Sara Ryan is the author of the chapbooksNever Leave the Foot of an Animal Unskinned(Porkbelly Press) andExcellent Evidence of Human Activity(The Cupboard Pamphlet). She was the winner of the 2018 Grist Pro Forma Contest, and her work has been published in or is forthcoming fromPleiades,DIAGRAM,Booth,Prairie Schooner,Hunger Mountainand others. She is currently pursuing her PhD at Texas Tech University.
This collection manifested in a material culture theory class during my MFA. In this class, we contemplated objects in literature and how those objects were handled in these literary worlds. We were challenged to choose our own objects and engage with them critically and creatively, and after a lot of research into my various interests, I found an old book in our library that lead me on a strange journey into the world of taxidermy. This book, Taxidermy and Zoological Collecting: A Complete Handbook for the Amateur Taxidermist, Collector, Osteologist, Museum-Builder, Sportsman, and Traveller by William Temple Hornaday (published in 1891) became the nexus of this collection.
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.
In 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.
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:
“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.
Chella Courington grew up in a family of storytellers. Seduced by the written word, she pursued her Ph.D. in literature from the University of South Carolina and her MFA in poetry from New England College. In addition to teaching literature and writing at Santa Barbara City College in California, she writes and publishes poetry and fiction, which has appeared in several books and chapbooks. Here, Chella speaks about her two latest publications, a flash novella and a new collection of poetry.
A life in flashes, it tells of Adele and Tom, a writing couple now in California. Told from both points of view, the novella explores the increasing distance between two artists trying to occupy the same space: one writer’s success is another’s failure.
But finally, the story is Adele’s as she struggles with relationship, self and aging. A woman born in the Appalachian South yet finding home in California, she tries to understand who she is through the past and the present.
You’ve described The Somewhat Sad Tale of the Pitcher and the Crow as a flash novella. How did flash fiction as a structural form lend itself to the telling of a larger tale
Flash fiction is not naturally a form that lends itself to a longer traditional narrative (one with a mainly linear plot line). But flash fiction does lend itself to a pointillist novel/novella where each flash provides a point, an emotional brushstroke. The combined points, artfully arranged, tell a tale.
The flash novella is a good choice for writers with time constraints because the structure allows for the creation of many individual pieces of art that can be written in bursts of limited time. Each piece is small with a focus on language and imagery, rewarding close attention and revision. The flash novella does not depend on an outline nor require high drama (murder and mayhem).
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.
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.
by Jocelyn Deona De Leon
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.
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.
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.