Announcements: New Poetry and an Upcoming WonderCon Reading!

I’ve been slacking, so there are so many things to announce!

Every Girl Becomes the Wolf

Every Girl Becomes the Wolf is now available!

This chapbook explores the received images of the feminine in fairy tales. The women and girls in this collaborative chapbook resist the common tropes of red riding hoods, gilded mirrors, and iced palaces. Every girl becomes the wolf because every girl has the power to tear apart the cultural conceit of wicked stepmoms, heartless mothers, and voracious monsters. Witches, hags, and mothers of damaged creatures from myth, movies, and lore prowl through this poetry. Lilith settles in to enjoy the county fair rib-off, Grendel’s mother holds her son close, and the Sphynx bears the weight of mythic secrets. Mothers demand their own freedom, daughters refuse gendered expectations, and wives leave what spoils with rot behind. As they wrestle with their place in these stories, they transform into figures outside of the victims or villains they have been perceived to be.

I’m so proud of this chapbook of monstress poems Laura Madeline Wiseman and I coauthored and its been a delight to see that friends, family, and strangers have been receiving the book.

I received my author copies this week — with their gorgeously smooth textured covers — just in time for WorldCon 76 this weekend! If you’re going to be there, consider stopping by Room 212C to hear me read some poetry-type things along with some fellow Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) members.


They Said – Undead Anthologies

Two gorgeous new anthologies have also entered the world in recent weeks.

They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing, edited by Simone Muench and Dean Rader, includes poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as hybridized forms that push the boundaries of concepts like “genre” and “author.” Each piece is also presented with a afterward in which the collaborators describe their process for working together. The anthology includes “A Gathering of Baba Yagas” cowritten by Laura Madeline Wiseman and I.

Undead: A Poetry Anthology of Ghosts, Ghouls, and More, edited by Bianca Lynne Spriggs and Katerina Stoykova, offers over seventy contemporary poets contending with a time-honored topic: what lies beyond ‘the great beyond.’ It showcases poems ranging from deceased relatives and celebrities to other undead entities such as, vampires, automatons, angels, and yes, zombies. This anthology includes a reprint of my poem “Beware of Attics”

In other poetry news, Laura Madeline Wiseman and I have some new poems out in the world — “Reflection of the Blind” appears the Eye to the Telescope Issue 29 – The Dark, and “Pouring the Pennyroyal,” “Fish Bone Wishes,” and “Cento of the Golden Key” are up at Priestess & Hierophant

The latest edition of my newsletter is out, if you want to check it out!

New Poetry and Other Good Things

Star*Line #41.2“Stone Clutched to Chest,” a collaborative poem by Laura Madeline Wiseman and I, has been published in the issue 41.2 of Star*Line. This print issue can be acquired at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association ( SFPA) website.

Our poem, “Stone Clutched to Chest” looks at the Beowulf epic from the point of view of Grendel’s mother — and is one of the many poems re-examining myth, folklore, and pop culture stories that will be published in Every Girl Becomes the Wolf, which is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Maybe check it out, watch the trailer, or preorder a copy?.

NonBinary Review - The Little PrinceNonBinary Review #16: The Little Prince is now available for $1.99!
“In 1943, French aristocrat, author, journalist and aviator Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger, comte de Saint-Exupéry, wrote The Little Prince, one of the most translated, most widely-read books in the world. Much of Saint-Exupéry’s life, including the death of his younger brother at the age of 15 and his marriage to Salvadoran artist and writer Consuelo Suncin, was woven into this tale of innocence, adventure and loss unlike anything else written before or since. In this issue, two dozen authors and artists explore this beloved tale that has haunted readers for over 75 years.” And isn’t the cover art by MANDEM gorgeous!

NonBinary Review is currently open to submissions for issue #17: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle.

There are a couple of days left to giveaway some books as part of the Big Poetry Giveaway 2018 — or check it out to see all the books you could nab (link is also in the sidebar).

Other Good Things for National Poetry Month

“Science describes accurately from outside, poetry describes accurately from inside. Science explicates, poetry implicates. Both celebrate what they describe,” noted Ursual K. Le Guinn on the intersections between science and poetry. “We need the languages of both science and poetry to save us from merely stockpiling endless “information” that fails to inform our ignorance or our irresponsibility.”

Michelle Betters examines the convergence of pop culture and poetry.


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Big Poetry Giveaway 2018

Big Poetry Giveaway 2018

Welcome to the Big Poetry Giveaway! To participate in the giveaway and to find other blogs that are doing giveaways, check out this post.

To participate in my 2018 giveaway, just post a comment with your name and email address included. Please also let me know your first choice, if you win.

Book One: No God in This Room by Athena Dixon


In discussing her chapbook, No God in This Room, Athena Dixon says, “The pieces in the collection are all very image driven. In my poetry and my prose, I tend to concentrate on a central image or thread and then spin the work out from that axis. Some of the poems take something as small as a bee on a window sill and weave a story. Others tackle images directly related to police brutality and shootings. Each of them gives a bit of sweetness and sourness.”

Book Two: Your Molten Heart / A Seed to Hatch by Andrea Blythe

Your Molten Heart / A Seed to Hatch
My limited-edition chapbook of erasure poetry, sourced from past issues the Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer, explores the relationship between the self and a collective consciousness that has the power to “unleash enviable culture”.


The giveaway ends on April 30th at midnight, at which point I will use a random number generator to select the winners.

You can find others who are giving away poetry listed here.

Good luck! And Happy National Poetry Month!

Big Poetry Giveaway 2018: Guidelines

Big Poetry Giveaway 2018

National Poetry Month is just around the corner and that means it’s time for the Big Poetry Giveaway! I’m honored to be taking over the reigns from Kelli Russel Agodon.

How do you participate? It’s simple:
— Anyone with a blog can give away two books of poetry.
— Anyone can enter any or all of the giveaways.

How to Participate

The Big Poetry Giveaway has officially started and will run through April 30, 2018. If you would like to participate in giving away some poetry, then you need to do the following by Thursday, April 5th (deadline extended to April 15th):

1. Create a blog post that uses the header image above (so that we know who is participating), in which you announce which two books you will be giving away. You may choose to include a little note about yourself.

Include a link back to this post so that others can easily find these guidelines and have the option to participate.

Make sure that your comments are open, so that people can enter to win.

(You can see an example at my giveaway post.)

2. Once your blog post is live, comment here with:

A) The name of your blog
B) Your name
C) A direct link to your blog post

I will keep a running list of participants, updated every couple of days until I close entries on April 5th.

3. During the week of May 1st, select two winners at random. You can put the names in a hat or use this handy random number generator.

Please note that by participating in Big Poetry Giveaway, you agree to send two books to anywhere in the world. You pay for postage. The winner does not.

FAQ

1. Can I give away my own poetry?  Yes. But please make sure that one of the books is by another poet. The idea is to share books by poets we love.

2 . What if I don’t have a book of my own? Can I still participate? Yes! Just give away two collections by poets you love.

3. Can I give away more than two books? Certainly!

4. Do chapbooks count as books? Yes!

5. Do the books I give away have to be new? Nope. Gentle used books in good condition are fine.

6. I don’t want to pay for postage if someone wins. Can I still participate? No. By hosting a giveaway as part of the Big Poetry Giveaway, you are agreeing to pay for the postage required to ship the book to anywhere in the world. If you are unable to do so, then please don’t participate.

7. Can I enter the drawing if I don’t participate in the giveaway? Yes. The drawings are open to anyone.

8. Can I enter the drawings if I am a blogger giving away two books? Yes. As noted, the drawings are open to anyone.

9. How will I know if I’ve won? The blogger running the giveaway you signed up for will be responsible for contacting you if you win.

10. What are the exact dates of the giveaway? The giveaway begins immediately and ends April 30th, 2015 at midnight (PST or Hawaii-time, not sooner).

The winners will be chosen the week of May 1st, depending on the blogger’s schedule.

Any questions, email me at andreablythe [at] hotmail [dot] com.


Participants:

  1. Andrea Blythe
  2. This Quiet Hour – Renee Emerson
  3. Poe-Query – Joannie Stangeland
  4. The Storied Imaginarium – Carina Bissett
  5. Melissa Hassard

Preorders Open for EVERY GIRL BECOMES THE WOLF!

I’m supper stoked to announce that Every Girl Becomes the Wolf, the collaborative chapbook I wrote with Laura Madeline Wiseman is now available for preorders from Finishing Line Press!

This chapbook explores the received images of the feminine in fairy tales. The women and girls in this collaborative chapbook resist the common tropes of red riding hoods, gilded mirrors, and iced palaces. Every girl becomes the wolf because every girl has the power to tear apart the cultural conceit of wicked stepmoms, heartless mothers, and voracious monsters. Witches, hags, and mothers of damaged creatures from myth, movies, and lore prowl through this poetry. Lilith settles in to enjoy the county fair rib-off, Grendel’s mother holds her son close, and the Sphynx bears the weight of mythic secrets. Mothers demand their own freedom, daughters refuse gendered expectations, and wives leave what spoils with rot behind. As they wrestle with their place in these stories, they transform into figures outside of the victims or villains they have been perceived to be.

Here are a few poems from the collection that have been published online: “A Gathering of Baba Yagas,” “The Path That Cuts Through Famine,” and “Holding the Keys” and “The Hellos from the Corners of Quiet Rooms.”

Every Girl Becomes the Wolf

Cover Art: “A Good Milking” by Katy Horan


Your Molten Heart / A Seed to HatchIn other poetry chapbook goodness, I completed the work on my kickstarter-funded erasure poetry chapbook, titled Your Molten Heart / A Seed to Hatch, which has been printed and shipped to backers! This was a lot of fun to put together, and I’m thrilled with how it all turned out.

I have quite a few left to sell ($10), so email me if your interested in receiving your own shiny new copy.


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As a Single Lady Alone on Valentines Day

I say,

blessed be the lovers,

blessed be the young, who are tangled up in rich with lust and longing, locked in a languid exploration into the depths of another, unaware of dangers ahead;

blessed be the old married couple, who have obliterated all their secrets, years kneading together into a comfortable intimacy;

blessed be the  broken-hearted, who mine the labyrinths of their own souls, excavating chunks of pain and rage, digging for meaning behind such catastrophic endings — who crawl from the grimy depths into the light, carrying the fragile, glinting hope of love still uncrushed in the palm of their hands;

blessed be the strangers, who lock liquor hazy eyes in an invitation of smiles and lingering touches, fingertips on forearm, drawing one another into a night of coiled limbs and knotted sheets and a bitter-sweet morning of pleasure or regret;

blessed be the solitude seekers, who long only for quiet contemplation and deeper understanding of self;

blessed be the angry, the depressed, the sorrowful, the lost, who fear they have fallen from the path of love, wandering so far into the woods of loneliness they no longer believe such a path exists;

blessed be the artists, who in their love of the world breath in its pain and passions and exhale them as myth and beauty upon page, canvass, tapestry, screen;

blessed be the scientists, who perceive love from the mount of knowledge, witnessing its compilation chemical reactions, pheromones and synapses swirling in a complex network of biology;

blessed be the mating of atoms, who spawn molecules, colliding to form cells, tissue, nerves, veins — shaping humanity and gravel, shale, and stone — rolling into mountains housing leaves, roots, trees — gathering into forests fed by water falling into ponds, streams, oceans — all the weft and fabric of the Earth;

blessed be the Earth, who so loved the sun, it bound itself in centrifugal orbit — for love is gravity;

blessed be the sun, who so loved the universe, it burned with a light that stretched deep into the void of space, softly stroking distant worlds thousands of light years away — for love is light;

blessed be the universe — for the universe itself is love.

As a human being alone, it is easy to forget
the heart is more then sinew,
more than ventricles and muscle,
more than an engine pumping blood.
The heart is expansive — capable
of holding in perpetual eternity
a moment, able to stretch wide,
broadening to embrace worlds
upon worlds within its every beat.

As a single lady along, I say, 
though we may never find the One True Love
promised us in fairy tales, we may come
at last to learn that Love itself is true.

So, I Launched a Kickstarter

For January, Kickstarter is hosting the make/100 challenge — essentially urging creators to created a limited edition something (100 tee shirts, 100 sculptures, etc.). It’s concept I found fascinating and I really wanted to participate when they launched the challenge last year, but I had too many projects going on at the time and it didn’t work out. So, this year I was determined to put a project together.

After thinking about what would work best, I decided to do an extension of a 30/30 poetry challenge I did in April, in which I created 30 new erasure poems based on Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer as source material.

The Kickstarter project — A Fearless Chapbook of Erasure Poetry —  is to print a limited-edition chapbook of erasure poetry, compiling 20 of these already completed poems and 20 new poems that I am making during the course of the project.

I wanted to keep it simple, so I have only three reward levels:

  • $1+ — get a pdf of the chapbook and a thank you on my website
  • $10+ — get a signed print copy of the chapbook
  • $40+ — get an original of one of the erasures I create, in addition to everything else

Simplicity seems the best way for me to make it through the challenge with the least amount of stress (especially considering all the other projects I have going on simultaneously).

I’m trying to approach it in such a way that I’m asking for money without directly asking for money. Essentially, by posting a new erasure poem every day with a link to the Kickstarter included, I’m hoping that it will draw enough attention to achieve my goal.

So far, this idea is working well — I’m four days in and have achieved 26% of my goal. Yay! Although, I have a feeling I may need to be more direct as the project goes on… kind of like this:

If you have a buck or two to spend on some poetry, I would be thrilled if you could head on over and back my project.

(Whew. Not so hard.)

Anyway, it’s a strange, fun experience so far (making the video was a journey in itself), and I’m excited to see how it will all turn out.

My day three poem:

STONE

 


Linky Goodness

“I’m decades in to being a poet, but it continues to hurt to write them,” notes Karen Craigo in her excellent post, When the poems don’t come.

New Stuff up at Quail Bell and The Literary Whip

Quail Bell published six of my poems over the past couple of months, all from the Poeming project, in which over 50 poets were each assigned one of Stephen King’s books and charged with the challenge of crating 31 found poems in the month of October. The poems Quail Bell selected were:

In other awesome news, Zoetic Press has started a new podcast called, The Literary Whip. The podcast highlights poetry, fiction, and nonfiction that was rejected by Nonbinary Review and other publication. This is work that almost made it past the slush pile to publication, but was ultimately rejected.

As an associate editor for Nonbinary Review, I was invited to be a guest of the podcast for two episodes. It was great fun speaking with Lise Quintana, podcast host and editor in chief of Nonbinary, about “Dear Firebird” by Becky d’Ugo and “No wise fish would go anywhere without a porpoise” by Jane Wiseman, as well as about literature and the editing process in general. Go check them out.

Happy International Speculative Poetry Day!

I was delighted to learn that the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) “has designated November 3rd as International Speculative Poetry Day to bring attention to the genre of poetry influenced by science fiction, fantasy, horror and other imaginative genres.” This is the first time it’s been held and I’m stoked.

In honor of  International Speculative Poetry Day, here are a few of my favorite collections of speculative poetry.

Southern-Cryptozoology

Southern Cryptozoology: A Field Guide to Beasts of the Southern Wild by Allie Marini

Southern Cryptozoology has been twice nominated for the Elgin Award, which is no surprising to me because it’s one of my favorite poetry reads in the past few years. This collection presents a bestiary of strange, legendary creatures from the Southern parts of the U.S., examining what it means to be monster or human, beast or woman, myth or flesh. The lines are wildly spaces on the page, leaving gaps and holes where truths or secrets or double meanings might slip in. And I discover new things every time I pick up this book.

“A whole town: armed to the teeth,
arming themselves against my teeth.
She-cat of Bladenboro,
I’m here for your dogs,
your sheep, your sons, your blood.
You know who I am, boys.”

– from “The Beast of Bladenboro”
(wordpress likes to compress the spacing, but you canread the complete poem at Drunk Monkeys)

The Moment of Change

The Moment of Change: An Anthology of Feminist Speculative Poetry edited by Rose Lemberg

In this anthology, editor Rose Lemburg offers feminist speculative poetry from diverse perspectives. The quality and range of styles and stories these poems address make this a powerful collection of science fiction, myth, and folklore. (I did a longer review of this book in 2013.)

“Perfection is frictionless —
I need to stub my soul on yours,
I need to lick the slivers in your wounds.”

— from “In Defiance of Sleek-Armed Androids” by Lisa Bradley
.

“This is a story,
and it is true of all stories
that the sound when they slam shut
is like a key turning.”

— from “The Girl with Two Skins” by Catherynne M. Valente

Love in a Time of Robot Apocalypse

Love in a Time of Robot Apocalypse by David Pérez

David Pérez uses speculative imagery in his poems to explore the ways things fall apart at the most intimate levels and how was can pull the pieces together from the chaos. There are poems in this book, like “Tickle Me Elmo on Black Friday,” that haunt me; I’ll be minding my own business and then wham, I’m thinking about them all over again.

“Sarah,
Why bother saving us
when you have fewer scars from machines
than you do from the men who made them?
You don’t have to answer that.”

– from “To the Lady who Carves a Notch in Her M-16 for Every Robot She Leaves Charred and Perforated in the Ruins of Los Angeles”
(here’s a video of Pérez reading the poem)

Transformations

Transformations by Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton’s Transformations presents retellings of classic fairy tales. The poems bring a unsettling, raw beauty to the original tales, while also being darkly humorous.

“No matter what life you lead
the virgin is a lovely number:
cheeks as fragile as cigarette paper,
arms and legs made of Limoges,
lips like Vin Du Rhône,
rolling her china-blue doll eyes
open and shut.”

— from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”
(read the whole poem)

God Went to Beautyf School

God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant

God Went to Beauty School is a collection of YA poetry that envisions God trying out life on Earth. God goes shopping, gets a job, gets cable, explores all the mundanities of human life — and it’s deeply enchanting.

“He got into nails, of course,
because He’d always loved
hands–
hands were some of the best things
He’d ever done

– from the title poem “God Went to Beauty School”
(read the whole poem)

A few other great reads: Drink by Laura Madeline Wiseman; Shopping After the Apocalypse by Jessie Carty; Sharp Teeth (a novel in poems) by Toby Barlow; and Eating in the Underworld by Rachel Zucker


Newly Published Work – the Nasty Women Poets Anthology and more

Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive VerseNasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse, edited by Grace Bauer and Julie Kane, is now available from Lost Horse Press and I’m honored to have a collaborative poem, “The Red Inside of Girls,” written with Laura Madeline Wiseman.

Nasty Women Poets presents a “timely collection of poems speaks not just to the current political climate and the man who is responsible for its title, but to the stereotypes and expectations women have faced dating back to Eve, and to the long history of women resisting those limitations. The nasty women poets included here talk back to the men who created those limitations, honor foremothers who offered models of resistance and survival, rewrite myths, celebrate their own sexuality and bodies, and the girlhoods they survived. They sing, swear, swagger, and celebrate, and stake claim to life and art on their own terms.”

Honored to have have a collaborative poem with Laura Madeline Wiseman included in the Nasty Women Poets anthology from Lost Horse Press.


Drunk Monkeys published my short story, “Missed Connections / Red Head at the House of Needles,” in their August issue. This is (I believe), the second actual short story that I’ve evern published, and I’m so happy to have it appear in a great publication like Drunk Monkeys. Here’s the story opening:

i am normally not the kind of dog who whistles at women on the street or stalks them with my eyes. i figure ladies have enough to worry about without some creeper giving them a hard time

You can read the rest online.


 NonBinary Review #14: The Tales of Hans Christian AndersenAs a member of the Zoetic press team, I’m stoked to note that NonBinary Review has released Issue #14: The Tales of Hans Christian Andersen — it’s the largest issue the publication has released to date with 53 artists and authors from around the world presenting re-imaginings of Andersen’s classic fairy tales.

Cover art is by the always amazing MANDEM.


Other Good Reads from Around the Web

“We need to stop thinking of poems as poems, but as art pieces that weave together different techniques from other disciplines, in a way to expand the line, the beat, the image,” writes Joanna C. Valente.

Sona Charaipotra and Zoraida Córdova on How YA Twitter Is Trying To Dismantle White Supremacy, One Book At A Time

The 10 Best Sci-Fi Stories You Can Read Online For Free


Poet Spotlight: Jessie Carty and Shopping After the Apocalypse

Jessie CartyJessie Carty is the author of eight poetry collections, including the full length collection Practicing Disaster (Aldrich Press, 2014) and the the chapbook An Amateur Marriage (Finishing Line, 2012), which was a finalist for the 2011 Robert Watson Prize. Her work has placed third in the St. Louis Poetry Center’s 2008 contest and has been nominated for the Best of the Net Award, and she has been a finalist in a number of poetry and chapbook contests. Her latest collection of poetry, Shopping After the Apocalypse, is now available from dancing girl press and was nominated for an Elgin Award.

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started as a writer? What keeps you writing?

I always think of myself first as a reader. I feel very strongly that you can’t be a writer without being a reader. I have very clear memories of wanting to read before I could actually do it. As an avid reader, I found myself, from a very early age, wanting to play with words.

I’m actually in a little bit of a lull as a writer right now, but whenever that happens I return to reading. And not just poems. I read across genres. You just never know what you’ll read that will spark you to write even if it is just for yourself. Never discount the power of just writing for yourself! I also find, when I’m not feeling “the muse,” that it helps to mix things up. I’ll try out a different way of composing: using a pencil instead of a keyboard or a different size notebook.

So what keeps me going? I think at the heart of us all is the storyteller. The troubadour. The record keeper. Because, as I wrote as a teenager, I write to free myself from myself. Or maybe now I’d say, with a little less angst, I write to be and know who I am.

Shopping After the ApocalypseYour most recent chapbook of poetry is Shopping After the Apocalypse. Tell us a bit about this project and how it came about.

This was an unusual project for me in many respects. I had not been writing that much when the title came to me just out of the blue. (I love how the mind works!) I don’t normally write from titles. In fact, I usually don’t title a poem till well after it is done. Heck, when I read poems I don’t always read the title before I read the poem in case it “gives something away.” Instead of immediately writing I just started musing about this idea of what it would be like to shop after the apocalypse. It occurred to me that the first place I’d probably shop would be at my home so that’s where I started. Then I made “myself” into a character and wondering what I would do next? Where would I go? And thus the poems became a journey from location to location with the idea of “shopping” to keep me writing until I got to a final destination.

Continue reading “Poet Spotlight: Jessie Carty and Shopping After the Apocalypse”

National Poetry Month 2016 – It Begins

National Poetry Month is one of my favorite months of the year, because I get to be all excited about poetry and people don’t stare at me weird — okay, they stare at me less weird, or less people… Nevermind.

In addition to reading all the poetry I can, I have a number of poetry thingies going on.

Poetry in process meme
Whiskey. Whiskey will be an April necessity.

First, I’m offering up two books of poetry as part of the Big Poetry Giveaway 2016.

I am also participating in ELJ Publications’ 30/30 challenge, in which I will attempt to write thirty poems in the thirty days of April. For that challenge, I’ve created a separate blog to house all the poetry that I create.

I’ll be posting a #selfiewithpoetry a day on my Instagram.

And, if all goes well, I’ll be sharing four new Poet Spotlight interviews on my blog.

So, yeah, it’s going to be a busy, wonderful, and word-filled month!

What National Poetry Month look like for you? Share your plans (or lack thereof) in the comments. 

Good things at Zoetic Press

I adore Zoetic Press, which produces two fantastic lit journals Nonbinary Review and Unbound Octavio among a number of other wonderful things. Within the Litho Reader app for iPhone and iPad, they wrap amazing pieces of poetry and fiction in gorgeous covers.

Recently, Zoetic Press released their first two full length books on the Litho Reader app — Erin Elizabeth Smith’s The Fear of Being Found and Christopher E. Grillo’s The Six-Fold Radial Symmetry of Snow — both of which look fantastic.

Zoetic Press has also been migrating all of the back issues of Nonbinary Review online to make them accessible to the whole wide world of readers. Although I recommend downloading the Litho Reader app to get the full experience of each issue, This means that Issue #4 Bullfinch’s Mythology is now up online, which includes my poem, “Eve and Pandora.”

I recommend reading the entire Bullfinch Mythology issue, because it is brimming with amazing work. And not just that, but all of the available issues because they are all full of wonderful things.

 

Now Out: Myth+Magic

mythmagic

Myth+Magic is a collection of modern takes on old myth, fable, and fairy tale. Nothing is quite what it seems to be. Included in this edition are short works inspired folk tale, fable, fairy tale, gods, monsters, myth, magic, tricksters, divination, witchcraft, and herbalism. This handbound, limited edition (125) booklet includes poetry & fiction curated by the joint efforts of Porkbelly Press & Sugared Water staff.

It also includes one of my own poems!

Excerpts from some of the poets are available online, with information on how to purchase.

 

Three Mini Reviews for Three Mini Chapbooks of Poetry

I picked up each of these little books after being present at a reading by the authors, each of whom is a great performer with a unique and powerful voice. If you have the chance to catch them at any one of the many poetry events around the San Francisco bay area, I highly recommend you go have a listen.

IMG_5822

House and Home

by Jaz Sufi

Hand made with a string binding, House and Home is a gift of words, expressing raw wounds of body and heart, mind and soul. The poems explore love and its failures. They address the lives of women, revealing how they are damaged, while revealing a strength that allows them to reclaim their own power. What a gorgeous little collection.

Poetry is not the ship.
Poetry is not the captain.
Life is a constant storm, and poetry
is what we make of the wreckage,
what we cling to alone in the ocean.

— from “Better a Blacksmith Than a Writer, a Carpenter Than a Poet”

Jaz Sufi is a poet, a Bay Area native, and the slammaster of the Berkeley Slam, the longest running poetry slam in California.

image2

Reflections

by Jocelyn Deona De Leon
2005

Although only about the size of my hand, I don’t know if I can quite call Reflections mini at 62 pages.This collection is introspective and soulful, alternating between diary entries exploring and reflecting the author’s emotional space to individual poems sending messages to the world. These poems call upon the reader to ground themselves in the present moment, to look inside themselves, and to feel the world deeply.

moments flutter by like
butterfly wings slowly
floating you away from me.

i cannot catch you
because your freedom is exquisite.
it is the most explicit reminder that
the only way to love free is
to free love.

— from “Complicated Simplicity”

Jocelyn Deona de Leon writes poetry inspired by her Pilipino ancestral heritage and reflecting on experience through the eyes of love (see bio). She has toured nationally, sharing her words and energy with youth at various elementary, high school, and college campuses.

image3

Highku: 4 & 20 Poems About Marijuana

by Brennan ‘B Deep’ DeFrisco
Lucky Bastard Press, 2015

I don’t smoke, so normally I wouldn’t be interested in a book of poetry about pot. But when I saw this tiny, adorable little book, I couldn’t help but pick it up. The poems inside follow the traditional haiku 5-7-5 syllable format. Each tiny poem contains a single thought, some witty, some perceptive. A fun little read.

Nixon’s solution
for Vietnam protesters:
Arrest them for pot

Brennan ‘B Deep’ DeFrisco likes words and the way they move. He is an organizer and performer at the Berkeley Poetry Slam and will represent them for the second time in the upcoming 2015 National Poetry Slam. He is a co-founder of Lucky Bastard Press.

Bits and baubles of joy

It’s been an intense week with most of my free time spent desperately finishing off my in-progress essay, which has been taking fare more time than I would have liked. So, it was so lovely to receive three lovely announcements in the midst of all this hard work.

So, here are the bits and baubles.

* * *

NBR-4-Bulfinch-MythologyI’m thrilled to announce that the editors at NonBinary Review for have nominated my poem “Eve and Pandora” for the Sundress Best of the Net awards. I am so honored, especially because this particular poem has had a long history for me. It was one of the first poem that I completed and felt proud of, as well as one of the first poems that received harsh criticism that made me questions myself as a writer. It took time to trust my original vision of the poem again, which has now been published and nominated. I can’t really describe the full extent of how that makes me feel.

“Eve and Pandora” can be found in the #4 Bulfinch’s Mythology issue of NonBinary Review, which is available for free on the Lithomobilius app (available only on the iPad and iPhone for the moment, but will eventually be made available to other devices).

* * *

In other joyful news, Laura Madeline Wisemen interviewed me for her chapbook series. It was a fun experience and I got to talk about fairy tales and folklore, working from poetry prompts, and the self-published chapbook.

* * *

Last but not least, my poem “The Things I Own” has been published at Thank You for Swallowing. Huzzah!

 

Poet Spotlight: Laura Madeline Wiseman — Mermaids, Myth, and Community

Hello, lovelies! I’m thrilled to introduce my first poet spotlight, Laura Madeline Wiseman. She is author of numerous books and chapbooks of poetry and fiction with a speculative bent. Her work explores myth and folklore, history and pop culture. She has collaborated with artists on projects such as broadsides and calendars and has taught a variety of courses in poetry, creative writing, literature, and women’s and gender studies. Here, Laura shares about her latest collection of poetry and her love of community.

laura madeline wiseman, 2014

Continue reading “Poet Spotlight: Laura Madeline Wiseman — Mermaids, Myth, and Community”

New poem up at Nonbinary Review!

I’m thrilled to announce that my poem, “Eve and Pandora,” has been published in Issue 4 of ‪NonBinaryReview‬, Bulfinch’s Mythology: The Age of Fable. The issue is available for free — you just need to download the Lithomobilus app to your iPhone or iPad (the publisher is currently working on a compatible version for Android users.)

Enjoy!

* * *

In other news, I’m a wee behind on my Short Story Month challenge and a number of other thing, as well. But, hey, it’s my birthday week and my days have been jam packed with activities, from climbing over rocks and getting bruised and battered at the Yuba River to pampering myself with a facial and a new haircut.

Last night also was great, a joyful evening of words and song at Cito.FAME.Us, where Lorenz Dumuk made us feel things with his poetry and Q&A performed some amazing, moving, and beautiful new songs. Always a delight.

We have winners!

bigpoetrygiveaway2015

Using a random number generator, I’ve determined the winners for my little corner of the Big Poetry Giveaway.

Robin A. Sams has won a copy of Cedar Toothpick: The Tomboy Diaries.

Shawnte has won a copy of The 2013 Rhysling Anthology.

Congrats to you both!

Note: Oh, dear, I drafted this days ago and forgot to press publish. Anywho, here it is now!

Chapbook Review: wingless, scorched & beautiful by Allie Marini Batts

battscover

wingless, scorched & beautiful by Allie Marini Batts (on FB and Goodreads)
Publisher: Imaginary Friends Press
Date Published: March 2015

“if, in April,
the seeds planted in your scapulas
fail to bloom into wings

at least learn to love falling—
— from “Boneseeds”

The ten poems in wingless, scorched and beautiful delve into the dark corridors of women’s lives and bodies. These are women who have made mistakes, crawled through the muck, endured, and returned scarred but with renewed strength.

At first glance, a reader might perceive these poems as gloomy, but here death and rebirth dance with each other in cyclical pirouettes and hope comes back around eventually. For example, in the opening poem “Boneseeds,” the act of crashing down transitions through catastrophe into flight, while “breeding, trumpet flowers out of the dead ash” reveals how life — both plant vines and oneself — can labor to come back from destruction.

In “Her Intentions Are,” the “you” of the poem is a woman broken down by abuse, her shame and devastation revealed public on a city street corner. Her “every clinging breath is futility” and her “tears are scented and boiling with the stink of desperation”. The imagery, such as wolves and women in battle armor, evokes a feeling of folklore that reflects the inner forests in which she struggles. Though no happily ever afters are on the horizon, the poem culminates in the ability to rise up and continue living.

Female sexuality and how it is twisted and commodified is discussed in the poems “Pussy Pass” and “high art”. The first expresses rage at the entitlement of men, who expect their advances to be granted with ready sex — “every man who thinks sex is a gumball that’s owed to them / after putting two nice-guy coins into the girl-machine”. Meanwhile, the second explores the nature of art, noting “soft filters / don’t make disenfranchised body parts / any less than pornographic.” For me, “high art” suggests that art is a mirror, reflecting both truth and lies that are determined by consensus of the beholders.

Each of the poems collected here is powerful, revealing its own mixture of beauty, strength, and pain. Multiple readings of these poems unveil new layers of meaning and I suggest downloading the collection, which is available free online, and spending time with each one.

“…poor things, they
can’t see that I am
dead inside, numb to their
ether, the drug they smell on me is
freedom, they want to taste it like
ginger, a sweet and hot burn.”

— from “Vampire Boys” (note: not original formatting)

If wingless, scorched & beautiful proves to not be enough for you, never fear. Batts has released two other collections this year — another chapbook, Pictures From The Center Of The Universe (Paper Nautilus, March 2015), and a full length collection, Before Fire: Divorce Poems (ELJ Publications, 2015). Based on the strength of wingless, scorched & beautiful, I would recommend either of these collections as a good way to spend your money in support of the poet.

Five More Poems and Poets for National Poetry Month

As with my previous list, here five poems (with a few teaser first lines) I’ve read and enjoyed in honor of National Poetry Month.

1. Local Monsters, by Laura Madeline Wiseman, published by Nonbinary Review

“I see them sometimes, monsters—monsters running down
the upstairs hall, monsters stepping into shadows of the
darker room, monsters peeking around corners, their
colorful eyes blinking….”

2. After a Mid-December Wedding, by Helen Losse, published by Then and If

“Snow glitters on the edge of the pond
in a scene that could be but isn’t
from a Victorian Christmas Card.
Soft light falls from an early moon.
Recorded carols play
from a lean-to crèche,
where the Holy Family shivers….”

3. Two Poems by Daniel Reinhold, published in H_NGM_N

“What if I carried the moon in my back pocket?
Could I dance in my sleep?
Swallow your soul whole?”

4. Moving by Sara Backer, published in Pedestal Magazine

“We confront accumulation. No room
is exempt from the purge; no cupboard
can be left for later….”

5. Art History Kirun Kapur, published in Jam Tarts Magazine

“I’d even smoke the angels,
that’s what he liked to say,
…”

* * *

And a quick reminder, I’m hosting a Poetry Giveaway on my blog, which any poetry lovers here are welcome to take part in.

So far, only one person has commented, so your chances of winning are rather good.

Five Poems and Poets for National Poetry Month

I’m trying to actively read more poetry and lit journals from around the web in honor of National Poetry Month. Here are five that I’ve particularly enjoyed this week.

1. A series of six poems inspired by classic works of literature, including “Wuthering Heights 2” and “Fahrenheit 451 (3)” by Denise Duhamel & Maureen Seaton, published in Coconut Magazine 19

2. Two poems from Big Brown Bag by Marisa Crawford, published in So and So, No. 8

3. The Unicorn of Renée d’Orléans-Longueville by Janna Layton, published in Goblin Fruit, Fall 2014

4. Next Time Ask More Questions by Naomi Shihab Nye, published at Poets.org (which has a Poem-a-Day newsletter)

5. A series of poems, called CATCHING THE BUS, by Margie Shaheed, published in Linden Avenue, Issue 35

* * *

And a quick reminder, I’m hosting a Poetry Giveaway on my blog, which any poetry lovers here are welcome to take part in.

So far, only one person has commented, so your chances of winning are rather good.

Big Poetry Giveaway 2015

bigpoetrygiveaway2015

In honor of Natinal Poetry Month, Kelli Rusell Agodon hosts the Great Poetry Giveaway every year over on her blog, where you can find links to others who are taking part in giving away poetry books. Every participant is required to give away two books of poetry, one of their own and one by a favorite poet.

To participate in my giveaway here, just post a comment with your name and email address included. Please also let me know your first choice, if you win.

Book One: Cedar Toothpick: The Tomboy Diaries

Cedar Toothpick“Cedar Toothpick is a book of nutshell poetry, written by Stefan Lorenzutti (that’s me) and illustrated by Laurent Le Deunff. I tell the story of backwoods gamine Tomboy, one thimble-sized poem at a time,” wrote Lorenzutti during his kickstarter campaign.

“Each poem is a description of a diorama, such as one finds in ethnographic or natural history museums—bell-jar spaces in which wolves, frozen in time, thread soundlessly through twilit forest; and wigwam inhabitants, cross-legged and ringed round their storyteller, shiver as the wind outside rattles frame of shelter.

The poems in Cedar Toothpick describe 27 diorama scenes through which Tomboy passes over the course of a witching hour and the following day.

There are two important sounds overlapping in Cedar Toothpick: the whisper of Tomboy’s moccasin footfall on pine needle; and the squeak of ancient parquet, as the reader meanders up and down the labyrinthine hallways of this nonexistent ethnographic museum, pressing his or her nose up to the glass of each Tomboy poem.”

This is a lovely little collection of poetry with beautiful illustrations, which I wrote more about in a previous post. I’m really happy to be able to share this with another poetry lover.

Book Two: The 2013 Rhysling Anthology

Edited by John C. Mannone.

“In January 1978, Suzette Haden Elgin founded the Science Fiction Poetry Association, along with its two visible cornerposts: the association’s newsletter, Star*Line, and the Rhysling Awards. Nominees for the 2013 Rhysling Award are selected by the membership of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Each member is allowed to nominate one work in each of two categories: ‘Best Long Poem’ and ‘Best Short Poem.’ All nominated works must have been published during 2012. The anthology allows the membership to easily review and consider all nominated works without the necessity of obtaining the diverse number of publications in which the nominated works first appeared and serves as a showcase of the best science fiction, fantasy and horror poetry of 2012. The Rhysling Anthology is available to anyone with an interest in this unique compilation of verse from some of the finest poets in the field of science fiction, fantasy and horror poetry.” (Description from Goodreads.)

This collection features poems by amazing poets, such as Catherynne M. Valente, Jane Yolen, Kelly Rose Pflug-Back, Sandra Kasturi, Amal El-Mohtar, Theodora Goss, Rose Lemberg, and oodles more.

It also, I must humbly add, includes my short poem, “Red Riding Hood Remembers.”

* * *

The giveaway ends on April 30th at midnight, at which point I will use a random number generator to select the winners.

You can find others who are giving away poetry listed here.

Good luck! And Happy National Poetry Month!

 

Autumn

Acer near Birch Walk
Photo: Derek Harper (Creative Commons)

Out strolling, I learn how
the ocher yellow birch leaves tremble
against a robin-egg-blue sky. In a fairy tale,
a man finds a grove of trees
with leaves of gold, and here, now,
I believe it to be true. He could have plucked
these very leaves
as proof of the world’s wonder.

* * *

I have lived in Northern California most of my life. There are few birch trees, if any, and few trees that even bother changing color with the coming of Autumn. The seasons are less defined, blending one into the other with little differentiation. The first signs of Fall came only a few weeks ago with a noticeable chill to the morning air, a few sporadic grey-skied days with light rains lasting no longer than a day.

I remember piles of leaves, brown and yellow and golden, covering lawns. The rustle and crunch of them beneath my sneakered feet, sweeping huge piles into the air with one sweep of my feel. I imagine these memories attached to my younger years in Alaska, but more likely it would have been California — making my nostalgia misplaced. Perhaps this is in part due in part to my present longing for a true Autumn, a true Winter, at the very least a week of storms and rain.

* * *

I don’t much care for the hero in the story of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses“, who stalks the ladies down into the forests of gold leaves and silver leaves and then ruins the party.

Though to be honest, no one comes off well in this story. The king is sending men after his sleeping daughters and chopping heads off when they find nothing. The daughters blissfully drug the men, knowing they will die for their failure.

Still, I put my sympathy with the daughters, who seek adventure and dancing and joy. Though the hero brings them home and helps their father tether them to hope, I imagine each girl, one by one, shucking off the cords and wandering away for new adventures. The door to the magic lands may be closed, but their feet are strong and the world is wide. There is enough gold in the sun and silver in the clouds to give them joy, as they discover new shores and ensnare new friends into the freedom of dancing.

* * *

In fairy tales, everything — gifts, tests, friends — come in threes. They say that about deaths, too. When celebrities die, we count them in groups of three, create a grouping of deaths and call the curse down when the third falls. As though folk tale superstition can stop the flow of time, can hold back and make sense of the chaos of daily life. Summer becomes Autumn whether we like it or not, and we all must cross the threshold of Winter to reach the Spring.

* * *

Look what has become
of my heart, the husk of a brown leaf,
hold it in your hand, watch
it crumble to dust
and feed the earth,
wait, wait,
in the cold, in the dark,
see the tender shoot
of its feeling
emerge.

Poetry Chapbook Review: TEN by Val Dering Rojas

Book Cover: Ten by Val Dering Rojas

TEN by Val Dering Rojas
Publisher: Dancing Girl Press
Date Published: 2014

ONE.
I think
if he tried,
I would crumble
like the iridescent shell
of a beetle.

Val Dering Rojas’ TEN consists of ten long poems alongside ten mini-poems that explores the inner working of body and soul through the out workings of color and texture. The ten mini poems act as a form of chapter headings in between each of the longer pieces, providing a framework for the chapbook. Read together, all in one go, these mini-poems provide a poem of their own, which unveils a personal journey, from a place of a place of disconnecting from emotional wounding to a sense of inner calm, a spiritual awareness. As interjections, the mini-poems share thematic progression with the longer pieces.

In “An Instance of Affliction,” a medicine cabinet is contemplated, an “axis of obsolete / streets, old razors roads.” The medicine cabinet, the objects within, and the reflection in the mirror fade behind an deeper reflection. The material world itself becomes metaphor for personal experience.

“How To Leave” expresses the unpacking and dismantling of the meaning love with “its utopian tongue”, expressing both how love fails us and also all the things (objects and feelings) that must be left behind. “Love can’t be found / in these humble jars of honey, / in these everyday teaspoons.” At the same time, there is what remains in the leaving: “You are packing yourself up in bags, // stuffing yourself in boxes.” What do we have in the ending of a relationship, but ourselves? The objects (clothing, books, toiletries, towels, bedding), which gets stuffed into bags and boxes, become representative of the self. And yet, the poem, shows how the things we tell ourselves in leaving (“I hate love” or that “love / doesn’t know any truth at all”) are either lies or, at the least, half truths, because feeling, love, emotion lingers.

The progression of the poems eventually lead the reader to realize that the self is enough. In “While Alone at Topanga Thrift,” the narrator explores the feeling of space while discovering objects in a thrift store: “It occurs to me / that most things are made / to be filled; even now, / these old red dough-bowls / brim with sun.” As with the rest of the poems, it’s easy to relate the outer objects to the inner realm. The imagery of a tiny teacup or a ginger jar becomes moving and beautiful metaphor.

EIGHT.
I can’t let you
see me cry,
but if you’d like,
I’ll tell you a sad story.

I’ve returned to these poems several times in the course of reading them, each time discovering something new — a turn of phrase to fall in love with, a deeper meaning to latch onto. Each poem is shown to be lovelier and more evocative each time I read it. All told, a lovely. wonderful collection and I hope to be able to read a full length book from Val in the near future.

Note: A review copy of TEN was provided by the author, whom i consider a friend. Take this review with as much of a grain of salt to taste.

Lifting Our Voices to the Moon

Last Friday night was lovely. I attended Glowing with the Moon, an open mic hosted by my amazing, wonderful poet friend, Lorenz Dumuk. Lorenz is an amazing poet and one of the kindest, most generous-hearted people I know.

The night included a mix of featured poets and open mic participants with a variety of styles, including Yvette McDonald, Lindsey Leong, Scorpiana Xlynn, and others. The out pouring of words as the sky darkened into night was wonderful.

Q&A also performed a couple of sets. The musical duo is comprised of Quynh Nguyen and Alice D. Chen. They play a mixture of covers and original music in a style that is sweet and slightly eerie. They don’t have a website or facebook page that I can link to yet, but they have definitely made a groupie of me.

Lorenz presented several lovely counterparts to the mixture of spoken word and music:

  • He asked everyone to participate in a salt-art table, to draw out our dreams or what we’re looking to let go off in salt, then to sweep it into a bag, which he will later take and return to the ocean.
  • At another point, he asked everyone to stand up and greet a stranger, saying our name, what we hoped to call to ourselves, and what fears we wanted to let go of — the result was an opening up to someone new, perhaps letting in a little vulnerability along the way.
  • Since it was that kind of night, Lorenz also asked us to close our eyes and listen to the wind singing in hushed tones in the trees around us.

I don’t know that I can properly explain how grounding and wonderful a night Friday was and what a great community these artists and poets are. I find myself sometimes longing for community of this kind, a creatively charged group casting their words into the world (I do have my Writing Gang, though life has intervened making it hard for us to gather). Such kinds of communities makes me feel alive to words.

As I usually do after such an event, I went home and threw some words down on a poem I’ve been working on for a while. There’s going to be another open mic at Iguanas in San Jose on Thursday. My goal is to finish this poem in time to read it at the Thursday open mic, which is intimidating since this poem makes me feel vulnerable writing it, let alone reading it out loud to others.

I hope everyone is having a lovely week, full of creativity and joy.

Poetry Review: Hum by Jamaal May

Hum by Jamaal May

Hum by Jamaal May
Publisher: Alice James Books
Date Published: November 2013

Description: “In May’s debut collection, poems buzz and purr like a well-oiled chassis. Grit, trial, and song thrum through tight syntax and deft prosody. From the resilient pulse of an abandoned machine to the sinuous lament of origami animals, here is the ever-changing hum that vibrates through us all, connecting one mind to the next.”

I admit to being drawn to this collection because of the gorgeous cover and its steampunk robot with a birdcage head, which immediately sparked my imagination. The physical book itself is also beautiful, with a lovely typeset. A smattering of dark pages, each for a “phobia” poem (such as Athazagoraphobia: Fear of Being Ignored”), appear throughout the book, starting out black at first then lightening toward softer grays. It’s an interesting way to highlight a set of associated poems and there’s a subtle effect to reading words with white text on a dark page that suits the “phobia” poems. For example, reading “Athazagoraphobia: Fear of Being Ignored” on one of the rare black pages in the books creates an interesting contrast between text and the physical page.

Hum is dedicated to “to the inner lives of Detroiters.” When I think of Detroit these days, I picture photo essays that show the city in seemingly apocalyptic states of decay. May’s poems reflect this state of everyday apocalypse. “Still Life” presents a “Boy with roof shingles / duct taped to shins and forearms / threading barbed wire through pant loops” as well as other trash can armor in the face of what seems to be a wasteland. While in “The Girl Who Builds Rockets from Bricks,” a girl wanders in “the caverns of deserted houses,” performing “her excavation for spare parts: // shards of whiskey bottle, matches, / anthills erupting from concrete // seams, the discarded husk / of a beetle.”

{C} Continue reading “Poetry Review: Hum by Jamaal May”

Joys, travels, poetry, and other doings

A lot has been going on over the past couple of weeks since I last posted, so I’m going to sum things up in list format (in order of importance, rather than chronology) to make things easier on myself. I still have to do my book and movie round up for May, but that’ll come tomorrow probably.

– The biggest announcement by far is the birth of my nephew. The Monster (my niece) is being adorable around him, very gentle and loving so far. I can’t even express what a joy it is to welcome this tiny little person into the family.

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– I also turned 34 years old in the past two weeks (on May 26 to be exact), and a Happy New Year to me. A gentleman recently told my friend that she should count her birthday as the true new year, since it announces another new year of her life. I love that, and it seems like a perfect time to reassess life, the universe, and everything. With all that’s been happening, I haven’t had a chance to do that yet, but I’m planning to think about taking a serious look at my goals this week. It so happened that my birthday was marked by…

– getting rather sick. Oh the joys of coughs and runny noses, just as I’m launching into…

– a two week work trip, involving two conferences and an industrial plant visit. Travels took me to Detroit, West Michigan, and Montreal. There was a lot of work and a lot of trying to rest in order to recover from being sick, so I didn’t do much touring, except for two beautiful days in Montreal. I let my feet carry me around the city to here and there, exploring Old Town and other areas of the city center. It was beautiful out and I’d like to have more time to explore Montreal properly in the future.

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Montreal with the Parc du Mont-Royal in the background.
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Inside the Basilica of Notre Dame in Montreal.

– Being in Montreal, I had to go see Cirque du Soleil. It was a bigger expense than I had planned, but Kurios is a steampunk inspired show, so I couldn’t resist. They did a marvelous job with the aesthetic and it fit really well into the acrobat sequences. The first half, in particular, was astounding in beauty and stunts. The second half had a few weird bits that I didn’t get, but it didn’t lessen my overall enjoyment. Kurios is my favorite of all the Soleil shows I’ve seen.

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Inside the Cirque du Soleil: Kurios tent. The show had an awesome steampunk aesthetic.

– I came home to two poetry pretties in my mailbox — the lovely TEN chapbook by Val Dering Rojas (which I received from the author) and Live From The Homesick Jamboree by Adrian Blevins (which I received as part of a poetry giveaway). I’m looking forward to reading both!!

 – Two contributor’s copies of the Strange Frenzies anthology also arrives. The anthology includes my poem, “Comfort At Last.” A wonderful surprise.

Poetry Review: Practicing Disaster by Jessie Carty

Practicing Disaster by Jessie Carty

Practicing Disaster by Jessie Carty
Publisher: Aldrich Books
Date Published: April 2014

“You wish you had coined the word zaftig;
that you were OK with abdomens
that hung over bikini bottoms.”
— from “Zaftig Profiling”

Practicing Disaster is collection of narrative poetry presenting  an exploration of ordinary lives. These are people you could meet on the street, from the a sixteen-year-old hotel maid to a short order cook to any number of strangers you might meet on the street. For example, in “Eating at Work,” an employee travels further and further afield in search of lunchtime solitude. While in “Some Basic Consumer Math,” the owners of a Chinese restaurant tailor their food for their most loyal customers, all from the retirement home nearby, making their Sa-Cha chicken “about as mild as the contents / of a store bought spaghetti sauce.”

Some of the prose poems, in which thought condenses into thought, are among my favorites. They allow a free flow feel of the poem, different from the lined sister poems. In “I was 36”, the narrator describes her first experience getting a pedicure, remembering the same sloughing off of her grandmother’s feet. In that youthful remembering is the memory of childhood discovery and the “lesson in not going through other people’s personal affects”, and just as one can “flake off the dead skin” there is the feeling of flaking off the past.

“The Patient” also explores time passing, like the dropping of green beans into a bucket or the beeping of machines: “The doctor uses the word / aphasia / I focus on the center— / a phase / a moment.” The disjointed, jigsaw pattern of the words on the page (which I couldn’t possibly replicate here) matched the disjointed experience of a patient in the hospital, as well as the way the past jumps forward and seems to collide and become a part of the present.

In the titular poem, a women plays with the idea of disaster on her commute, imagining “overpasses from her car could spill like ink in blotchy slow motion,” and how she might shape catastrophe to set herself free. Knowing the trapped feeling of the commute, I can sympathize with the narrator, have even practiced a few of my own disasters.

Many of these poems reflect similar kinds of personal experience, even if they are outside us (as though we are people watching at a corner cafe). As a reader, there a sense of Yes, me, too; I’ve felt the same. Reading “Zaftig Profiling” (quoted at the top), I also wished I had coined the word zaftig, that I could, as mentioned later in the poem, laugh loudly in mixed company.

At first glance, what’s revealed in these poems could be described as mundane, bits of ordinary lives normally passed over or cast away as unimportant. The narrative voice of these poems, likewise, is straightforward, seemingly plain. However, this initial impression is deceiving. I’ve read through this collection twice now and have made new discoveries on each read, subtleties of voice and thought I hadn’t noticed the first go around. There are layers of humor, breaths of poignancy, beautiful discoveries.

Edited to Add: I should probably note that I received a free review copy from the author.

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” ― Anaïs Nin

While the weekend was spent celebrating Mammas, both my own mom and my sister who is fantastic with the Little Monster, I somehow managed to be somewhat productive this week.

On Tuesday, fellow poet Lorenz Dumuk (@LorenzDumuk) and I visited a friend’s classroom to read our poetry as part of her English class. As I haven’t read in ages, I was feeling rather nervous and kind of rushed through my pieces, but as usual Lorenz was amazing. He is a powerhouse of spoken word and it’s always inspiring to watch him offer up words to an audience.

Afterward, I went home and started reading Jessie Carty’s new book of poetry, Practicing Disaster,* in order to hold on to the galvanizing feeling created with poetry.

As a result of all this hearing and reading of fantastic poetry, I poured out five poem drafts all in one go, one of which I posted up on wattpad, called “Kamikaze.”

The juiced writerly feeling didn’t fade away, and I ended up putting together a Friday Flash. The short short story, called “Four and Twenty” is a bit about baking pies and a bit about a murder of crows. I plan to make a habit of posting a Friday Flash at least once a month.

My goal for the week is to edit the poem drafts and put together a small submission to a journal. I also have one submission still out that I haven’t heard back from, which I need to send an inquiry on.

*Jessie Carty sent me a review copy of her book. I should have the review up middle of the week, which I plan to follow with an interview with the poet (something I have never done before, eek!).

Poetry Win! Live From The Homesick Jamboree!

6998642I just learned that I’ve won a copy of Live From The Homesick Jamboree by Adrian Blevins! Yay!

Summary from GoodReads:

Live from the Homesick Jamboree is a brave, brash, funny, and tragic hue and cry on growing up female during the 1970s, “when everything was always so awash” that the speaker finds herself adrift among adults who act like children. The book moves from adolescence through a dry-eyed, poignant exploration of two marriages, motherhood, and the larger world, with the headlong perceptiveness and brio characteristic of Adrian Blevins’s work. This poetry is plainspoken and streetwise, brutal and beautiful, provocative and self-incriminating, with much musicality and a corrosive bravura, brilliantly complicated by bursts of vernacular language and flashes of compassion. Whether listening to Emmylou Harris while thinking she should be memorizing Tolstoy, reflecting on her “full-to-bursting motherliness,” aging body, the tensions and lurchings of a relationship, or “the cockamamie lovingness” of it all, the language flies fast and furious.

I’m stoked to read this. Poetry is joy afterall. (^_^)

The book was offered by Joseph Harker as part of the Big Poetry Giveaway.

Hourglass Museum by Kelli Russell Agodon

18406197

Hourglass Museum by Kelli Russell Agodon was the April read for Jessie Carty’s Poetry Book Club — and it was so yummy.

“If you think you are the mermaid, think again.
You are the ocean holding the mermaid afloat,
trying to change the world one dolphin at a time.”

— from the poem “Souvenir Boxes”

Agodon’s poetry explores a variety of themes within Hourglass Museum. As the title suggests, art is an important source of inspiration here (as can also be seen in the long list of notes at the end of the book), with poems referencing great artists such as Frida Kahlo and Andy Warhol. The idea of preservation, via canvass, poem, or as a collection in a museum, of moments captured and held in stasis through artifice and creation are a constant in these poems.

“Dark matter angels mingle over oceans
and bubbling cities filled with unopened jars,
all we had were cupboards and cupboards
of challenges.”

— from the poem “A Moment Ago, Everything Was Beautiful”

The outward inspiration of art and museums, is drawn into the personal scope of Agodon’s personal life, both her inner emotional realm and the outer realm of home and family and relationships. This connection between art and home works well, since as human being we often take memories and put them on the shelves of our minds, we collect pieces of anger and store them for later use, attach joy to simple objects, return to each of them again and again, revisit, and Agodon’s poetry reflects this.

“I place solitude in a frame on my desk
and call it, The one I love.”

— from the poem “Line Forms Here”

She explores a variety of emotional states, including depression and loneliness. The language beautifully expresses these emotions and allowed me to connect with them personally. I could see myself in these moments of darkness and in the ways a write approaches such moments, especially through pen. I think these feelings are approachable from a variety of perspectives, allowing many kinds readers to feel them.

“There’s no dessert in the picnic basket,
so I swallow time. My mouth is full
of hands and numbers. I ask for seconds.”

— from the poem “Drowning Girl: A Waterlogged Ars Poetica”

And yet, there is a sense of humor throughout, too, a poking of fun at the supposed importance of depression, so that such darker subjects cannot drag down the reader and instead allow them to explore and transverse the state. It brings a lightness to the poems that makes them great to read.

“I escape disaster by writing a poem with a joke in it:
The past, present, and future walk into a bar — it was tense.”

— from the poem “Sketchbook with an Undercurrent of Grief”

All in all, this was a wonderful collection and, though I own it in digital format, I’m contemplating buying it again in print format as well, just so I can add the tactile sensation to my enjoyment of the book.

“Madness is a meaningful way to exist.”
— from the poem “Menacing Gods: An Abstract”

An Adorable Monster and other good things

I did not exercise all last week, unless you count my playing with my niece, a.k.a. The Monster — following her as she ran around the park and rolling with her in the grass and spinning in circles and then hauling her over my shoulder to get her back to her parents at the picnic tables — which I totally do.

The Monster had a lovely Easter. She got to paint eggs and then “find” eggs during an Easter egg hunt (which was more us just tossing plastic eggs into the grass and playing pick up with a plastic bucket, because she’s not yet two).

Words Here and There

I haven’t been putting many expectations on myself in terms of writing lately, due to the many, many things going on in other arenas of my life. But I’ve managed to feel a few sparks of inspiration over the past couple of weeks, which is awesome.

Despite my previous protestations that no poetry would be written this month, I’ve added a number of poems to The Poetry Project over on Wattpad. You can read each of the poems at the following links:

I’m planning to close The Poetry Project to new prompts as of April 30th, so if you would like me to write you a poem, then please leave me a prompt in the comments either here or there.

I’ve put together an excel sheet of chapters of the werewolf novel, noting things that need to be added and major problems that need to be solved along the way. It’s not a complicated layout, but it was enough to start getting my thoughts in order and I’m also using the tabs to start trying to keep track of characters and places that are important. I still have NO IDEA to solve the one major problem I have at the moment. The most obvious solution is to cut out the problem entirely, but I’m not sure that’s what I want to do.

I also met with the Writing Gang over the weekend, all of whom continue to be awesome. They gave me some feedback on some of the later chapters, which was valuable as always. I think I need to look at solving the big problems and work my way through edits from the beginning at this point. *le sigh*

Good Movie Watching

The Host (2006)I saw The Host (Gwoemul) for the first time over the weekend and it was SO FREAKING AWESOME. The story involves a large genetically mutated creature that rises up out of Han River in Seoul, South Korea and begins to attach the population. A young school girl is taken by the creature during the initial attack, and amidst a virus scare and government lockdown, her family escapes quarantine to try to rescue her.

It sounds like just your typical monster movie, but the story is intelligent and the family is both charming and silly in their bungling attempts to save their daughter/niece. It offers fantastic action sequences with a spice of humor, alongside an interesting social commentary. The monster turns out to be the least terrifying aspect of the story. Instead it’s the failed efforts of the Korean and U.S. government to solve the contamination problem, as well as the cold calculating treatment toward the patients in quarantine by officials and doctors alike that becomes truly frightening.

This is one of those movies that was so cool, I want to now see everything done by the director, Joon-ho Bong. The director’s most recent movie is Snowpiercer, which I’ve heard is amazing. So, I that may be the next movie I seek out by him. If you want more evidence of Joon-ho Bong’s awesome, you can check out this post.

Things to Do This Week

  • Edit chapter one of werewolf novel and try to solve big plot problem
  • Find a publisher to submit chapbook manuscript to
  • Continue research/do homework on business thing that I can’t talk about yet

Things

1. Thanksgiving yesterday was great, family and food filled fun. Lots of laughing and eating. Turkey and stuffing and salad and twice baked potatoes and candied yams and green beans with bacon, not to mention pecan pies and apple pie and pumpkin cheesecake — all homemade, by the way. Plus lots and lots of champagne.

20131129-153704.jpg

2. I received a rejection for a poetry chapbook submission, called The Letterbox, sent out many months ago. The rejection included a personal note, thanking me for submitting. The editor said I had a nice narrative arc to my poems and suggested that I submit again. I never take rejections to heart, because they are a part of the process of being a writer, but it’s always great to see that personal touch and get a bit of encouragement.

3. I have no motivation to do anything at all, even though I’m supposed to pull off 18,000 words before midnight tomorrow. *sigh*

4. I’m am enjoying reading Slice of Cheery by Dia Reeves, which has consumed most of my day so far.

5. I’m sure I have enough motivation to seek out more pecan pie, though. Mmmmm, pie. And then a nap.

Updatery – Life Keeps On Keeping On

The winners of the Rhysling Award have been announced. I am not among them, and that’s okay. I was and still am just so honored to have been included in the list of nominees.

In other writing news, the short story I have currently circulating has been rejected again, but that’s the writing life. Time to send it to a new publication.

My biggest issue in my writing world right now is that I haven’t been writing much of anything at all, which is rather depressing. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately, in part due to all my traveling and I’ve been trying to just relax when I get home. (I suppose it doesn’t help that my relaxation has lately taken the form of mainlining episodes of Fringe.) At any rate, I’m going to have to hunker down toward my goals once I’m back from work trip to Italy and into my day-to-day rhythm.

Oh, yeah, did I mention that I am going to Italy? No?

Well, I’ll be traveling to Udine for work, then spending three days in Florence and a day in Venice for fun. I am STOKED.

* * *

In other, other news, my trip to Washington DC (a couple of weeks ago) was awesome. We did so much and saw so many sights. Here are photos I took of the Lincoln Monument, the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.

DC

Washington DC

Washington DC

The amazing thing about the trip was not just the places we visited, but the people we were with. These women I traveled with are amazing women — books geeks, fabulous mothers, nerds, intelligent business women, joyful lovers of life, and so much more. I feel blessed to know them.

Excuse me, while I dance a jig

So, I keep putting off posting other things, because I need to post about my Mexico trip and haven’t got around to it yet. It was fantastic, by the way, right up until I wanted to leave the country, arrived at the airport, and discovered that my flight no longer existed.

I ended up stuck and exhausted and frustrated, but a new flight was eventually found (which required me to stay the night in Guadalajara) and I made my way home, even if it was a whole day later.

The result has been me getting sick (sniffles and coughing) and right at the time when my day job is particularly swamped, leaving me not wanting to go anywhere near a computer at the end of the day. So, I’ve mostly just been recovering when I get home.

But since I went to the mailbox this morning and discovered a delightful surprise, I just had to post that my contributor’s copy of The 2013 Rhysling Anthology arrived!

So, even though I’m still sick and still recovering, I’m also filled with squee and find myself wanting to prance about the room, preforming somersaults!

(^_^)

Got the 2014 Rhysling Anthology in the mail today with my poem inside! Can't wait to read all the great poems. So exciting! #poetry #anthology #books #rhysling #writing

New Poems Published

Linden Avenue is one year old today, and in celebration, the journal has a shiny new web design! Yay!

I’m pleased and honored to announce that three of my poems have been included in Issue Thirteen, along with work from many fantastic writers who have been previously published in the online journal.  For joy!

Other than this announcement there’s not much to announce (though isn’t that enough), as I was entirely non-production last week (with the last minute exception of scouring my bathroom, because gross). In the scope of this procrastination, I managed to miss two contest deadlines that I had been planning to submit to.

*sigh* Oh, well. Onward!

That which must be accomplished in the coming week:
– Finish Chapter Four of Under the Midday Moon
– Submit something (poetry, fiction, whatever)
– Edit Letter Box poetry chapbook and find a place to submit it
– Workout at least three days with two workouts being running training (0/3)
– Do three yoga workouts, three sun salutations min. (0/3)
– Practice my Spanish
– Make Progress on Organization (do one or more of the following):
— Sort paperwork out by year for filing and set up system for the current year
— Organize craft supplies
— Shred papers and dispose of them
— Find a minimum of ten items (big or small) that can be gotten rid of and get rid of them
— Take box of items to donate to Goodwill

I've been rejected. Yay!

Thing the First
Yesterday I received a rejection on the poetry collection I sent to Toad Lily Press.

My response: “Well, that’s disappointing. But thank god.”

To which my mom was quite astonished and I proceeded to enthusiastically explain to her about the importance of SASEs, how not putting one with your submission could very well mean having your submission thrown out without having it read, how I had spent the last several weeks flailing, because I was sure I had forgotten to include said SASE with my submission.

So, um, yeah, HUGE relief that I didn’t make the idiotic mistake of forgetting to include a SASE, so much so that it soothed the sting of the rejection quite a bit.

No, seriously, I can’t tell you how stoked I am that I included the SASE.

Thing the Second
Looking over my 2013 goals this week reminded me that I wanted to try to get to 12 spoke work/open mics/author readings this year, and thus far I hadn’t. In general, I just want to be engaged with live performances, from spoken word to stage plays to music, all of which inspires me in different ways.

So, I started looking around for what’s in the area and found that Poetic Justice Wednesdays was going on at the Fahrenheit Bar in San Jose. I dropped in (after convincing my sister she had no choice but to join me) and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was impressed by the skill of the poets and musicians who presented, their lips tumbling truths into the microphone. It’s the kind of impressive performances that intimidate me a bit, because I don’t feel good enough to do the same. But I’ll get myself up there someday soon.

 

Cross-posted to my livejournal. You are welcome to comment either her or there.

Napowrimo Round Up

Evidence of poem #1

Poem #2: untitled

Evidence poem #3

Evidence of poems #4-7

Evidence of poems #8-11

Poem #12: “Hunted”

Evidence of poems #13-15

Evidence of poems #16-21

Evidence of poems #22-27

Poem #28: “though you can’t see it”

Evidence of poems #29-30

 

So that’s 30 new poems! Yay!

Some will remain only on the pages of my notebook, some will be reworked and submitted to journals, and some are small pieces of much, much longer works. Always a fun challenge.

If you participated in Napowrimo, how did you do?

Cross posted to my livejournal. You are welcome to comment here or there.

Happy National Poetry Month!

I tend to forget that it’s April Fool’s Day (if not for the fact that everyone on the interwebs talks about it) and I’m also easily fooled, so chances are someone is going to have a laugh at my expense today. If you’re into that sort of thing, Jim Hines has a round up of some of the better Fool’s Day jokes that have already cropped up online.

But that’s okay, because today begins National Poetry Month! and that’s way more important. (^_^)
I will be participating in the National Poetry Writing Month challenge, which is essentially to write a poem a day in the month of April, or 30 poems total. Following the Poetic Asides prompts is an excellent way to stay inspired, if you’re participating.

I’ve been posting the poems to my tumblr the last couple of years, just to not have to cross-post and to have all the poetry in one place. I’m a bit torn as to whether I’m going to continue posting them online. On the one hand, posting them publicly is a way to hold myself accountable and actually make sure I get them done. On the other hand, posting the poems makes them ineligible for submitting to journals and I need to submit more often than I do. I’ve seen some poets put up their poems only temporarily, so maybe that’s one way to strike a compromise. I don’t know. Still thinking about that one.

Last Week In Review

My story, “The Shadow’s Flight,” was rejected by Strange Horizons. I read it over to see if I could clean it up anymore (I could), and immediately submitted to to Clarksworld, which also rejected it last week (wow! amazing response times!). So, I submitted it once again to Flesh and Blood (perhaps third times a charm?).

I managed to get through the first half of Chapter One of Under the Midday Moon. I like it so far, though it’s gone an changed where it’s going on me. So now I have to re-figure out just how I’m going to end Chapter One, which is all well and good, I suppose. At least words are getting on the page.

I ran 1.5 miles on Monday, and my foot was killing me by the end, but it started to clear up again rather quickly. But I didn’t push it on Wednesday and just did some sit ups and planks and squats instead. By Saturday my foot was feeling almost 100%, so I did a run and it went pretty smoothly. Almost no pain, which was bleeping fantastic, and I’m all set to get back to my running schedule this week. Yay!

Still struggling with my finances and trying to figure out how to handle them. I’m taking “contact accountant about retirement plans” off my to-do list for now, because I literally don’t have any extra income to invest. I need to figure out how to earn some extra money first.

Things to do in the coming week:
– Finish off Chapter One of Under the Midday Moon
– Submit something (poetry, fiction, whatever)
– Walk/Run at least three days at least 2 miles each day (0/3)
– Get California taxes done
– Sort paperwork out by year for filing
– Either purchase new a new filing cabinet(s), and/or buy folders/large envelopes, and/or go through the process of sorting and putting everything in its place
– Get data transferred from the old computer to the new one (may require giving up my computer for a few days)

Cross-posted to my livejournal. You are welcome to comment either here or there.

*tries to remember to breathe*

So, um, guys. I … I got an email today and … and my poem, “Red Riding Hood Remembers,” which was published in Linden Avenue last year (thank you!) … It was nominated for a Rhysling award. A mother f*cking Rhysling.

You know who’s won Rhysling awards? Gene Wolfe and Ursula K. Le Guinn and Catherynne M. Valente … and I …

I know there are a ton of amazing poets nominated, and I wish them all the best. I am just so shocked and honored to be nominated, and I … just …

*faints*

*crawls back into consciousness*

In other news, while on floating on the sea of joy of the above discovery, I have submitted a short story to Strange Horizons. More giddy and joyful feelings abound.

Now, I think it’s margarita time.

(^_^)

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. You are welcome to comment either here or there.]

The Pleasure of Wincing

I’m not entirely sure how By forgoing television, reading, and sleep, I managed to put together an 18 page chapbook submission, including the writing and rewriting of two poems from scratch, in less than two days. The package has been mailed out (and should be postmarked) on the very last day to submit. I have no idea what’s going to happen with the chapbook. It’s off and out of my control at this point.*

The most time consuming aspect of this was the selection of poem (of which I have many). When I read poetry collections, I appreciate when they have a kind of cohesion; they fit together, either thematically or stylistically. But when I look at my own poems, I feel like they don’t fit together well, like they don’t have that cohesion. I can take an individual poem I’ve written and feel rather confident about it, but when I try to pull them together into a collection all my confidence falls apart and it seems like one hot mess. It’s kind of can’t see the forest for the trees kind of thing, I guess. I can’t see the whole for the individual poems. It was like I lost all ability to assess my own work, but I struggled through it.

Part of the compilation process involved searching through old binders to find poems not in digital format. It was a wonder to see stuff I’d written in 1999 and earlier. I was so much younger then.

In his poem “Scotch Tape Body,” Ron Padget has a really great way of looking at old work and the kind of joyful/painful nostalgia that occurs. He describes looking at old poems he’d written and taped into notebook, and wonders briefly if it would have been better if he had never written the poems at all, but realizes that without those poems, he would be denied, “the pleasure of wincing / then forgiving myself / of catching glimpses of who I was / of who I thought I was.”

All the poems I wrote then got me to where I am now, and the poems I write today will get me to what I write tomorrow. It’s an evolution. So, I guess I shouldn’t kick myself or let myself doubt my current project either; I shouldn’t avoid writing out of fear of failing (which happens sometimes). If I did, I’d be denying myself the pleasure of future wincing when I look back on today.

How do you feel when looking on past projects, art, writing? Got any projects you’ve recently completed that you’re both nervous and excited about?

*I find that to be a powerful thing, to learn what you have control over and what you do not. If you do everything you can in regards to the things you do have control over, you can let go and offer up the things you don’t have control over (like whether an editor will like and accept your poetry submission).

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. You are welcome to comment either here or there.]

A slight derailment

occurred this week with the car situation. It was resolved at lightning speed — and M’Lady is a dream — but still required a significant amount of stress and time to work out. Very little writing was done and only two days of running were achieved, so some work accomplished, but not as much as I had hoped.

The car situation also forced me to spend two hours digging through unfiled paperwork, causing me to come to the conclusion that having two years worth of unfiled paperwork is a bad thing that needs to be rectified. This requires me to purchase new a new filing cabinet(s), buy folders/large envelopes, and set time to go through the process of sorting and putting everything in its place. Ideally, I would keep things organized after accomplishing this feat, and though past history has shown I will not, I remain hopeful.

The Poetry Collection must be postmarked by the middle of this week, so writing goals shall be mainly focused on that. I can’t tell you how much I thrive on the stress of a deadline. I’m not entirely sure it’s a good thing to thrive on, but I do and so I’m going to use it to my best advantage.

Things to do in the coming week:
– Make final edits to the poems I know I want to include in Poetry Collection, compile said collection, and submit to contest.
– Rewrite Chapter One/Write Chapter Two of Novel
– Walk/Run at least three days this week & at least 2 miles each day (0/3)
– Do yoga (three sun salutations minimum) each morning before work (0/5)
– Contact my sisters accountant to find out about setting up an IRA
– Get info and such together to send taxes in.
– Either purchase new a new filing cabinet(s), and/or buy folders/large envelopes, and/or go through the process of sorting and putting everything in its place.
– Contact Apple store or computer guys and get data transferred from the old computer to the new one (may require giving up my computer for a few days) – May hold off on this till next week, which seems to be my ongoing motto here. *sigh*
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How was your weekend, lovelies? Full of joy and accomplishments, I hope.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. You are welcome to comment here or there.]

Things I have been meaning to post about…

1. lar_laughs posted about swordpunk, which is a way to approach fantasy writing and have fun. She quotes from the Swordpunk Manifesto, and I shall do the same: “I think the fear that fantasy writers have is that if they don’t
reinvent the wheel, they won’t be taken seriously. Like Tad Williams is
going to roll up and revoke their Fantasy License.

2. What the Dragon Said: A Love Story, by Catherynne M. Valente, is a stunning poem. Seriously, go read it.

3. Speaking of poems, Rose Lemberg has asked editors of speculative poetry to recommend what they consider to be the five best poems of 2012. There is a lot of good poetry reading to be had.

4. Jim Hines has posted his income from writing for 2012, something he does every year in order to be open about the reality of the writing life and dispel myths about all writers being millionaires.

5. Have you read Nova Ren Suma’s Turning Points series, in which she asks authors what the turning point in their writing life was? If not, I highly recommend you do. Amazing posts from great writers abound.

6. Malinda Lo has a great post up about heteronormativity in fantasy. In the two-part post she focuses on two questions:

  1. What constitutes “subtlety” when it comes to describing same-sex relationships in fiction?
  2. Is it believable to have same-sex relationships in a medieval-esque fantasy world?
[Cross-posted to my livejournal. You are welcome to comment either here or there.]

Mindful Writing Day!

Sky blooms patches grey as stone—
a mixture of warm light and cool rain
spattering the contours of my face.

* * *

This is my response for Mindful Writing Day! To join in, simply slow down, pay attention to one thing and write it down (making a small stone). Participants also have the opportunity to get publish and win a paperback copy of the book.

Also, the small stones anthology, ‘A Blackbird Sings: a book of short poems‘ is completely free on Kindle today. Download your copy from Amazon UK, Amazon US or your own Amazon.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

Ready… Set …

Tomorrow is the first ever Mindful Writing Day, organised by Kaspa & Fiona at Writing Our Way Home! Yay!

To join in simply slow down, pay attention to one thing and write it down (making a small stone ). As per Fiona: “small stones are easy to write, and they will help you connect to the world. Once you’ve started, you might not want to stop…” Read all about it here. You can also submit your small stone and see it published on the blog, and be entered into a competition to win one of five paperback copies of the book.

I shall gleefully be trying to write as many mindful stones as I can tomorrow. (^_^)

Also, in celebration of tomorrow’s Mindful Writing Day, a free kindle copy (US & UK) of the new anthology, “A Blackbird Sings: a book of short poems” (which includes a poem by me) is available both today and tomorrow! For joy!

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In other news…. tomorrow (or rather tonight at midnight) kicks of Nanowrimo or Anti-Nano or whatever writing challenge you choose to launch into for November. In my case, it’s my Anti-Nano almost-from-scratch rewrite of my Untitled Werewolf novel, for which I am not prepared mentally or organizationally or in any way at all. *sigh*

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

Presenting… A Blackbird Sings

A Blackbird Sings

A Blackbird Sings: a book of short poems, is an anthology of small stones (i.e., short poetry) edited by Fiona Robyn and Kaspalita Thompson. 

I am thrilled to announce that my poem, “Bird Collides with Window” will be appearing in the anthology! It is the first time any of my work will appear in an edition that has a real, live ISBN! For joy! (^_^)

More information and sample poems are here, and you can find more small stones featured on the ongoing webzine a handful of stones.

Pre-order of the paperback edition is available in the UK or US. And kindle version is also coming soon… (there will be a promotion to obtain the anthology as a free kindle edition when it goes live, so I’ll try to let you know when that happens).

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

A new imagining of The Great Gatsby

First, I would like to announce that two of my poems, “Annie Taylor, Niagara Falls, 1901” and “Red Riding Hood Remembers,” has been published in Issue One of the new Linden Avenue Literary Journal, edited by Athena Dixon. Woo!

I’m thrilled to be included in this issue with so many clearly talented writers. I loved C.L. McFadyen‘s evocative poem, “The Bottom of a Circle,” and Val Dering Rojas‘ “Things That Are Still Broken” made me deliriously happy. And then, there’s the flash story, “I Would Rather Death by Chocolate,” by Elizabeth Akin Stelling, which is a lovely exploration of sweetness, along with so many more great works.

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In other news, if you haven’t seen it, the trailer for the The Great Gatsby has been released, and it’s so good it gives me chills. I had no idea until seeing the trailer that Baz Luhrmann directed it, which I think is a perfect fit. His best movies (Strictly Ballroom and Moulin Rouge) start off with a kind of manic decadence that fits the roaring ’20s, but the stories then slip beneath the superficiality of the spectacle to reach the muted undertones and hidden emotional depths of the characters. Needless to say, I’m rather excited.

I haven’t read The Great Gatsby since high school. I vaguely remember the not hating the book, but it also not making much of an impact on me. I didn’t get it at the time. I am certain that a part of that was my inability to appreciate and absorb the poetry of language. I’ve grown a lot as a reader since then.

My interest in E.M. Fitzgerald in general has been sparked recently, in part due to Tom Hiddelston’s portrayal of Fitzgerald in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, and in part because I recently picked up Tender is the Night and have been enjoying it (as a side note, Tender is partly based on his relationship with Zelda, which is also fascinating).

At any rate, I’m definitely going to have to pick The Great Gatsby up, and read it again with more focus. Perhaps I’ll like it better this time around.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

Poetry Projects

So, as a form of procrastination (one of many), I’ve been toying with various ideas for poetry projects* — some I’ve been thinking about for a while now, some are brand new.

The newest idea, and one that could be done both fairly cheaply and easily (uh huh), is creating one or more pocket/mini chapbooks (thank you Poets & Writers). They would be 4.25 x 2.75 inches in size and 6 pages long (not including the cover). So a tiny little book with a series of very short poems (possibly haikus) or one longer poem spread over several pages. It would be something that I could give out at readings and maybe sell on etsy for a buck or two each.

I’ve been thinking for over a year about putting together a kickstarter project, which would be called “As Yet Unwritten,” in which I would create a chapbook of poetry based entirely on prompts from backers. I like the cooperative aspect of the idea, but I’m also aware that there is a huge time chunk involved in terms of researching cost of publishing a chapbook, running the project, creating the project, mailing the finished product out, etc. So, while conceptually fun and exciting to me, it also seems very, very overwhelming.

Then there’s the infamous letter poem series, which is still not complete. In terms of publishing this set, I would hopefully (fingers crossed) work cooperatively with an artist friend of mine, who has created a series of collage art pieces on old envelopes, so that her art and my poetry would appear side by side. Also a fun exciting idea for me. Ideally, I would try to get this one professionally published, but I have no idea how to go about getting an art/poetry book published, or what publishers would be interested in such a thing. So, um, yeah.

And, of course, there’s always the final option, the one I’ve been meaning to do since forever, which is to organize and compile my existing poetry into a booklength collection for the purpose of submitting it to a professional publisher. The only think holding me back here are my own doubts as to whether or not I’m good enough or ready.

Anyway, because I’m still enjoying the planning-level of procrastination, I’ve put a poll up on my livejournal as to which project you think I should work on. Have fun.

Being an update sort of listy thing after a long reprieve

Hi, guys! It’s been a few weeks, and even longer since I posted a “massive list of goals” update, so… here ya go.

Things I Have Done
1. Attended Writers with Drinks, which had readings by Sarah Kuhn (I must buy her book, One Con Glory), Malinda Lo, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Glen David Gold (whose memoirs are hilarious), and Amber Benson, all of whom were fantastic in varying ways. It was hosted by the wonderful Charlie Jane Anders (aka [info]charliegrrrl), and her introductions, which are really long elaborate and fantastical stories, are definitely one of the highlights of going to the event.

2. Attended S.G. Browne’s signing and reading for his new book, Lucky Bastard, at the Booksmith. It was quite fun, and the book looks to be as funny as his other two books.

3. Also attended the Thursday night open mic at The Usuals, which both my friend Lorenz and I read at (and it went quite well, though I have a tendency to speak too close to the mic). It’s a new venue, built in the back of a clothing store, but it’s a great space, and I look forward to reading there again soon. I also encourage other poets or songsters to attend and participate.

4. I completed the first draft of the short story intended for an anthology, but blew the anthology deadline. So, it’s a halfway success, because at least I have a story that can be edited and submitted elsewhere.

5.
I sent out two poetry/flash submissions, and received one rejection and one acceptance. The rejection was a rather positive one, and encouraged me to submit again, which I shall.

I also received an email from a publication, saying that they wanted to include a poem they published in an upcoming anthology they are producing. An acceptance without a submission is so amazingly awesomesauce :D.

6. I completed 30 new poems (well, 32, if you count the two I didn’t post) in 30 days for the Nation Poetry Month Challenge. Seven of those poems were completed in an hour just before bedtime on April 30th, so there is a varying degree of quality throughout the lot. If you’re interested, you can check out the poems here on my tumblr.

Things I Need to Do
1. COMPLETE MY TAXES (it’s ridiculous that I haven’t, cause they’re so easy)
2. Write the flash fiction story that’s bouncing in my head.
3. Focus on edits, including rewrites for White Noise and other stories in the draft queue.
4. Submit at least one story mentioned above.
5. Submit one poetry set, ideally the 15-25 poems for a chapbook market.
6. EXCERCISE: yoga, running, hiking, whatever. Just something. My body needs it.

_________
*It occurs to me that my definition of long needs reevaluation, as it’s only been a week or two, but it seems like forever.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

Line Breaks in Poetry

Over on my tumblr (where I’ve been posting all my Napowrimo 2012 poems), my friend mermaidcomplex asked me how I approach line breaks in my poetry. Since, I ended up doing a longer, more detailed response, I thought I’d share it here, too.

Line breaks decisions really depend poem to poem, but essentially, they tend to be based on overall ton, visual elements, word emphasis, flow and rhythm, and (very much less so for me) formal meter or syllable counting considerations. Each reason tends to get wrapped up in the next, and I think the concept of the “pause” at the end of the line is connected to both word emphasis and flow or rhythm.

Tone/Feeling comes first for me, because it’s one of the first things I get a sense of as the words fall where they may. If the mood is calm and peaceful, then I tend to use more even lines, whereas if the poem is angry or in any way chaotic in mood, then I tend to use jagged lines, some longer or shorter, some indented in a seeming haphazard way, so as to suggest the disjointed feelings I’m trying to evoke. Though that’s not always the case, as the indented lines can also have a wistful, floaty feeling (which was what I was going for at the end of #9 napowrimo poem). Shorter lines tend to feel more immediate as they focus on only a few words at a time or they can feel more rushed, whereas longer lines tend to feel more stable, anchored.

As you noted, the Visual element can also play a part. This also ties into tone for me, as a poem that looks jagged on the page can immediately give a feeling of disjointedness even before the reader reads the first line. I’ve also seen poets, as I’m sure you have, take the visual element a level father by

say,
incorporating
the visual layout of
the poem into the metaphorical
images in the text, so that if you’re
writing about rolling down a hill, each line
can grow in length, so that the rolling hillside
is instantly present, even in the poem’s layout.

I don’t usually use the visual aspects of line breaks in that way, but it certainly can work well if the poem calls for it.

Word Emphasis is of equal importance, for me, to the tone or visual elements, and is also closely tied to Flow and Rhythm, which is really where the concept of the “pause” comes from (Allen Ginsberg was big on the idea of line break = pause, as determined by breath, and wrote all or most of his poetry with this in mind). I believe the pause is there. Even if you don’t actually sound out the pause while you are reading a poem, there is at the very least a visual break, as your eye stops at the end of the last line and scans back to the beginning of the next. For example, this poem, “Autum,” on the Poetic Asides page, I definitely pause at the end of each line while reading it, so that there’s a kind of rhythm as I take in the image in each line and mentally pause before moving on. (For me, the pause is stronger when the lines are shorter.)

I approach word emphasis, flow, and rhythm in several ways, including singling out short phrases or single words on a line, if necessary. But even in longer lines, I also look at what the last word is on the line, because the last word can sometime have increased emphasis, as well as to determine whether I want to break up a phrase or keep it whole. Take this not-so-inspiring example: “I don’t want to dance in the moonlight. Stop the buzzing of the bees.”

I don’t want to dance in the moonlight.
Stop the buzzing of the bees.

The above is too standard for my tastes. I don’t usually like to end on a period, because with the combined pause of the line ending and the stopping power of the period, it brings the line to a full halt, which is good sometimes, but most of the time I want more flow. So I would probably break up the lines like this:

I don’t want to dance
in the moonlight. Stop
the buzzing of the bees.

In this way, “I don’t want to dance” is a complete sentence on its own, which puts emphasis on “dance.” For a moment, however, brief it would allow the reader to feel a sense of conclusion, only to find there’s more to it as they read on. In the second line, by putting the period in the middle with the single word after it, my aim is to have the word, “Stop,” serve two functions at once. On the one hand, it relates to the sentence of the line it’s currently on, “I don’t want to dance in the moonlight,” so then “Stop,” it concludes. On the other hand, it also carries forward into the next line, as a part of a separate sentence and thought.

I rarely use Formal Meter and Syllable Counting (and by rarely, I mean, almost never). I cannot for the life of me wrap my head around meter or iambics — those who do, and do it well, are amazing. I only syllable count in very rare circumstances, as with my poem “Broken Cuckoo Clock“, in which every two syllable line is meant to evoke the “tick tock” sound of the clock with the final one syllable line bringing it to an abrupt stop.

So that’s pretty much my whole spiel on line breaks. Overall tone and feel of the poem tends to be the ultimate consideration for me. As I’m writing I usually go by my gut feeling on where a line should break, but during rewrites, I’ll play with line breaks, switching words back and forth between lines to get the combined tone, visual, emphasis, and flow that I’m going for.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

Two Things

1. Today is Nation Autism Day, and I am wearing blue in recognition. (Hopefully you are, too?)

2. Once again it is National Poetry Month, the month in which I try to write a poem everyday for thirty days straight, a challenge I always manage to get halfway through and fail. As you may have noted, I’m already a day behind, so at some point today, I owe you two poems, which will posted to my Tumblr (cross-posted everyday for the whole month is just a pain in the ass).

Okay, three things: I also need to do a post later today on how FOGcon went… Short answer: FANTASTIC.

A Love Poem for the Books of Stephen King

Yesterday, I read a blog in which someone wrote a love letter to The Great Gatsby in honor of Valentine’s Day. I loved the idea of writing a love letter to a book, and I immediately started thinking about what book or books I would want to write a love letter, too. There are many, many possibilities, of course, many books I’ve loved.

But its the books of Stephen King that hold a certain nostalgia for me, because I connect them so clearly with high school. I was obsessed with his books during that time, and I read them one after another, whole days and weekends vanishing as I climbed into King’s bizarre worlds. It just made sense to me that those books deserved a love poem.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

wonderful little surprises

First, my small poem, “Bird Collides with Window,” is up at a handful of stones. Yay!

In other news… It just so happened that my local Los Gatos Library was having a grand opening today. I had no idea until I stopped in upon the suggestion of a friend. The new building is rather fantastic, very retro and clean and full of large windows and bright comforting colors. It’s a wonderful design and they had several different performers, including a couple of guitarists and an author presentation to celebrate.

Upstairs, I found a presentation going on in which Kasu Kibuishi created sketches of his fantastic world and talked about how he made his work. Technology is rather awesome. We got to see the sketches go up on the big screen as he drafted them out on his computer tablet. Made me wish I was a better artist and that I could just throw stuff out like that. Anyway, I bought Book One of Amulet and got it signed. He included a cute little sketch of one of the characters, too (see below).

Amulet

Amulet Signed

Of course, I had to read it right when I got home. I was hooked right away and breezed straight through. After facing a tragedy in which their father dies, Emily and Navin and their mom move to the families old home in a small town to build a new life for themselves. But there is something mysterious about the basement, and a tentacled creature appears, grabbing their mother and dragging her away into a strange world. Emily and Navin set chase to rescue her.

Book One is the set up for the series, so there isn’t room for complete character development yet. Hints are there, though, and the three family members are sweet and loving and rather likable.

There’s some really great ambiguity going on, too. It’s not entirely clear. The potential ally my be a dangerous threat, and the supposed enemy may not be all that evil. I really like that depth, which will allow a larger more complex story to potentially unfold.

Kibuishi has created a wonderfully creative fantastical world. The art is gorgeous — bright and colorful sometimes and shadowy and mysterious, all depending on the mood. The only frustrating thing is that I now have to go out and buy the other four or five books in the series. I’m that hooked.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

Moment of Change

A little while back, I submitted a poem to a feminist speculative poetry anthology. My poem was rejected. That’s quite all right, because while it would be awesome for my poem to have appeared in the anthology, I’m frankly just excited that such an anthology is coming out.

The anthology, called Moment of Change, is edited by [info]rose_lemberg, and will be published by Aqueduct Press. Lemberg has posted the table of contents, and it looks like there are some rather fabulous writers who will be appearing. How exciting!

I can’t wait until this hits the presses, so I can read it.  (^_^)

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

A list of things I've been meaning to post

1. I’ve received an acceptance for one of my poems. Will give you the when and where once the contract is signed, but in the meantime, yay!

2. I’ve also received a rejection for a very short story I submitted, but I don’t feel bad about this because: a) I generally don’t worry about that sort of thing, and b) see above.

3. I totally rocked my Minnie Mouse ears on my trip to Disneyland last weekend. We hit the theme parks hard over those two days (for example, on our last night there, we rushed through nine rides in two hours).

4. which I’m pretty sure contributed to my being sick all last week (that and the crazy work schedule I’ve been having lately).

5. The result of which is that I did not run last week (rest was needed), though I haven’t been sticking to my training schedule anyway.

6. My writing is going well, however, as evidenced by my multiple NaPoWriMo posts and the progress I’m making on “The Witch of the Little Wood.” I’m hoping to have the draft done by the middle of May at the latest.

7. [info]alg posted a call for submissions for a Buffy verse anthology that I may have to write something for.

8. Another awesome market is looking for reprint submissions for an anthology of speculative feminist poetry. (I’ve submitted a poem thatmight work.)

9. During Easter, my mom pointed out that as soon she had grandkids, she would no longer making easter baskets for my siblings and I — not exactly good incentive for us to start breeding. 😉

10. I just like nice, round numbers.

[Cross-posted my my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either here or there.]

ChiZine: Supergod Mega-Issue!

After a hiatus to revamp the zine’s website, ChiZine (aka Chiaroscoro: Treatment of Light and Shade in Words) is back with a gianormous issue of awesome (which will play out over several weeks), featuring tons of fiction and poetry by alumni of the webzine.

I’m thrilled that ChiZine is back. It’s one of the few webzines that I obsessively check for new poetry and fiction. The quality is consistently fabulous and I always find myself intrigued by what’s presented.

Which is why I am honored that my poem “Beware of Attics” has been included in the mega-issue — an issue that happens to include a short story by one of my favorite authors Neil Gaiman. Yeeeeee! I am in a magazine alongside Neil Gaiman! OMG! OMG!

*deep breath*

Okay, I’m fine now.

This issue is intended to help them raise money to keep the webzine going, so head on over, and if you like what you see, consider making a donation.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either here or there.]

Poetry Month!

While I’m often amused and delighted by the jokes that come out of April Fool’s Day (go type “helvetica” into google, if you want an example), it doesn’t quite thrill me as much as the knowledge that April is National Poetry Month, which celebrates poetry in all its forms.

Yay poetry!

Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon: Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda

Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon: Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda, Translated by Stephen MitchellI bought this collection of Pablo Neruda’s poetry (translated by Stephen Mitchell) in 2001 and its taken me until now, ten years later, to finish it. This extremely slow pace should not be mistaken for dislike of the book, however. I had not read Neruda’s work before I boughtFull Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon. Traveling Mexico, I was looking for a book in Spanish and English that I could read, enjoy, and practice my Spanish with and I remembered that my Spanish teacher had mentioned this poet’s name in class at one point.

I began reading the book by first reading the poem in Spanish, then in English, then in Spanish again, to begin to get a sense of the poetic phrasing and how the language was translated.

As I began reading, however, I fell in love with each new ode and the way Neruda was clearly in love with life, the universe, and everything. He wrote odes to socks, to birds, to onions, to anything and everything this world has to offer. All of these ordinary things, which he layered with sensual and resonant language, suddenly had new mystical properties. I could not look at the armored artichoke the same way again as I dropped it into a pot to boil.

One would think I would have powered through the book to read every single poem, but the truth was I could not leave my favorite poems behind. This was a book I always had at hand, on a night stand or in my stack of TBR books. No matter what other books I was reading, I always eventually came back to these poems, returning to them like old lovers. I reread my favorites again and again, while every once in a while progressing forward to the another poem, a new favorite to be added to the list.

Now that I’ve finally finished the book, beginning to end, I will still be keeping it close. There is so much beautiful language to revisit and rediscover. This is a book that will probably always be by my side. I love it so.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

Creating Poetry, by John Drury

I picked up this book because someone in an Amazon review called Creating Poetry a “muse disguised as paper”. It may not go that far, but it’s close. This book is full of writing prompts, each focused on the chapter’s subject, from Beginnings to Tone, Form, Research, Sound, Inspiration and more. There is plenty here for a poet to use and learn from, especially if they flip around from section to section, picking out prompts on an area of their writing they want to focus on. (I don’t think the best use is to read it from cover to cover as I did).

Occasionally, I thought the prompts for a particular subject were to specific, however, Drury encourages you to use this book as a jumping off point. It’s not necessary to follow the prompts to the letter, if the poem goes off in another direction.

Also, here is on of my responses to one of the prompts in the book. I followed a prompt focused on ghazal’s a form of poetry traditionally from the Middle East, which arranges the poem in a series of 5-10 couplets, rhymed on the same sound throughout and using the subject of love or wine to represent mystical experience. The prompt I used asked that the reader write a ghazal of my own. You’ll note that I dropped the rhyme, like many American poets do.

An Untitled Ghazal

The water in the vase is stagnant; the stems slimy.
A halo of petals on the table are emptied of fragrance.

We are always new, he says, always in the state of becoming new,
each dead cell replaced with its replicated offspring.

The leaves are dancing like translucent tissue paper.
The mottled light is bounding along the grass.

The days are an amalgamation of eyes blinking, hair growing,
lips parting, fingers thrumming over the flesh of the world.

He says, its not that time moves too quickly.
It’s that it moves too quickly.

The stars glimmer like fireflies trapped in tar.
The stars are a map of the freckles on your skin.

He says, silly rabbit, you have to have lived
what you lived in order to know what you know.

The Gerber Daisy leans against the glass.
A sun resides at the heart of its petals.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either here or there.]

Hello, Monday!

I received an email this morning stating that one of my poems has been accepted for publication. SWEET!

I’ll let you know when it’s posted. (^_^)

(Guess this means I should get send some more submissions out.)

Book Review – Talking Back to Poems: A Working Guide for the Aspiring Poet, by Daniel Alderson

Reading poetry is a vital part of writing poetry. Alderson takes it a step further, however, by suggesting that poets not only read poetry, but respond to it, to talk back to poetry with poems of their own. Part I presents four short sections that briefly introduce the aspects of Sound, Image, Form, and Meaning in poetry, while Part II follows with a collection of poems, each followed with instructions to copy the poem by hand, note down what you notice about the poem, and then a prompt for writing your own poem in response to it.

There is a long history of poets writing in response to poets, and I’ve even written a few poetic responses myself. However I was not very impressed with the prompts in this book as Alderson presents them. His idea of talking back to poems is far too much like mimicry to me. In the examples of his students’ writing that he includes in the book, the students (using their own themes and ideas) echo almost exactly the form and flow of the poem being responded to. This is far too restrictive for me, especially when it comes to mimicking strict forms, such as sonnets that have tight rhyme schemes. This restriction of form often has the tendency of causing me to freeze up when I’m writing rather than opening up and becoming loose as one would hope.

My experience with writing in response to poetry involves not mimicry, but a playful dialogue. The few poetic responses I’ve written have little relation to the original poem (one example is here), but is rather reacts to the subject matter of the poem in kind of debate. Of course, this is not the only way to go about this, and Alderman’s way of talking back to poetry is equally valid. Just as there are many poets who comfortably play in rhyme and strict forms, which I do not.

The practice of handwriting out a poets previous work also did not appeal to me. Though I understand his reasoning for having a writer first copy the poem by hand (in order to get a feel for the rhythms and voice of the poem), I did not feel that it helped me gain any greater sense of the poem. Rather, I found that reading the poem out loud was a much better way to get a feel for the rhythm and sound, as well as a sense of the residual meaning.

I’m sure that there are many poets out there who would find this book very valuable and inspiring, however I am not one of them. Of the 20 or 30 poetry prompts in the book, I found myself interested in responding to only a handful of them. And when I did respond, I often found myself jumping outside of the prompts and guidelines, coloring outside the lines as it were, and responding to the poems as I damn well felt like it — which is really how it should be anyway.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

In the Woods

Last night, after doing some sketching, I tried to put some words down on the page. Normally, I write something down and, whether its good or not, I just keep going. but last night, I just couldn’t stand what I was writing, so I started scribbling violently all over the page.

10-2

It doesn’t happen very often that I react so strongly to my own writing. Not that everything I write is good — far from it — but that I understand that crappy drafts are a natural part of the writing process. Last night, I just couldn’t take my own words. As soon as I put them down on the page, I had to get rid of them. If I hadn’t scratched them out, I would have torn out the page.

I tried to write something down this morning and got the same result. It was NOT coming together, and I couldn’t force myself to keep going through the crappy draft to get to the good. It was just bad and so again, I crossed it out.

11

This kind of thing happens sometimes. (This is probably tied to my frustrations around the novel I’m supposed to be working on this month.) I will keep writing of course, even though I may end up with more pages like these, because I know this feeling of frustration is temporary. I’ll pull out of it. I always do.

So I’ll keep writing and keep writing, and eventually I get to open fields of words again, but right now, stuck in the muck of the forest is where I am.

[Cross-posted to my art blog. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

back in the groove, discovering black out poetry, and getting some art done

Things Accomplished in the Past Week
In writing… I’ve finally pulled out my short story and started editing it. I’ve worked through two scenes, which is a good (re)start. These were the most polished scenes in the story, though, and I have a feeling that I will have to do drastic rewrites to make them work. *sigh*

On top of putting down the rough draft of a new poem, I’ve also discovered a kind of found poetry called blackout or erasure poetry, which is fabulous fun. There have been several books, published using the style, include Mary Rueffle’s A Little White Shadow, which I reviewed here, and I’ve learned about a book called Newspaper Blackout, which I’m itching to buy.  I’m obsessed with this form, and can’t seem to look at Newspapers the same way again. Every time I pick up the paper, I start scanning it to see what words might come together to form a poem. I love the visual element that is inherent, and as a lover of collage, I try to incorporate that into it.

Not only am I having fun creating blackout poetry, but It’s a relaxing way of getting into the poetic mind. I’m finding that working in this way is helping me to feel more inspired when I face the blank page, too. You can see a few of my blackout poems here.

In art… Several sketches and a new drawing were completed, all in good fun. You can see them here.

In body… I have not done much yoga or running this week. I blame the stress of going to press, and the fact that I’ve had to work overtime several days this week. Which is all well and good, but means that all I want to do when I get home is rest.

To Do in the Coming Week
— continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
— write, edit and/or polish 1-2 of my current poems
— write a 500 word article to submit to Matador
— submit a set of poems or a short story for publication
— do 3 walking/running routines for Couch to 5k
— do 5-7 days of morning yoga
— post a youtube video
— art, doesn’t matter what, but something

[x-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either here or there.]

Monday Update

What’s been Accomplished

I have written, edited, and submitted a poem to the Bang Out Reading Series, which means I may or may not be participating in the even in August. Will let you know if I do.

I also managed to get some more work done on a couple of other poems, and have made tiny, itty-bitty baby steps toward continuing the short story that seems like it will never be done. I’ve also been periodically been adding some sketches alongside the words in my morning poetry journal.

My ass is sore. Seriously. Though I suppose that’s a sign that I’ve done something right, because it means that my workout went exceptionally well (or was perhaps slightly overdone) this weekend. On Saturday, I did lunges, squats, sit-ups, and push-ups, which was immediately followed by my 45 minute yoga routine, which was immediately followed by a 2 mile walk/run at the track. While I admit that I most probably over did it (I had a major headache Saturday night), I also know that my currently sore muscles are a contributing to my good mood this morning.

Relatedly, I’ve learned about a training program, called Couch to 5k, which is a plan for a beginner like me to get up to running 3 miles in two months. The plan will be slightly interrupted by my trip to Germany, which is now less than two months away (o_O). But I’m hoping I can pick up from there afterward, as I really, really would like to meet my long time goal of comfortably running a mile (let a lone three) and eventually running in some sort of marathon or race.


To Do in the Coming Week

– continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
– write, edit and/or polish 1-2 of my current poems
— write a 500 word article to submit to Matador
– submit a set of poems or a short story for publication
– do 3 walking/running routines for Couch to 5k
— do 5-7 days of morning yoga
– post a youtube video
– art, doesn’t matter what, but something

[x-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either here or there.]

Monday Update

The big announcement for this week is that Bear Creek Haiku has selected three of my short-short poems for publication. I don’t have the dates, but at sometime in the next several to six months “Dear Tree”, “Shrodinger Haiku”, and “white cat in a windowsill”. Bear Creek is a great little publication with some rather nice short form work in it.

I meant to get my entire list done over the two week period since I last posted. Didn’t quite happen. I finished a new poem, kept up with my daily yoga and some of my morning poems, and got a few sketches completed in the notebook, too.

I really need to get more submissions out this week. I think that’s my main priority.

To Do in the Coming Week
– continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
– write, edit and/or polish 2-3 of my current poems
– submit a set of poems or a short story for publication
– do 3-4 walking and/or running days
– post a youtube video
– art, doesn’t matter what, but something

[x-posted to my livejournal. you can comment here or there.]

there's no sting…. okay, maybe a little.

I have received a rejection on the four poems that I sent to The New Yorker. This was not a surprise really.

My immediate thought was, “Ah, well. C’est la vie.” I’m rather proud of the poems I sent in. I like them quite a lot, but that doesn’t mean their suited for that market. Besides, if nothing else, I’ve learned in the process of writing them, and maybe in a while I’ll have a new set of poems that will be even better. That’s what that writing process is all about.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a wee bit disappointed. But honestly, it was fun just sending something out to such a prestigious market, knowing that while it floated on the slush pile, I could hold on to that small spark of hope. 🙂

ETA: I forgot to mention that I already have another market lined up for these poems. So certainly, hope is alive an well.

[x-posted to my livejournal. you can comment here or there.]

Monday Update

All in all, despite being sick, last week was a fairly productive. The only thing that was really harmed was the whole walking/running/marathon training thing. I didn’t feel it would be a good idea to overwork my lungs when I had a racking chest cough.

That Which Hath Been Accomplished in the Past Week
1. The April Poetry Challenge in officially over. I began several new poems this week. None were actually reached a finished (i.e. publishable) stage. So my final count is 9 completed poems, 11 poems in draft form, for a total of 20 poems. This does not include the various haiku I wrote, or that which was recording in my morning poem journal. If I include those I’m closer to the required 30.

Any way you slice it, however, this was an incredibly productive poetry month for me. I probably got more work done in April than I had in previous six. So I’m probably going to challenge myself again in June. In the meantime, I will be spending this month trying to get those drafts polished to completion.

2. I submitted four poems to The New Yorker. I don’t really have any expectations of getting accepted (though it could happen), but I figure what the hell, anything could happen. I’m not terribly afraid of rejection anyway. I just figure it’s par for the course.

3. I killed two birds with one stone by creating A Zombie Limerick, in which I created a youtube video by reading a poem I wrote and making some collaged and painted artwork. I think it turned out rather well.

That Which Need-ith Accomplishing in the Coming Week
— continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
— edit and polish 2-3 of my current poem drafts
— submit a set of poems or a short story for publication
— do 3-4 marathon training days
— post a youtube video
— art, doesn’t matter what, but something

[x-posted to my livejournal.]

Monday Update

I woke up Friday with a serious head cold, which consisted of much mucus and misery. It extended through the weekend, eventually moving down into a chest cough, which put a damper on some of me efforts.

That Which Hath Been Accomplished in the Past Week
1. Two more poems finished, for a total of 9 complete poems. Another 8 poems in the Idea/Draft stage. I am way, way behind on this 30 day challenge, so I’m going to need to hustle this week if I hope to complete it. (Even if I don’t this is more poetry progress than I’ve made in a while, so I’m happy.)

2. Marathon training was something of a bust. I only walked one day last week (so, okay, not a total bust), but being sick kept me from Saturday’s four-mile hike through the hills.

3. No progress made on the short story. I’m feeling somewhat lost again. I need to figure out what the hell these final scenes are supposed to look like.

That Which Need-ith Accomplishing in the Coming Week
— continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
— finish the drafts of 15-18 new poems
— submit a set of poems or a short story for publication (I do have some ideas on this)
— do 3-4 marathon training days
— post a youtube video
— art, doesn’t matter what, but something

[X-posted to my livejournal.]

In which I read two poems.

One poem is “Nothing in That Drawer” by Ron Padgett. The second poem, called “All She Wants is a Pair of Scissors” (which was published a while back in Perigee), was written in direct response to “Nothing in That Drawer” and to Padgett’s writing in general.

That Which Hath Been Accomplished
1. Over 2200 words have been written on the short story that seems to have no end. Many of these words were of an outlining sort as I tried to figure out just how I was going to wrap things up. The good news is that I may actually know how I’m going to wrap things up. I don’t know whether the jumping back and forth between the past and present is going to work or fail, but I suppose we’ll find out once I edit it all together and actually let others read it.

2. I have successfully finished (ish, because poems can always be further edited) four poems for April’s 30 poems in 30 days challenge. (Some of which have been posted to my blog.) I also have seven poems in the ideas/draft stage of writing. It’s not a bad start, but I should really “finish” ten to twelve more by the end of this week.

3. I have completed all of my marathon training days (along with some supplementary exercises on other days), which means I ran/walked a total of 9+ miles last week. Whoo!

4. A new youtube video was completed for both my personal and the collaborative channels.

All of this means that I more or less completed three of my four to-dos from last week. *does a little dance*

That Which Need-ith Accomplishing in the Coming Week
— continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
— finish the drafts of 10-12 new poems
— do 3-4 marathon training days
— post a youtube video
— art, doesn’t matter what, but something

[This post has been x-posted to my livejournal.]

4 Poetry Things

1. My poem “Gretel” has been published at ChiZine. I’m really honored to be included, since I’ve been reading this zine for a long time and have always loved the work that has appeared in there.

2. I’m heading up to San Francisco tonight to attend a book release party and poetry reading. My friend Marisa Crawford has published her first book of poetry, called The Haunted House. I’m so happy for her, and it looks like it’s going to be a fabulous collection, if the sample poems (which I can’t seem to find again) are any indication. There’s a great review from the San Francisco Examiner.

3. I just learned that in honor of National Poetry Month there’s a 30 poems in 30 days challenge being mentioned here and there around the net. I’m planning on participating and posting the poems here. I’m a day late, well, two, if I don’t get to it tonight, so I’ve already got some catching up to do.

4.

Buh?

According to this, my poem “India” published in Bear Creek Haiku, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

I’m … stunned.

I can’t really verify whether or not it’s true. And it’s just a nomination. Still …

It’s coming at a time when I’m feeling down and out about my writing, especially as I’m distracted by the frustrations in my everyday, nonwriting life (in fact I’m so ambivalent about everything right now that I don’t even know how to feel about this news).

I’m going to try and take it as the good sign that it is and use it as inspiration to keep writing through it all. Just keep putting one word after another, as they say.

[X-posted to my livejournal.]

Unexpected Boon

Last night I randomly checked the email address that I haven’t checked in a couple of months. I haven’t been using it very much, because I use it as my professional email and I haven’t been submitting anything for publication in a while.

There, sitting in my inbox was a response to a submission I made well over a year ago. In fact, it was so long ago that I had long since assumed that I had been rejected and forgotten about it. But the editor wrote to let me know that she had finally caught up on her slush pile and that she would love to publish my poem in an upcoming issue! Yay! She also said that she hoped that I would submit more poetry in the future (she has a staff now to help her read the entries more quickly). So, double Yay!

I’m so happy and excited, because this is an online journal that I love and respect, so it is such an honor. I want to get confirmation as to which issue it will appear in before I say what the name of the publication is just yet, but I’m thrilled and joyous today. Furthermore, I’m feeling inspired to keep writing and submitting my work.

[X-posted to my livejournal.]