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 it..it 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

detritus



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.)   



Sunday, August 04, 2019

artist statements



The last few months, I've been working on a more meta project, spawned by some less coherent thoughts I had when I was working on my actual artist statement. How to convey a whole world--a whole aesthetic framework, without delving into something a little more creative when it feels like you are supposed to be more expository somehow.  What wound up resulting was a lot of fun.  How to write about the endeavor of writing poems (and I use "poetry" loosely since most of my stuff takes the form of prose lately).

The subject matter of the pieces take a lot from my experience writing as a woman, of subject matter, of the academic-poetry complex.  Of desire and sex and writing.  The closest thing I can compare it to in my past writings would be this poem, which opens major characters in minor films, which touches on some of the similar ideas, but in a less specific way. Some of the artist statement pieces are coming soon in an issue of TYPEHOUSE,,so watch for that to get a sampling. 

Saturday, August 03, 2019

curvy girl fashion | oh sailor....





I somehow convinced myself to indulge in buying this little number, mostly since I've been forgoing my daily Dunkin habit and saving a bit more money. So instead of daily lattes and breakfast sandwiches, I've used the money to go towards my other vices.  I feel like I've seen this dress previous seasons, or some variation thereof, but I've never spotted it available in my size. I tend to spend some time lately watching plus size haul videos on youtube, and one blogger posted this dress, which I filed away in my fall to-buy file, but I spring for this one since summer is dwindling fast and it's definitely a summer dress. 



 One of my other favorite Torrid acquisitions that came from Poshmark was the dress above which is super luxe and flattering (so much so that I'm sad it's only really wearable in the summer and not all year long--it actually is heavy-ish, so maybe you could pair it with tights & cardigan, but I've been putting it away the past couple years come fall to make room for cool-weather clothes).  I have quite a few sailorish feel items, mostly for spring and summer, mostly navy.  I'm a big fan of that center tie that is super 1930-ish in origin. Some of my favorites can be spotted in my Pinterest. Enjoy!

Friday, August 02, 2019

cover love | august edition


a peek at some of the designs on some more recent and upcoming cover designs I've done for august dgp titles..