Saturday, October 14, 2017

poetential



I have this incredibly lofty goal to both write everyday and make some sort of gesture toward art everyday and usually I end up failing.  The writing happens in fits and spurts and sometimes a mad dash toward either an external or personal deadline.  So much falls into the path on a daily basis that I end up cutting myself too much slack and the next thing I know, I get that itchy, dissastified feeling that I'm not devoting sufficient time to my own creative pursuits and too much directed toward library and press things, and just time wasters and general life stuff.   It's easier with art--to just dive in and make something happen on the fly, but writing is an altogether different beast--one that has to happen under the right atmospheric circumstances--sort of like a tornado, the correct science of air masses and currents to actually get spinning, and sometimes even when it's spinning, it doesn't always meet the ground, let alone do the sort of good damage you want it to.

So thus, there's always this overwhelming feeling of not living up to potential (I just mis-typed "poetential" there and that seems incredibly fitting.)  Projects that have been conceived, and sometimes even named with titles that are waiting to actually happen.  And we won't even talk about the writing-business side, the work that is done and very little time/energy to send it out in the world in any sort of effective way.  Just getting the writing done seems hard enough when your juggling dayjobs, and editing/bookmaking work, not to mention commutes, housework, errands, and lately trips out to visit my mom on the weekend  (and even I admit it's so much easier than for other women because I don't have children and am entangled romantically with one of the only people I've ever met with more creative & work time commitments than me).

Granted I wrote & submitted more in the early 2000's (both before and during grad school, the former because my obligations both inside and outside the day job were simpler, and the latter because I HAD to. )  But then there was the press and the crazy etsy shop ride , and then just the press but steadily growing all the time and still growing.  And then more creative fun opportunities library-wise with A of R, things that I also work on sometimes on my own time but also make my experience in the library far more rewarding than it used to be just pushing papers around and supervising the circ desk.

Even still I've managed, as I occasionally have to remind myself, to produce pretty well, even since finishing my MFA 10 years ago, maybe not at first, but the last 6 years or so finishing about a book a year and making lots of artist books, chaps, and zine projects that at least make me feel a little more productive.  But then there is so much unwritten or half written or merely conceived as a tiny glimmer at the back of my brain. And so much more to do and it feels like so little time (not just daily time, but approaching / possibly already middle age at 43, and so, you know , facing my own inevitable mortality kind of thing.) It's this sort of low-key, but steadily building, panic sensation.  What if I never get to the end of the project to-do list?  What if all those things go unwritten?

Of course, today. my only rare  day off and obligation free, I wake late to a cloudy overcast day, drink too much coffee, and waste time on social media and pen this blog post instead of a poem.   But maybe I'm just sitting here waiting for the right winds that make one possible.




Saturday, October 07, 2017



While the temps this week have been in and out, up and down and weirdly humid, this afternoon, fall seems to have arrived in a fell swoop of wind and rain that set my apartment door rattling in it's frame and leaves spinning from trees and into the air.  Some trees are already yellowing & dropping, but I feel like the major turns are set to happen in the next couple weeks and by month's end, all will be gone except the tree outside my bedroom--the one that takes a really long time to get full in the spring and a long time to go bare. As such, my mind turns to fall things--apple pie, hazlenut hot chocolate, horror movies.  Tonight, I'll make my mother's ghoulash recipe and watch something spooky (though sometimes, it takes some starting and stopping and flipping aimless through Netflix.  Tomorrow, and early trip to Rockford again (my mom's foot is looking good according to the surgeon and her personality back to more normalish, but she's still going to need a lot of physical therapy to get her on her feet again.)

Library-wise, the latter part of this week has been devoted to getting ready for Wednesday's Zines in the Classroom workshop.  I was I was reminiscing over my passion for book arts and was thinking about my high school English class junior year and our teacher's predilection for interesting arty projects vs. boring essays and how much that year influenced me as someone interested in more creative manifestations of the written word (and thus the possibilities inherent in zine-making for classroom projects and how much more engaging those are for students.)  We're also about to go into full scale preparations for the Little Indie Press Festival, so I'm lining up readers and thinking about which dgp things I'd like to make available at the table. And then, hell, it will be nearly Halloween, and my yearly indulgence of double feature action in the library (this year, Bucket of Blood and some delightful mermaid horror, Night Tide.)

Art & writing-wise, I'm looking to transcribing the last text parts of UNUSUAL CREATURES out of the spiral and into the computer.  Also, making some more progress on /SLASH/, which has brief distracted me from some other poem projects, but it seems, seasonally , to be the best option. There is still a few more poems to write in the last section of the big book manuscript in the works that pulls together some of the smaller projects, but I'd like to finish and maybe start sending it out by the end of the year.   Meanwhile there are collage experiments and ad-hoc zines  (see above) and art projects aplenty.  (We' also having a paper mechanicals workshop next week Jen is leading that may prove fruitful--particularly for something I'm thinking of doing for our Grimm selection for Book to Art Club. )

As for dgp, mostly making big batches of books for a couple authors and slogging through the latter half of summer manuscripts, which are so good, they make me anxious about decision making when the time starts to start winnowing down.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017




Perhaps it is just the heaviness of the world lately--the violence, politics, politics that are a sort of violence. Perhaps it's merely seasonal fervor, but I am working on a new poem series of cut-ups of old slasher movie shooting scripts.  A different kind of horror, and making some new collages to go along with those poems.

I was recently reading an article about how women should be most afraid in this world of violent, angry, white men, and the comment resonated through so much of what I've been witnessing in the world lately---both at large and in the smaller literary arena.  There is some of this in my love poems series, that started out as a gesture toward the love poem, but ended up being more about women and men and how can love even happen when the world is the way it is.   And yet somehow it does. I probably do fear and try to avoid angry white men more than anything else on a daily basis (they are the ones who are, at best,  either ignoring your voice in meetings, or at worst, shooting up a public space.), and yet, as a straight woman dating men (men that have been, with a couple exceptions, mostly white) it's kind of hard to avoid men altogether.

My literary world is mostly small and circumscribed by women--by the press, by the publishers I send my work to.  By the poets I know in real life and FB.  But I hear the horror stories--the web trolling, the nasty responses to rejections, the general creeping on women writers--most of it committed by one demographic.  I do not know what to make of it--and have had many men in my life  (both actual and literary) who were not angry white men, but in this I am far more fortunate than others. As a woman, I am more likely to be killed by a man I know  in my own home than I am in a mass-shooting, but this isn't exactly a comforting fact.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

My library work week began with poetry, in the form of our Written on the Body reading Monday night and ended with cocktails with co-workers Friday, but in between there was an amazing round table discussion with artists from the Tattoo exhibit and a watercolor inking workshop, the conception of a new zine project Really Bad Idea, and gaming-related publication action @ both Library As Incubator and the ALA Programming Blog.   I'm now prepping for my zine workshop next week, and further in the month, Little Indie Press Festival, my favorite event  of the year, which is already shaping up to be bigger than last year in terms of the publisher/artist showcase.

dgp-wise, there are some new releases underway and lots of layouts as well as some acceptances and rejections as I make my way through the summer submissions (and try to hold desperately onto my 3-month response minimum.)  There is so much goodness there in the coming year, and so many chaps still left in 2017.  I am struggling to keep my head above water and still feel some things getting lost in the morass--wicked alice updates and the mermaid anthology are the saddest neglected children, but am hoping to get on top of them by year's end.

I recently had a discussion with another artist about never feeling truly caught up with one's life--of always being under the wheels and overwhelmed--creative or non-creative, and have pretty much felt this way my entire life, so am not sure if there's a fix.  As long as I keep hatching projects and schemes, there will probably never be an end, or sufficient breathing room or pauses to catch my breath .  This is the way it goes, so I suppose if you can't find a way out of the fire, you live in it, find a way to thrive in it, and do with it what you can.  I have writing and art projects in the works for YEARS, titles and concepts for books I haven't even really started writing yet. I have ideas for AofR programming, for library-related writing projects  that are in limbo until I get a grasp on some time to do them.  Press anthology projects and broadsides and paper goods I am looking to get a start on, but can't until I finish what's on my plate now. All of it is really exhausting, so I try not to think about it too much. When I think about being afriad of death, it's not the hereafter that scares me, but all the things I'll never finish if I don't get cracking.

Saturday, September 23, 2017



This week has been marked by much prep for the TATTOO : INK, ART, & OBJECT exhibit and events, but also by unseasonably hot weather that does not dissipate overnight so my apartment is sticky and overheated all the damn time when I am mentally not in the mood for summer anymore , but for fall-things like apples and horror movies and sweaters and being cozy.  It's the August we never got come back to town a month late and annoying as hell.

Yesterday I formatted questions for Tuesday's artist panel and finalized details for Monday night's reading, as well as hung most of the pieces on the second floor---one of which is an amazing tattooed plaster death mask. I'll also be hanging the prints I came up with as variations for the poster--the lucky cat and the ouija board and maybe something else if I can finish it Monday.

I am off to Rockford again tomorrow for an overnight...where my mother is steadily improvng--her mind better and more like herself, but still a long way from being back on her feet.   The nursing home seems nice, though the elderly folks just sort of littered throughout the hall unnerve me, mostly becuase I cannot guess whether they are there because they want to be there or rolled through the hallways, or because some aide has just abandoned them there. The facility dining room was also sort of unnerving, most people just staring into space and waiting, no one talking to each other or passing time in other ways..a strong dose of what it's like to be elderly in the world and the sort of loneliness that is enough to kill you even when other things haven;t.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

unusual creatures



I've been working a bit more on transcribing bits of UNUSUAL CREATURES into type from the notebook version, as well as plotting out the elements that will go into the finished box project..the letters, the diary portions, the typed notebook pages.  Also the images (see above), the various faux ephemera--newpaper scraps, maps, etc--all that create the little world of the project.

I was thinking the other day about how long this thing has been in the works--how long the visual pieces took from the time my aunt gave me the photos,  How long those existed before the written portions just completed this summer.  How some projects are a slow burn and others (like the Plath Centos and the love poems series) are faster at coming into being. I would love to have the whole project finished by winter, but am unsure of how much can be accomplished before then.  Also how much I'll have to fork over in supplies to make it happen and whether that is in my budget.

I was also thinking about the dynamics of storytelling and whose story this is.  There are three main parts written by three women in different generations of the same family--a day book, a sheaf of letters, and a more scientifically oriented journal. These are the women that speak, but the main character actually speaks nothing of her own.   Her story is present in the words of the other women and comes together in fragments--the letters written to her by her sister, the diary entries of her mother, the notebooks of her niece.  The things that are said about her as well as unsaid.


I was also thinking about our Creepy Curiosities installation from a couple years back, how that installation in many ways inspires and reflects the visual elements, just as much as the animal mask collages (and in fact was created as a companion piece to the framed collages)  I want to find a way to inorporate the visuals from that exhibit, maybe as the "cover" art of the box if I possibly can.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

we all float down here




Yesterday, I spent a good chunk of the afternooon typing up one large segment of UNUSUAL CREATURES--the Rose letters.  They will be the ekphrastic element of the box project, most likely enveloped and tied with a ribbon.  As I was retyping, I was revising, and feeling that ever-present tension between narrative--relaying sufficient information to convey the story (in this case the story of a woman who runs away from home to pursue a dream and a marriage and a child in the 1920's, but ends up in madness and depression and prostitution) and being artful with language--poetic and innovative.  Sometimes, I don't care about narrative at all, but it seems important here.  When I initially was writing, I was composing longhand in a spiral notebook and away from the computer, so when I sit down to type, it feels rougher--in need of tweaking--moreso even  than usual.

Thursday night, I got a chance to see the IT remake, and was thinking yesterday how King tells stories, and the world he creates and recreates that overlaps sometimes and feels like it's a part of the same universe, either intentionally or unintentionally or just by circumstance.  I liked it better than the mini-series, though the actual novel is not my favorite Stephen King piece  (which would be Carrie, or maybe The Langoliers). Whenever I think about his work, there is always the tension of the horror fiction genre and more serious types of writing, and I feel King treads that line quite nicely.  While I was in college and studying LITERATURE (tm) I would have written King off as a purely guilty pleasure, but after reading his On Writing book, I had a new appreciation for what he does, and though his less horror-driven books aren't my bag (w/the exception of 11-22-63) I have mad respect for someone who can do popular lit well and still have the least writerly integrity (in this Twilight / 50 Shades of Grey world).

I also like how his books become part of the cultural fabric--how his characters and storylines are recognizable tropes.  Everyone equates highschool with Carrie. Even walking back from the theatre and crossing the deserted north branch of the Chicago River, I mentioned how perfect it was a place for Pennywise, that dank & dark water, and half expected to see that single, ominous red balloon floating over the bridge above our heads.

Tomorrow, another trip to Rockford, where my mother seems to be improving and has been moved to a nursing home for some rehabilitation work before she can be sent home. Though she is still out of it and having a problem distinguishing between reality and dreams and some possible hallucinatons, ( two little girls seated at the table in her room, more butterflies on the wall)  her motor skills are improving, as is her appetite.   She's kind of freaky in a horror movie way, and I joked with my father on the phone that maybe her infection made her able to see ghosts.  I am less troubled by her ghost-sightings than her crying, which seems to be less prompted by pain and more by frustration or sadness.  (ie..if she is talking crazy, that's fine, but I don't want her to be in distress). As the infection  / pain clears, most likely so will her mind , so we are hoping for the upturn soon.