11 August 2014

Women's Work

Two weeks ago, I began a collaborative chapbook project with my super talented poet-printer friend, Emma Sovich. We're both letterpress printersshe's actually close to finishing her MFA in Book Arts at the University of Alabamaand as evidenced by our letterpress-centric Asheville vacation a year ago, we're pretty passionate about it. For such an industrial art, the letterpress printing renaissance that we're living right now is also largely populated by women. And all of these awesome women in the print shop has us feeling like the proper granddaughters of Rosie the Riveterat home amid the smells of lead type and rubber-based ink, working to the hum of the motorized proof or platen press. 

Image by Emma Sovich

Our collaborative chapbooktentatively titled Women's Workwill attempt to use the cast-iron imagery of the print shop to create a contrast with the traditional notion of softer, domestic tasks as "women's work." As relatively straightforward as this prompt sounds in concept, it does become a bit more tangled and difficult when you get down to the minutiae. The first poem I have written for this project casts a platen press in the role of clothes iron and ironing board, a housewife using a platen press to iron her family's clothes. This poem in particular plays on two definitions of the word "press": 
  1. to press clothes; to smooth out wrinkles in the fabric;
  2. a machine that prints text on paper by creating an impression of the metal type.
The end result is a poem that discusses the dehumanizing desire for one-dimensionality. A flatness of character created by stereotypes of domestic womanhood. Emma and I hope that, in the end, the fifteen to twenty poems we write for this chapbook manage to construct a kind of printers' feminist manifesto (or even a feminists' printing manifesto). Establishing through poetry the noble motto of the Ladies of Letterpress


"Dedicated to the Proposition that 
a Woman's Place is in the Print Shop."

 

And in other poetry news:
  • Poet Sandra Marchetti recorded her reading of my poem "Foxwife," published in Midway Journal this past October. I love her sensuous interpretation and her deep, lush voice. 
  • A new review by April Jones of Fairy Tale Review's Emerald Issue has been published on The Review Review. "It is a collection of insanely skilled authors and artists who take Dorothy's magical journey to a more modern audience." And I am so honored to have my poem amongst their pieces! 
  • And in just 4 days, Cherry Tree (on which I serve as managing editor) will open for its first reading period for general submissions. Even though this is my first time at the helm, I feel ready to manage this mischief. So send your best work our way, beginning August 15!


23 July 2014

Some summer reading

Because my friend Michele has requested so especially, I've put together a list of some of my favorites of the small press poetry books I've recently acquired and read.

1. Blood Makes Me Faint But I Go For It, by Natalie Lyalin (Ugly Duckling Presse)
 
I've loved the decidedly strange, but wondrous poetry of Natalie Lyalin since reading her chapbook from UDP, Try a Little Time Travel back in 2010. There's a distinct voice that leaps from poem to poem, that I trust in its confidence even though it's telling me things I've never heard before. Her new collection delivers on a lot of the same qualities that drew me in with her chapbook. Read more about it in her interview here. She's part of UDP's Eastern European Poets Series.


 2. Her Book, by Éireann Lorsung (Milkweed Editions)

I picked up Éireann Lorsung's Her Book last summer at Malaprop's Bookstore when I was on vacation. I read through it in only two nights while still in Asheville because it was such a compulsive reading experience for me. Infused with wildness and lyric language. Insects, weedy flowers, and the calm of northern England. These poems are as atmospheric as they are storytelling. There is a much better review of this book here




3. Girl Show, by Kristy Bowen (Black Lawrence Press)

Kristy Bowen's new collection of poems delivers carnival as collage and fabulism and matriarchy. Each one is chock full of things, objects. A vivid and lyrical specificity that accumulates into story, and sometimes prairieland prophecy. It's the mid-century, mid-country midway of our imaginations. Read an interview with Kristy here.

P.S. She's my editor at the envelope-pushing dancing girl press!



4. Darling Hands, Darling Tongue, by Sally Rosen Kindred (Hyacinth Girl Press)

Sally Rosen Kindred's re-imagining of J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan and Wendy is a woman-centered world with a very particular focus on the body: girl, woman, fairy. These poems pull adult themes from the children's story that we all noticed, but perhaps did not examine as closely before now. The way a girl's changing body shuts her out of one world and pushes her into another. Hips. Lips. "[T]wo bones from the tongue/ of a lark." My particular favorite from this chapbook is "Notes from a Fairy Autopsy." Read an interview with Sally here



I'm sure you've probably noticed a trend here. My tastes tend to steer me more toward poetry written by women about women and girls. This definitely shows up in my writing as well. No apologies.


17 July 2014

Cleaver Magazine: a second review of Imago

Poetry reviewer Kenna O'Rourke wrote up a really great review of my chapbook Imago for Cleaver Magazine! So exciting! Here are some of my favorite bits: 

"Even if one were to dismiss the conceit of Imago (or interpret it more literally), the chapbook would resonate courtesy of the very elegance of the lines within. Refreshingly sparse and thoughtfully arranged, Lusby's language is what transmutes absurdity into emotion here…"


"Sense is abandoned for the sensory; logic abandoned for mystery. In other words, by Lusby's strange machinations, a reader can't help but look at vegetables a bit differently for a spell."

Thank you so much for your generous words, Kenna! Read the full review here.


P.S.
The Cleaver Magazine Twitter account referred to it as "eggplant-fantasia." And I think I like it. Hah!

11 July 2014

Manifesto of a feminist, in brief

**This typically has not been a space in which I air my political views. I try to stay on the topic of poetry, printing, and books. But there are some things I need to say that are central to who I am on the subject of feminism that have steadily bothered me more and more and more. Today, I've reached a breaking point. These are things that seep into every part of my life including the obsessions listed above. Bear with me for this one post, please.**

FIRST OF ALL: I am a proud feminist. 

HOWEVER, from the beginning there has been this ugly underbelly that at some point was given a name: White Feminism. KEEP READING. This is not a name for feminists who are also white. This is a dangerously clueless movement polluting the greater, beautiful cause. That only understands feminism through the lens of the middle-class white woman. This lens has no capability for peripheral vision and, so, the White Feminist cannot understand why women of color still have issues regarding race and class and prejudice and discrimination, or why all of these issues are inextricably interconnected with feminism. White Feminists' propensity to approach all issues of race with defensiveness automatically shuts down further conversation, and the issue dies in stubborn discord and divisiveness. They create a brick wall down the middle of feminism and put everything that makes them uncomfortable about inherited privileges on the other side. 

SURE, the feminist who is white faces issues of sexism, just like our feminists of color. But we white girls DO have privilege of race. Acknowledging that privilege does not denigrate the legitimacy of your feminism. So stop running away from it. It will make you uncomfortable, sure, but you're a woman which means you're incredibly strongso suck it up. When you do face up to your own privilege, it will open you up in a way that allows you to listen to an experience that is not your own and learn from it. Listening and learning from mistakes makes you a better person and a better feminist. None of us are saying that being born white makes you a bad person, so please stop crying victim, White Feminists. You are not being attacked. You are being asked to stop talking for a minute and listen. And then, take a few minutes to absorb and reflect. Reflect on yourself and be honest. Have empathy. You don't have to respond right away. And remember: granting legitimacy to the experiences of another person does not de-value your own. That's not what this is about.

THE THING IS: As feminists, I feel we have a responsibility to respect the legitimate differences in our experiences, as well as the similarities. Feminists who are white should be supporting their (our) fellow feminists of color in bringing issues to the table that affect them in a way that is unique to them. That doesn't create divisiveness within the feminist movement—the refusal to provide that equal respect does.

DO YOU SEE? Equal. Respect. That's all it's ever been about.

**This has been a test of the emergency alert system. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming**


10 July 2014

Interview: Writers on the Writing Process

Laura E. Davispoet, editor of Weave Magazine, and founder of Submission Bombershas posted an interview with me as part of her series "Writers on the Writing Process" over on her blog Dear Outerspace. My "process" feels so jumbled most of the time that talking about it with her (erwriting about it to her, really) made me feel like there actually may be more of a method to it than I'm able to notice much of the time. I am certainly the kind of creature who finds comfort in habit and routine. Read the full interview here.

And some other little things this week:
  • A copy of my chapbook is hanging in some fine company in Sundress Publications' library at SAFTA, The Wardrobe.
  • That little chapbook of mine also has a listing at Goodreads and LibraryThing, now that I finally took care of some social media housekeeping.
  • And a glowing review (written by Mary Florio) of Fairy Tale Review's Emerald Issue was published on NewPages!

25 June 2014

The Feminist Wire

Today, two new poems of mine were published on The Feminist Wire. "Girl with no Hands" and "Interlude" appeared alongside this very fitting photograph of a tree that looks remarkably like a dancing girl. These two poems are the seeds of a new manuscript project I've been working on for the last year, called Catechesis. And it is growing slowly, but steadily.

I hope you enjoy reading them!

23 June 2014

There are birds here

We are now in the full porch-swing of summer, which means Summer Poetry Salons at my beloved Lit House. In celebration of the second salon of the summer on June 24 (tomorrow!), I was given the unbelievably fun task of designing and printing a letterpress broadside for Jamaal May's poem "There Are Birds Here," a love song for Detroit.



As much I loved this poem on my first reading (and second and third), it was a particularly difficult design challenge. Don't get me wrongthere are so many ways to illustrate this poem because it is so packed with images. But to illustrate it in a way that actually adds to the text, that builds on the complex foundation set down by the poetthat is the challenge to be met. That is the challenge we always aim to meet at the Literary House Press.  

So that means no birds and no buildings. For me, those are the two most obvious, but least important images in this poem. Those details are just the shell around the actual poem. But after playing around with various ideas for a solid hour, the right one finally surfaced: a sidewalk hopscotch game using the poem title for its tiles. The repetition of certain letters made this idea work, the coincidental book-ending of the title with the words "there" and "here." Yellow sidewalk chalk on stone-flecked concrete. It wasn't an image that was explicitly in the poem, but the poem certainly led me to it. And I think it gets at the poem's heart, pulls back the ribs and reveals it a bit more (at least I hope that it does).