Saturday, June 19, 2010

Readings, Reading, and Furries

No elliptical poetry lately, not because I've been slacking on the exercise front, but because I was in New York City all last weekend for performances with the TypewriterGirls, so no elliptical machine there (though Crystal, Sneaky, and I did do yoga in Central Park and danced like maniacs two nights in a row!), and this week I used the elliptical machine but read something that I wasn't a huge fan of (a couple of times, upon finishing a poem I exclaimed "Really?! Really??!!") and, while I understand the "necessity" of writing a not-glowing review every so often, this was not a particular piece that has yet received much in the way of reviews, and I would hate to be the jackass who reviews the piece first and it's, well, not particularly nice. Also, I don't see myself as knowledgeable as I could be about this particular kind of poetry, so there's that, too. I might just be missing something.

Part of the reason I've been loving everything I've read up until now is that it's been selected entirely by me. They're chapbooks by poets or presses that I know I appreciate, small parts of it is work I've read before when it was previously published in literary journals. No one has asked me to do these reviews or sent me books for free. I bought all of them with my own money (with one or two exceptions) because I knew I would think they were awesome. So there's that.

I'm doing a reading tonight! At 7:30pm I'll be joining the super-talented Karen Lillis and Margarita Shalina (who's in all the way from New York City) at ModernFormations in Garfield. I'm very pleased that they asked me to read - Karen and Savannah (the other woman who runs the series - Seasonal Shorts) are both amazing ladies who add a lot to the poetry/reading scene here in Pittsburgh with their writing and with the multiple projects they both work on.

Also coming up next weekend is TypewriterGirls Gone Furry!! Crystal and I have busted our butts over this show and we have some spectacular performers. Anthrocon is coming to Pittsburgh, and what better way to find an excuse to hang out with the furriest than to do a show less than a block from the convention center?

Friday, June 11, 2010

TypewriterGirls NYC Weekend!

Crystal and I have been fortunate enough (and have busted our butts enough) to perform in New York City twice now, once at the Bowery Poetry Club, and the second time at the Cornelia Street Cafe, and this weekend we will again be heading to that mecha of everything to perform at the Figment Festival on Governor's Island and at the Second Saturday Staten Island event with a lovely Dada group Day de Dada.

Because we're awesome, we'll be leaving Pittsburgh after Ben's graduation from preschool ceremony at about 5:30pm, and hope to arrive in New York City by 1am and hunt down some karaoke, because we're rockstars like that. We'll be coming home Monday evening, hopefully with tales of glory and poetry awesomeness, as well as with a case of whiskey, kindly donated by Tuthilltown Spirits for TypewriterGirls Gone Furry.

I'm excited to go on a little road trip and perform in New York again! Also to get some tasty New York sweets. I have yet to find a bakery that I truly love here in Pittsburgh. Oh, the tragedy of it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Elliptical Poetry, Part 5 (1 of ??)

So I'm trying something new - I've decided to attempt to read a full-length book of poetry while on the elliptical machine. Of course, I can't be exercising for the hours that this would take, so I'll be reading a bit at a time. I'll probably go back and forth a bit - I've been enjoying chapbooks too much to let them go for more than a couple days. We shall see how it goes. Monday (yes, it's taken me that long to post this) I was on the elliptical machine for about 50 minutes, but I would guess that only about 20 of those were devoted to reading, the rest to chatting with Mihnea and Ben.

Manatee/Humanity by Anne Waldman (Penguin Poets, 2009) I got to see Anne Waldman and Gary Snyder read at this year's AWP and it was pretty fantastic. Quite different performances from two legendary poets. Of course I got in line for the book signing, and of course I paid a slightly inflated price so I would be able to grin like an idiot and ask Anne Waldman to sign my book (which she did, quite graciously - both she and Gary Snyder were extremely kind). So it is to my shame that only now have I cracked open Manatee/Humanity and gotten past the introduction. My excuse is that, because this book is based on the Kalachakra, I was hoping to read it with Mihnea. I got through the first two sections of the first part of the book on Monday - about 12 pages. Now, what I am about to say, I say in all seriousness - it is fascinating to read this particular collection while planning a TypewriterGirls show about furries. In the section that I've read so far, Anne Waldman is looking at the lines between humanity and the animal kindgdom, as well as what makes us the same. She purposefully blurs the animal with the human and sets her reader in the position of questioning why we treat animals so differently, so horribly, after all. While I will say that, for the most part, I do not see furries as a philosophical movement, I do find that desire to become an animal most intriguing, and not necessarily a deplorable thing. I'm very interested to continue on reading this book.

Yes I did just take one step from Anne Waldman to furries. What of it?

God I hope Anne Waldman isn't reading this...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Elliptical Poetry Part 4

I can feel life beginning to even out, new routines beginning to take hold in my mind, and my body responding joyously to the combination of warm (if not sunny these past two weeks) days and exercise.

On the exercise front, I danced like a maniac on Friday, and on Sunday I walked a lot with Crystal and then hopped on the elliptical machine for about 26 minutes. Saturday was lazy/drowsy/hang out with Mihnea day. And it was good.

Of course, while elliptical-ing I read one chapbook.

1. The Spare Room by Dana Guthrie Martin (Blood Pudding Press, 2009) What can I say, really? I love Dana's writing. I also think she is a beautiful being. Read her blog a bit and you will (I believe) see why. These poems were heart-wrenching (and I say that in the least ironic way possible), disturbing, confusing (and I say that in the best way possible), and lovely. Dana was one of the very first (possibly the first) poets I solicited for the first issue of Weave, and I desperately wish she lived closer to Pennsylvania and I could bring her to Pittsburgh for a TypewriterGirls show. I was particularly tickled to see my absolute favorite of the pieces we picked for Weave featured in The Spare Room. I love the way she uses pauses, breaks, and delineation in her work, visually and within the text. I read everything by Dana that I can get my eyeballs on. You should, too. Unfortunately, this particular chapbook is sold out, so it's another one where you'll have to borrow from an obliging friend.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Elliptical Poetry Part 3

After a tragic weekend, during which I thought the elliptical machine was broken, lost to me forever, my husband Mihnea has used the magical powers of superglue, and we're back!

Yesterday I was on the elliptical machine for 52 minutes and I read two chapbooks!

1. Demon Lovers and Other Difficulties by Nicole Kornher-Stace (Goblin Fruit, 2009) I love Goblin Fruit - it's one of my favorite online journals, for its content, for the amazing layouts designed special for each issue, and for its offering of audio recordings of the work published in its virtual pages. When I heard they were making their first foray into the world of printed publications last year, I lined up to get my copy of Demon Lovers and Other Difficulties. I hadn't read much (any) of Nicole Kornher-Stace's work before, and I think this is because she is more part of the fantasy/sci-fi community of writers - one I often gaze at from afar, but have not delved into, perhaps, as much as I ought. These poems are about what happens off-stage in fairytales - the experiences of the women and men who marry otherworldly creatures, have children with them, and watch those children grow up. There are four poems in the collection titled "The Demon Lover's Child Grows Up" which form the main story arch of the collection, each one documenting the life of the son of a human and demon lover, which are quite well-done - Nicole has quite a voice. If you have any inclination whatsoever toward fantastical poetry, I would definitely recommend this chapbook.

2. Soft Foam by Juliet Cook (Blood Pudding Press, 2010) Before you even read this (tiny) review, I need you to go purchase this chapbook. Immediately. I'll wait. Okay. I am going to go ahead and assume you did as you were instructed, and now I'll tell you why. From the very first poem, Semi-Extraneous Consort (page 12 of the link), I knew I was going to adore this chapbook. I think, sometimes, that Juliet (or at least the persona Juliet writes in) and I have some of the same neurosis. I feel like she gets me and all the fucked up little things that go through my head. Much of this chapbook is a meditation on life and death - particularly that of of the speaker's husband's previous wife, who, it is revealed in the chapbook, has died. I, too, am my husband's second wife, and while his previous wife is not dead (and is a lovely person - I don't wish such things upon her in the least), when we first got together it felt different from him just having ex girlfriends. I feel like Juliet has an acute understanding of this and paints this relationship that her speaker has with her husband's dead first wife in such a painfully beautiful way that I couldn't put the chapbook down. I had some serious "goddamn! I want to write like this!" moments while reading Soft Foam. All the poems were, as I've now come to expect from Juliet, a treat to read aloud. I had some serious fun while elliptical-ing. Add in some creepy/lovely sea creatures, and you have my favorite chapbook I've read so far this year, hands down.


I haven't done any of my own writing since my last update, though I did have my son (birthday party, Kennywood trip, and kid shopping extravaganza) all weekend, so that seriously cut into all of my "me time". Things have been in a bit of an upheaval/shift mode in my life lately. I'm attempting to re-organize pretty much everything, and it's been a rather horrendous process in some ways. In other ways it's been great for me, but the in-between time is never easy, and that whole "figuring out what you really need to be doing/want out of life" thing is hard. Go figure.

I'm also trying to dress better. I got extremely lazy with my clothing over the past few months - I think it all started over the winter, though. Then I bought a new skirt and shirt and realized how fabulous I looked for once when my friend Damien was in town a couple weekends ago. It was a big wake up call in regards to how utterly blah I had let things get. So, over the past two weeks I've also been trying to dress cute, look at my closet from a new angle, and read some fashion blogs (yes, you read that correctly - but not big scary corporate ones - the little ones by people with budgets like mine) and today I would almost venture to say I look stylish. Mihnea commented upon my elevated levels of cuteness before I left the apartment this morning. Even co-worker Phil noticed that I'm not dressing like I don't have light in my closet any more. Progress!