16 November 2016

On book launches and launching poems

In the past two months we've held two launch events for newly-released Still Life with Poem: Contemporary Natures Mortes in Verse, which I co-edited with my friend Jehanne for the Literary House Press; we've waded through over a thousand submissions for the third issue of Cherry Tree; and although I haven't been able to get much new writing done, I did manage to send out a batch of poems to thirteen literary magazines. I'm pretty exhausted!

On October 18, we hosted the first book launch at home at the Rose O'Neill Literary House with readings from contributors James Arthur, James Allen Hall, Leslie Harrison, dawn lonsinger, and Dora Malech. 

I gave the introduction (a first for me) and also read my poem, as well as two others from the anthology. 

We had some delicious food, debuted a beautiful commemorative letterpress broadside that I helped to design and print, and decorated the space with still lifes made up of gourds, antlers, tarot cards, and other things. It was an incredibly fun night!

Then on November 9, we held a DC launch at the Arts Club of Washington! We had readings from James Arthur, Sandra Beasley, Kim Bridgford, James Allen Hall, Dora Malech, and Jason Schneiderman. After the readings, Sandra (our host & contributor) called me to the stage and I answered a few questions about the editorial process. After a heartbreaking election night, this evening of poetry and fellowship was just what all of us needed.

We ended our most recent reading period for Cherry Tree on October 15, but we only finished reading, evaluating, and responding to all submissions on November 10. This third issue is going to be an especially strong and very full one! We are very excited for all of the amazing poetry, fiction, and nonfiction we will be publishing this time around. Our beloved Production Intern Caroline Harvey (who also worked at my side as Literary House Press Intern last spring, playing a crucial role in helping to bring Still Life with Poem into the world) has just set to work laying out the new issue, which will be heading to print in early January in preparation for its debut at an early AWP Conference in DC, February 8-11. We have so much in the works for AWP this year, so stay tuned for updates!

With all of this and more happening, it's been especially difficult over the past couple of months to get any of my own writing and other poetry work done. I managed to complete my fourth Alien poem in early October, but I haven't yet begun the fifth and it is really beginning to weigh on me. Soon, I tell myself. In all of the busyness I've felt the need to create a to-do list for my poetry work to ease my worries here: 

As you can see, I have begun to cross things off the list! I'm hoping to have a chapbook manuscript (part of my full-length manuscript-in-progress) ready to send out to presses by January. The poems are there and finished, but it needs a new title that I just haven't been able to grasp yet. I've gotten so far as generating a word cloud with the entire text to help loosen up some title ideas. The manuscript is three five-poem sections, each focused on a different fairy-tale girl. So I'm thinking the title could be a list of three simple, but evocative nouns? But that may just be because I love Kate Bernheimer's Horse, Flower, Bird. And despite it clearly being the most commonly used word in the manuscript, I'd also like to avoid using the word "girl" in the title, if at all possible. 

This past weekend I submitted the first four Alien poems (a respectable little batch) to thirteen literary magazines. Whew! And I'm doing my best to aim high, since I write so slowly and rarely have many to send out:
  • 32 Poems
  • A Public Space
  • Bennington Review
  • The Collagist
  • Crazyhorse
  • Gulf Coast
  • Iowa Review
  • The Journal
  • jubilat
  • New Ohio Review
  • Passages North
  • Third Coast
  • Waxwing

I crossed my fingers, kissed these poems good-bye (for now), and have moved on to the next items on the list. We'll just have to see if I manage to write these final two Alien poems before the new year. I'm hopeful, but entirely exhausted. Which seems to be my whole outlook on life at this moment in time: emptied out, but still there's hope. 

23 September 2016

Starry-eyed at the Sky Stage

The September 22nd reading at Frederick's brand-new Sky Stage was an amazingly fun evening. A crew of present and past Chestertonians came out:

My reading-mate Rae Bryant was an incredible host who made me feel like family as soon as I arrived. I feel very fortunate now to call her a friend.

I read a fairly large batch of work: some fairy tale girl poems, some Silence of the Lambs poems, and even a few Alien poems. I was happy to discover some fellow horror movie fans in the intimate audience. 

My best partner-in-poetry snapped these photos of me in action (thank you, Emma!) and she took video snippets of my reading: 

And because my copy arrived on Tuesday, I showed off the brand-new Autumn 2016 issue of Faerie Magazine (based out of nearby Baltimore) and read my fairy tale girl poems published there. Really, if you don't subscribe to this gorgeous full-color magazine, you should.

Rae gave a fantastic reading of her short stories. Her collection The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals is also well worth buying when your next payday rolls around. Each of our readings were punctuated by some perfectly moody, live bass guitar by musician Jake Warrenfeltz. And then the stage was opened up to the audience and we had a lively open mic session with friends, and new friends, to round out the evening. 

But the most fabulous and magical part of the night was the Sky Stage itself: 

And then after having a magnificent time, just before leaving Frederick for the drive home, we found this last little message from the universe: 

(look closely at the license plate)

I'm taking this as a sign. Thank you to Rae, Frederick Arts Council, and the Sky Stage Reading Series for such hospitality and fellowship. I can't wait to see you all again!

Because it was also the first day of fall, Rae heroically read the McSweeney's classic "It's Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers" during the open mic. It was, unironically, the best thing ever: 

11 September 2016

On fall readings and future print

And just like that, the summer has passed and September is here again. (Thank Godbring on sweater weather!) Although they came very slowly, I did manage to get two more Alien poems written before Labor Day. And I'm once again wading through submissions for Cherry Tree, but this time for our third issue! This fall I will also be participating in two poetry reading events. Here are the details:

Reading #1:
Featuring Rae Bryant & Lindsay Lusby 
Thursday, September 22 at 7:00 p.m.
Sky Stage, 59 S. Carroll St., Frederick, MD 

Reading #2: 
Featuring James Arthur, James Allen Hall, Leslie Harrison, dawn lonsinger, Lindsay Lusby, Dora Malech, and Jason Schneiderman
Tuesday, October 18 at 4:30 p.m. 
Rose O'Neill Literary House, 407 Washington Ave., Chestertown, MD

And speaking of readings, during our first Cherry Tree Young Writers' Conference at the Lit House in July, I read some of my Silence of the Lambs poems as part of the Intern & Staff Reading. Here is a video of me reading two of those poems: 

My last bit of news is that all five of my "Girl with Cloven Feet" poems have now found print homes! Back in June, I told you that "Girl with Cloven Feet," "Trade," and "Trigger" were accepted by Faerie Magazine for their Autumn 2016 issue. That issue should be hitting magazine stands very soon! And then this week, the last two poems "Trespass" and "Tremble" were snagged by Porkbelly Press for their upcoming anthology bramble&thorn. They will also be reprinting "Trade" here. I can't wait to see all of the pieces that end up in this anthology whose fierce-fairy-tale-women premise is all of the things that I love.

Happy fall, everyone! May you have your fill of cooler days and cozier nights, and all of the creature comforts that go along with them.

10 June 2016

On still lifes and still writing

Since my last post (in March! What?!), I've been entirely sucked into my (fantastic but busybusybusy) day job at the Rose O'Neill Literary House. It's been a productive few months professionally, but my writing has stagnated in the meantime. I intend to turn that around again soon, making sure the entire summer doesn't pass before I've written at least 2-3 more Alien poems. 

In news: after months of editing and proofing, we finally received the first printed copies of the Literary House Press's next poetry anthology, Still Life with Poem! It's just as beautiful as I hoped it would be. This is the second volume I've co-edited with my great friend and colleague Jehanne Dubrow. Sadly, this is going to be the last, at least for now. Jehanne recently accepted an exciting new position that she is looking forward to beginning before the end of the summer. As heartbroken as I am for myself and for the Lit House, I am thrilled for her. I can honestly say that these last four years working alongside her have been the best of my life; and I am a better person, poet, and professional for having known her.

As for Still Life with Poem, the book is scheduled for official release on October 18, 2016, when we'll be celebrating with a launch party at the Lit House. But contributor copies and review copies will be in the mail within the next couple of weeks. If you are interested in receiving a review copy, e-mail me at llusby2@washcoll.edu to request one.

In further news: poetry writing has been on hold lately, but three poems that have been waiting for a home since February were recently taken by the gorgeous Faerie Magazine, an aesthetically exquisite glossy mag based out of Baltimore. "Girl with Cloven Feet," "Trade," "Trigger"pieces from a five-poem sequencewill be appearing in the Autumn 2016 issue. I can't wait to see my poems alongside all of that magical photography. Their upcoming Summer 2016 issue includes homages to Prince and David Bowie's Goblin King

My goal for the rest of the summer (which hasn't technically begun, but already seems to be swinging) is to focus exclusively on completing this new series of poems about Alien, and possibly creating some collages to pair with them. But that will be my reward to myself when I finish the sequence. I'm currently two poems deep, with probably four more to go (because I'm a fool for symmetry). All of the movie-line-poem-titles are picked out and ready. All I'm waiting on now is me.

11 March 2016

On cherrybombs and fairy tales

This is a fairly accurate representation of the last month of my life: 

Don't these two look great together?

Cherry Tree's second issue was released on February 15 and we've been welcoming it since with a parade of contributor, staff, and subscriber selfies in our #cherrybomb social media campaign. It's been a heckuva lot of fun because so many of our friends have been playing along with us. 

Then this week, Fairy Tale Review's Ochre Issue arrived on my front stoop! My contest-winning poem series "Forestry (parts 1-3)" is in here alongside some other fantastical work. If you're headed to AWP in LA later this month, you can pick up a copy of FTR there, although Cherry Tree will be staying home this year. Either way, you should absolutely subscribe to both of these literary journals. 

And in case you missed it a couple of weeks ago, I have a guest post up on Fairy Tale Review's blog for their Fairy-Tale Files series: On Circles of Salt

Editorial work is nearly done on Still Life with Poem. We'll be sending out proofs to our anthology contributors in less than two weeks!

06 February 2016

Editor pants, poet pants

For the past month and a half, I've been wearing my editor pants almost constantly (good thing I have a few pairs!). Here's a quick recap of what I've been up to since my last post: 

After a couple weeks of intensive proofing and revising of Cherry Tree's second issue, we sent that beautiful baby to print! The printed copies have arrived at the Literary House and we're now prepping them to mail out to contributors and subscribers. I am so incredibly proud of how this issue turned out. If you haven't already, you should subscribe now! Also, we received word on January 15 that a poem from the inaugural issue was chosen for inclusion in the 2016 edition of Best American Poetry: "As If," by Julie Kane!

Once that editorial work was wrapped up, I moved on to laying out the interior of the Literary House Press's next poetry anthology, Still Life with Poem. That's nearly complete now. Soon it will be ready for proofing and revising like mad. But on Friday, we did manage to finalize a gorgeous cover design for the book! All I can tell you about it now is that it features a prominent and perfect grasshopper (stagename Gary). You'll have to wait patiently for more on that. I'll be deep into the designing and editing of this project for the next month or so. 

But today! Today I got to put on my poet pants again. Emma and I got together this afternoon and had ourselves a little poetry submission party (we only invited cats). I submitted a new batch of Catechesis poems to seven literary magazines:

  • West Branch
  • 32 Poems
  • Phantom (now reading for their annual Emerging Poets Issue!)
  • Waxwing
  • Gigantic Sequins
  • Guernica
  • Indiana Review

So, I have poems back out in the world again. And now it's time to start writing the next section of my manuscript-in-progress: poems about 1979's Alien and Ellen Ripley.