Wednesday, November 27, 2019

writing & art bits | november edition

*Several images and text portions of my summer house series are in the latest issue of Tupelo Quarterly

*My first official piece of creative non-fiction, the hunger palace,  landed earlier this month in The Journal, and can be read here ,

*I am continuing to work on digital offerings of some older projects, the most recent of which are ghost landscapes: a travelogue, havoc, and ordinary planet.  Watch for more before the close out of the year, as well as a new print offering in the poets zodiac.

*Preparations and final proofs are done for next spring sex & violence release, which is already available for pre-order from Black Lawrence Press.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Want to learn how to make awesome DIY snow globes to feature your art & other creations?  To give as gifts?  To line your window ledges three deep?  Join us for the latest How To Tuesday workshop, where we will learn how to make simple snow globes and explore all their creative possibilities. We’ll furnish jars of various sizes, materials, tiny items, and a laminator (for paper images.) You bring imagination, inspiration, curiosity, your own items you’d like to include.

The Aesthetics of Research is an ongoing project dedicated to exploring the role that libraries and their collections play in artistic process, creative community building, and resource-sharing in the arts. How-To-Tuesday is a monthly series exploring the Library's vast collection of art & craft how-tos.

Monday, November 25, 2019

over and under the transom

Earlier, I was sending off a submission of the newest full-length project  (to a press I already love to work with and happens to have an open reading period happening this month.) and I was thinking about how strange and momentous the process of sort of thunking that book over the transom really is. How it's almost like sending your child off to kindegarten, but a kindegarten they may very well be send home from with a "no thanks."

I've been extraordinarily lucky that my books, despite the endeavor of landing that first one which took a little longer, have found really amazing homes without too much herculean effort.  And still, there's a bit of self doubt everytime a compile a book.  Sure, the individual poems do well, even the smaller chap projects that may make up the book are generally well recieved (I usually issue these on my own to sell online, give away at readings, trade with other authors  and send out through the Books & Objects Series, and people seem to get excited about them. )  On one hand, I could say I've gotten very good at compiling a manuscript, having done it many times.  On the other hand, I could say that I sometimes still feel like I have no idea what I'm doing.  And even though I often help other writers compile their books, it's always easier with that distance.  It's not MY work, but someone else's.  Someone else's kindergartener trotting off to the bus stop.

Every once in while, I'll read someone else's pointers on compiling books, on submitting, on publishing. I start to get nervous, becuase there are sometimes things I never even would have thought of doing, approaches that didn't occur to me. Lately, my books are thematically strung together, but not really "projects" in the literal sense. (girl show was a project book, as was the shared properties of water and stars)  but I would consider the others more like collections that constellate around similar themes and concerns, particularly the last couple and the ones I'm in the throes of now. I feel like the approaches to compilation are different, and even more so the more disparate the poems and the threads that bind them together.  That first book is always hard, yo, especially since you are usually trying to figure out what sort of book you even want to write.

Last week, I was unpacking a stack of my own  books I'd brought home from the studio, and they were so strange to me..that I have written this many books, let alone found someone to publish them, is still a little surreal sometimes. In some cases they were written over many years, in some, barely any time at all, but they seem at times massive and unruly, though I'm pretty sure even my longest book taps out considerably before 100 pages.  I couldn't imagine what one would do with a novel.

So I polish the cheeks and send my little feed manuscript off into the world. It's an odd little bird, and feels extra vulnerable, given the subject matter (mothers and daughters, food issues and body image).  It begins with the line "Every so often, the snake eats the spider.  The spider eats the fly." and ends with a bunch of stolen dead birds in a fridge.   In other words, it pretty much encompasses my aesthetic to a tee.

Friday, November 22, 2019

notes & things | 11/22/19

It was a busy week with Library things, the opening of an exhibit on the 2nd Floor and hosting a Career Center event, but I've had a day off today for working last weekend and slept luxuriously into the afternoon.  Next week is a short one, but I'll be heading to Rockford over the holiday weekend, so am enjoying my downtime this weekend--making books and listening to trashy music today amidst acrobatic cat antics.  Later, I'll make pizza and find some good things to watch. I am still largely ambivalent about holidays in general the past couple of years.  I know my mother's absence has everything to do with this feeling, so hopefully it will go away as years go on. Still, I try to trick myself into having fun by going through the motions. Not sure on decorating this year,  but definitely no tree (see the aforementioned demons) but maybe a new wreath and some lights.   

The weather circled back around, after that cold snap last week, to something more like usual November-ish. Which means if we can hold of true winter through December, it might not be too bad. It's the arctic chill (X) snow cover (X) time length (=) my winter unhappiness.  If any of these are on the lighter side, I can deal with it and don't get too wintery blue. I'm fighting my urge to buy more winter wear, my coping mechanism for staving off those very same blues, especially since coat storage has reached the critical level and it gets harder to pull them from the closet when the rack is too full.

Someone mentioned on social media recently that we are at the end of a decade. Which seems crazy to me since I feel we were just ringing in the new one.  In later 2009,  I was amidst that period of etsy shop holiday season crazy.   I was making decent money selling jewelry, soap, and vintage,  but  I wasn't really writing or making all that much art on my own though.  Things were still hectic on occasion, but my day job less exciting creatively than it is now and more routine. Personally I was sort of lilting romantically from thing to thing and back into bad habits on occasion.  2009-2010 are less memorable with less to show for them.

As for the decade, since then I feel like a better capture of the last 10 years requires it's own entry, so watch for that in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

ghost landscapes: a travelogue

"Now, I'm all void and riverbeds, the inside/outside game where I lose every round. Where my molars are aching and useless and as large as a thoroughbreds when I bite down on the conductors thumb.  When I take the bit and fall asleep for days while he slowly strokes my hair."


This weeks digitization project is a short series of prose poems and painted landscape postcards from the Books & Objects series in 2014.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

new ways of working and letting go...

Last night, assembling books at 1am before I went to bed, I was struck by how much calmer I am now than a couple months ago.  It's a realization that strikes me, especially when I am able to finish a batch of books (or several) during a time like overnight when I normally would have had to sandwich all of them into the couple hours I was able to be at the studio.  It does occur to me occasionally that I'd have been better served to have never rented the space, the only thing sustaining me being some more storage space for supplies (and having the whole operation & big shelves at home has proved less taxing. The dining room is a mess right now, but it's just a few unpacked boxes I'll get to this weekend.) There was the dream, of course, of events and open studios, but there wasn't room for anything more than the occasional open studio (which never really happened that frequently.)  And perhaps that is the need that needed to be cast off--that little dream at the back of my head that I would one day have a little public space, a little shop, maybe, somewhere to sell books and art and maybe host readings and workshops. Maybe a bigger space there in the building (which is hilarious since I could barely afford the one had most months.) 

At the same time, months would pass and no open studio materialized.  There were a few multi-faceted reasons for this:  The schedule didn't really work with my Friday library shift, which didn't allow me to leave until 8pm.  I really didn't want to extrovert having spent all day doing that already at work. Most Fridays, I am so tired from the week I just usually want to go home and fall exhausted into bed.  Usually,  the studio was a litter of half assembled books and trimmings and less than presentable.  Because I needed to make books when there, my inventory of the sort of things that actually SOLD at open studios (art, paper goods, accessories) were embarassingly thin, and therefore not worth the effort of having open hours.   

And ultimately, this one took a while to come around to.  The fact that I really don't like people in my space.  There were many instances, when I did have open studios, that people annoyed me deeply--children spilling things on paper goods, folks rooting through the hair clips and asking to switch the sets around.  People looking through the art and saying dismissive things like "Well, I could make that on my own.  This one probably indicated that while the idea of a shop was nice, the reality of it wasn't suited to my temperament.  Years ago, early on, I enjoyed having a couple workshops, salons and readings when there was still room, and the poetry people were delightful and mostly only interested in books.  But the general grabby masses during the crazy crowded holiday open studio.  Not so much.

All of the gains didn't really balance with the negs.  I can still host plenty of workshops and readings in the Library, where I've already been doing it for years.  I can make & ship books from home, where I would much rather spend my time. If I want to do book fairs and craft fairs, I can (and being less exhuasted financially and mentally, I am more likely to WANT to. ) Also, everything is in one place in terms of supplies and everything I need, which just makes me feel better and more focused.   Not to mention, that several hundred dollars that I won't be spending on rent, means I can buy more paper and supplies for the special projects that I've been waiting to get to when I had more funds.  And, of course, the crisis point that needed to be solved, to not be dipping into my bills, rent  & living expenses to pay that rent.  dgp makes plenty enough to keep me in toner and supplies, but it's never made enough, even in our flushest months, to pay the entire rent unless i sold a whole lot of other art stuff or had a larger number of author copy orders than usual. 

I don't wake up each day feeling overwhelmed and trying to figure out how to cram all that work into those few precious hours.  If I don't finish something before I have to leave for work, I can finish it that night. It's a much calmer way of existing in the world and I m relishing it. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

dgp notes | november edition

I have been settling back into press duties after the upheaval, and despite occasionally not being able to find things--tape, the staples, covers for books in progress--shuffled during the move, things are going well. I am working on the late summer orders that were waylaid during October and digging into September, all of which is much easier now that I simply have more time and can double task with regular life things.  Also, weekends are super helpful to be able to work for a few hours, take a break, and then come back to working. I am getting out author copies and making progress on a couple larger orders. 

I am also set to settle back in to reading manuscripts for next year, which I have fallen dreadfully behind on in the chaos. I'm hoping to have responses out by the holidays.   I have a burst of late 2019 books that will be coming as soon as I finish the layouts as well, and those will be in production throughout December and January. 

I am still battling printers, of which I am less than happy with the cover finishes, and am shopping for a good color laser with a smooth finish-I have my eye on a Canon ImageClass model that seems to be more what I'm looking for (the Brother is good for insides, but the color seems a little chalkier than I like.).  Meanwhile, I have a stock of the last covers printed on the Lexmark for the latest titles before I tossed it and the little Epson inkjet, which works for some things and has a scanner/copier if I need it. But I need the new probably within the next week as I run out.

I am also just happier to be working at a more efficient, but still more leisurely pace than my studio time used to allow. Now, if I can't finish something before I go to bed, it's easy to make time in the morning, and not lose a whole day until I can get back to it. So much progress was stalled by limited time, by stops and starts, and while it took me a long time to admit that I really had to do what I had to do, I am certain it was the best decision. The stranglehold of never having sufficient time in the workspace that I've felt for the last 12 years has eased a bit, and already I feel like I am the better for it. 

ordinary planet

As we begin thinking about next semester's A of R focus topic--dystopian societies from the margins--it seems fitting that this week's new digital version is my little Ordinary Planet series, which I describe as a mix of steampunkiness and victorian spiritualists..

Monday, November 11, 2019

insect dreams, ghost cantos

Earlier this year, I mentioned it was the 15th birthday of my first little chap Bloody Mary. Because new work was piling up like hotcakes in the fall of 2004, it is also the anniversary of another slim little self-issued volume called belladonna. At the time, I was still waiting on the publication of The Archaeologists Daughter, which wouldn't be out til the next year, but I was doing a lot of readings on the heels of winning a prize from the Poetry Center of Chicago and had burned through two printings of Bloody Mary.  It would be another year until the fever almanac was even accepted by Ghost Road, and another until it was published..   I decided, since I was getting into the full swing of chap printing as dgp issued its first two titles, that I'd release another small edition of more recent work to distribute at readings and such.

The poems inside are work written in the span of 2003-2004, a time in which I was just beginning my MFA studies--which means they are a little weird in their straddle of more lyrical work I was doing up til then, and a little more innovation I was beginning to attempt as I read a bit more widely for my coursework.  So some of it is a little rough.  Since I'm working on digitally making stuff available, I thought I might do that, but then realized there is very little in there of quality that did not wind up in the fever almanac, save a few random pieces, including the one below.  This is, in fact, one of the pieces that landed me the aforementioned prize, but I remembered my entire MFA workshop, including the teacher, hated it. It didn't really fit in with the first full-length book, and then, later, didn't really fit with the subsequent one either, so never quite made it anywhere else.  While the poems are sometimes a bot heavy handed and wrought, the cover features an image from Alaina Burr-Stone, who later provided cover artwork for the fever almanac.

They live on fire, the burning girls,
trade winds, broken fibula,
impossible symmetry.
Think exclusion: five disciplines, ordering,
my fingers raw, this curving away 
from stillness, how a body becomes
an apology, 
bend, bending.
She is only this dark
feed across canvas, a furthering, 
azaleas harbored, languid anklebone,
sudden water.
The daughters are heavy
as breath in darkened rooms,
the flutter, the flutter, the feud. 
A translation of insect dreams,
ghost cantos,
circadian crescendo.
Still they love the hunger
poems, compendium,
the difficult swimming.
In syllables, distortions,
night makes a landscape
ecstatic, a prayer.
Her wreckage is lineage.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

books seeking homes

I realized last week that I have not one, not two, but three full-length manuscripts currently in a completed or just shy of a completed state. feed is pretty submission ready, but the other two, dark country and animal, vegetable, monster need a little arranging and proofing for typos.  I am going to submit at least one to presses I've worked with before, but the other two, I'm not sure. Overwhelmingly, they show how productive I've been over the past two years, during which most of them were written.  And they have a span of topical concerns: feed  (body image, eating disorder, mothering in general)  dark country (suburban & midwest gothicism) animal, vegetable, monster (monstrosity and art-making).  They contain everything from my swallow series about body image to that strange minotaur series I wrote last summer.  From the hansel & gretel series to poems about 80's horror.  The oldest of the poems are the beautiful, sinister series began more than a decade ago and previously published as a stand-a-lone chapbook, the newest, the extinction poems, finished in early October.

My thoughts have been turning as to where to send the other two.  Presses with open periods? (there are not that many of them, but a couple I like.) Contests?  This will be more costly than I'd like and probably not produce results for awhile (if at all.)  I'd self publish if there was an urgency to get them out , but there isn't. Right now, with other things coming down the pipeline (sex & violence out next spring, many smaller chap, zine, and artist book projects) , it's not terribly urgent.  So I'll be mulling the next couple months what I might like to do with them after the new year.   There is actually a fourth, half-ish mss as well under works and still in that miasma of formation. I sometimes wonder if compiling full-length books is something I need to even do, since my work as writer is so tied up in the visual, and the smaller issues probably give a better idea of the work as it was initially intended. But I like the weightyness of a volume, how it almost feels like an encapsulation of various projects in a given span of time and theme. And perhaps reach in terms of working with publishers, getting in bookstores or libraries, the things that full-lengths make easier than if you are just doing little books on your own. And the poems can stand on their own without the visuals just fine, they are just an added bonus in their initial incarnation.

We shall see...

Thursday, November 07, 2019

lovely messes

Despite it's chill, so far November has been mild, and I feel the stranglehold of October loosening.  Yesterday, in my mailbox, copies of the latest issue of THE JOURNAL, which contains the entirety of the hunger palace.   There was a surrealness to the fact that it, a journal containing a lyric essay-ish project about my mother's death appeared exactly on the second anniversary of that event. I wasn't in the mood to read it, and had books to fold and laundry to assemble (or vice-versa) so I spent this morning reading through it.  It was heavily edited, tightened up to be ore essay-ish and less rando poetry-like, so this version is kinder to the reader, but less poetically scattershot than I generally prefer.  Less messy. It makes more linear sense, but I fear may lose something. I will probably, after the issue is older and forgotten make it available in a zine format, since there are illustrations that were made to accompany it initially. It's also a segment in the feed manuscript, which I am set to begin sending out at some point, since it is, for all purposes complete.

Earlier in the year, I decided to submit some of the more lyric-essay, CNF pieces to journals in that genre instead of poetry, and this is the first to land.  I've submitted short prose before, which can be looked at as either prose poems or short shorts, not something firmly under the umbrella of non-fiction, and it's weirder still to see my name accompanied by a new, different genre.   And truly, sort of like the exquisite damage poems, which jump back and forth between autobiography and fictionaliization, I am working more often in this in-between space these days.  Thus, a lot of messy, but sometimes some gems in the mess.

[ Edit:  I did just discover that they do put their content online, so you can read it online as well: ]

Sunday, November 03, 2019

notes & things | 11/3/2019

October is over, and while it seemed at times to be going to kill me in terms of stuff going on (library events, mounting exhibits,conferences, moving the studio) I made it out intact.  Friday, I got the big shelves back from storage and some of the book supplies. Trying to move an entire studio without a car, not easy, but the storage/delivery service is actually really effective (and far cheaper than movers.) I am mostly back in business, though my new Brother is not so hot on the cover printing--sort of drab and lackluster, and the colors not as deep, so I'm looking into maybe another inkjet, possibly another Epson.  (The Lexmark was a beauty, but ate toner like you wouldn't believe with no option for cheaper refurbished cartridges. It was a $100 printer, but cost $ 200 each time I needed to replace all the cartridges) While at first the Brother seemed slow on the interiors, it doesn't seem to jam at all  and is reasonable on toner, so it seems to be working.

My Halloween was fairly low-key--I did have a costume (a bird mask and a cool feathery cape.)  There was a little bit of candy, but otherwise, just working most of the day.  Later, we went to see the new Zombieland, and the theater (all the theaters) were empty and eerily quieter than I would have expected.  I am pumped to see Dr. Sleep this month, though, so we'll be making a return trip.

I already feel more relaxed, having everything I need to work at home.  Lately, I've been assembling books at night and then shipping them out in the morning. I also like being able to have the printer running while I do things like cook breakfast and clean the apartment. Also, just not having to run around quite so much in general, rushing from one place to another.  Already, I feel like things are speeding up in terms of the backlog, so if I owe you something, it will be coming your way.

Friday, November 01, 2019


I am still working on making digital versions of work available, especially for older, out of print releases, including this e-chap version of my 2011 chap, HAVOC. Most of the poems eventually wound up in segments of my major characters in minor films book, but this was how they appeared originally in one volume, most of it written either right around the time I was finishing my MFA or  in that weird, less productive period immediately after.  So much of these poems are drawn from a troubling bout of relationship drama around the time. (actually several concurrent dramas from around 2007-2011).  I was still trying to get my poetic mojo back after graduating and feeling like there were just too many fingers in my poems, but oh the things I had to write about! I kept myself busy with visual art and the Etsy shop, and the press, but occasionally poems were soaking through onto the page, and these are them.