Sunday, July 28, 2019

notes & things | 7/28/19

This month has been slipping away from me with alarming speed, and yet, I am tiring of summer, perhaps the earliest ever in the season.  It's not even August yet, and I am craving fall and somewhat listless  While the heat has been bad a few days in the past couple of weeks, most of it has been reasonably mild in between.  I am just ready for later starts and more productive time in the studios before the day has taken bites out of me both physically and mentally. I work faster and better and more energetic when I haven't spent my day dealing with library (and mostly busy work since my go-to ILL student has been away at an internship and her replacement works less days.)

Lately, I find myself battling frustrations on all fronts at not getting as much done, at not working as quickly as I need to, and have to talk myself off ledges I should not even be on.   The writing has all but slowed to a trickle, and I'm hoping to get back on track in August with some other projects.  I am trying better to live as a whole person and not just a productivity machine (and at this point, a glitchy one at that). I'm struggling to feel in control of things and it's taking both mental and physical toll.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

to all the desks I've loved before...

When I was a child, I badly wanted a desk.  For a long time, there was only one in the house that belonged to my father--a midcentury cheapie that instead of drawers, had side cabinets guarded by roll top panels. It lived first in the upstairs attic space until my bedroom moved there, and later in the basement.  My dad hoarded paper like you wouldn't believe, so the surface was usually not visible, but mostly I dreamed of a time when I would have such a desk--a place to read and write and color.  To play school,  which was also a favorite thing--teacher's desks being a similar magical space filled with red pens and star stickers.

When I was 9, we lived briefly in the trailer of a great uncle, the room I squatted in having a huge desk with drawers that had been too large for him to move, and which thus transferred to the new owners.  It was summer and school long out, but I would pull the chair up to it and pretend to study. I kept a pair of scissors found in it's copious drawers for years engraved with my cousin-by-marriage's name, which was the same as mine except with an "i". When we moved into a new house, eventually I inherited my father's desk, by then, the doors broken completely, but I quickly painted it white and covered it in magazine clippings under tape and it served me well for quite a few years--through junior high and into highschool.  Eventually, it fell apart, and I traded it for  a huge board propped in the corner on a pet kennel we kept the new kittens in. It wobbled, and would fall off if I leaned to heavily, but I loved the space.  I made college plans, and wrote essays for Seventeen magazine on changing the world. Penned environmental editorials for the paper and begrudgingly did math homework perched on a metal work stool I'd lifted from the basement.  My dorm room at UNCW had the perfect tiny wood desk, my first with actual drawers I had very things to put in it, but I wrote a lot on the floor, my electric typewriter on my knees.

When I left North Carolina and came back to the midwest, I carried my "desk" portably with me--to the living room coffee table where I'd sit on the floor.  The dining room table in front of the a/c.  Outside to the deck, where I's spend time writing horrible poems and making plans to submit them.  By desk, it was mostly a big envelope box full of writing magazines and typed drafts, banged out on the typewriter. In those years, my aunt had soon brought me a proper desk with a bookshelf upper, and every semester, I would line my textbooks & other reading materials in the top cove. Tucked my hilighters and post-its in the drawers.  I moved it so many times into various corners of the room, eventually the particle board fell apart, but by then, I had moved on to grad school, and my uneven little wood table in my Lincoln Park apartment.  It too had a busted leg, so for two years it wobbled as I began to write the first poems that actually were any good. The apartment was so small, I could sit at the table and reach not only the fridge, but most of the other furniture in the apartment.  Lacking an extension cord, most of my typeing was done a few feet away on the floor in front of the futon on a Brother wordprocessor .  I moved back to Rockford briefly, and didn't have a proper worktable until I moved back to the city--a newer pedestal table that also wobbled due to construction, on which I spent a couple years at until I could afford a new dining room set, which then spent years covered in laptops, art supplies, chapbook innards, and more until I moved a lot of it into the studio. . About a decade ago, I moved to writing at a wooden vanity table in the living room --big enough for a laptop and notebook, but not so big I overclutter it with piles of books and abandoned cups of tea. (I've written about this space at length here ...)

My dayjob desks have always had a transient feel--even if I've been at them for a long time. My desk in the elementary school was not so much a desk as a table with a computer and barcode scanner. (there was an old school teacher's desk nearby, but mostly I used it for a book displays and a surface to sort incoming materials.) My desk in the library now is surely from the 70's-- broken beige drawers (which I've covered over the years in stickers) and a faux wood laminate top. Mostly it houses inside it a couple decades worth of hoarded discard materials I eventually plan to make into art. Also, dozens of chopsticks and soy sauce packets from delivery lunches. I actually used to do a lot of writing in the evenings on the library circulation desk, a big blue formica topped behemoth.

Other desks have been, in fact, transitory.  When I was in college , my favorite place to work were a slate of study carrels that faced a brick wall. I would leave place markers there even when I left for class to stake out the spot.  A sweater.  A notebook.  A stack of books.  They were more cubicle than carrel, and I grabbed one whenever I could.  I did revisions on my first book at a cafe in a downtown Barnes & Noble. Wrote poems between my MFA classes at a counter at Corner Bakery down the street.  When I'm visiting my dad, I sometimes write at that same dining room table I wrote at decades ago.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

writing & art bits | july edition

*I have a couple of pieces (including one of the eleanor & the tiny machines pieces and one older catalogue collage) in the latest issue of Radar Poetry, fast becoming of my favorite places combining writing and visual art.  Check out the new issue here. (you can also see some of the exquisite damage written and visual pieces in the previous issue.)

*The latest Tupelo Quarterly dropped on Monday and features 5 pieces from the [licorice, laudaum] project (aka, my HH Holmes series.).  So much research went into the project , it's great to see the elements together for the first time here in all their weird little glory. 

*As mentioned below, I am taking part in an interview series with a host of other editors & publishers at The Nasiona Magazine, the first part of which landed on Monday. 

* work is beginning on the next books & objects offering coming around the bend, the poets zodiac, which needs a little tightening up, but is finally (finally!) finished. It's going to be a tiny little guide-book sized project that should be absolutely lovely. 

*This month, I am working on rounding out my artist statement series, which is turning out to be delightfully meta as one would expect.  My fave part so far is  this bit:

"The poem won’t shut up until you take it home. Until you shove it beneath the bathtub’s surface a few times for effect.  Neglect is the poem’s best weapon. All night, it will moan and pretend it’s coming, but by morning will be nothing but a few strands of hair on the pillow you used to smother it." 

Once that series winds down at the end of this month..I intend to do some more work on my woefully neglected unusual creatures project.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

dgp cover love | white space

some recent and upcoming cover designs, all if which are keeping it pretty simple in terms of space and color.......

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

vattemare award for creativity in libraries

My Monday morning started off with some exciting news that me and my co-hort, Jennifer Sauzer had scored the 2nd Annual Vattemare Award for Creativity in Libraries for our work with Aesthetics of Research.  Given that it's sometimes been bumpy road in the early days, this felt really good, and really excellent timing since we are working on some other writing projects devoted to our efforts, both about A of R  and curated learning in general,  that we will begin submitting for publication soon. Also helpful as we work on some more classroom-connected projects this coming academic year.

The proposal for the Vattemare included a general summary of our mission and some of our ongoing series and initiatives.

read more here... 

(incidently the prize is named after a famous ventriloquist/librarian, which seems an odd, but appropriate combo..)

Monday, July 15, 2019

interview @ The Nasiona Magazine

I am super-excited to be amongst the selection of awesome presses answering some questions over at The Nasiona Magazine about submissions, manuscripts, and other relevant topics..

"I love a book that can take a completely ordinary subject matter and stylistically turn it on its ear. I also really love quirky & weird subject matter. I love surrealism, the supernatural, pop culture mash-ups, science-inspired writing. Found and appropriated texts. I always say that I love those sorts of manuscripts that take the reader to weird places, but with such authority, you have no choice but to follow." 

read part 1 here..

Sunday, July 14, 2019

curvy girl fashion | early autumn wish list

Considering I only switched out my spring clothes for my summer options a couple weeks ago, it is perhaps a bit too early to be looking toward fall, but I'm cheating just a little.  I was thinking this morning that late July is always when that magical, back to school issue of Seventeen magazine showed up filled with all of it's fall-fashion magic.  It does not help that I've been bingeing season three of Stranger Things and so freakin nostalgic for my youth of neon-lined malls. All of which is giving me a summer sort of restlessness and excited back to school shopping vibes.  (and the best thing about working in academia is still being excited for every school-year start even as an adult, so I usually buy a few new clothes and some random school supplies every September. )

But nevertheless, I already thinking about jackets and sweater dresses, even though we actually have had some heat out there finally especially since I've spent the morning with some plus-size haul videos on YouTube that have me thinking about fashiony things. There are some colors I keep seeing that are jumping out at me in summer offerings that I see carrying well into fall, especially since I always have this weird span of time in September where it's still warm enough for summer dresses, but am anxious to get into fall clothes.


There is so much mustard in stores this year for summer--also other shades of buttery yellows, of which I now have way too much in my closet.  Fall is looking to be no different.  They're a little tricky sometimes, because there is a variation of mustard that looks terrible against my skin, but the warmer ones tend to fare well.  The above Old Navy one caught my eye and I will probably get it since I'm loving the delicate floral.

Dusty Pink

This is a color that works really well for my skin but I never encounter it quite enough. I'm not sold on the neckline of this particular Old Navy dress, so it's not a sure thing (too high and I feel like it will make my boobs look frumpy).   But that color is making it super tempting to try..esp with those leaopard flats.

Forest Green

I've been unusually obsessed with dark green, and even bought a velvety green ottoman for the studio  (mostly as an incentive to keep the damn place tidier. )  When my hair was darker, this was a color I loved, but it still works even when I'm blonder.   It's actually a color that works in every season, being bith naturey and holiday-ish.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019


At first, I walked out of the theatre not sure what to say about this movie.  I was super excited going in, but was fully prepared for it to fall short.  After all, with all the hype around Ari Aster's Heredity, I did not like it as much as some of my friends--thinking it definitely was a beautiful work of art in terms of impending gloom and camerawork, but thought the family trauma was more than enough even without the supernatural element that felt tacked on at the end.  The very thing that was wrong about that film, Aster did right in this one, centering the dissolution of a toxic relationship as the main source of horror, but setting it amidst the sunlight dappled beauty of a creepy Kinfolk catalog aesthetic.

In fact, there is less of the supernatural in this one, than there is the general horror of much folklore.  Very little happens that is not human directed--sacrifices, spellcasting, fertility rights.  But at the same time, there are spots of gore that jump out so strongly and starlingly becuase they are in broad daylight and paced exactly right.  So much so that you might forget you are in a horror movie, or can't quite figure out if you're in a horror movie, which contributes to the viewers disorientation as much as the characters.  It is, like Heredity, very much a meditation on trauma and grief, and the main actresses' struggle with a personal tragedy had my heart in my throat the entire movie (the closest thing I can think of recently that had this effect was Haunting of Hull House.)  Also, the dynamics of isolation and community, however fucked up. And the boyfriend, is ultimately every bad relationship you ever had, who meets a weirdly satisfying end. 

But so much can be said about the visual feast of this movie--from that unbearable bright beauty of the clearing to the visual representations of much of what happens in the film--the iconography, the illustrations. Unlike most horror, everything happens in the daylight, which becomes oppressive in its own right. As someone who most appreciates the beautiful cast against the terrifying, this movie hit all the right buttons, and some I did not even know existed.

notes & things | 07/09/2019

And just like that, we have bitten a chunk out of July.

I've been away from work and away from the studio the past 5 days or so, so re-entry is proving to be a bit rough.  There was the 4th--spent mostly just hiding from the crowds, eating takeout ribs and battling the heat in my apartment.  Then Friday hijinks, which included seeing the amazeballs Midsommer (more on this in another post) and karaoke at the Uptown Lounge. Then I was off to Rockford for some day drinking (a bit too much day drinking) and some thrifting yesterday. It's not much of a vacation, but a little bit never hurts.  I now realize that once we hit the 4th, it's a swift forward roll down into fall, so perhaps I should absorb as much summer as I can.

Otherwise, there is studio tidying, the unending saga, but still too much chaos to try for an open studio this week.  I realize I am failing in my goals to make one happen this summer, but I can use the extra work time on Fridays since I get out of the library earlier that day.   I finalized a bunch of new books before the holiday, so those are on the agenda this week and some more order filling in the task of catching up, which seems impossible sometimes.  I feel like the last two years have been an uphill slant for all kinds of reasons and I'd like a little bit of leveling off. I am also set to dip my toes into the new pool of submissions for next year and looking forward to reading so much goodness.

We've hit a welcome spate of milder days, which are a relief after a few steamy muggy ones in which my apartment failed to cool down over night, which made sleeping well difficult with no A/C..  It seemed summer would never arrive, and for a couple days there it did in spades. Ideally, I like a low-humidity 80 tops, and some cooler nights in the 60's. I always grow tired of the blazing sun, the humidity, the crowds, around mid-July and long for September/early October. I also start to long for my more productive studio hours at the top of the day when my brain is still fresh.