Sunday, September 06, 2020

constellations and other messier objects

One of my favorite projects, and one of the first times I was breaking out of my comfort zone in writing in the early 2000's was this little chap. It was initially created for a class I was taking in my MFA program devoted to hybrid writing and genres, and what it became was a series of poems in the form of, well, things that were not poems--indices, footnotes, instruction manuals, dictionaries, outlines.  It started with the tension, particularly throughout history, as to what are considered "women's forms" and "men's forms."  Around the time I was writing it, I was particularly fascinated by men's scientific writing on women's psychology and hysteria, so all of these things came together to form the project in the fall of 2004, and early 2005 when I finished the last segments.  

There is so much in there--latin lessons, Dewey's lady librarian guidelines, gothic novel heroines--as well as a storyline that actually only exists in the chapbook (the elizabeth poems), that part having been weeded out when I retooled the series later for inclusion in in the bird museum, to reflect that manuscripts concerns more directly, where it opens the book and sets a similar toe, but a different emphasis. The elizabeth poems did not make the cut, nor did some other fragments --a pantomime scene, a poem in three voices about the institutionalization of women.  A couple other smaller pieces that only exist in the chapbook form.  (which you can see in it's entirety as an e-version here.)  I released the print version in late 2005, with grey cardstock and vellum endpapers, and considering it was the very first year of dgp, it's lovely little chap, even though layout in those days was much more difficult. I've long forgotten the size of the edition, but it was probably around 50--most f which were traded or given away at readings. Interestingly enough, the original version I turned into Arielle Greenberg that fall was a corset bound cover that I never quite was able to reproduce in a greater number.

I definitely consider this little chap to be one of those series of poems that broke something open in my creative style (like. for example, the I HATE YOU JAMES FRANCO poems).  It was a different thing to be cracked open in this case, but much of it was cracking open this perfectly ordered veneer I was working under in the early aughts--you can see it many of earlier poems in the fever almanac. In the poems I went into my MFA program writing, which were definitely not the poems I came out of it writing four years later. It somehow loosened the bolts and let other things develop--the work that became the rest of my second book, my Diagram/NMP chapbook, feign, the archer avenue series (also written for a craft class with Arielle).  While I can't say the workshops in my program were that helpful, the craft seminars, and a couple of the visiting faculty I worked with (Karen Volkman, Stephanie Strickland) changed my work so much for the better, and this is the soup from which errata springs 

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