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The Book of Scented Things by Jehanne Dubrow

The Book of Scented Things

by Jehanne Dubrow

Giveaway ends April 30, 2015.

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07 April 2015

How to find me at AWP

Despite my cumulative exhaustion from the nonstop busyness at the fabulous Rose O'Neill Literary House (have I mentioned how much I love my awesome job?), I am very much excited about the upcoming literary & publishing frenzy at the 2015 AWP Conference in Minneapolis. For a good chunk of the Conference, you will be able to find me at the Literary House table in the Bookfair, with all of our fantastic Literary House Press and Cherry Tree wares and paper goods

I will be on-duty at Table 1724 for the following times:
  • Thursday, April 9 from 9:00-10:30 a.m.
  • Thursday, April 9 from noon-1:30 p.m. 
  •  Friday, April 10 from noon-1:30 p.m.
  •  Friday, April 10 from 4:30-5:45 p.m.

And then on Thursday night, April 9 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis (1300 Nicollet Mall), I will be at the official Cherry Tree Launch Party! Inaugural issue contributors Juliana Gray, Dore Kiesselbach, Bruce Snider, and Laura Madeline Wiseman will read their pieces from the issue, followed by tasty refreshments, an open bar, and a sale & signing of the issue. If you think this sounds like a good time, please join us! We would love to see you there and introduce you to the beauty of Cherry Tree: A National Literary Journal @ Washington College

Happy Conference, everyone!

05 March 2015

Do you spook easily, Starling?

Last month I experienced a flash of poetic clarity that delivered itself signed and sealed care of one of my favorite horror movie classics: The Silence of the Lambs. During my probably twenty-seventh viewing, that steady refrain of "Starling" throughout the script just lit up all over the dialogue for me, her name/species bouncing from the mouths of male mentor/villain Hannibal Lecter to male mentor/hero Jack Crawford. These lines addressing "Starling" over and over seemed to me the perfect jumping-off points for a new mini-series of poems, addressing Agent Clarice Starling as both young woman in a male-dominated world chasing a killer of women and small bird eluding threats both wild and domestic. These lines will become my poem titles and these poems will be nested inside the Catechesis manuscript as a different variation on the same themes I've already been writing toward.

Here are the movie lines I have gleaned so far to use for these poem titles:

  • Do you spook easily, Starling?
  • That is rather slippery of you, Agent Starling.
  • Why do you think removes their skins, Agent Starling?
  • Look at him, Starling. Tell me what you see.
  • It was just smoke, Starling. I had to get rid of him.
  • How do we begin to covet, Clarice?

This last doesn't end in "Starling" as the others do, but it is still so evocative; and touches on the subverted Biblical/Catholicism theme at the center of Catechesis. I just had to pick up that one, too.

And because I had only ever watched the movie, I decided I finally needed to read the book: The Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris. This is not the usual fiction I read (I admit to being a bit of a literary snob, but it comes with the territory!), but this was now research for the poems to be written. I just finished the book today. And although I can't say that the writing style was completely to my taste, there were certainly a lot of details to be absorbed to use for poem fodder. One passage in particular (from Chapter 25) really helped me to be certain that I am heading down the right path with this new direction:
"A caterpillar becomes a pupa in a chrysalis. Then it emerges, comes out of its secret changing room as the beautiful imago. Do you know what an imago is, Clarice?"
"An adult winged insect."
"But what else?"
She shook her head.
"It's a term from the dead religion of psychoanalysis. An imago is an image of the parent buried in the unconscious from infancy and bound with infantile affect. The word comes from the wax portrait busts of their ancestors the ancient Romans carried in funeral processions... Even the phlegmatic Crawford must see some significance in the insect chrysalis." 
How serendipitous to find my word-friend here! So far I have written the first poem and made significant progress in drafting the second. I can't wait to see what else there is to discover as these new poems unfold themselves and emerge.

This has got to be one of my favorite poetry prompts. Feel free to try it yourself, if it appeals to your tastes, too!

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.