Monday, February 21, 2011


The past 4 weekends have been nothing but running around and travelling, and this upcoming week is going to be the most grueling yet, but also the last weekend of crazy, I've-got-obligations travel for, I think, at least a month. Possibly a month and a half. I have double date dinner plans for the weekend after next with a friend who lives in Johnstown, but that's loose and I'm not required to perform at any point or stay up for 24 hours in a row.

The last weekend in January I was filming a zombie movie that is directed by my dear friend Blair Murphy, owner, artist, and magician of the Grand Midway Hotel - one of those is more a metaphor than fact. I've known Blair for only 5 1/2 years, but he is very very dear to me and he and his girlfriend Deanna are really just a perfect match and it's lovely to see. He's been through a lot in the 5 years I've known him and things seem to be heading into a really good space. This zombie movie has been incredible fun and I'm going to be quite sad when it's all over.

The weekend following I went to Dayton with my husband to spend time with a bunch of friends of his. I had never before met the couple we were staying with. They are lovely men - extremely kind and funny and I'm just sorry I hadn't met them sooner. They have nothing but nice things to say about Mihnea and he has nothing but nice things to say about them. We went to see a play that two of Mihnea's other friends were involved in, and had lunch with two more of his friends.

The weekend after that I was on Staten Island for the first of two TypewriterGirls performances in New York City this month. The turn-out was amazing and I was so very happy to get to see friends I hadn't seen in a long time (Huang Xiang performed with us and was, of course, an audience favorite, and I went out to lunch and to brunch with one of my best friends from high school, Sarah Reck, who works as a web publicist in NYC for a major publishing house because she is just that awesome and hard working. We are so very different, and yet so very very the same).

This past weekend, more zombie filming. I got chased up the stairs by a big ol' hoard of zombies. It really got my blood pumping. I was a little worried about me when my zombiefied friend Chad got ahold of my ankle a couple of times. He's scrappy. Film making is amazing fun when Blair's in charge.

I like to link to presses and people who I feel are doing amazing things here. I've honestly no earthly idea if anyone is reading this blog, but if you are, check out these amazing amazing things going on in the literary world:

Roxane Gay and her associate publisher xTx have a fabulous new press called Tiny Hardcore Press. That's pretty much the most awesome press name you've heard in a while. Their first release, xTx's Normally Special is sold out of it's first run, but a second printing is on the way! In the mean time, there's an e-book version. They are taking submissions from those who wish to be hardcore with them. Roxane also writes one of the best blogs out there. It's about her life and her publishing and sometimes men and sometimes movies and I always get a little extra happy when I see she has updated.

Juliet Cook's Post Stroke chapbook is now available from the Blood Pudding Press shop. It's her collection from the latest Dusie and I have already ordered mine. For those who don't know, Juliet suffered a stroke a bit over a year ago. Her recovery has been astonishing, and these poems map that recovery as only Juliet could map such a thing. I absolutely cannot wait to read it. I will also be publishing Juliet's chapbook, Thirteen Designer Vaginas through Hyacinth Girl Press in the next couple of months. Hooray!

Speaking of Hyacinth Girl Press, I'm taking submissions until the end of next month! The deadline is the same for Make it So. After this weekend, I am officially declaring the call for submissions a success. Make it So submitters, you rock my futuristic socks.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Taiga's Alive!

After a not-so-short hiatus, Taiga is up and running again!

I loved the first issue of Taiga, love Brooklyn's own poetry, and was super-excited when she received a Ruth Lilly Fellowship last year (so very well-deserved).

Issue A is now out. If you want one you should order now - she is only making 100 of these, and some of that 100 go to the contributors. Issue T sold out long ago. I am very very happy to see this project come back to life.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Reviews and kindness

I exercised on my elliptical machine last night. It was abbreviated (30 minutes instead of the usual 45-55) because around the 23 minute mark I was hit by the need to write and sort of forced myself to keep exercising for the following 7 minutes.

I don't think it helped that the chapbook I was reading through most of those 7 minutes was, I felt, a real stinker.

Prior to reading the stinker chapbook, and when I was initially hit with the need to write, I was reading Kristen Orser's Folded into Your Midwestern Thunderstorm from Greying Ghost Press (I would link, but their website seems to be having problems), which I greatly enjoyed. I don't think I'll be able to write a full review for it right now - I feel like there was something I missed in it when I read the collection through the first time. I love the wordplay that Orser uses and her language is always engaging. She also works with line breaks and page placement in a way that I really appreciate and that I myself am not nearly as skillful with. I got a very strong sense of atmosphere from the collection, but not a strong idea of movement or what was going on. I don't think it has anything to do with Orser's writing, though - I was a bit distracted and tired. I really enjoyed the experience of the poems, though, if that makes any sense, and I can't wait to give the chapbook a reread.

Orser's chapbook really got my poetic mind moving, her deft language put me into the space and rhythm where I feel like I want to write, and I was all excited to read another chapbook and then get off the elliptical machine and run straight to the typewriter. However, the next chapbook I started I just did not like at all.

I won't say what the title of this book was or who the poet was, because in all honesty I didn't finish it. I read a few poems, realized that I had the exact same problem with all of them, and quit. Nothing that I enjoyed about Orser's work was present in this book - there was no sense of rhythm, the language felt sort of lame, and the line breaks and stanza breaks (what few there were of the latter) were honestly boring and added nothing to the poems. I used to finish books like this, but now I just don't. I don't have time for reading things I dislike and feel are not skillful. I am more than happy to go outside my comfort zone (John Grochalski's book, for example, is not my typical fare, but I read the book, felt there was skill and purpose behind it, and enjoyed it), but bad writing goes beyond going outside of one's comfort zone.

I could write reviews of these books that I genuinely think are not good, but 75% of what I read these days is put out by small or micro presses. Their books don't get reviewed at as high of a rate as the work put out by the larger presses, and I would absolutely hate to have my review be one of the only ones out there and for it to be bad. How heartbreaking would it be for that poet?

I'm usually not someone who wants to spare everyone's feelings at all costs, but I'm not mean. I have done mean things, thoughtless things, but I am not mean. I feel that to eviscerate a chapbook put out by a micro press or small press is not only sort of mean to the poet, but is also doing that press, which also put a lot of time, love, and money - perhaps most of their extremely limited resources - into this chapbook, a huge disservice. I know that we can't all be nice all the time and we have to be honest and promote the good stuff and blah blah blah, but that is what I try to do - I try to bring attention to the good stuff. If someone asks me about the chapbook I did not finish last night in conversation I won't lie to them about it (I will also mention that I only read 5-6 of the poems). If I am asked for a recommendation, I will not recommend this book. I'm just not going to rip it apart on my blog.

I'm not saying this as if to imply "everyone look at me! I'm so awesome!" because A) I'm not and B) I'm not sure that what I am doing is 100% the right thing. As much as I want to be kind and only say nice things, I really have a bit of distaste for the kid gloves that I see everyone having to wear all the time. Yes, we are artists and we are sensitive and what one person likes another person might not, but isn't criticism one of the vehicles through which we ultimately improve? But then this makes me think of visionary art and the "workshop poem" and argh! I don't know. I am so very conflicted - I keep going back and forth in my own head.

I am also saying these things to make it clear that while I write a lot of very positive reviews (I think) I do not have universal love for all poetry. Quite the contrary - I am extremely hard to please. If I don't review your chapbook, though, it's not necessarily because I deeply disliked it and think it is a blight on contemporary poetry and all copies should be burned. I often just don't get around to reviewing everything in a timely fashion. I have 3 reviews I need to write that I can think of just off the top of my head, and I adored two of the books and really really enjoyed the third. I'm crazy-busy, and now I have a press, too. That was smart of me.

Speaking of which! I just picked out the second chapbook I will be publishing! Announcement soon! I think I'll be publishing more like 3-4 chapbooks this year!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Events and Announcements

No new reviews yet. I'll be on the Megabus on Thursday, though, so between bouts of memorization some review writing may occur. Megabus is never conducive to poetry writing for me (my first choice for spending my writing time), but I can get a lot of reading done and memorization goes well there.

This Saturday I'll be in NYC on Staten Island for the Second Saturday Staten Island Art Walk. The TypewriterGirls will be cabaret-ing at the lovely ETG cafe (one of my two favorite places to be where food and drink are sold on Staten Island, the other being Against Da' Grill - not that I have tons of experience on Staten Island, but the people who own/work at both places are just lovely) at about 8pm and there will be amazing poets, hilarity, and surrealist games. If you are in the NYC area you have no excuse not to be there because the ferry is free, dammit, and it runs 24/7/365.

I'm coming into town on Thursday evening and staying at a hostel. I'll also get to see my friend Sarah while I'm in town, and it's been ages since we've hung out, so I'm really excited for that, too.

In other news the AWP came and went and I didn't go but I'm already excited for next year. There seems to be an exceptionally high concentration of awesome people in Chicago and for some reason I really enjoy the city, so I'm thinking to spend 9 days there rather than just come in for the conference.

There have been some life hiccups over the past week, but I am feeling generally very positive and loving toward the world. I need to document when I feel like this more often. I've written 2 poems so far this year, which is a very tiny number for many poets, but it is a good number for me. I have discovered that one of the most beautiful feelings in the world is the happiness at seeing someone who you care about deeply in love. It is definitely even better if their love is adorable. My friend is being super-adorable right now, and I think he knows it, but it's really the most heartwarming thing ever.

I'm still taking submissions over at Hyacinth Girl Press! I also selected the first chapbook to be published - Thirteen Designer Vaginas by Juliet Cook! I'm in love with Juliet's poetry and am so so so very happy to get to publish this book. I already have design ideas and will probably spend some time on the way home on Megabus sketching vaginas. I am loving a couple of the other manuscripts that have been sent to me, too. There will probably be another announcement soon.