Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Friday, June 26, 2020

breeding monsters

Today I put the finishing touches on animal, vegetable, monster to submit to an open reading period whose deadline is creeping up in the next week.  Initially, I thought I might try sending dark country, but there are bits that need smoothing in there that are weaker.  One manuscript is about horror-movie monsters and suburbia, the other about art and monstrosity, so in many ways they compliment each other. In fact, they might be some strange loose tryptic or trilogy with the currently half-completed automagic manuscript with it's post-apocalypic villains and victorian serial killers.  But then so much in my work of late is somehow monsters, esp. The Shining poems, though in that case it's more of an American capitalist monstrosity.

I realized, though I've been playing with the word doc version for a while, somehow a book is somehow less real until you print out that neat stack. As I do one last check for typos, today felt like a birthing of sorts. The disparate projects that form it--the artist statements, the strangerie poems, my dog girl poems, and the ones I wrote on extinction and museum dioramas, all form a tidy knot, threaded through with questions on art and artifact and mortality.   We'll see how this girl does, though I am really only sending her one place (BLP), and if no takers, I will likely just issue her myself eventually (see my last post re: the book mss. and possible self-publication.)  I feel like I still want to write and find readers, but don't really want to play the book submission game any more.  To sink effort and money into contests and reading periods when I already have a pretty awesome relationship with a press. (but also a press who obv. doesn't have room for every thing I write).  Also, there are so many books by other authors, I don't like taking up more space than I need to.  I've enjoyed publishing tiny editions of individual projects , esp with artwork, , but I do like when things coalesce and constellate into longer book projects. Because of my slow journal submissions for individual poems, much of this is not yet published elsewhere just yet, so there will be peeks here and there if those get picked up in the coming months.

The world feels even weirder right now than previously.  So much is happening in some parts of the country in terms of cases and hospitalizations, yet Chicago is somehow opening back up.  Other places like NYC as well.  Next week, I'll be back in the library. Back to daily bus rides a few days a week.  I have some masks of course, after trying several Goldilocks style for long-term comfort, and a straw hat with a face sheild for public transportation. It kind of makes me look like a mysterious victorian beekeeper. I feel like it all will get worse before it gets better, so may invest in a hazmat suit at some point. The irony is, of course, introvert as I am, I'd be mostly content staying home forever, but there are books to process and materials to send and they are the more practical aspects to my employment. Don't think I haven't oft thought of running away from it all and into the forest to live in a tree or something.  But if I want to pay rent or continue to feed myself.  I have the opportunity to work at home a lot, bu so much I need to do, I need to do on site.  So, I am stuck.

Monday, June 22, 2020

notes & things | 6/22/2020

Over the weekend, I spent the first amount of time away from my apartment in over three months. Getting  in the car was even strange, leaving the constraints of my block, which I've barely ventured from outside of a couple short neighborhood walks. It was sunny, and warm, and people were still doing as they do...crossing the street, waiting for the bus. Pretty much all, thankfully, wearing --or at least carrying--masks. The lakefront wasn't yet open, but will be soon if not already.  Traffic was slightly lighter on the expressway for a summer Friday, but still busy. I am trying to focus on all the good news for Illinois and not the bad news from other states where the deaths and cases continue to climb. 

Next week, I will be  back in the library at least a few hours a week.  I am not sure how I feel about it, alternating relieved to be getting back to normal and yet also terrified that normal is no longer a possibility.  I did not see much of Rockford outside of my sister's place and my dad's yard,  but was very happy to have some outdoor time and grilled food, which I've been denied since last summer.  I feel like spring slipped through or never even really happened, so what I can grab of summer, I hope to hold onto at least for a little while, especially since projections for autumn are dire, if not more dire than now.

This week, I will be back to library tasks from home after a much needed week off, including a hard press on things that won't be as likely to happen once we're back. Also new layouts and some author copy orders.  I did get a chance to focus on a lot of writing and revision related things, as well as send off some submissions of the work that was building up from late last year and early this one. I am still plotting ways to support and publicize the new book during the social distancing era and got a bit of a start on a book trailer. I've also been musing over what to do with the build up of other, newer, manuscripts --I am seriously considering publishing them through Amazon so they'll also be available via e-book, which seems more important now than ever.  I love the presses I've worked with but also like the autonomy of self-publishing, though the groundwork is a little harder than if you have a press sponsoring a release. Since I am finishing a lot of projects (feed, dark country, soon animal, vegetable, monster)--most of which I am itching to make available in a more timely matter--it gives me a bit more control.   And I have the layout and design skills to make a really nice book  (and if not Amazon, who I have complicated feelings about, another POD publisher.) I've also been self-publishing smaller projects for years, and while I initially struggled with the legitimacy goblin and what is "acceptable" in the poetry biz world--especially in this new world where we all may die of covid next week--fuck that shit. Fuck all of it.While I was creatively paralyzed and could barely write at all for a couple months there..I am writing again and want to find the most efficient way to connect with readers and some of the old models are sometimes not the best. 

Otherwise, I will be enjoying my last full week of relatively safety from the Rona, my leisurely breakfasts and endless cups of coffee all day to join the commuting masses (which will hopefully be a little less mass-like and all wearing masks.)

Friday, June 19, 2020


As quarantine ends, either wisely or unwisely depending on where you are and how stupid people are, I thought I'd share some fun little things I made for our propaganda workshop I  put together virtually for the Library in April, which also scratched a need for a crypto society project I'd been lagging on getting to.  While I'm not sure they are either art, nor propaganda, they are a little bit of graphic fun.  I may do more but  focused on masks...

Thursday, June 18, 2020

writing the body

from radio ocularia

I was amused to discover this morning hat two recent samplings of the FEED mss. posted on my instagram both included the word "bicuspid." Strangely, unlike some of my favorites to overuse ("water" "dark" "blood" --my latent goth-girl sack of tricks) is a relatively new addition.  But then it made me think again of the ways we write the body over and over through various projects. The obsessions and impulses that come through subconsciously in the words as a translation of the physical. Sometimes without us even realizing we're doing it.

A good example, is how I once noted a tendency to talk about wrists a lot in my first couple books. No doubt this had much to do with some carpal tunnel pain I was experiencing due to both writing and working at the library. It's better than it used to be, but  I still have a little bit of achyness when the barometer is right.  It did not help when I hurt the other wrist after a bus fall that I stupidly convinced myself was fine, but may have, in hindsight been a minor fracture.  After I had mono in the late aughts, and a subsequent year of just very bad health, I was fixated on throats.  Throats in every poem.  Also just the general instability of the body,  which crops up in series like "radio ocularia".  Some years, my allergies are really bad in spring and fall, and this manifests as a face ache and tingly, sometimes painful, bicuspids. My first book, the fever almanac, was very much about the places where language and the body meet,  its section headings pointing to it:  "how to tell a story in a dead language"  "glossalalia" and "dialogue in blue"

But it's especially interesting to think about FEED in particular, which perhaps the most in any recent manuscript of the past couple years, is rooted in body considerations of another kind--body image and dismorphia.  I've written in bits and pieces in other projects about food and disordered eating, about the fat body, particularly the fat femme body in the world. But this is perhaps the most airtime I've given body issues in my poems, and the most raw material of my own  The most raw in general, I suppose.   It's a book about mothers as well, but also bodies, the mothers and the daughters , and the damage each can do to the other. You see it in obvious places like "plump," a retelling of Hansel and Gretel where the witch becomes a mother-figure to the starving daughter.    In "the hunger palace" which tries to reconcile my mother's death and issues she had with her own body and how those were my own inheritance. While the sections of "the summer house": and "the science of impossible objects" are more generally about mothers and mothering, the very first section "swallow" sets a tone that strikes some cords even within those differently pro-occupied parts. "swallow" is pure autobiography, as is "the hunger palace," but while the second is longer and more essayistic, it does the damage in short, barbed prose poems. One of them begins "As a child, we work to make me smaller."  (I've written a bit more on that segment in particular here... )

I think there is some of it in the newer projects like pelt, which is more about monstrousness and the body, though the chief concerns might be elsewhere. Or in the new corona-inspired poems series "bloom," with it's themes of contagion and connection.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

poems and ghosts


So say I was once a five year old who loved to scribble lines in notebooks and pretend they were stories.  Say I was 14 when I wrote a poem about flamingos for my frehshman english class and the teacher liked it enough to show it to the others as an example.   Say I was always in love with books--library young adult offerings, horror novels passed off from aunt. I was the middle schooler who was determined to be the next Stephen King or VC Andrews, only more feminist.  The teenager who filled her diary with bad, bad poems about the beach. Writing was something I was good at, so I did more of it. Stories, poems, high school newspa
per editorials about saving the dolphins.  By the time I landed at college on the coasts with an intent to be a marine scientist, I was already lost to books. To words.  To other depths than the Atlantic.

I returned to the midwest to study English and Theatre.  Banged out skinny poems on an electric typewriter and saved my money for all those SASE's. During college summers, you'd find me seated at the dining room table of my parent's house with a box of writing mags, poems drafts, and envelopes.  By the time I was in grad school studying literature and intending to teach English, I was writing enough to feel like I might be able to do this. Be a writer. And I was getting better each year.  By the early 2000's I'd found a job in a college library, and spent the rest of the time writing and publishing in online journals and things sort of arced from there, through chapbook and book manuscripts, readings, awards, getting my MFA. 

But these seem less like inspirations than circumstances.  My young writer self was inspired by all that horror and gothicism and sought to reproduce it.  .  I was 14 when I encountered Edgar Allen Poe for the first time. Was 17 when I found Plath. Somewhere between these two a match was struck. At the Field Museum in the fall, an audience member inquired whether I thought myself a nature poet, but maybe I am as much as any girl who spent her life growing up in the boonies of both Illinois and Wisconsin, but who was in love with the sea.Who wanted to be a scientist to study those depths. As an artist, I fall again and again to landscapes and botanicals.  Though I am probably more in debt to the supernatural than I am the natural. I feel, as I've been working on 
dark country, that this is at the forefront, but it's been there all along through the other books I've written.  Even sex & violence has it's ghosts--my own past relationships, Plath herself, Dali's little blue dog. 

And in many ways the writing is a sort of exorcism of ghosts, of stories, of the past dusted off and made shiny and new. I've been thinking of this as I look at the newest completed manuscript, feed, and how it was a writing out, a bloodletting in the year after I lost my mom. There are so many ghosts there, literal and just my own metaphoricals.  Or maybe less an exorcism and more of a seance--a speaking to and with the dead, either others or the self you left behind at various points of travel. 

Sunday, June 14, 2020

notes & things | 6/14/2020

There are some years that seem to fall into a crack and never quite make it out.  This morning I was organizing some files in the dgp archives from 2012--amazing chaps from so many authors, and as I was flipping through their pages, snippets of laying out, designing and assembling those books come back to me.  If you'd asked me what I was doing in the summer of 2012, I'm not sure I'd be able to imagine it.  The years before and after are a little clearer. 2011 was spent mostly chasing romantic dead ends in a South Loop bar--a pursuit that consumed my summer, at least in memory.  The end of the year brough BLP taking on girl show. 2013 had bright spots--new books and chapbook, trips to Wisconsin. 2012 though is foggier. I did drink a lot of tequila that year..lol..so maybe I'm just missing chunks.)  There are glimpses--working on chapbooks with a new printer in Rockford I'd had delivered there while Max, still kitten sized,  attacked the paper.  The Printers Row Book Fair, where I landed a free table and spent the day eating fruit cups from the 7-11 and people watching. Making copies of shipwrecks of lake michigan and reading from it all that summer.  But a lot of these things are in my blog or on facebook, or otherwise I might barely remember them.

This weekend, I have been going slowly through things I have been putting off (tax final calculations to fill out my schedule C , organizing dropbox). It's chilly outside for mid-June, but bright and clear. I keep closing the windows and running the space heater near my desk intermittently as I work. Tonight I am making chicken soup, largely because I am trying to use up the mushrooms I bought at least a couple weeks back before they go bad in the fridge. And I've been sleeping a bit later since I have no one to answer to this week but myself and it's kind of glorious. The news, of course, still increasingly depressing and I feel like in a sort of helpless freefall in which I realize how absolutely hopeless and stupid humans are.  And becuase we are all so interconnected, their stupid is bound to have a direct or indirect effect on my personal safety and those I love. Someone posted something today about their being two pandemics at play--corona and institutionalized racism, and at least, it's beginning to look like we can--through reform--begin to do something about the latter.  As for corona, the answers seem to be even more simple (social distance, wear a mask, cancel and avoid the sort of super-spreading hot zones. )  But apparently these solutions are too much for the chest beating MAGA crowd.  It terrifies me to have watched while people I know buck against the restrictions and frolick mask-less in bars (some of them working in the health care industry, and should know better.) 

Nevertheless, I am struggling to control the things I can control and let go of those I can't and this applies so much on all fronts of my life right at this given moment. Meanwhile, I am learning to think and nap like an indoor cat that is only let outside for short careful pursuits. .  It's all I, or anyone,  can do. 

Friday, June 12, 2020

decentering and publishing in the era of #blacklivesmatter

Like many at this particular pivot point in history, I've been thinking about privilege and publishing and supporting Black writers, whether it's through the books one reads or buys or the books one publishes.  Where you center your canon,  whose work you support, where you put your money as an audience member.  I've been knee deep in working on some initiatives for the Library and A of R, on hilighting anti-racism resources and materials, developing programming and information on the subject of Black protest art through the ages, including BLM, and related subject matter, as well as promoting protest-related resources, particularly for our Columbia students, many of which have been involved in the efforts locally.  As I worked on these things, I've also been trying to find corollary ways to bring these efforts into dancing girl press and ways that might happen or take shape in the future, particularly as we enter our open reading period this summer and work to populate next year's publication schedule.

Years ago, I was talking to someone (white, male, older)  who had once edited a small print publication in the late 80's/ early 90's, and talking about diversity in publishing.  About the role and responsibility of editors to make sure that they are better representing voices across the spectrum, marginalized voices, etc.  His take was that he wanted to be more diverse in his efforts, that the journal would have benefited from it,  but the submissions just weren't there.  I asked him if he thought that was because a greater variety of submitters just didn't know about the journal, or was it that they didn't feel it was a place where they would be welcome.  I myself have looked a journal, and if it were overly male (in it's content, in it's editorial staff) I'd bypass it and send somewhere else. He disagreed when I said I felt that if the submissions weren't in the queue, you had to go elsewhere--that you kind of had a responsibility to pull that work in to reflect a greater span of voices.   To find those writers that might not be familiar with your publication or might not see themselves reflected in its pages and make it happen. In the end, we agreed to disagree.

I've been extraordinary fortunate with dgp in that, with such a large number of submissions, I have a healthy number of manuscripts coming across the desk--a variety of ethnicities, backgrounds, gender/sexual orientations, subject matter, experiences. Others come to me through recommendations of other writers or happenstance.   I can usually find a decent percentage of writers of color whose work I want to publish, but of course, there is always more work to be done if you truly want to reflect the breadth of work and decenter the glaring whiteness of the publishing world.   And these are what I've been thinking about in the past couple weeks as this is on everyone's mind and publisher's are examining how to do things better in the future--how to welcome more writers of color, particularly BIPOC into publications and presses.   How to find those authors, because they are out there,  and how to bring them to the forefront of publishing efforts as an industry (which includes the biggest of the large publishers down to the tiniest of the indies.)  And specifically, how I can make those things manifest through dgp, where while we do get to publish a somewhat diverse list, it seems like there is still more work to be done to have a chapbook series that truly reflects population percentages in general. I'd like to do a bit more soliciting and maybe pushing POC authors to the front of queue and making them a priority this summer.   In the meantime,  also championing and promoting the work of writers we have published is a useful thing as well.  More soon on this as I mull it around... 

Thursday, June 11, 2020

the necessity of taking breaks

Starting today and all next week, I am taking the entirety off from library work.  Mostly, it's because there are some press & creative things I'd like to be able to focus on without library tasks tugging at my sleeve.  Also, once we are back in the fray at the beginning of next month, we'll still be short staffed, and while we are opening with much shorter hours,  there is still a lot of work to do that makes time off less likely to happen. You would think that given all this time at home, I wouldn't need a vacation, but really, I think I need it more.

I was talking with my boss about the weirdness of having your work life happening in your home--entwined with it and inextricable.  So the frustrations and stresses don't just happen in the office, but they bleed a bit more into your non-work life.  If you''re stressed at work, you're stressed everywhere.  Every week day during the quarantine finds me waking up, and usually even before my daily horror show scroll through facebook, doing a quick check of my e-mail, usually still in bed and on my phone, to make sure no one needs something time sensitive or called an unexpected meeting. Since I start my days in general later than everyone else, and though that was always the case, I feel like I need to be available somewhat. It's probably only in my head, but with academic precarities afoot, I make sure that I am. 

Then I'll get up, make breakfast, do  some writing (well lately, but before it was just more frantic scrolling and news reading.)  If there are books I printed the evening before, I'll assemble those, and sometimes, do a corner mailbox run or short walk.  I have been starting my official day closer to my usual time --"official" meaning when I sit down and start work, anywhere from around 1-2pm  unless there is an earlier meeting. Then working through the evening, usually wrapping up before I eat make dinner around 8 or 9pm. But even other times outside that schedule, I feel on-call--even on weekends when no one is even expecting anything from me. I would venture it's not that different than running the press home, except maybe that I set my own timelines and routines and feel more like that time is mine. 

And of course, I hardly sit down and work straight through without breaks.  I make more coffee.  I'll play with the cats for a while.  Make a sandwich for lunch. Take a shower if I haven't yet. Wander down to take out the trash or check the lobby for packages. The nice thing, is without the physical aspects to worry about that involves books, I have gotten some things underway and off the ground that have been neglected or put-off in the melee of in-library life. There have been some article writing, some webinars about library programming, some grant writing.  Blog posts, social media updates, and online exhibit or workshop  building..  Also daily check-ins for ILL article requests.  If I don't have any zoom meetings, I can deep dive on projects a little more. Some days there are phone calls with my boss / best-friend  (well, these are a mix of work-related, non work related discussion) but since outside of my dad and my boyfriend, these are my only real social contact.

On the whole, I like the work and being able to work at home, but I do sometimes feel the stresses of that lack of boundaries.  Also the stress of going back creeping ever closer and what that means in terms of safety (less so at the actual library, which will be pretty dead as it is every summer anyway)  but more commuting via public transport and the safety of that.  And just being out in the world again, that everyone is saying is safer, but doesn't really seem like it is at all. 

Now that I am able to concentrate better on creative things, hopefully it will be a productive week. I might even get to that book trailer.   I'll be heading out to Rockford next Friday (my dad is fetching me from the city and bringing me back after the weekend) but otherwise, I am still maintaining my version of quarantine outside of whoever I see there.  Mostly because I am somewhat convinced this is all far from over, despite the world moving onto other headlines and the things people seem to want--haircuts and beaches and open bars and restaurants.  

Sunday, June 07, 2020

notes & things | 6/7/2020

I've spent a good portion of the weekend watching the Epstein docuseries on Netflix (of which I think the web of corruption is only the very tip of the iceberg among powerful men) , and last night & finishing later, the Hunger Games movies, of which I have only seen the first two.  (I love the books, but I just never have gotten the chance to get to the two final ones.) They are a strangely appropriate thing to be watching at this very moment and I was hoping they didn't just spike my anxiety higher, but so far I think I'm okay.  I am back to focusing no further than the end of the day. Especially as my anxieties & fear about going back to work are beginning to creep up on me.  There is so much we don't know and so much I feel people are paying attention to  (noteably that we are not expecting a second wave, and only that the first wave is still very much still happening, only that the news, understandably, is focusing on other things. )  I feel no safer out there than I did in late March. I feel esp. helpless about the decreased seriousness of people out there who seem to either be misinformed or just defiant that they need to wear masks and be careful. I actually feel like the mass protests actually look pretty safe and masked up, but the people in bars and on beaches not so much,

Inside, I am better able to focus on writing-related things than I was a few weeks ago. I have a new book, after all, and want to figure out ways to celebrate and promote it as much as I can. There are also a couple new series--one devoted to Weekly World News headlines and another that just might tangentially be  about the virus, but also about intimacy and connection.  Also just the notion of "viral" and things hi-jacking the body from a scientific standpoint. I feel like I need to tread carefully...I'm not particularly keen on most current events type writing since I think it tends to fall into cliche and hyperbole very easily.  The lit journals are filled with mediocre coronapoems right now. I think I, myself, need a little more distance.   There are few things I've set aside to return to for revising or expanding-- the dog girl poems, now The Shining pieces.  A couple months always gives me fresh eyes on things I've hidden away for a bit. Meanwhile I ten to the dark country manuscript. I get pieces of extinction event ready to send out. I hope the creative weather holds. 
Tonight, in my quarantine cooking adventures, I am making ribs in the crockpot, which can do no wrong. Also some elote, which I tried to make at least once before and need to perfect my recipe. The weather outside is lovely, though I've only been out a little bit in it. I am excited for them to re-open the lakefront soon, though I don't know how prohibitively crowded it will be (even though I tend for dusk visits and don't really like being out in all that sun during the day anyway, even before the virus.) Every so often I take a walk around outside and catch sight of that beautiful blue and make sure it's still there. I am so close, but so far.  If I lived a couple floors higher in my building, I'd have a view of it (though you pay handsomely for that view).  My daily routine was always mentally charting how high or low the water is (by the amount of beach/concrete visible in places and the surface of the pond near the zoo on my commute )  I miss even that a little.  How I'd occasionally say to my friends for just random conversational purposes "Woo-wee,  the lake is high today!" in the same tone you talk about all weather related phenomena.  Now,conversations are by phone or zoom, less prone to wandering and more specifically focused on sharing information. I am not usually one for small talk, but I did like talking about the lake and its many moods and fluctuations--gray brown and angry, sky blue and completely still.  Rain swollen and swallowing the shoreline.  Though she's block and a half away, I miss her most. 

Saturday, June 06, 2020

20 years of poems and projects

Today, I was arranging copies of the newest book offspring on the shelf amongst its siblings and thought about how those handful of books (seven here, though I've written several more) represent  about 20 years of writing collectively. Its hard to believe I managed to find publishers for them, but maybe even harder to believe I've actually written that much (and these do not even include the elevated productivity of the past three years.) Twenty years ago, I spent the summer, on break from my elementary school gig filling notebooks full of fiction, having given up on poems almost entirely. Within a year, I would be writing them like crazy and finishing my first chapbook. Time is a weird thing, especially now when we are living in a strange stasis.  I don't believe I've written 20 years of poems, and yet there they are.  The earliest in this stack were written in 2001, the latest in early 2017.  In between, there is so much happening...

Looking at my first couple of books, I am definitely better, leaner, less floppily "poetic: than I once was, and the poems are the better for it. I still like the books, but there were a couple years in the middle where I wished they were tighter, that I could rewrite them somehow. Then, a couple years later,  somehow circled back around to thinking they were better as they were. Even still, they are an excellent time capsule of where my head was at the time, where my life was and what I felt it important to write about. They can't really be anything else since the writer who wrote them barely exists anymore, These poems are a testament/memorial to her.

So I go forward, with more poems and more books, even during this weird time, plotting where to send or what to do with the books in hand that are ready, or just about ready, to think about sending out or publishing. Here's to 20 more years...

Friday, June 05, 2020

how I would like to believe in tendernesss

sex & violence
is a strange little collage of a book, and now that she's officially in the world and a real live girl, I thought I'd give a little backstory on the writing.  Where else could you find blonde joke poems mixed with Plath centos, slasher film pieces and love poem and a study of Dali's "Inventions of the Monsters." All of it built around the ideas of love and sex and marriage, but also violence and decay. I think the earliest portions were started in 2015, the latest early 2017. It charted me through the very end of one relationship and the beginning of another. It was pulled together in the month after my mother's death as something to focus on when I badly needed it,  and then promptly put at the back of my head until it was accepted by BLP the following spring. There are portions that are definitely truer to my own experience and others less so.  Some are based on fears and hesitations about certain life paths. Paths either just not traveled or carefully, pathologically avoided.  

So what you get is Dali (and his wife) and the violence of the little blue dog, barely a ghost in the frame of apocalyptic landscapes. What you get are blonde joke poems, the most mysogynistic and slut-shamey ones reclaimed for narrative. You get slasher films turned on their head where the final girl is the aggressor full of lists and letters to murderers. You get a swirly set of Plath centos that pare down so much the thesis statement of Ariel as I see it--the danger of marriage domesticity and loss of the self as a creator. And then finally, a set of love poems written after the worse election for women this country has every seen and the overflow of toxic masculinity that spawned the #metoo movement the year I was writing them, and  that still froths even now. (and a time when I was working out my own relationship issues--how to love men when most men seem to hate women).  Plath's line above  in the subject line echoes literally and metaphorically through every section.

When it came to the cover, I went with a modified version of one of the pieces that accompanied the /SLASH/ poems--a little bit bdsm, a little bit raw meat, a little bit creepy doll parts (all of which seemed highly appropro given the themes. The BLP  graphic designer, Zoe Norvell, did a gorgeous job placing the hot pink text, which on its black bars, gives a "censored" touch to the background image, so there's something very illicit about it, like an antique porn magazine.  

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

strange spring | the overlook poems


                           "Artists are 
dangerous, mixing sugar-like
into the even the best masonry.

Put it on paper and it's there
forever. The rich men summer
in the mountain and you bring them

champagne. Maintain the forest
that threatens to eat them. The drains 
are always clogged with hair and small

animals that gnawed their way into
the pipes."

from Overlook

I was reading through the Overlook poems again today, having finished off what I think was the last of them 'over the weekend.  I've been musing over how strange it is that a project that just sort of started out inspired by a movie about a haunted hotel and an abusive husband turned out in the long run to be about capitalism and artists. But then again, it's been a strange spring. One of the things that always caused a certain disconnect whenever I watched the movie was the juxtaposition of the lux hotel lobby / rooms and the space the Torrances actually live in. The public vs. the more private areas of the hotel. The sleek lines of 70's decor and the disrepair and claustrophobic floral wallpaper. How larger spaces narrow to smaller ones. The decadence of the gold ballroom and the role of the caretaker--the male anger of both. The novel Jack Torrance can't write, his rage, his abuse of his wife and child, all tied together with the expansiveness of tourist culture.  And of course, capitalism, like the hotel, is haunted by the backs it broke to exist. All of these things came together as I was writing, and though it was a slow start due to pandemic brain, I also think the pandemic had a role in shaping the project too. While I don't necessarily feel as claustrophobic as a snowed-in hotel, I do feel the strain of capitalism pushing reopening probably before we should.  The division between the classes when it comes to people's experience of the last three months.  It turned out to be a nice little series of poems (about 20 I think) , and I think maybe I will start sending them out into the world soon.  Since it's not part of a longer book, and probably won't be, maybe I'll make a little zine in a few months after I give them some time to settle.                       

Monday, June 01, 2020

violence and more violence...

Some days are mentally rougher than others. Even from way out at the far edge of the city, it's a roller coaster. My general fear and dread about what will happen with the virus is now coupled with anger and frustration at the cops inciting violence (in some cases, actually STAGING it ) as well as the right-wingers infiltrating what would probably otherwise be peaceful protests.  And now, a president sending in heavily armed military, as if that has ever made things better. 

Today, the news had me not sleeping so well through the morning hours and fighting the urge to check my phone for the latest horror story. so when I did finally get up, I was tired and sluggish. I had a student staff meeting early-ish, which I muddled through, not really giving a shit about anything we talked about--corona-proofing when we get back, schedules, tasks for them to do in the meantime from home.  Meanwhile I was doing more frantic scrolling of the terrible news and stuffing ice cream sandwiches for breakfast into my mouth and refusing to turn on my camera..  None of these things are good. 

Faced with an entire day of random library tasks and not really caring about them at all, and feeling kind of gross from all that ice cream  on an empty stomach, I told my boss I was taking a vacation day and going back to bed, and have been depression napping through the day off and on.  Because good things have a way of showing up in strangely unfortunate moments, later, when I went downstairs to fetch the giant cat litter, I found some very lovely copies of sex & violence waiting for me. It's gorgeous and on another day I be singing excitedly about its release (and will,  no doubt, soon) .  But then again, his book has that sort of aura, especially since I pulled it together in the darkest days that November after my mom died and then broke into sobs when it was accepted, not because of happiness it was taken, but because the first person I would have told would have been her. 

I will post a proper book-related post in a few days when I can and a longer entry about it's arrival. It's not that unusual that a book about violence toward women shows up on a day when we are  all talking about violence toward POC. The perpetrators are typically one and the same and two somewhat related symptoms of similar illnesses (ie. toxic masculinity vs. institutionalized racism, of which these killings are a bit of both).   We are currently under  a 9pm curfew and downtown all but closed off, but fires and violence are erupting in pockets of neighborhoods.    I don't know if tomorrow will be better or worse, but until then..