05 February 2015

Whistle while you work

This week, for fun, I put together a little music playlist to go along with my poetry manuscript-in-progress, Catechesis. These are songs that I feel create the perfect soundtrack to the poems I'm writing and the headspace I'm inhabiting while writing and revising them. No wonder I like hanging out with these poems so much.  

 1.  "Where I End and You Begin (The Sky is Falling In)" / Radiohead 

2.  "Yes, Anastasia" / Tori Amos

3.  "The Dress Looks Nice on You" / Sufjan Stevens 
4.  "There There (The Boney King of Nowhere)" / Radiohead 
5.  "Strange Little Girl" / Tori Amos

6.  "July Flame" / Laura Veirs

7.  "Llaw = Wall" / The Joy Formidable

8.  "Daffodil Lament" / The Cranberries

9.  "If I Had a Heart" / Fever Ray

10.  "Idioteque" (Radiohead cover) / Amanda Palmer (on her magical ukelele)

10 January 2015

Eye-dotting and finger-crossing

After taking about a year off from submitting to focus on generating more material, I am starting this new year with a bit more ambition. Today, I submitted poems from the growing Catechesis manuscript to six literary magazines/journals, quite a few of which I am sure are still out of my league. But the only way to graduate from your current league is to try out for the next level, right? (or some other sort of mixed-up sports metaphor from someone who doesn't have a great understanding of the concept)  

Here's today's list:
  • Fairy Tale Review (The Ochre Issue)
  • THRUSH Poetry Journal
  • Gigantic Sequins
  • South Dakota Review
  • Rattle, and....
So this is really a landmark day for me. It is the first time I have screwed up the courage to submit my poems to the one and only POETRY Magazine. I'm starting the year with a reasonable amount of hope. A encouraging rejection in the next few months would make me happy enough.


29 December 2014

Holiday sweets: Sugar House Review!


The long-anticipated 


Sugar House Review 

is HERE!

Receiving my beautiful, brightly-colored contributors' copies of Sugar House Review, issue 10 was the cherry on top of my much-needed holiday break. My Angela Carter poem "Fevvers (Authenticating the Cockney Venus)" is in this jam-packed volume with words from poet-friends like Donna Vorreyer, Laura Madeline Wiseman, and so many talented others. My poem is right across the page from a poem by Sara Eliza Johnson, writer of the 2014 collection Bone Map! I'm so excited to be among such fabulous company. Get your own copy of this gorgeous magazine here. 

Happy New Year, friends!

16 December 2014

My year in poetry, 2014

I've spent the past year in the very slow construction of a poetry collection that is only now a quarter of the way to completion. I took a break from submitting to focus on the writing of new work for this manuscript and it has resulted in a whole new writing approach for me: writing as architecture, writing each new poem as a part of some larger work. In this way, writing toward an eventual book feels like a much different process from writing individual poems with no endgame in mind. 
I'm closing the year with a grand total of 14 pieces for my Catechesis manuscript (which is 8 more than I started with). I must admit that over the past months I have been frustrated and impatient with my slow progress, but I am very happy with these new poems in which I am creating a mixed-up kind of folklore with a loose narrative that spans from poem to poem.

Here are a few of them:
"Girl with no Hands" & "Interlude," in The Feminist Wire, June 25, 2014.
"Girl who Gave Birth to an Apple," in The Wolf Skin, April 23, 2014.

I hope to get back on the submitting wagon in the new year with some of these newer, unpublished poems, but my main focus again will be developing and populating the manuscript. Maybe along the way, I will acquire some more patience as well.   

11 November 2014

Experimenting with erasure

During my poem-a-day challenge for NaNoWriMo 2014, I've given myself the freedom to experiment with some different forms that I've been curious about, but a little too bashful to try before. I know what that sounds like, but different poetic forms, especially some of the more contemporary/experimental ones, can be a little …intimate. Well, very intimate, actually.

Erasure of text from Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle. page 165.

I'm still figuring out how I feel about erasure as a poetic form. I'm not sure that I would lump my erasures into the same category that I would my poetry. The hands-on, collage-like process of erasure creates something that, to me, feels more like visual art

You are working with a page from an already printed (and/or bound) text (that was, hopefully, in bad shape before you started tearing pages out). You can erase (i.e. cross out) the words you don't want to use in creating your new text, but you can't add words (even little ones) that aren't already there and you can't rearrange their order on the page. It's harder than it looks like it will be before you've begun marking up the page. But it's a stimulating sort of challenge, that forces you to look at the myriad ways a single word can be manipulated into multiple meanings. It's almost like you're searching for a secret code embedded in the text, but the code message isn't actually there at all. You're finding subliminal meaning where it hasn't been planted for you. Which could be considered schizophrenic, unless its art.

Erasure of text from Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle. page 83.

The thing about erasures is that more than half of the effect is visual. If these scattered clusters of words are removed from their page of origin and arranged on a new canvas, without all of that residual blank space where the erased text was, the poetry is nearly removed from the poem. Its quality of foundness, of altered-artness, makes it something more. That imposed spacing that spreads this smattering of culled words and phrases down the length of the page, the knowing that these words were stolen from a larger text beneath it, gives it added layers of meaning.  

Erasure of text from Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle. page 22.

For my erasure experiments, I used a particularly battered copy of one of my favorite novels: Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle. I imagine this would yield even greater results with non-literary texts, but I started with a text I knew well. Intimately, even.

06 November 2014

The Month of Scented Things

Here's a brief slideshow of the lovely blur that was October and the release of The Book of Scented Things.

The Literary House launch party on October 7, 2014.
Me, reading my poem & talking about poetry.

Editing discussion at the Arts Club of Washington on October 29, 2014.

With Caroline Knuth, lovely poet-friend who came to the DC launch.

It's been an amazing celebration of a month for our beloved anthology and both launch events were such fun. We were joined by contributors, friends, family, and even Chanel! Thank you to everyone who helped make these events so successful and thank you for welcoming The Book of Scented Things into the reading world. 

Some other things that happened in October:
  • The Book of Scented Things landed an amazing review by poet-perfumista Kathleen Rooney in The Chicago Tribune! It ran in their dedicated books section, Printers Row Journal, on October 16.
  • Jehanne and I attended our first Dodge Poetry Festival from October 24-26! Among the fabulous poets I got to hear read and talk were Rita Dova, Yusef Komunyakaa, Sally Wen Mao, Shara McCallum, Tracy K. Smith and many others. And I got to catch up with Newark poetry friends Bryanna Tidmarsh, Michael VanCalbergh, and Melissa Adamo. Also, Bryanna and Michael's lovely little Nora.

For November, I am participating in my poetry version of NaNoWriMo: a poem a day for a month. Here's to another busy, happy month of poetry and books!

13 October 2014

A review to cure the Monday blues

The Book of Scented Things received a new review today from Grace Cavalieri at the Washington Independent Review of Books. We were singled out for the October edition of her "Poetry Exemplars" column, in which we are lucky enough to appear alongside new books from Michael Collier and Katie Ford, among others. I am also beyond flattered that Cavalieri chose my poem "Elegy with Osage-Orange" to excerpt for her review.

As the least accomplished poet of this intimidating group of powerhouse writers, I understandably have a bit of an inferiority complex about my little poem appearing alongside theirs in our beloved anthology. Thanks, Grace Cavalieri, for helping me feel like my poem has earned its place there. Happy Monday!

I also found out a week or so ago that Midway Journal has nominated my poems from volume 7, issue 4 for the 2014 Best of the Net! Thanks so much Midway editors!! My fingers are crossed hard.