Friday, May 31, 2019

taking stock | 5 & 10 years

I always feel like this blog (journals or diaries in general) are an excellent way to re-read and get a sense of what was happening in your life at any given moment.  I had some time today to take a scan back at 5 and 10 years ago and I feel like so many of the running threads in my life are always present.  Five years ago, I was about to get a nasty bout of food poising, but also, three unruly kittens, only one of which I would keep, but another which I would later re-home. I was obsessed with embracing summer and spending enough time enjoying it.   I was at the beginning of a relationship that would only last a few months, but was fairly low drama, and also ending another long-term one that would re-surface, then end finally that fall.  I was working on some book projects like lunarium and ghost landscapes 

Ten years ago, I appear to have been doing a whole lot of readings, one after the other--Woodland Pattern, the Bookslut Series, Brother's K in Evanston.  I was knee deep in the etsy shop madness, making soaps and photographing so much vintage. I was working on a collaborative postcard project with another author, but there isn't much mention of actual writing projects, which makes sense since I was still in my post-MFA burnout stage. The trickle would not start until a year or two later with the James Franco piecs. I do note a couple of publications, but they seem to be older work from before.  Romantically, I was back in a relationship after some unfortunate circumstances, but caught up in some weird euphoria that would carry it through the next year or so before things went nuclear.  Despite this, there are so many mentions of being ecstatically happy and content, and I truly believe I was, possibly in a way that seems strangely unattainable sense, even though I consider myself a pretty happy person in general, no matter what.

The past couple of years, I've found myself struggling to get back there, but I'm not sure where there was, and reading those old entries may get me closer, but also somehow, farther away. But good, mild weather helps.  Dresses and tacos and poetry helps.  Good, functional relationships and an apartment full of cats help.  I'm, as always, struggling to keep up, but am determined to enjoy summer just as much as I was years ago.

Thursday, May 30, 2019


"Truth is, you'd be prettier if you were thinner.  Prettier if you smiled.  Each night, you cultivate pretty like a fountain you throw every coin into.   Put it in a nightgown and tuck it into bed.  Pretty sleeps like a cat, curled around you, kneading sweetly in your hair." 


As I was working through those hunger palace edits, I got more and more excited about the larger manuscript they are a part of, and excited to see if it fares well out in the submission wilds.  I feel like the work in the book is really strong individually and as a whole--and it feels a little sharper and real than some of my other projects.  You have the very autobiographical of hunger palace, the barbed poems of swallow, the fairytale world of plump, and the dreamy changelings of the summer house.  Also the imaginary daughter poems of the science of impossible objects.  It makes sense that I would write a book about mothers in the year or so after losing my own, and the hunger palace itself is very much about that.

Of course, it's not only about mothers, but also about daughters, and body image issues.  About the things we inherit from mothers as much as our eye color and genetic makeup. About the madnesses we inherit via nature or nurture, so in that way is also about grandmothers and female relatives. My sister, for example,  inherited a seizure disorder that afflicts both my father and other members of that family which seems much scarier.  I (luckily?) only inherited a tendency toward anxiety that plagued my mother, particularly in her latter years. While my grandmother died fairly young, there were alcohol issues, and, with my great grandmother on that side. hospitalizations for hallucinations and general mental breakdown  crazy.   (though after what happened with my mom, I wonder if infection wasn't the cause of all that and the doctors in the late 60's just weren't up to speed that that was a possibility.)  Therefore, I am extremely cautious of "the crazy" and ever vigilant.

As a teen, of course, the obsession with my weight becomes softer in focus as an adult, but when I was in Rockford over the past weekend, I re-found my old high school diary, which I mention specifically in the hunger palace a couple times.  And good god, it's all there, the ridiculousness of it, something I am still, in many ways unlearning. FEED is a processing of all that and more--the mother, the daughter, decisions on not having children, of creative work as child. In many ways, it feels like one of the most cohesive full-length projects I've written and I'm anxious (in the good way) to see what comes of it.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

totally true fictions

A couple months back, I sent the whole sprawling strangeness of the hunger palace to a  lit journal as a single submission--classified as a lyric essay, and for the past couple of days have been working on some editor comments that might lead to publication, most of which I've incorporated, but it's definitely got me thinking about the different ways I would approach an essay vs. a series of poems. This project  is kind of both, but it would totally depend on readerly expectations going in.  If we say it is an essay, there is a certain amount of sense-making and temporal stability one would most likely demand.  A series of prose poems, maybe not so much.  So much as poets we might take at face value.  A lot of extraneous imagery that might be cuttable.

I'm liking the process, and maybe in the end, it makes my essay better, stronger, but maybe also my poems, or that weird in-between territory I like to inhabit of late. It's also sort of strange, working more in the territory of autobiography than I usually do.  The fact vs. fiction divide--the stuff we make up or change or adapt in the creation of art. I was about to make a change, to work a bit of one thematic thread into a paragraph and was like "whoa!  wait, that didn't happen!"  But really, does it matter?  It could have?  I actually have no proof that it did or did not.

When I was a kid, my mother loved to read "True Story" magazines on vacation.  Stacks of them. I thought for sure most of the stories were entirely faked, though adult experience has told me maybe less than I thought. Did they exist today, I might have a couple of relationship doozies  that would definitely have appealed to the readership ( (not on the level of Nazi wife, but still). I guess now we share such things on social media, or like me, masked as art.

Friday, May 24, 2019

notes & things | 5/24/2019

Tonight, I am off to Rockford for a few days, and am hoping for some nice weather and outside lounging opportunities during the long weekend.  We've had alternately chilly and mild temps, but it still barely feels like spring, even though nature seems to have decided to do it's thing now or never--everything blooming and flowering, even if I'm still reaching for a jacket most days (and a couple days ago, a full-on coat.)  It's hard to believe we are officially kicking off summer when we've barely had a spring.

I'm taking home the hunger palace, the whole of  which has a shot at publication with a few  editor-suggested edits, so I'll be spending some time with it out in the sunshine working at that. This week, I dialed back some other things to  get caught up on e-mails and such that had been running rampant while I dealt with other more pressing thins like finishing out the semester, zine fest, and a couple larger book orders. It's always rough when my schedule changes--to adapt to evenings in the studio instead of mornings, to always be hungry at the wrong times of day. 

I was rooting through my sketchbook and found a list of goals and objectives for spring 2019, and while I managed to get a couple things accomplished  (submitted the FEED manuscript, for example, and a couple library writing things) there is much more that I did not manage, so I created a new list for summer and we'll see how much I can get to before fall rolls around, which, given these things, will be here before we know it.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

in a dark wood

As I was revisiting my plump series and the accompanying collages, it got me thinking about magic in my work--the fairytale kind of magic. I've always considered myself a writer that wanders into the supernatural ever so often (seen in obvious places like the Resurrection Mary poems of archer avenue, the ghosts of the fever almanac, many of the things that happen in girl show.  Even my more grounded, autobiographical work goes there frequently--salvage has it's urban mermaids, for example. even  major characters in minor films is populated with ghost and haunting mentions.  It's probably too many horror movies and books in my upbringing, and, of course, hysterical since I see myself ultimately as a skeptic. 

But my more fairy tale oriented work seems to have a more everyday sort of magic happening.  About 20 years ago, when I first began writing anything that was of quality, I turned to fairy tales quite often--Rapunzel, wicked stepmother stories., Little Red Riding Hood. My book of red project was about the latter, and my first attempt, for reals, at an artist book.  (though you could argue my junior year Scarlet Letter book was the inadvertent first.) It was followed, of course, by my longer project, the shared properties of water and stars, which was loosely based on Goldilocks and her three bears, told through math problems, but was more a riff on a certain suburban angst than about the fairy tale itself.  plump, of course, being the most recent example. 

I think becuase they are ingrained so much in the human consciousness, it's hard not to fall into them sometimes.  I've been working on my "artist statement" series of late, and there is one poem about mothers and daughters that touches on fairy tales and writing

"Fairy tales tell us that the daughter must die.  Or more often, the mother.  Light softening to violet and then the red from all that blood.  No one could tell who was bleeding more until the prince freed us from the castle."

Sometimes, even when I am not writing about magic, I sort of am. 

for a little more discussion on fairy tales & my work, read here...

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

writing & art bits | may edition

* I've had a couple weeks off in my daily writing endeavors, mostly because things got super crazy and now I have to adjust my schedule a bit for summer work hours.  (which means I either do some writing when I land at the library or wait til I get to the studio this evening--though my brain power by then is never as good.) The artist statement project up til then, however, is humming along and already I've placed some pieces in an upcoming issue of Typehouse. 

*I did put some single copies of necessary violence up in the shop. I'll be soon sending out subsciption bundles with the latest offerings, so it's a good time to join in if you want all the fun this year will certainly bring--including the taurus series w/ accompanying art and the print manifestation of the strangerie pieces.

*In my ongoing digitization efforts, I recently put up e-chap versions of the science of impossible objects and plump. Since so many of the smaller books are limited edition, I figure why not get them readable to a far wider potential audience, especially given how successful things like my james franco  series has been as an e-chap. While some of the pieces wind up in online journals, this gives you a chance to see the text segments alongside the visuals in a way you usually cannot.

*My 100 rejections attempt has led to a few rejections, but 100 seems a long way away, so we're probably going to be going for about 20.  It's 1/4 of the way through the year and I only have about 6 of them). There's still another dozen or so out there and I have had 3 acceptances with another one on the horizon w/ some edits. I also have some solicited work from the {licorice, laudanum} coming up in Tupelo Quarterly. 

*I am steadily working toward getting ready for my open studio event on June 14th, which will be here before we know it.  The studio is still a mess, but I am slowly working toward ordering the chaos and am hoping to have a good stock of old things available, with an eye toward some new things (prints, paper goods) come July if things go well.

chicago cryptozoological society

Another successful seller at Zine Fest on Saturday were our Chicago Cryptozoological Society zines..which are sort of just for fun and not at all serious, but they seem to be popular (and tend to dissappear from the Library Zine Exchange like hotcakes whenever I add a stack.)  It's hard to believe that little project is going to be two years old this summer.  We conceived of the project as part resource/part shenanigans, and it included along the way some pranks and hijinks (including a little trolling on reddit) , but mostly has produced the zine series this far. I have some more serious creative projects, in line with last year's Cryptotaxonomy series from last year, so keep an eye out for that. There are also some prints we initially debuted at last fall's Indie Press Fest available soon from that series. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

curvy girl fashion: ditsy all day long

Somewhere, my 90's self is extremely happy that not only are fluted sleeves back, but so are ditsy prints.  Not that they went away completely, but finding a good floral is not always easy--much of what I've stumbled across is either ho-hum or garish.  Whenever I find one I like, I usually snatch it up immediately, whatever the retailer.  There's something always classic about a subdued floral. This year, so many ditsy prints are everywhere (see my last entry on old Navy for a couple I recently picked up.)    I also recently ordered this one on sale from Modcloth, since I've been stalking a plus size version of a similar dress on Pinterest.  Today, I came across a plus size dress feature on Buzz Feed about Walmart's on  point dress game and spotted the above bit of lovely for ridiculously cheap and bought that (and two others, one paisley, one navy striped).  I now have no money and may be eating ramen this weekend, but really, I'm okay with that because these are GORGEOUS.  And these look to be light enough weight to not only be wearable this summer, but with enough coverage to work in other seasons as well. I've got a couple other Walmart dresses, bought in store sometimes when I'm Rockford, and they're actually pretty good quality for so cheap. I've been wearing a navy blue cotton sundress I paid about 8 bucks for on sale for about 5 summers now and it's still a favorite and hasn't fallen apart yet.

whose story is this and why?

The internets are aflutter with discussion and memes about Sunday night's Game of Thrones finale.  I was neither less nor more less disappointed than I've been all season long.  That is, after we passed the point where things began to feel rushed and half-assed .  I think there is much to be considered as to exactly WHOSE story this was.  In a show with so many characters and locations, as you wind to a close and begin to zero in on events in one place and among a select group of characters, who is in the scene begins to reflect who the story is mostly about.  At times toward the end, this became harder to discern.  Was it Tyrion?  Was it Jon Snow?  Was it Daenerys?  Who are we following?  Who should we be rooting for?  (this I think is why many people were really frustrated with the Mad Queen scenario, they thought it was her.)

And what of those characters whose story it once seemed to be (I'm thinking primarily of Cersai here) who become merely the antagonist in the final season, and not a very layered and carefully drawn one at that.  Obviously, since she got very little screen time and an unspectacular end, it wasn't really her story.   Or Jamie's.  The closest you might come is Tyrion.  Who are you supposed to hail as the hero of things?  Not Jon Snow, surely?  And certainly not Bran.  (I would argue the only two people with a lick of sense in the whole damn show were Sir Davos & Sam--interestingly one who could do nothing much but read and another who was being taught how to read.) They kept saying that Bran was the person who held all the stories and the memory, but surely Sam, with his refrain "I read it in a book." was just as knowledgeable.

There is much in there about the importance of reading and knowing history in order to avoid repeating it. think of  Joffrey's reluctance to read the history of the Kings. The entry on Jamie Lannister that Brienne completes. Sam's book at the end. It brings t mind the quite that history is always told from the side of the conqueror. Had Dany not gone awry, it would have been her history to write.  So who then do we look to as our hero?  I was really pulling for Sansa to end up on the throne, because it would make sense for it to be her story, given how badly she fared through much of the journey.  

Monday, May 20, 2019


This week I am working on the year-end zine project for our Book to Art endeavors based on War of the Worlds and it got me to thinking about how lovely last year's result, Dark Forest, the Grimm project, which included my little chap of Hansel & Gretel poems, as well as a couple of separate collage pieces.  As someone who once enjoyed writing greatly about fairy tales (and still do) it was immensely satisfying to visit this particular one-espec. since I planned on including it in my FEED manuscript eventually, particularly with the witch as a semi-sympathetic figure.  The visual pieces also turned out similarly well--I was going for a paper doll/puppet feel, something I am working with for other projects.

You can see a sample of the work at Tupelo Quarterly where a segment of them were published last year.  I've also put up a full electronic version of the project.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

just lie down and it will stop

One of the debuts yesterday at Zine Fest was the print incarnation of necessary violence, which I did manage to pull together in time despite a crazy week (I was working half days in the library and spending lots of hours in the studio working on a couple large book orders, so very little layout time, which I usually do when it's quiet in the evenings.) It turned out lovely however, and seemed to be reasonably popular yesterday, people seeming to gravitate toward it before they even knew what it was.  A small distro bought a few copies at discount, so it's good to know it will be reaching another audience (that doesn't already know me & dgp.)   It the culmination of a series/project that started about a year ago when I began research, so it's exciting that it was able to shape in that time.   I always say poetry doesn't go over that well at Zine Fest, but I think they were stealthy enough as prose that they snuck in under the

Friday, May 17, 2019

Tomorrow, A of R will be holding down table G8 at the Chicago Zine Fest with all sorts of goodies, including free resource zines and some of our creative projects from the past two years like Breton's Birthday and the Grimm project, Dark Forest.  We'll also have some crypto publications courtesy of The Chicago Cryptozoological Society, our little spin-off endeavor, and a few other selections from A of R affiliated artists.  I'll be personally  bringing my newest subscription series offering, necessary violence (aka the slender man stabbing poems) and some other assorted zines and mini prints (plus I'll be giving away some zodiac scrolls leftover from last year)

In honor of our AofR focus topic coming in the fall, we also made up these--a serious of cards devoted to our very favorite ladies of true crime.  We plan to continue to grown the deck, so look out for individual cards coming to our vending machines in the lobby maybe later in the summer.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

curvy girl fashion | old navy

In the past, my experiences with Old Navy have been a mixed bag.  Years ago, when I shopped mostly in stores, I would occasionally hit up the store on State Street and make the long journey to the back corner where the plus size offerings--what there were--lived.  Mostly I would buy solid or novelty t-shirts to wear with the long skirts that were sort of my uniform (long skirt, t-shirts, sometimes layered, cardigan).  I don't remember if there were dresses, and if there were, I don't think any appealed to me.  I did buy a peacoat I was tremendously fond of. Eventually, they took the plus size offerings out of the stores entirely, I heard. but by then I was shopping mostly online anyway, and I did buy a few cute dresses over the years, including a couple sheer ones bought when I was heavier and pinned to fit properly now I liked them enough.  Other things came and went, and in recent years, I would comb through occasionally, and they had some solid staples like knit sundresses and maxis (which I can't do) but nothing I didn't already have or couldn't find elsewhere more appealing.  They occasionally had dresses in cute prints, but for smaller sizes only.

A couple weeks back, I was randomly browsing Poshmark in my size and came across a couple cute NWT sundresses that were Old Navy and bought them, not expecting much, but feeling like I needed a shot of warm weather clothes to combat the gloom. When I got them, they were really, really nice.  Good material, good fit, perfect;y knee length (a rarity, everything is always so short on me).  Twice as nice as things I'd paid double and triple for elsewhere, so I went hunting on the actual Old Navy site and found many similar dresses and ordered a handful with what was left of my birthday money, including a navy gingham that is a nice, textury, almost seersuckery cotton that will be perfect if we actually get a spring or summer. I was raving on social media and made the mistake of going back and found the black tie neck, that I just had to have in all 3 varieties (these are more year-round staples than the sundresses--or at least that's what I told myself as I typed in my credit card and bought three of the same dress--black, red, & navy polkadot. )

Whether or not it will be warm enough this month to break them in, I have no idea, but they are definitely even nice than they look online, which is a rarity...

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

necessary violence

This week, I am putting the final touches on the zine version of necessary violence, the collaboration with my sister that includes my text and her visualizations. It's basically the portable version of the installation in the Strange Fevers exhibit (which by the way, will still be up through the end of May if you are in the Columbia neighborhood.)

This was another research heavy project, which involved a lot of online stuff as well as a lot of books ILL'ed (weirdly we have very little of this in our library). The project was spawned mostly by the strangeness of the Waukesha case, which I'd been thinking about for awhile, and the call for the Mansion anthology, which got me working on it in earnest. A lot of it was interest, as we discussed at the Colloquium panel, in the creepiness and agency of young girls.   The more I read, the more it seems that these girls, with the exception of growing up in the internet age, were not so unlike me and my friends, with our little obsessions, our sleepovers, our strange activities. While ours didn't result in violence, I remember the fragile ecosystem of the slumber party, which sometimes erupted in fights over nothing and weird group dynamics.  For a 12 year old girl, everything is personal.

Granted, there was mental illness at play, of various kinds.   The one girl was pretty much early-onset schizophrenic, the other seemed highly impressionable.  Parallels were often made to Heavenly Creatures and the fantasy worlds the girls lived in, as well as the drastic strategies they employed to maintain those fantasies. While our fantasies as pre-teens mostly had to do with whichever Tiger Beat cover boy we liked, they could have been much darker and just as obsessively wrought.  So much was fantasy at that age--the way we played and interacted..I don't think it began to change until we were in highschool and our hangouts became less play-based. it's all especially fascinating to think about this in relation to Braid.

This necessary violence was born, told from a sort of collective voice of both the perpetrators and sometimes he victim. It's very dark as it should be, given that the Slender Man lore that spawned it is as well.  I am excited as well about Mansion, which is just coming out, and includes some of the pieces as well as an amazing batch of poems on Slender Man mythos.  Our obssessions are always good for telling us about ourselves, and the thing that jumped out at me was both the escapism from reality the girls sought, as well as the weird father-like quality of much Slender Man content, which creepily borders on also the erotic.  Slender Man as someone who will save you, love you unconditionally, but there has to be violence as tribute.

Monday, May 13, 2019

none of the pomp, all of the circumstance

Friday, on the way down to Columbia, which was hosting it's own year-end Manifest festivities in the clear, but slightly chilly sunshine, I caught site of students from another campus graduating outside the Auditorium Theatre.  Many of our library student workers were heading to that same stage this weekend. I wanted to say congratulations, but I also wanted to say it will be much harder than you think.  To find a job, find a life. To make do.  At least for most of you unless you have a wealthy spouse of a trust-fund.

My undergrad graduation was the last one I actually went to--the last time I walked across a stage to claim a diploma.  (I was already back living in Rockford during my MA one and I skipped the MFA one and only went to a reading the day before with other graduates.)   The undergrad one I  remember only as a sticky, rainy day, where the ceremony was moved into the cramped gym and my parents had to stand behind the stage to see.  I had bad hair and bad clothes under my gross polyester gown  and really wasn't feeling like I accomplished all that much in the previous 4 years beyond the rote routine of classes and play rehearsals and just lots of reading.  My mind was already set toward grad school and leaving as soon as possible.  Within the month, I had moved into my studio in Lincoln Park and embarked on that particular version of adulthood for a couple years.  The real plunge of adulthood surely happened a couple years later when I actually had to find a job (a real, full-time, benefits sort of thing.)  Of course, I was in school again a few years later, but that was different, since I was already working full-time during.

But it's harder than I imagined it to be.  But also better.  The bonus is it might surprise you.  The bad thing is it might knock you on your ass.  You never know which is coming.  I think the best thing about college was that semester's were bit sized and then you were finished.  Could breathe for just a second before plunging in again next term. .  I's dotted, T's crossed.  Papers and projects turned in.  Post-graduation life is missing these breaks, perhaps when you most need them.  All your concerns that you had as a college student seem tiny when it comes to adult-type stuff.  The endless hoops of grades and papers and exams.  Their importance.

I guess the best advice: You will probably be nowhere near where you thought you'd be in 20 years.  But then you will probably be exactly where you should be.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

notes from the motherless wilds

When I was 6 or 7, I had the worst nightmare of my childhood, which is saying a lot as someone who was into horror movies from birth, which surely would surrender up plenty of bad dream fodder. Or so one would think. I once dreamed that Jason attacked me in the bathtub like he did the girl in the boat at the end of the first movie.  Later, dreamed that my grandmother, newly dead, came back as a zombie (this happened a couple times--her being the first relative I was old enough to really experience losing--of course she would come back as the undead.)  But neither of those was as earth-shaking as one in which my mother simply left us. I wouldn't say the dream had any sense of awareness that it was death, but just going, and we could not follow.  She had gone over the picket fence behind the garage, and not into the neighbors yard, but an enormous field filled with daisies.  Me and my sister only knew we could not follow, but not really why or how or what was happening.  I woke up crying, and every night thereafter for what seems like forever, would lie in bed before sleep telling my brain or god or the sandman not to let me dream about that again. Ever.  I didn't and eventually I just filed it away as a childhood funny stories, though I don't think I ever revealed it to my mother.  Later, I put in a poem or two.

Many years later, my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer, the surgery from which she emerged only with a long wicked scar across her abdomen, but no need for further treatment.  She said afterwards that her greatest fear was that she would die and leave me and my sister, (I was 13, she was 9) without a mother. I was worried most on the specter of navigating my teen years without her--even though a couple years later, we fought like cats and dogs. I grew into an adult who had a pretty good relationship with my mom, though there was much I kept from her in regard to my own life, just to keep stability and privacy. In my mid-20's, I told her that if she needed to know something, she would. And so it went for the next couple decades.

On the plus side, I've since finished a book, feed, which is mostly about mothers and daughters and body image issues, but also about mothering as a creative endeavor, which I, as a child-free woman think about often.  The work as offspring.  (unlike many other people, I'm less inclined to think of pets as children, the cats mostly just obnoxious/endearing roommates who expect me to feed and clean up after them.)

Saturday, May 11, 2019

the fool's journey

Last year, I was invited to contribute art to Jane Flett's amazing FOOL's JOURNEY book.  Today, I received the beautiful results in the mail and they are even prettier than I imagined. It features work from over a dozen artists accompanying Flett's amazing poems.   The card was inspired by Rider-Waite tarot decks and the poem that sits opposite inside the book "The Grinning."

Friday, May 10, 2019

botanical geekery

As I've mentioned previously, I am madly in love with floral tattoos, despite not, you know, actually having any tattoo whatsoever.  For the past couple years, after trying out some temporary designs, I've been aiming to tale the plunge and get a floral, specifically a peony design, on my inside shoulder or on my forearm.  I waffled back and forth and also over whether I wanted a black & white line at look or color.  Of course, I had in no way enough spare funds to spend on it, so recently, due to be a very good good girl when it comes to avoiding takeout and delivery and switching to a cheaper wifi provider, I had a little extra change and decided that would be my birthday gift to myself.  As I got closer, I kind of started to freak out--minimally about the pain & the permanence, but more about the anxiety of having to sit still long enough to get it.   Because I didn't want to enter year 45 stressed out over something entirely optional,  I decided to table the idea for the time being.  I subsequently gifted myself both a set of ikea flat-file drawers for the studio I'd been coveting and a Cricut machine with the money I'd been saving as such---both excellent alternatives and more useful than ink on skin.

I also, since I actually DO want a tattoo, but maybe just not to, you know, have to  GET a tattoo, decided to buy some cute temporaries to tide me over until I'm of sounder mind about it. I really digging how gorgeous they are and the variation of the flowers--peonies, roses, poppies, and the most gorgeous hibiscus flowers at the moment, even if they are usually gone in a couple days.   More like jewelry I suppose than actual tattoos.   I'm also intrigued by the possibility of making my own designs (for me and maybe to sell in the shop.)  Apparently, all I may need is tattoo paper and an ink jet printer, so we'll experiment with that at some point.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

another semester...

I am drowning in ILL returns and trying to just make it through til Friday, but we did it! Another semester on the books.  Another year, even.  I've been feeling the crunch of understaffing and overworking this semester more than last,  but we still managed to pull of some really cool things--including our Strange Fevers programming that went off very well and resulted in an amazing exhibit that will still be up through the end of May. In between there were zine nights, workshops devoted to all sorts of paper goodness (printmaking, bookwrecking, and paper flowers)  and a great panel that featured people doing all sorts of awesome things with presses from the ground up (and who all happen to be CCC alumni and dgp authors to boot.)

Tomorrow I'll be hanging some of the work that this years Book to Art endeavors (based on War of the Worlds)  has generated for Friday's manifest celebration, as well as setting up a zine table to get some more contributions for our final project, which, if all goes well, will be reading in time for next week's Chicago Zine Fest.   Summer, after that, will be a little slower and we'll begin planning for fall. We're thinking of bringing back our Tiki Madness exhibition to fill the walls til fall, which should be fun and has me hatching some collage related plans. Rumor has it, the Fall's focus topic will be devoted to women serial killers and true crime.   I haven't yet decided on the Book to Art selection, or whether it will be related to that topic at all,  but may choose Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects, just so our final project can be a really creepy, fucked up dollhouse installation.    The library programming committee is also on the hunt for next falls' Artist in Residence, which we'll be selecting over the summer.

Watch for more updates on developments during the summer...

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

curvy girl fashion | appropriate flounce

Somehow I blinked and fluted sleeves came back into style.  Granted, I am not always a fan..I'm one of those people who usually ends up bunching everything, even cardigans,  up around my elbows to keep my forearms free when I'm writing or typing.  So much so, I actually seek out 3/4 sleeves on the regular for everything.  Fluted sleeves are usually ungainly and totally in the way if you're actually attempting to do..well..pretty much anything but flounce about.  While my taste tends toward more 30's & 40's silhouettes in general, these evoke a much older romantic and, therefore, are highly tempting.

About 15-17 or so years ago. maybe earlier, fashion was hit hard by the flounce.  I remember a variety of impractical sleeves I insisted on wearing when options were more limited and eventually, when the trend had died, cast them out.   I did managed to find a couple of options that had little ruffle sleeves at the elbow that were small, but pretty,  and for awhile these were my favorites--one was a purple lace that ended up getting ripped, but I still have a chiffon number that's brown with tiny blue flowers that I still occasionally wear (the pattern is modern enough that it doesn't look like it hailed from 2002.) I always feel very old school romantic marie antoinette-like in these sleeves, and was super excited to note that apparently they have been back without me noticing.  In some cases, even the newer options are a bit too much in the flounce department, but it's nice to see a lot of elbow length versions that stay out of the way...

for some more options, go to my pinterest board..

Monday, May 06, 2019

cover love : the fever almanac

As you know, one of my very favorite things about running dgp is imagining cover designs.   While I don't design everything, I love trying to find the perfect visual manifestation for the words inside.  It's something I think about a lot in regard to my own work, and one reason I love making zines and artist books, as well as working with great presses that allow my hands in the design process even just a little.  While the majority of my books lean heavily toward my own pieces of art, a few others came from elsewhere. most noteably my very first book, which seemed, in fact, one of the hardest things to imagine visually.  It was the hardest book to compile and the hardest to see as a cohesive whole, let alone what I wanted it to look like.

So much of my recent work has a visual component that can, at least, point us in a direction. the fever almanac, however,  was composed of work written between 2001-2004, mostly before I even began to venture into working visually.   I had, however, issued a couple of chapbooks on my own, that featured the work of Canadian photographer Alaina Burri Stone, whose work I had discovered via several appearances in Stirring. I had asked to use the cover photos for both my chaps Bloody Mary and belladonna, as well as for the covers of two wicked alice print annuals I'd issued and an early chapbook in the dgp lineup (and a couple others later on.)

Alaina's work in general definitely paired well with a certain rural gothic feel I thought was perfect for those poems in the smaller volumes.  This photo in particular appealed because of it's haunting vintage vibe--its colors, its textures.  Also its mystery-- a certain hint at violence.   And those shoes(!) which seemed to be the exact sort of shoes the characters in many of the poems, particularly the mid-section, would be wearing..the women whose

                                        "dresses rot on the hangers, 
                                         linger with Shalimar, truck stops." ("slice")

The designer for the book did a bang up job of the text placement, as well as the red letters on "fever" which I really liked the look of. While the book is sadly out of print after the  press went out of business, I do still have a few copies on hand and for sale in the shop (or you can also read the entirety for free online.)

Saturday, May 04, 2019

20 year itch

With my birthday last week, I find myself thinking often of that spring 20 years ago. The momentum I had accrued the when it came to writing around the time I turned 25.  How I felt so immersed in what I was doing--that first book mss I was assembling, my first real success of publication. I was also studying for my MA comp exams and freaking out over finding a job, which I wouldn't successfully do until that September, but more importantly, I remember the poems I was writing in that last stretch.  They were informed by other things I was reading for the exams--Rita Dove's Thomas & Beulah, Jean Rhy's Wide Sargasso Sea. I had, that fall before, had my TS Eliot inspired moment of epiphany.  I had also started checking out books of contemporary women poets from the DePaul library--Louise Gluck, Jorie Graham, Carolyn Forche.

When you look back over your choices at various points, I always think of that spring, and wonder if maybe I should have stayed in the city.  It would have been nearly impossible financially, and the job I would get later in Rockford would lead me back here and into the job I still have now, but ultimately I wonder if things would be different had I stayed in that tiny studio in Lincoln Park another year and tried to make do.   In that first year after finishing grad school, I can't say I wrote that much, certainly not at the pace I had been writing.  I moved into an apartment in Rockford, then a few months later, back into my parent's house.  I started a few jobs--telemarketing ad space in a movie publication, production assistant at a small local paper--all of which were horrible and that  I quit rather swiftly and unceremoniously.  I do remember writing some fiction that year, mostly in the hope that, unlike poetry, I might earn some money from it.  Somewhere, in my apartment are about a half dozen spiral notebooks full of stories I keep thinking I should pull out for laughs.  My time working in the elementary school library was stressful and hectic and tiring in a way day jobs should never be, but I did have some summer-time freedom for writing and reading after that first year.

When I moved back to Chicago in late 2000--it took me a few months to get my bearings and get back to the work of writing and submitting on the regular, and maybe the break of the previous year or so fed what came after.  The quiet before the building of a storm.  I discovered online journals and started my very own.  Began to assemble the chapbook that became The Archaeologist's Daughter.    Those first couple years, I was starting to write regularly again--much of the work I consider the first things I don't cringe at were written then  In 2003,  fall I would enroll in the MFA program at Columbia  and finish the very first draft of what would become the fever almanac.  Within a year, I would start the press and begin working in collage & installation. I would win a decently lucrative local poetry award from the Poetry Center and start doing readings on the regular.  Publishing in places I'd only dreamed of.  Would write more projects and keep going.

It all has it roots though in that spring 20 years ago, though, so I'm especially pensive about that period these days, particularly as I round out an unusually  productive year of writing and look forward to my next book (those both forthcoming in publication and those ready to be sent out into the world to begin their voyages.)  As I imagine my 25 year old self and how clueless and hopeful she was and how tenuously she sought to balance the need for making a living and also being able to make art.  And how, even as difficult as it sometimes seems even today, it actually all turned out phenomenally well for her.  Even when it never seemed like this whole writing thing would all amount to very much at all.

Friday, May 03, 2019

poet pep talk # 786

I've been laughing all day at my own insecurities.  Sometimes I feel like my work is really good and am buoyed by a certain level of confidence in it when it goes well--the work or its readership. Whenever a door closes (a rejection for example, or a missed opportunity) I stumble a little, or even lately, not rejection per se but the feeling that no one seems to be reading or engaged or paying attention.   I think it partially has to do with social media and the endorphins of likes and hearts and how some places, like facebook seems to be occupied with crickets the past year or so.  And it's dumb, especially since I obviously used to write in the pre-internet and pre-social media vaccuum and never felt alone or ignored and unread. And it's hard when these insecurities bump up against other factors, other measures of "success" I don't even necessarily believe in--contests, fellowships, publication in fancier, wide-readership publications.  I don't pursue these. mind you, but I know enough that some of them would be like chasing windmills.

Today I clicked on a random link to a recent poem in a fancier journal (someone liked it, I'm not sure why) and reading through was kind of embarassed for the journal for publishing it.  (and kinda for the dude for writing it.) It committed the cardinal sin in my poetry church--the breaking of sentences into lines with no real "poetry" quality about it except it looked like one on the page.  Also, it was boring, and in places abstract and cliched. The venue in question misses the mark quite a bit, but this was supposed to be one of the poetry world darlings, someone who people hold up as an idol (not me, but other people).  I started laughing and literally could not stop for about 5 minutes.

I realized for every time I think to myself, question myself, that I do not know what I'm own work, even at it's very throwaway worst was far better than this sampling.  That yes, maybe I totally DO know what I'm doing and am doing it pretty damn well.  And in fact all of us--poet friends, dgp authors, the mss. I help out with --ALL of us are doing so much better than this fancy poet with our work.  If this came across my desk as an editor it would be an immediate "no" not even a "maybe."  I've met poets who have been writing for a year or less who are considerably stronger than this.  Don't worry, we got this.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

beauty and the beaded bag

When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do was close myself in small spaces--blanket forts, closet forts.  Probably up til junior high, I would clear the floor of my bedroom closet and set up residence in there until the clutter took over again or I got bored with it, whichever came first. I also liked to spend time in my mom's closet. amidst all her clothes, which I'd borrow shamelessly and occasionally on the sly.  I took a liking to wearing her oversized shirts, pure 80's style with leggings tied over a tank top at the waist.   One of my favorite discoveries in her closet was her wedding purse. By then, handling it had made it unravely and the beads were falling out.. The handle was busted already. I'm guessing it was considerably vintage even by the early seventies.  The inside was a stained satin lining that smelled like lipstick and perfume, as so many vintage bags do. I was obsessed with it, and she'd let me play with it in the house, but I wasn't allowed to take it out--it was too sentimental, too fragile. Too pristinely white.  I have no idea where it ended up eventually.  She might have given it to me, but by then it was unusable, falling apart. and she probably threw it out.

It's one of the vintage objects I later became enamored of, the finely beaded purses...mostly from the 50s & 60s  Not necessarily all white, but usually with colored embroidery. I love the heft of them, their little clasps. The cool satin lining inside.  Somehow, they feel extra luxe and  exquisite. Granted, while I have nearly 30 bags, I use them only on the rare occasions where I actually need a purse (mostly I carry a large leather tote or messenger bag to and fro from work/studio and home. )  I only bring out the purses for date nights or special outings---and get weirdly excited about taking the purses out on the town beforehand (a couple weeks ago this one got to go to dinner and a movie).    As such, the leather and embroidered bags get some use, but the pretty little beaded ones, not so much (these would require much fancier destinations I feel--weddings or swanky ballroom antics.  But I have a few--the one above which is sort of fragile itself, a similar one with green flowers that's new, and this lovely, which is super tiny and not useful for carrying much. (which I suppose works only in the fanciest vintage lady scenarios where you's only need like lipstick and your keys..and not a bunch of books and a ton of art supplies like I usually carry back and forth from home on the regular.)

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

design obsession | vintage wallpaper

Whenever I am on the lookout for interesting patterns, one of my go-tos is old wallpaper samples--the 60's and 70's are particularly ripe with florals, but older can work too if you're looking for subdued patterns, colors, and textures. Some I lift from the internet, but I also have a collection in the studio that I have scanned and used for projects, as well as to make the cutest little notepads a few years ago.  One of the first lit mags I ever appeared in , Poetry Motel, was the coolest journal bound in old wallpaper scraps and I've been obsessed with binding things in it ever since and may just use it as a binding for a future artist book project.. 

I also tend to use them a lot in my own designs, either the physical scraps or the patterns electronically.  Especially in something like taurus, where the house (the labyrinth)  itself, plays such a big role in the poems, and in exquisite damage, when I'm searching for a  visual that reflects the feeling claustrophobic sort of suburbaness.  Though, just as often, I'll catch site of something and use it merely becuase it's varies.