionally overdrafting my Chase account to make ends meet. And just in general running at a financial stress level of about 11.  While the press mostly pays for itself in terms of supplies and ink and making of the books, the studio rent was oft augmented by my own artwork, vintage, and etsy sales, and when those came up short, my own libary income.  As the press has grown, we sell more books, but we also publish more books so the income/spending has remained stable.   I've been juggling these things for over a decade, hoping that at some point there would be some equilibrium, but I've yet to find it.

When I left etsy and my vintage/ craft focus 8 years ago, I decided to focus more on art & books, which has paid off in innumerable ways creative and intellectually, and allowed us to grow the chapbook series in a huge way, but there was a toll.  Publishing takes more than it gives, which I knew at the start, and which I was ready to sacrifice some things for .  However, coming up with an additional $850 each month got a little harder over the past few years.  I relied a bit more and more on my regular paycheck, which in turn left less and less for things like living in a pretty expensive city. I scrambled, I overdrafted, I paid bills late and more late fees and just hoped they wouldn't turn off my phone or my electricity.  I tried, but sometimes I failed.  I made do--tried to spend less of my disposable income, bought clothes mostly second hand,  never traveled, got rid of my home internet.  But still, I struggled.

And all the while, as well, I felt I was paying a whole lot for a place I didn't get to spend nearly enough hours in--2-3 per day mostly.  Even when I would have wanted to work late into the night, my prime creative time.  The building pretty much closed at 10pm (unless you were willing to stay there with no attendants/no elevator service, which I did a couple times, but it never felt safe.) For over a decade it has felt like most days I run in there, do a bunch of stuff, then run out frantically trying to get to work on time at 2pm. I also never have felt caught up on things in the way I might I am always behind, and for the most part, always am.  I am also, always scattered, split between two places when it comes to creating, some of my supplies there, some at home.  Nothing is every where I need it it seems, and I would like to feel a little more centered.

The last few weeks have bought some difficult, awkward situations that have only compounded the financial fatigue, and with another rent increase on my horizon, I feel a need to pull down the hatches, fold up the sails,  and focus on righting the ship and moving the operation back to my apartment. Some of the larger furniture will have to go into storage until I decide what to do with it (storage racks, the mini-fridge, the ikea tables), but if I move the large metal shelves into my dining room, I can probably set up the printing operation with little difficulty there once again (and much more attractively/ less chaotically than it initially was).  Shipping supplies, paper stores, all the supplies will be in one place again, and I will be able to go home and work on books as late as I need to like I did pre-2007. which was pretty much the last time I felt caught up in any way.

I also feel, that while it was nice to have the options of open studio hours, I was pretty much either working or too exhausted to actually do them more than once a year.  The bulk of business has always been online and not in person anyway , so little will change except maybe I will close up my shipping delays and get books out a lot faster and more expeditiously when my studio hours are less limited by the times I can be there. (also weekends, when I never wanted to have to go all the way downtown just to work on my days off) And with more money to devote to the press without the rent, I can finally do all the other projects I've been wanting to do but haven't been able to scrape funds up for in the past few years.

So while I will miss my little studio space in the gorgeousness of that building--my view of the brick wall opposite, and my little loft above the city, there are perhaps kinder, less financially strangling things ahead, which I am all for.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

writing & art bits | september edition

My upcoming full-length collection due out from Black Lawrence in 2020  has a cover and it is a beauty! Really, what else says my work like a bit of Victorian bdsm, raw meat, and doll parts?  It's actually a modification of a /slash/ collage, initially created for a dgp cover and I love it so much! The pre-sale page will be up in the next couple months for an April release, so keep an eye out for that.

Work on extinction event continues to go well and I should have lots of material for my reading on October 9th at the Field Museum.  Apparently, I am also getting PAID for said reading and am always incredulous when I do...seriously, I would read for nothing.  And for this one, hell, I would pay to read in such an awesome venue.  I  will be headed back for a couple more visits (and just to also see some unrelated things I missed my first go round.)  I haven't started submitting any of the work around yet, but it's pretty good. Weird, but good.

Some of the {licorice, laudanum} poems, aka the HH Holmes project,  landed in a new issue of decomP. 

The third and final segment of the Nasiona Magazine editor interview is now available for reading.

Keep an eye out soon for pieces in The Journal, Typehouse, and Midway Journal from several different projects...

Thursday, September 19, 2019

paper quilling workshop

Next Tuesday night, we'll be teaching a paper quilling workshop in the library as part of our How-To-Tuesday Series.  I've been Pinteresting like mad, and while nothing I make is even half as beautiful/intricate/complicated as these, it should still be some fun experimenting with papery objects.

Columbia College Library
624 S Michigan
1st Floor
Tues, September 24, 2019

Saturday, September 07, 2019

all sugar, all milk

I was thinking about how it's the 15th anniversary of the dancing girl press chapbook series, and realized  that also makes it the 15th birthday of my first chap bloody mary.  

In the spring of 2014, a lot was going on.   I'd been editing wicked alice for a couple years at that point and had a dream of a possible print operation companion.  I was finishing out my first year of grad school getting my MFA and had started sending out my first full-length mss..  I had just won a pretty big Chicago based prize and the 1000 bucks attached to it (and thus had a little wiggle money to devote to poetry). 

The previous year, Moon Journal Press had taken my first chap, The Archaeologists Daughter, but it would still be another year before it was published.  I was doing a lot of readings locally and fending off incredibly flattering inquiries about whether I had a book people could buy.  Also engaging in a flourishing online writing community where everyone was always trading work.   I thought to myself, if this press thing was going to be a go, I might want to start with issue-ing something that, if I botched it or found it horrible, only I would be affected. It actually worked out pretty well--since I was clueless, I taught myself how to layout something that could be manually double sided (something almost comical in these days of duplex booklet printing).  I bought some nice resume parchment paper for a the cover, used the library's pamphlet stapler, and I had a book.  The cover image was courtesy of Alaina Burri-Stone, whose work I encountered in stirring and would also use for another chap of mine, my first full-length, some of the wicked alice print annuals, and a couple later chaps by other people.)

That first edition was slightly shorter than the one pictured above.  After the initial 25 were gone, I did a second revised printing of another 25 , with a few more poems tacked in and a new, more sturdy watercolor paper cover. The entire chap only exists in those 50 copies.  Where they went or wound up, who knows?  We do have a copy in the library I donated.  I traded them to a lot of other poets and gave many away.  I sold a few at Quimby's here in Chicago. When I read at the Poetry Center that fall, I sold quite a few there, along with a second chap, belladonna, also released in 2004.

Looking at the poems themselves, there is much of what went into the fever almanac here, including the title poem. An earlier version of "nebraska."  What are more interesting are the poems that never made the jump--either thematically or quality-wise.  Poems about ghostly twins, memorial photography, wicked stepmothers. An early poem about Little Red Riding Hood that would be revisited as the "book of red" project.  Some of it' s overwrought.  Over done. I had to learn to reign back on the "poeticalness."

"When you speak it's like honey.
The flutter of wings and drones
harbors in the bones of your throat."
from "sugar"

The bulk were written in 2002 & 2003, when I was really beginning to publish work in online journals, so almost all of them appeared in various places electronically.   I would follow it up with that second 2004 chap with some newer work and a cardstock cover, most of which also made it into the full-length, but this one holds an especially fond place in my heart for it's roughness.

on routines

As I've mentioned a few times in various arenas, the fall semester brings me back around to my ideal and preferred schedule--when my studio time is a little more productive a the the beginning of the day and my routines a little more stable.  I thought I might give you, dear readers, a peek at what goes down in any given day...

10 am:  Linger in bed until the alarm stops sounding (which negates the purpose of leaving my phone on my desk in order to propel me from bed and not keep hitting snooze, but oh well.)  Eventually, I get in the shower, though sometimes I wait for the shower to warm up whilst scrolling through instagram and lose another 10 minutes.

10:30 ish:  Finish showering, and sometimes, esp. if it's cold, crawl back into bed to warm up in my robe and a towel wrapped round my head. Get piled upon by cats for another 15 minutes while I convince myself I should get up when I would actually much rather stay here.

10:45: Get dressed (luckily I usually know what I'm wearing, and it's all just dresses, so this is easy.)
I have a lot of shoes, but usually will grab whichever pair is closest and matches and/or do not make my feet want to die. . My beauty routine pretty much only involves face lotion, deodorant, tooth paste, and a defrizz serum.  My hair is usually still pretty wet when I leave the apartment, and then I usually apply lipstick rather slapdash on the bus ride downtown. I tell myself this makes my hair look beachy and wavy but more likely I look like someone who has no mirror. I'll put it up at the studio and out of my way, and this tames it a little into something more presentable.

11-Noon:  I try to get out of the house by 11am and at the Fine Arts shortly before 12 (my commute is about 45 minutes door to door in low traffic..I spend this time planning my day or reading, or once I'm downtown, people watching on the Mag Mile). If I'm ready to go early and have proper groceries (on rare occasion) , I'll have breakfast and coffee at home before I leave and write a little.  If not, I'll get food downtown and do some writing there while I wait for my printers to start up with whatever I'm printing that day.

Noon-2pm: I'll answer e-mails and do some layout work while I wait for printing. Then assembly, trimming and such the rest.  I try to have the envelopes & package labels ready to go for things going out that day already, so it's a matter of popping them in and sending them on their way as I head out the door.  I'll get up earlier and get in more hours as needed here, but 2-3 is my standard.

2pm-10pm  My shift at the library starts, which is only a couple blocks down from the studio.  My days here vary depending on what's going on, what's priority, and what might come up.  Right now, I'm busy with beginning of the semester reserve collection processing and ILL mostly, and around those I squeeze in some A of R planning and materials design.  There are sometimes meetings and handling desk trivia. By evening, I'll usually have eaten a snack (I have dinner later at home) and if there isn't anything happening programming wise, I will either work on A of R things, or some design stuff for that or the press when things are quieter and/or read submissions. On a productive day, I might have time to work on my own creative pursuits, but these are most relegated to weekends.

10-11pm. Commute home--usually a little faster b/c there is less traffic on LSD.  I do a huge chunk of my leisure reading here--mostly novels.  When I get home I typically make dinner --sometimes a salad (lest you think it's healthy, I pile it with cheese and croutons and dressing) or more often something microwaveable. I'll read blogs or futz around on the internet while I eat. 

12pm-2am:  I usually will settle in with an episode of something while I am doing the stationary bike (pretty much the only exersize I get besides walking)  and then tidy up the apartment (clothing and papers and dishes--my mess) and then the cat boxes and sweep (their mess) then lately will watch netflix or youtube fashion vlogs until I go to sleep around 2am. I try to be religious about 8 hours, especially in the cooler less-daylight prone seasons, but in summer I get a little less.

There are of course variations, when I have the usual  phonecall with my Dad on Weds nights., when J sleeps over Thurs or Fridays, but this is pretty much my schedule during the school year.  Weekends, if I'm not working are devoted to editing work and maybe submissions and mss. plotting. Painting or collages on Sunday sometimes (though not lately). Occasional date nights, but a lot of watching streaming. (currently Gilmore Girls.  Again.)  And of course my marathon horror film watching now as we move into fall...

Friday, September 06, 2019

notes & things | 9/7/2019

We are already one week into the semester.  One week into a routine or a flow or a chaos, who knows which.  I am enjoying my mornings in the studio instead of going straight to the library, which always leaves me too tired to be really productive when I'm there.  (no one cares if I'm sluggish in the evenings--the most strenuous thing might be having to hold down the cir desk for awhile, but nothing that involves designing or answering e-mails or making books.) Tonight was our Board Game Night, always a crowd pleaser and one of our most well attended events each semester.  The weather has been cool and rainy, and next week I will start swapping the fall wardrobe in (normally I do it at the beginning of September, but we got a late start to summer this year.)  But I am already eyeing fall colored things, and have even drawn out the denim jackets a couple times this week. It's coming.

This weekend I am hoping to cut a wider chunk out of dgp submissions for next year.  We wound up at around 470 this year, which means I have my work cut out for me.  I'm hoping to have a batch of responses out soon, and the entirety done by Thanksgiving.  Since I'm busy in the library, and possibly a little busier now that I'm chairing the Program & Events Committee (where I'll be orchestrating some exhibit policies and a promotion inventory) in addition to the usual A of R stuff, my days will be packed tight with only a little legroom for press work there (which is where I've traditionally spent time reading submissions in past years.)  I'm also point person on the Artist in Residence program this year, which is going to be AMAZING (check out or resident artist here) and some other random stuff that has been shuffled over in all the restructuring. So it will be busy, but all fun creative things.  We'll also be presenting at a couple library conferences in October, one a session on zines and Chicago zine resources at the Chicago Resource Summit, and another, a poster session on curated learning at the Illinois Library Assoc. Conference.

Since this may be last weekend of freedom for a bit (I'm in Rockford next weekend and working the following.) I intend to also spend some time getting some horror movies in and drinking a lot of coffee and maybe some more work on extinction event, which has a couple more segments from this past week.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

writing & art bits | august edition

*August vanished down the rabbit hole and I didn't check my Submittable for a whole month, but was delighted to find that I had THREE acceptances waiting for me, including these pieces from SWALLOW in the new issue of Sweet Tree Review.   Other pieces from a couple different series are also due out this fall from decomP and Midway Journal.  While my 100 rejections project has fallen prey to general life chaos, it's nice I did get a few more acceptances than usual out of the year regardless.

* Part 2 of the Nasiona Magazine interview with fellow editors landed a week or so ago, with a final segment due out soon.

* cover preparations are in the work for next spring's SEX & VIOLENCE (Black Lawrence Press, 2020)..I can't wait to show you!

*I've been deep in my extinction event pieces for the Field Museum reading, which is happening in the Museum's Gidwitz Hall of Birds on October 9th.  When asked where I'd like to do it, I waffled between amidst birds and dinosaurs, but it's fitting the poet who wrote a book years ago called IN THE BIRD MUSEUM, is going to be reading in an actual one. 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

broken things

"In this box, I collect the broken things.  The twisted oak, the dusty lynx. Budgies and buntings and  speckled hawks tumbled from their nests. We are going on a picnic and can take only the most unfortunate.  The deer missing it's antler, the one eyed frog.  Like Noah, we build and build, but the space gets smaller.  Nothing can breath. least of all me, my lungs stopped up with feathers and the small animals I've smuggled inside the body for safekeeping . In the box, we rustle the feathers and bend the bones, but nothing fits, even side by side, stacked vertically in rows.  Nothing sits upright or thrives. We name them, tag their tiny feet, and still, nothing moves inside the box.  All night we soothe them with sounds their mothers make, but still they sleep and dream of trees."-extinction event

I have been working over the last few weeks on my Field Museum poem series and it's going remarkably well.  The reading will be happening October 9th, and I'll have more details soon on the where's the whens and the particulars.  I've been doing a fair amount of research on diorama artists and taxidermy methods and such and I'll be headed back to the museum itself a couple more times over the next few weeks to do some more writing.. It's funny but sometimes I feel poems pulling in certain directions--old directions--and have to reign them in.  This is not that poem.  This is not that place. But then again, perhaps there is value in the wandering from your task. 

I'm hoping to get back to my habit of writing over breakfast, which has been harder when I've been landing into the chaos of work and not the quiet of the studio daily for the past three months.  My daily writing has turned more into random spats over the weekend or in stolen hours during the week. It's still coming, just not as vigorously,which is okay sometimes. Fall always means more seriousness, more purpose, and I'm looking forward to it in spades. 

Saturday, August 24, 2019

notes & things 8/24/2019

The above pic was snapped a couple weeks back, so the demon kittens are even bigger now (though still mostly hard to tell apart.)  It's been a busy span, and included a couple museum visits, first the Field (see blog below) and yesterday, a 30's /40's fashion exhibit at the Chicago History Museum (I'll post a bit more on that in the next entry.)  The weather has been beautifully cool and breezy, yet still sunny the past couple of days, and even though yesterday was an early start, it was glorious to sit outside the museum next to the fountain for a bit and enjoy some milder air after a week that was muggy, buggy, and just overgrown in the way summer gets toward the end. I am sleeping really well the past few nights, the bed piled with cats, and even took out my big comforter last night and threw it on.

I was initially supposed to be in Rockford this weekend, but postponed it a couple weeks since that will land me in town for both my Dad's birthday and some fall festivities like apple orchard-ing (truthfully it's all about the donuts!).   I tend to miss out on such things most years entirely, since I usually visit over Labor Day (too early) and Thanksgiving (too late).  Fall is crazy for me, and October looking to be a similar beast this year, but so far September and November seem slower going. I am itching to get out my fall clothes, but since I didn't touch the summer ones until mid-June because it came late, there are still a few things I can wear after the semester starts that I haven't even touched this season.

Outside of my Field Museum poems, I've been in order muppet mode lately, and so not good for creativity.  I did start playing a bit with paper quilling, which we'll be doing for a workshop next month. I feel a little stalled visually outside of some cover designs, even though words seem to be prevailing nevertheless in the extinction event pieces.  We have a  small tiki-themed exhibit going up until the lethal ladies work happens in early October.

I'm starting to get excited about other things that signal fall as well--the horror movie marathons (though I did this a couple Saturdays ago, so I hardly need an excuse, but on that last docket, the really great Mon & Dad, the new Poltergeist, Happy Birthday 2ULights Out, and Us. ) Though somehow the season and early dark lends themselves to spooky flicks more than heat and humidity.  Add in things like IT, part 2 in theatres and new installments of the Haunting of Hull House and American Horror Story and my fall will be complete.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

my 90's fashion dreams

With fall on my mind, I'm plotting outfits and spotted this lovely on Poshmark and had to get being of two 90's varieties--velvet and waffle-printy, AND my favorite teal to boot. I think it's at least couple years old, because I don't remember it the Modcloth line-up (and I've had my eye on their velvet the past few seasons.) I'm looking forward to quite a few wardrobe staples in the forom of velvets and furs and knits, plus some fall florals I'll be hauling out in mid-September. I'm thinking it'll be perfection with tights and boots and a black cardigan.


Judging by runways, catalog spreads, and window displays, the 90's are so back this fall. You might argue that the 70's by proxy are also back). I like the 90's, though maybe didn't appreciate them quite enough when I was in them. I've mentioned before that my 90's wardrobe was a whole lot of leggings and oversized flannels & sweatshirts, with some long hippie skirts thrown in. By the end of the decade, I wore a lot of boot cut jeans and black & grey sweaters and some longer skirts. (and eventually only skirts after 2000 or so.) Mostly I look back at the 90's as a period I was mostly trying to blend in, and even if I'd wanted to be fashionable, things were hard to find in my size (which was a couple sizes bigger than I wear now.) Internet shopping wasn't a thing, so I was limited to big box stores and occasional stuff from Sears or Lane Bryant (not that I had much of my own money early in the decade anyway). Things got a little more interesting when I discovered Fashion Bug and TJ Maxx but only a little. Thrift stores weren't very accomodating to plus sizes, though I was just beginning my addiction to thrifting.

 So the cool things I saw in magazines/tv/movies in the form of floral dresses and leather jackets were mostly unattainable. Velvet seemed fussy. Leopard print something I'd abandoned in junior high. The Delia's catalog was awesome, but not for me. I could wear Doc-Martin-ish shoes & boots, and of course, my perennial fave chunky mary janes, but above my feet was pretty uninspired and would remain so for a decade or so. So it's probably only natural I would nurse a desire to hit decade trends hard. A few years ago, I started becoming obsessed with leopard print, what I call my "Peg Bundy wardrobe" pieces, so many that I was wearing it once a week, and then came the velvet, and thankfully fashion followed and gave me even more things to obsess over. It culminated of course, in a leopard velvet jacket I am crazy about. I am also plotting ways to incorporate flannels and florals, though I oft question my pattern mixing acumen.

check out my autumn pinterest board for more & links on the above...

Saturday, August 17, 2019

poems and peacocks and angry rabbits

My head is, as expected, filled with ideas after my Field Museum visit on Thursday, and I got started that very evening drafting bits of something that I think will be promising.   I initially went in with a vague idea of writing about extinction and dinosaurs and the earth over time, but of course got distracted by the birds (it happens) and then the maze of mammals, which had me mulling over taxidermy techniques and the work of diorama artists and the whole points of museums, the houses of the muses, and preservation, particularly when it comes to extinction (even our own).  And then of course, from my last visit, Audubon and his giant book.   And somehow, a kernal of sense-making came into being and I think I might have something. 

And of course, the Field is such a nostalgia filled place for me.  It was the site of the 9th grade field trip that touched off a desire to live in this big, bustling city perched on the lake.  And other visits were always with my parents, and far too infrequent, but always memorable.  But its somehow so familiar, even when they move things around and add rotating exhibits.  I stuck mostly to animals and the dinosaurs since I got a late start to the day, but there was much I wanted to wander through, but stuck steady to my material interests re: animals and evolution.

And of course, I've written about the museum before.  The title poem of in the bird museum is inspired by the Field's and other similar museums' bird specimen collections.  And there is a line in my first book, in the poem "How to Tell a Story in a Dead Language" specifically about the Egypt exhibit. (another fave, but I didn't have time for it Thursday.)  All of which, was perhaps why I am especially excited about this endeavor and the reading (which is looking to be happening in October at this point--they are still working out details.)  Already I have three drafts that look promising--I'd love to get a chap or a segment of another longer book from all this.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

dgp notes | august edition

We're coming up on the very end of the submission period and so far things are looking amazing in the pool, and the first round of acceptances will be going out mid next week.  I am struggling as always to figure out what the sweet spot is in how many releases are possible and when it tips over into overwhelming, but I think also being more generous in timelines for things may help immensely--more based on how things actually go than how I wish they would go. Life intervenes, printers break, and I never feel ahead of the game, no matter what. But I guess, just keep doing the best I can. I often overshoot and over commit, and I need to reign this tendency in as well.

We are also hosting our first ever fundraising campaign to help with things that are coming down the pipeline in terms of a mini-chap contest and the anthology project, both of which require a bit more in terms of resources than the usual schedule of chapbooks.  I want to avoid submission fees at all costs, but to offer a cash prize, you need to, you know, have cash and all, so if we can raise it beforehand, it would be amazing. One of the perks is that the mini-chaps will be included with every order, so that's some mad distribution (and some mad printing costs for larger runs).  I'm excited to turn people onto authors they might not otherwise read when they purchase something.  Plus, I'm dreaming that SWIM will be a little more luxe and fancy, which means I'll be spending more on all the paper doo-dads.

Our dancing girl press salon series will be back on September 10th in the Library (the perfect marrying of my library programming work and my work with the press.) and will feature Annette  Boehm, Aviya Kushner, Leah Claire Kaminski, and Eleanor Tisch in that first installment, all of whom have books out from this past year. I did a couple of these in the past, and then a few devoted to other presses & orgs, but we actually have plenty of visiting and chicago-area authors to bring in on our own.

Friday, August 09, 2019

notes & things | 8/9/2019

Every August, about midway through, there is a day that you wake up and the light just seems different and aches of the impending fall. Maybe that day was today, maybe yesterday.  Or maybe I'm just realizing in a panic that it's a few scarce weeks until the semester begins because, yes, it does and I am perhaps nowhere near ready--so much stuff to line up, including our Lethal Ladies programming, plus preparations for some library things--a session at the Chicago Research summit in October, and then a poster session at the Illinois Library Association conference shortly thereafter. Summer seemed like such a long stretch, but it's now almost over.

This week, I'll be heading over to the Field Museum to get a start on some writing for my reading there in mid-September. I have some vague articulations about extinction events and natural environments (and yes, dinosaurs!) so we'll see how those flesh out this week. I just finished the artist statement project, so I am primed and ready for something new. Fall seems perfect for a new endeavor to begin. I've been prepping with some notes on fossils and geologic periods (which were the least interesting and least retained bits of my science schooling I admit). I'll be writing a bit more about the project after my visit on Thursday.

I spent some time this week delving into the submission pile for next year's chapbook series and already I have a handful of possibilities ready for a second read.  I'm hoping to get through everything within the  three month window, which would pit all responses out by late October--it feels do-able, but I know the rate increases exponentially as we get closer to the deadline.  This should work out well, since I was just asked to be a prelim reader for another presses' contest that ends  around the same time.

Besides a little more research and note taking, this weekend will be devoted to groceries and cleaning and playing with the tiny demon cats that are running back and forth through my apartment. I have only a couple more free ones until a short trip to Rockford, then Labor Day, and then we are plunged into the semester. I am less excited about colder weather, but more excited by fall fashions, so I'll take it.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019


As much as I love them, old photos make me nervous.  My own and other peoples. Especially other peoples. Today, I spent some time sorting through a huge batch of vacation photos that a faculty member had picked up somewhere, intending them for a project that just never happened. So he passed them onto me.  I foraged for some good collage/art possibilities, and found a really cute vintage Hallmark floral bag, but as I tossed the majority of the pics--various women posed in front of monuments and scenic vistas (but did keep the vistas and the monuments alone for artmaking) I felt the same weight on my chest that I feel when I look at family photos of my own. That it's suffocating to think of the detritus of our lives--what we leave behind, where it goes, what happens to it.  The women were old in the 70's--now they are surely dead, so it felt weird tossing them into the trash with the days other detritus, coffee cups and sandwich wrappers--somehow sacriligious, even though I've no desire to keep them unless they are useful.

When I was 8, my grandmother died, and in her house was about a foot tall mountain of snapshots going back decades, that my mother and aunt sat and sorted through one stifling summer afternoon.  Many went into albums that still sit in my Dad's house today.  Others were split up among relatives. Even more, however, were tossed in the trash or on top of a fire or lost in the shuffle.  When I volunteered to help clean up that flooded farm house in Kaskaskia after the 93 floods, I  remember the horrible feeling of scraping family photos caked in mud from the floor boards of the 2nd floor, where the water had been halfway up the wall. What to do with all this--what we keep, what we leave behind,.  What matters to no one else but us, and after we're gone. ?

Years ago, my aunt gave me a stack of cool  victorian cabinet cards she'd been sent from relatives in Nebraska, where she and my mother were born. There were some young pics of my grandmother in the 20's and 30's among them, but most of the people were unrecognizeable and unknown..maybe a trace of resemblance at most--a set of brow, a curve of lip that echoed through my great grandmother, but little else.  She gave them to be to do "something artsy"  and they eventually, without their actual heads, became he unusual creatures pieces. At first,  I debated collageing on the photos themselves.  On one hand, it would ruin them. On the other, no one much cared, least of all my aunt..The originals, tucked somewhere in my studio even now, will one day be inconsequential to whoever stumbles across them. I wound up reproducing them on cardstock and then working with them.  But it scarce matters. Ultimately, they'll ed up in the trash sooner or later.

The strange thing about being childless I suppose is knowing that my legacy, whatever that is, dies with me. Some day, I'll grow old and die and people, probably strangers, will throw the bulk of my things in the trash --the poems, the artwork, the random bits of my life I've collected.  This makes me hurt. it makes me heavy in a way I can't quite put my finger on. My dad & sister were pretty quick about dealing with my mother's things after her death--alarmingly so, but it was probably necessary mental health-wise--the closet full of clothes, her jewelry box, a linen closet stuffed with half  burnt candles and semi-filled bottles of lotion.  Her presence is still very real in the house--the art she chose for the walls, the furniture, the photos, her dishes. .  But at the same time, she is also more absent--and in a way that has nothing to do with her physically missing.  But who can hold on to ghosts?  Or maybe ghosts are all we have?

While I've purloined a lot of photos and scanned them for social-media purposes over the years, I have only one photo album in my apartment, mostly filled with images taken from my first years in Chicago before the world went digital. I also have a sizeable stack of yearbooks, journals, and scrapbooks, but the photo albums for the most part are in my parents' house.  The weight of the seems to much.

One project that I've always thought would be cool would be to hunt down a bunch of stranger's family photos and create my own story from them. I know other artist and writers who have done this (Jaime Zuckerman's Alone in this Together, published by dgp a couple years back is a great example.) One of our Aof R artsist from a few shows ago liked to alter photos found in antique stores with his own monster illustrations and then slip them surreptitiously back into the stores to be found by others. 

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

toni morrison and the midwest gothic

Sad news today that the world lost Toni Morrison. The first time I encountered Morrison was my freshman year. In a community college class called Intro to Literature.  We mostly read stories from an an anthology--everything with a feminist bent--Tillie Olsen, Flannery O'Connor (I am so fortunate in my education that we always read more women, even in non-focused classes.)  I was just beginning to write seriously, but badly, and was sort of placeholding and wracking up some credits & gen-eds (history, intro to psych, dramatic lit) before I started at Rockford College in the fall after returning from North Carolina and changing my plans and my major.  By the end of the semester, we had time for one long form fiction, and the professor had chosen Beloved, heavy reading for a 19 year old, but one that struck me as amazing.  It struck me as a horror novel, becuase of the ghost, the haunting of the main character after sacrificing her children to save them from slavery.  And it is a sort of ghost story--and importantly, a midwest gothic, one wrapped up in our terrible, bloody history.  It was a book that haunted me, as a reader, and I returned to it in the following years, particularly as I was trying to figure out the whole writing thing.  We later read it in another class at RC devoted to Psychology and Literature. Though I read and loved The Bluest Eye as part of my MA Comp exam a couple years later, Beloved remained my favorite Morrison, because of its strong roots in the gothic.

Monday, August 05, 2019

a tale of two kittens

Having long ago given up the ghost on fighting any urge to deny my cat-lady spinsterish tendencies, I welcomed these little lovelies into my house last week.  I wound up naming them after famous Siamese twins, Violet and Daisy Hilton, sideshow and vaudeville performers ( they were in the classic Freaks (see below) and surely an inspiration for AHS:  Freak Show.)  They were also one of the inspirations for my poem "double tongue" in GIRL SHOW.)