Before mercury, my blood used to fill thermometers.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hollywood on rollerskates.

Deluged by gifts from the universe!

I have a story forthcoming in Spork! It is called "Cellar Holler." It and "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" and "Wing Beat" are of a piece. I am so proud of it and so ecstatic that it will have such a glorious home. This threw me. I made a grave misstep in accidentally sending Spork two pieces. I felt like an idiot and expected to be totally ignored. The warm reception from Joel Smith severed my nerves completely from the ill-effects of my day job. There is no greater present than that.

Or is there?

The selfsame New Inquiry that I referred to yesterday has an ongoing series of spotlights on Un(der)known Writers and I have a tiny bit on Anna Kavan in it. It isn't a me-thing, it's an Anna Kavan thing, and if you, wayfaring Googler, have never had the pleasure, it features a strapping excerpt from her story "the Birthmark," which may be my favorite (of hers, of anybody's, of anything).

This made today a really good day, but I actually had a visceral near-tears (maybe tears) reaction to some beautiful words directed towards me by someone for whom I have the most tremendous respect and admire so intensely. As a writer, an editor - she is luminous! That gave me profoundly beautiful, beautiful feelings.

Pushing paper typing pouring coffee counts: Solidarity on the literary frontier.

Literary Cubs

A few weeks ago the New York Times published this article in the Fashion & Style section. It's a newspaper article focused chiefly on the salon-scene that the young men and women associated with the new critical journal the New Inquiry are kindling, to which a few people with whom I'm friends posted bemused reactions.

The New Inquiry is not referred to as a literary journal but the word "literary" is SEO-woven into the article. It is also compared to the Paris Review, which "look[s] a beach read" beside the New Inquiry, which is itself (the New Inq, that is) a journal of cultural criticism. Be-headlining a group of critics the new literary elite is a distressing move when one considers all the very brilliant literary journals that begin the same way, of the same dynamism, borne of the same unfortunate circumstances. What is admirable here is how much of a collective effort this is, how many people are working together very hard to make this a very good magazine. This is fandom, and

A high level of connoisseurship is as vital to art as the artists.
A high level of connoisseurship is as vital to art as the artists.
A high level of connoisseurship is as vital to art as the artists.
(paraphrased, Fran Lebowitz, emphasis ripped off Linda Kunhardt

I am disappointed to see anyone - the NY Times style section is the least of the problem - not as alert to current goings-on in actual literary writing, as opposed to the bigger little publishing modes (the efforts of New Directions to continue being excellent, eReaders, etc) and the trappings of the fantasy external glamor haze of Literature. The New Inquiry addresses some excellent things: the Consultant Procedural and its demonstration of the "ladder-to-nowhere," demystifying mastery, and the necessity of scenes, to say nothing of the groundedness and determinedness they demonstrate in their reaction to the NY Times article and the reactionary articles that have sprung up around it, which makes me so happy.

But what troubles me is: this is establishment versus the Dream, the Dream as embodied by the "young and unmoored." If an establishment can't accommodate you, this is what you should do, you should start a journal, although the average sensitive, impressionable young reader who is also encumbered by student loan debt, who could use the inspiration that the very act of the New Inquiry should impart, may still be pummeled by the glitz: the Ivy league degrees, the smart circle of smartly-dressed friends, New York City, Brazenhead Books (although any mention of that makes me beam).

Additionally, it is sad to see only one feature so far, on the brilliant the Orange Eats Creeps by Grace Krilanovich, has anything to do with contemporary literary writers. Hopefully there will be more on writers who are more the peers of the New Inq staff, and hopefully it will be of the same caliber as this piece on the New Girl.

Never Let Anyone Profile You in the Style Section

Gawker's reaction to the NYT article is framed within their ecstatically articulated repulsion with the Style Section but fails to comment upon the actual phenomenon. The tone and focus of the article is another spot of decay on the corpse. The journalistic irresponsibility of the romanticized trappings is made explicit, but in the end, the New Inquiry itself is dismissed along with it. Max Read is not wrong: "For hundreds of years, unbearable young people have tried to hang out with other unbearable young people." However unbearable young people may be, it is whatever they are creating that is of concern, and what they are doing is something very positive. But leaving it up to the NYT to decide that is part of the problem, ultimately, and he is right to assert that people will believe it is right-hand-up-to-god legit because of its place in the Style Section.

Name Dropping

This though I do love. I have a lot of notes in my off-brand spiral-bound inspired by the Marriage Plot about the camped-out drag-vibe I get from balls-out pretentiousness that I really love. This, I am aware, comes entirely from an incubated little lifetime of having extremely smart friends in a remote, rural village where there is nobody to impress and our only concern as teenagers was having fun with what we liked. So the anxiety and competition, though I'm aware of it, I wish it could just melt away and these parties could be like karaoke discotheques.


After reading the NYT article and the Gawker reaction, I found this post on the Lavin Agency's tumblr about (New Inquiry founder, Lavin Agency employee) Rachel Rosenfelt's address to Book Expo America. When asked to present on the VIDA count, she responded "forget the pie charts" and opted to focus on the New Inquiry. While her assertion that women founding magazines is central to upending the reality revealed by the count, she could have established that within the context of the given topic and demonstrated solidarity. While it is good to see the New Inquiry's staff's dedication to espousing cooperation, as Managing Editor Malcolm Harris cites in his book Share or Die: Youth in Recession, this was a bummer to see. VIDA is made up of incredible, hard-working writers. VIDA Press Officer Ana Božičević's "Working Poet's Manifesto" is one of my favorite things I read all year, and her point needs to be perpetuated as badly: to make art, you have to work hard, you have to sacrifice, you have to do what it takes. When you are working that dismal office job, you can go home and hand-bind your friends' books for cheap or start a website.

I am glad this is the time I'm in.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

You're a gentleman and a scholar.

1. I interviewed Eric Papenfuse, owner of the Midtown Scholar and editor of Midtown Scholar Press this past week. The Press, which swung out the gate this winter with City Contented, City Discontented, a history of Harrisburg, is bursting with life. While they are wisely approaching the publishing of titles on the intimate basis of one title every other year to afford maximum promotion-time, Mr. Papenfuse ecstatically expressed his desire to see manuscripts. Fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction are very much of interest to the Press. Although you could mail your mss to 1302 North Third Street, Harrisburg PA 17102, you would be cheating yourself out of an opportunity to visit the most gorgeous bookstore on Earth (and the biggest between New York and Chicago).

2. My boyfriend and I were getting coffee and the barister and I got into a conversation. He asked me what I do and I said, I'm a writer. This may have been the first time I've done that. I tell people often - virtually as often as the subject of vocation arises in any context - that I write. But I don't think I've ever done that in the sanctified noun-way. It felt good - reactionary, defiant-good. I was beating up myself earlier in the week for not achieving enough, which is stupid. I did the old spiel that I have to do like Franny does the Jesus prayer, about how achievement is a totally subjective thing (some days I hear a crowd and there is no crowd).

The impulse to do this came after re-watching Kicking and Screaming, which I could barely watch in college and have avoided since graduating. For all the parts that I enjoy - like the completely literal innuendos - watching all that inertia in the wrong mood is pulverizing. I've been in the wrong mood for inertia for three years and counting. There is a scene when, after lamenting that he wishes he was going off to war after a lifetime of hard work, Chris Eigeman's character addresses himself in the mirror and declares that mere weeks ago he was Max Belmont, philosophy major, and now he is Max Belmont who does nothing.

I am grateful that the experience of college reasserted to me how in my basic state I do nothing, and since graduating I have managed to only do nothing for about two days, both of them lately. I am really busy, my life is very full, I write and edit every day, and the only thing that makes me very sore is the idea of not being able to work any harder. Despite conditions I persist in working harder, though, and this coming year will make last year look like a nap. This year will be a nap on the bus - mouth open, slumped against the window: total defiance.

3. The new issue of Anomalous is out and it features Joanna Howard and I am so awestruck. I adore her work so madly and I am so overwhelmed to be in the next issue! I have to record my piece before leaving for AWP, to which I will travel with my friend Maria, herself a brilliant poet! I have never been to Chicago and plan first and foremost on going to Intelligentsia Coffee. Then doing a windmill high-five at the Anobium table. Speaking of which, Anobium is looking for new contributors to the new website! It will be radiant. I have a Vision stockpiled on one of my favorite contemporary artists who I found through tumblr.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Courtesy of the Midtown Scholar, Harrisburg had its second annual Book Fair last month. I was all over it. It is all over HMag.

The building in which the Scholar resides used to be an olde theatre of the variety Lincoln was shot in, and it is the largest used bookstore between New York and Chicago and it has big-box-store hours. Since I keep silly hours, my boyfriend goes and drinks coffee and wanders their underground expanse of history texts until I get off and articulate my envy. The owners just inaugurated a press, and I can't wait to talk all about it!

Or about these Dusie books, specifically Roseate, Points of Gold by Laynie Browne, Three Geogaophies: a Milkmaid's Grimoire by Arielle Guy, and Herso by editor Susana Gardner, from Black Radish.

Or about this:

That's my best friend Gretchen hanging out at her house with Tim O'Brien. I don't need to talk about that, though, because that smile speaks for itself.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Do You Know How Diamonds Get to Us: my life and Green Girl.

Not a review in the classic sense. This is why my life is a good place for this text to hang out/vice-versa:

When I was first starting reading (in life) I only read about the psychology of trauma and film theory. Anything that takes me back to these days gets me on an indetectibly sentimental level. I would have loved Green Girl even if I came to it a different way.

Nothing has been as good for my state of mind as discovering that the things I think matter weren't flash-in-the-pan. Like writing. There is no evidence of this around me. No literary activity that engages the community. I didn't do anything for a long time but stay in my room watching movies. A long incubation period. I had to get wrapped up in the editing, the decisions made with sound, the use of actors to get my mind off things. It is still the only way I can get my mind off things. It still makes me yearn for context. Mostly I feel remote, like no matter how much reaching out I do I will not touch anything.

I live in a rural village. I ride to work at dawn. Since graduating I've been switching jobs and focused so intensely on getting to this point that I work in the city for a living wage that I stopped doing a lot of things that give me pleasure, like listening to Amanda Palmer. I have been catching up on her album Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under. There is a song on the album called "Australia" with a torrential sweeping wistful refrain where, after she asserts that instead of doing some mundane deadening chore that feebly reinforces her competency, she says, "or I could go to Australia." It looks totally powerless. You have to hear her sing it. When she does I cry thinking of curling up in my room watching Michael Haneke's Seventh Continent. A family flushes all their money down the toilet in a long unbroken take with no faces. They lethally inject their daughter. They react strongly before doing so to themselves. They tell everyone they're emigrating to Australia. I don't mean to do that to myself every morning. I want to feel very strong about all my decisions and appreciate my luck. I can take dozens of interviews for amazing jobs that I don't get. I should be able to take the odd observation that I am settling by taking the job I have, that I am not lucky but lazy. I know this isn't true.

So I want to hide in something. I used to sit up and read Amanda Palmer's blog for nights and nights. I still do. It was the resemblance in tone and power to hers that I started to read and love Kate Zambreno's blog. Getting an ARC copy of Green Girl was one of the best parts of this past year. Because of the gesture, because it is an important work, because of the horribly subjective phenomena I'm addressing here in my online diary. I persist in habitually referring to it as my online diary. I only call it a blog in job interviews.

Green Girl is a tactile pleasure, first. Not glassy like plastic. If I am at all gross it will show up on this book as I handle it. The first thing learned is consideration, close scrutiny, the imparting of recognition from a figure fixed above. Glass, Irony & God holds the same texture, figuratively, literally.

Green Girl takes place in London, but it isn't right to start out that way. It takes place pretty strictly in moldy rooms where men are not allowed and department stores. Something Kate Zambreno has down that has a tremendous impact on the book is what she emphasizes on and off the clock. It is like you are in two different spaces. This is very subtle. It IS like you go from room to room and your outfit changes like Helen Mirren's in the Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover. This kind of sophisticated relationship to space acknowledges way more the complexity and intelligence and strength of yearning possessed by Ruth. Ruth is your girl in the book, and there is nothing protecting her from the infiltrating army of intoxicating friends, a mortifying sales job, and her own forebearer.

(from Anne Carson)

For someone hooked up to Thou,
the world may have seemed a kind of half-finished sentence.

The same things that alienate me keep me safe in another color. When I was working in a bookstore I would hide in the backroom dripping and red in the same black dress every day and I would go to other bookstores and pretend to do research, would point out the anthology edited by my old employer, would fawn over Bettina Rheims monographs with black coffee in heels and gloves and I was obsessed with this. With proving to myself that I could be more than a wreck breaking espresso machines and selling zero rewards cards this quarter. When my strengths are buried under a pile of barren opportunities strictly in sales. Watching Ruth go from Horrids to Liberty made that recognitive click that I get when I know this girl I've just met, she and I can be friends, she possesses a central necessity. It is she in the space, how she feels in the space, that matters. Not the trite detail of how they are both department stores. It is all about context. I wonder how other people feel about this. Hypothetical girl probably does not know this.

My ice girl. I carve her into a swan.

I can't believe I found a copy of Bookforum with James Greer's review of Green Girl (in the capital area). He says the affection the narrator demonstrates for Ruth transcends the tone of her comments, the punishing tableaux. He says right. This part of the text turns the infrared on my massive insecurities. You know the ones that are never a problem and never a problem and one day they are the trash-filled sinkhole of your psyche, bringing the property value down, full of the weirdest things. Lately the thoughts I have given to the person in my life who has provided me with the greatest guidance have contributed to some mental disintegration - not to paint a portrait of myself as in crisis, but I am tremendously vulnerable. If I dwell at all I should dwell on how I have been strengthened and armed and ready. This is not about seeking approval. I have the attitude about approval that a television show would reconfigure into an eating disorder or academic perfectionism.  Once I got the approval of a person I respected and per our professional relationship he did not know me. Not beyond what he needed to know. I am ejected from nightmares as if by a livid shake, in a state of emergency, when I dream about him being disappointed in me. This is not a real-life scenario. He would not condemn me. He would not harm me. This is internalized pressure. And the intense yearning of guidance that stringent. That I did not/do not believe I deserve. But I got it. I should get over it. Get in transit. Watch my reflection. Don't think about it.

I went to see Melancholia this past weekend. The first I saw of it was the poster on Kate Zambreno's briefly-lit tumblr. I was done unto as the rogue planet Melancholia did unto Earth.

I was going to be the maid of honor in a wedding this past summer. I was so close to this girl. I loved her so much. She was in a lot of pain the whole time. She is a tough person. She was muscling through it. I was not. I was caving everywhere. I didn't have any money. All my free waking hours were dedicated to getting myself out of disaster upon disaster. I was printing her save the dates and invitations and I kept encountering problems with the printing service. My computer had full motherboard failure in the middle of this. Other things. When I'm not performing to the standards of others - unwilling to talk, financially naked, falling asleep - I don't go out. I wasn't in good shape. She got very angry. We went to the beach. She and I and others. I spent the entire time in my room, crying. I didn't want to put anybody through me. 

Many of the reviews I've read of Melancholia seem to have been written by people who have no frame of reference with regards to depression. That Justine's behavior comes off as dissatisfaction with the opulent wedding makes me feel even more grateful that art exists. All I could do when my friend - even if she did understand, that didn't matter - terminated our association with each other was watch Last Year at Marienbad. Why should I try to articulate what's wrong, Delphine Seyrig says, when I can show you, when I can turn all your words against you with the power of my images. There is a great power struggle between word and image in that film. She is unsure, though, of her kingdom. When she has a little downtime, she reads. She wishes she could be in control of the words, too, even though we're watching a movie, even though by controlling the image she wins (I believe she does). If I knew Ruth I would try to take her to see Last Year at Marienbad. If I succeeded, she might never speak to me again, but I'd feel good about succeeding.

In my own things I think of the refraction, the image of the self, as - because for me it is - a social anxiety, a yearning for solidarity, friendship, compassion in the minefield of girls. Control the image. The consistency is maddening among the faces, especially when it is all you. The quality of Ruth and Agnes' friendship is captured so exactly. I think it is stranger to yearn for friendship than for a sexual relationship. There is more at risk, more to alienate. Less is socially acceptable to articulate. When someone is after you for sex/intoxication/validation, that is so black and white to me. Friendship is so gray as to be sinister.

All I want desperately in the world is to hear someone else sing this song when they think they're alone in a hallway, on the bus, any place around me:

(from the Jane Austen Argument, "Bad Wine and Lemon Cake")
I want to rent a wife
then rent a husband to keep her for life.
The three of us, we could be so happy -
them, with each other,
me, with company.

I love that in the moment the Green Girl sex scene is just what would be made note of in that mindset, suddenly aware of your body as a performing body, of so many rules and shallow details. When Ruth walks past a phantom train, when the cold air baptizes her, that is when the naked Olly looked through her at Agnes. Only at Agnes. I've read/watched/overheard a lot of sex. This is the first depiction of a sexual incident in which I beheld anything really of my own experience that was not intangible. Not just a feeling. I feel days like a character of Dennis Cooper's. I feel days like Alfred Hitchcock. These outnumber the rare cool nights I feel like Catherine Deneuve in Belle de jour. Like Catherine Deneuve in Belle de jour's fantasies. Really it is just like Green Girl. Really Green Girl is so dead on.

(Anne Carson again, as Catherine Deneuve)
Do you know how diamonds get to us? Three hundred miles underground are heats and pressures that crush carbon into sparkling shapes, driven for months or days or hours along hotel corridors called diamond pipes until they erupt in a pile of taffeta and chocolate some moonlit afternoon...

I wish I could write reviews like Jeanette Winterson. I wish I could say something about Green Girl with the concise impact of her assessment of Djuna Barnes' Nightwood:

...reading it is like drinking wine with a pearl dissolving in the glass. You have taken in more than you know, and it will go on doing its work. From now on, a part of you is pearl-lined.

These kind of feelings from me are never concise or so elegant. I wrote a real grown-up review of Green Girl that was rejected by several reputable publications. This was a really special lesson in humiliation. But it didn't say what I wanted it to say anyway. I wanted to address the intersection of my life and the book.

My life isn't even in perfect condition to receive the book. Instead of Amanda Palmer, I should be listening to PJ Harvey. Nothing penetrates me like White Chalk. I have to be careful about listening to it. Certain songs make me useless because they for their duration just live for me. They take care of everything and feel the last shred of feeling I've got to such an exact extent that I'm like, whatever. Like "To Talk to You." "To Talk to You" is about a girl's dead grandmother. She says she wants to talk to her because she has always been lonely. All my life - so this is not a single isolated incident, I am not freaking out over nothing. Says the narrator. She tried to give herself to someone and it didn't work. She wishes she was with her grandmother. She would have something special to impart. If they were talking, she would come up with something far more profound and cathartic than just this wish for this conversation the quality of which could never exist. Grandmothers are great platforms for projection. Kate wrote a post addressing a central challenge of the art form that is the blog before she erased it. There is no aesthetic distance in the blog. The internet is so interior. The impact when there is one is so atomic. In the times of Melancholia when one is in need of the planet-colliding power of someone's words, Kate Zambreno's blog really does it. And I think it was Amanda Palmer who says - who works so impossibly hard to keep her career she and the fans forever, who sweats blood for the people who buy her brilliant work - she says she wishes people would say "I love the album Who Killed Amanda Palmer" or "I love 'Good Day'" instead of "I love Amanda Palmer." I think it bears repeating that it is the artist's work that we need to be in dialogue with, that we need to hold up and praise. That would be easy if all the work produced by artists matched Green Girl in magnitude.

Get Green Girl in your life. This is my conclusion. I was forever failing easy papers in school because I cannot produce conclusions. In the writing of literature, meanwhile, I feel like conclusions are much more concrete things and it is a matter of finding that logical end as opposed to finding some false way of closing an argument. There is no argument here, to me, you should be reading Green Girl. The ineffectiveness of this is a great testament to why I write fiction and not criticism. If this were a story, it would end with me limping into a far-flung designated break-space in gigantic hyper-corporate agency headquarters, exhaling with a force to fog up my glasses, opening the book, resting on my dewclaw, exiting my life and entering Green Girl.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lights! Camera!

But no action just yet (Jean-Claude Brialy demonstrates appropriate affect).

Happening on my desktop now: proper gut-wrenching soul-bearing review of Kate Zambreno's Green Girl, HMag story about Harrisburg's second annual Book Fair, gushings about recent books from the Dusie Kollektiv, my date with Sebastian's Relativity, wonkily formatted proof of riding the lace barometer that needs to be de-wonked and on its way to ISMs headquarters yesterday, my own weird things. So I am not too, too happening on the internet.

I struggle to think about anything but the outrageously perfect cover art my best friend Kara has created for Say you're a fiction. I am all a-throb with it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

When I was young, coach called me the Tiger.

I have an office in my home. Soon I'll be moving, and the space into which I move will become entirely my office. For now I'm fortunate to have this little space. In my office I have a white board where I have listed ten goal publications. They've been there for over a year now, and I'm crossing one out today, all mad and ecstatic and sassy.

I am super proud to be included in issue 10 of Caketrain, coming out around this time next year. The story they've accepted is called "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles," and it's among my favorite things I've ever done. It accomplished everything I wanted it to in this grim, tight coil and I was so excited to send it to them. I met Amanda and Joseph last October and got to purchase a mess of their wares in person (I can't get over - as someone who really loves roving bookstores and hiding and reading and reveling in the solitude of this pursuit - how completely amazing it is buying books from presses and authors and wish that could be all it is all the time). This bore no influence over their decision, since they'd forgotten my name, which made me feel - yes! - awesome because I got in on the merit of the work! And I really believe in my work and the work is what counts! My heart is coming out of my clothes! They said "The story is just amazing. It practically stood up and demanded to be published." That really means everything to me. It's been a crazy year. This was just the flavor of high-five I needed.

In about the same breath, I received a rejection from Birkensnake. I have been rejected by them three times, but this most recent time came with an "almost" - almost! Which is so exciting! Even though individual issues are available on their website, I cannot stress the pleasure that comes with handling the Chemlawn covers - the texture and the craftsmaniship is so enjoyable itself. They are at the top of my list and it is my infinite pleasure to continue shooting for them. I prefer this feeling in the face of rejection, that "this is why I'm doing this!" that I feel going for a goal publication vs. "why am I doing this." No question mark because it thuds at the end, that lament. Some days. Not today.

Last, quick: My goodbye to Borders at HMag.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sebastian's Relativity.

Anobium's first chapbook title found its way to me today. Sebastian's Relativity by Jonathan Greenhause is one of the most achingly fetching little books I've held in my hands in recent memory. I'm going to read it in bed, but I'm excited enough about the design to mention it prematurely.

Maybe you write brilliant poetry that deserves to be wrapped in such beautiful gauze? Get cozy with Anobium. I am totally stunned by this work.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Who's afraid of life without false illusions?

1. I lied. I planned on seeing Zoe Boekbinder, but instead my boyfriend and I had a crazy couples' night with my best friend Clare and her boyfriend. We watched DS9. When I was awake in her house alone at 5 a.m., I took a hot-tub-bubble-bath and read the Purity Myth, which Clare is loaning me, which I cannot put down.

2. In a job orientation today, when asked to produce an interesting personal fact, I brought up the chapbook to applause. Say you're a fiction! July 2012!

3. I read about an acceptance of one of my favorite pieces of a new work to Anomalous Press while I was eating an outrageous hummus pita. Given its chronological proximity to the Jessica Valenti hot-tub-bubble-bath, I graciously accept that I'm hoarding all the good in the universe. I choose to see this as the initiation of an undying trend. I love Anomalous, and the little story of mine they're going to feature was inspired by the Cocteau Twin's "Pearly Dew-Drop's Drops."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Typewriter girl.

Zoe Boekbinder, singer of my favorite song, "Typewriter Girl," is playing tomorrow night in Baltimore at Space 2640, and I'm going to be there, freaking out.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Book Challenge 22.

Day 01 – The best book you read this year
Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than 3 times
Day 03 – Your favorite series
Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 05 – A book that makes you happy
Day 06 – A book that makes you sad
Day 07 – Most underrated book
Day 08 – Most overrated book
Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 10 – Favorite classic book
Day 11 – A book you hated
Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore
Day 13 – Your favorite writer
Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer
Day 15 – Favorite male character
Day 16 – Favorite female character
Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book
Day 18 – A book that disappointed you
Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie
Day 20 – Favorite romance book
Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood
Day 22 – Favorite book you own

Day 22.

When I like a book, I obtain it somehow. I'll buy a book if I have even the slightest feeling I'll like it. Unless I am impoverished, or am feeling overwhelmed. Having said that if I like a book, I will own it, I don't spend a lot of money on acquisitions. Acquiring things drives me a little crazy. I don't accumulate excess, so I tend to keep what I financially commit to, and so if I want to add to that, it is serious. Books are something I'm willing to amass. I owned a lot of books until I went to school, but not many of them were fiction. Most of them were about the state of psychiatric institutions before their mass folding in the 1980s. So books became a little more talismanic for me than usual after I started to love fiction and appreciate it beyond the same four or five books I read fixedly. A very important book for me at the apex of this time was Joan Schenkar's biography of Patricia Highsmith (which came three years ago, I think - that's adorable). More than any other writer, she (Highsmith) is the one with whom I have the most in common. Not in all respects - including the more riveting and weird ones - but she struggled at all, which continues to be really important for me to see. On one level of thrilling and comforting is Dennis Cooper and Nabokov who mow over stylistic and thematic restraints I imagined existed but as far as the experience of writing, reading about Plath and other women of note was only so reassuring. I reread Paul Alexander's Rough Magic regularly because her discipline inspires me and it is wonderful to see how often, in addition to her achievements, she was rejected or lost a competition, but she was still extremely privileged. Highsmith was, too, but she was not overachieving, which is a really exciting fact for me to encounter about anyone. She was not roundly understood to be very talented, except for those who thought she was a genius, and that did not affect her own criticisms about her work or her ambition to be understood as the kind of artist that she was. I think, or else I am projecting. It is a really excellent biography, and I love that she was so bitter about writing comic books.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Small pressing matters.

Seven Kitchens Press is releasing Erin M Bertram's new collage/chapbook monster the Vanishing of Camille Claudel and I am all over it! I am formulating the cover and will be tackling the layout, too, in addition to creating some promotional materials that will appear here as well as on the new (which is new in the sense that it's never been a dot com before, but soon it will look like a whole new site, too). I love Erin's poetry and working on her December 09 SK title Inland Sea was glorious!

I don't think I mentioned also how amazing it was to meet Pedro Ponce at &Now. His talk about panoptic fiction, the "form" of surveillance, was riveting even in the face of constant near-unconsciousness that plagued me late in the afternoon every day of the festival. I am madly ecstatic that he loved the design of his Homeland: a Panorama so much! I am outrageously lucky to have gotten to handle that release! AND to have the help of Roxanne Carter in making the cover beautiful.

Anobium is STILL OPEN FOR SUBMISSIONS to issue the second to be released in the spring! This is such a miraculous issue! I'm really proud of it and really excited to be involved in its release! I guess it should be out sometime around AWP. Like AWP 2012, Anobium is in Chicago, and I will be, too. Meanwhile, the first Anobium chapbook, Sebastian's Relativity, has raked in over $1000 on Kickstarter (twice our goal!) and five days still remain to donate to the project. Copies will fly into the arms of their intendeds the last day of this month, otherwise only a few less than fifty copies remain. I really can't wait to see where the chapbook series heads.

Slightly earlier in 2012 than AWP, Riding the Lace Barometer by j/j hastain will be out from ISMs Press, and it is looking delirious! I am finishing up the formatting and design. I just figured out the specs and am printing proofs. Next weekend. After I celebrate Halloween with my college buddies. But this is a really beautiful little book. ISMs also recently worked with Tantra Bensko, my roommate from &Now on the Cabinet of What You Don't See. She is a radiant human being and her writing is crazy and fun and it is a joyous scene here at ISMs.

This is a lot to look forward to. I'm going to sleep until then. I can't stand the excitement!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Laura, don't go there! Leo, no!

Speaking of Juliet Cook's killer Thirteen Myna Birds, the new issue is celebrating Halloween with three poems from Say you're a fiction! Thirteen Myna Birds is a Twin Peaks reference. My best friend Clare is being Laura Palmer for Halloween. Among my favorite moments from &Now included Roxanne, Tantra, Kara and I collectively yessing and squealing over Twin Peaks. My boyfriend and I are halfway through the second season. This is our second viewing, and we're dedicating this one to the composition of a spontaneously imagined Cooper/Truman fanfiction.

In conclusion: an extreme thumbs-up to Thirteen Myna Birds.

Ex machina.

Women's Quarterly Conversation - a site I love full of interviews with poets (like Juliet Cook, editor of Blood Pudding Press and Thirteen Myna Birds, where pretty soon more parts of Say you're a fiction will be available) has linked to me as Enigma Machine. I am very proud of this, and it was nice to be reminded again how continuously excited to embark on Enigma Machine. And how happy I am to be being slow about it. I'm relentlessly miserable at practicing restraint when it comes to fun. And reading submissions is my idea of fun. Submissions will be open in May, right after my birthday. I am all ready devastatingly proud of it. I won't say anything more until the new year. It isn't very far away at all. I'm pretty overwhelmed at that.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sandwich panel.

I sometimes get off work at six and now it is dark when I leave, and the weather is perfect and breezy. There's a cafe I like to go to during the day and one I like to go to at night. The night cafe is courthouse-themed and their menu reads like "sandwich panel" and "gluten-free litigators." Under penalty of law I admit to making up one of those.

Also from &Now that I thought about winding through streets: Lucy Corin's voice shaking as she read what felt like page after brilliantly horrible page of dead baby jokes. Danielle Vogel's powerful vulnerability addressing ritual, writing, and the absence of Selah Saterstrom. Bhanu Kapil recorded some wonderful moments on her blog.

The New Fraktur Arts Journal has a new website! And if you click on that third issue, you can check out Diablerie, the mammoth synopsis of the the movie the characters are making in my chapbook Say you're a fiction. You can purchase New Fraktur III in the flesh online on the selfsame site or by visiting Emmaus, PA. I wound up in Emmaus on my way back from seeing Metropolis when the restored print came to Philadelphia. 

Diablerie is called "a film in a novel" because Say you're a fiction was initially conceived as a much more gigantic project. Someday it might be. Now I am content to be very, very proud of it for the chapbook that it is. It's on the bigger side, almost 40 pages. It will feel so good in your hands.

At Amanda Palmer's blog she is addressing the blog vs her own art, as are Niina Pollari and Autumn Giles on the podcast I'm listening to. From the comments on AFP's blog:
I've just started studying English Language and Literature at Oxford University and in our first class last week we were given anonymous extracts of writing and were asked the question "What is literature?" We identified most of the extracts from the start, but still we unanimously put each piece in the literature pile. These included great poetry, novels, television scripts, diaries, speeches, greetings card verses, bible passages, conversation transcripts...and blogs. We discussed how, in 400 years time, any writing from today has the potential of being studied as literature or art and how Shakespeare was not considered art at the time. We also talked about how these were all literature, but not necessarily *good* literature. All art is subjective and in my opinion anything that either intends to be or is interpreted as art, is art, blogs and tweets obviously included. But that does not mean we have to like it.
Amanda Palmer has brought so many good things to me, including Zoe Boekbinder, singer of "Typewriter Girl," who I'm going to see at Space 2640 (Baltimore) with my best friend Clare in November. I hope we will be cold and I hope Zoe will hug us.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

More &Now.

I didn't get to see much of the Montevidayo crowd, but every time Joyelle McSweeney was in the room, everything was electrified with happiness. She almost ran squarely into me outside a bathroom and did a wonderful, graceful twirl to turn it into a dance.

I missed that panel to go to the New Media & Collaborative Performance panel.

You understand.

I also had to miss most les Figues action, but that did not stop Vanessa Place's severity from being one of my favorite parts of the shebang. Her joke at the Matters of Mind panel was my favorite. Just my favorite.

Tantra Bensko was an unbelievably kind, flexible, patient, fun, glorious roommate. It was a mad, infinite pleasure meeting and speaking sparing to Roxanne and Kate Z. I was very comforted not to be alone in half-finished thoughts and total pulverization by the weather, the campus, and the crowds. It was so so worth it to hear pieces of Heroines and Glamorous Freak. Now my body demands that walk from the hotel to the campus. Even though I was so rancid, that movement was stunning. I am made for treks like that.

I'm still waiting for my synapses to start speaking again. Whole thoughts forthcoming. I learned today how rotten this blog looks on a PC.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Death, sleep & the traveler.


Kate Zambreno, Kate Durbin, Bhanu Kapil, Amaranth Borsuk and Johannes Göransson each individually KNOCKED ME OUT. Kate Z read from Heroines and from that sliver it totally engorged my excitement over that book to throbbing proportions; Kate D's whoremoans went audaciously unpardoned; Bhanu lit herself on fire then doused it out with Chanel no. 5 (at least, that is the history that I am waiting to see repeated); Amaranth's reading voice became my favorite extent thing besides Between Page and Screen; Johannes' version of the Lion King is now the only version. This panel was so full of joy and excitement and vigor and beautiful people and while my archivist impulses are really, really not great, I did record the audio. The mic was shy, so the audio is extra not great, and it is in two very lopsided parts (the entire panel proper is in the first file, the q&a populates the second) but it is worth it.

Piss Lisas
Niina Pollari's presentation about Tytti Heikkinen was perfect in all ways: Niina is a beautiful and awesome person and it was intensely delightful to meet her; I would have paid as much as I did for the Lincoln Towncar that dragged my poor, poor body back to San Diego International for the photocopy of "Anal Sex Throughout the Ages" and the Pissis diagram. Action Books is releasing Niina's translation of Heikkinen's Fatty XL poems this coming year and how that is going to be among my favorite favorite books ever I cannot qualify/quantify - I would have to demonstrate and that would involve so many unsightly gestures. On this note I'm glad the heat/the uphill-both-ways quality of la Jolla prevented me from presenting too glamorized a version of myself at &Now. I think I came off like this (that is: alternately floored as if I'd been plugged three times, or adorably senile).

I did not even mention this in my post about why I wanted to go to &Now but reading that Carole Maso was delivering the keynote address was the factor that pushed me over the edge into deciding to go. Her speech was on the first night. I arrived the night before and Kara and I got pho for dinner. The pho was huge, so I wanted to finish it for dinner the next night. After all the panels I was broken and sopping and dragged myself back to the hotel to finish my pho, even knowing how the walk back to campus would amplify how totally rancid I was. I did it. I found the ballroom where the speech was to be given and after the speech and her reading from Mother and Child that I was SO SO thrilled about and could have listened to her read from forever I got to speak to her and told her oh, I came all the way from Pennsylvania to see you here! Here being this once and a lifetime assemblage of brilliant and beautiful writers. But of course this elicited a giggle and knowing shake of the head and she went "oh Kari I live in Rhode Island" which was pretty great. ALSO it was not as if I was expecting that anyone would do this but I was so pleased (am so pleased) to be ready for the question "have you published anything?" with "YES I HAVE" which is better than "" with emphases on the ellipses. The one time I was asked was by Carole Maso. "Yes, I have a chapbook coming out from Dancing Girl," I said, and all at once she congratulated me and validated all my recent decisions (pho, working instead of going to school, the Man Ray monograph, etc, everything was cast in the glow of her).

Oh just everybody. Everybody! Amina Cain and Anna Joy Springer for writing rollicking books and putting &Now together with their bare hands. Roxanne Carter for the shred of Glamorous Freak footage and the incredible/sad story about her diaries magically turning into ramen. Tantra Bensko for being a cheerful and incredible roommate. Joanna Ruocco for the allusion to the Kari Festival (a real thing that happens in Norway) in her very gracious autograph. I swooned all over San Diego getting to see and sometimes speak to so many amazing writers who inspire and overwhelm me. I had the extreme privilege of talking to Amaranth Borsuk a tiny bit outside Atkinson Hall (everyone is fortunate not to have engaged in any more than a tiny bit of talk with me - I would have fallen asleep on them) and I told her that as soon as two years ago maybe I thought all writers were dead or - I don't know - Susan Orlean. Someone totally ensconced in a platinum swank job with an institutional affiliation and there was no visible struggle to me or small fervid ecstatic subculture as I was used to digging in music and art.

New Work
I missed the first panels the first two days being a wreck and needing coffee despite waking up dehydrated. But the last day I was not into that and took a cab to campus and I was so overjoyed that I did because current grad students at Brown were giving a tiny, intimate reading. I was really really hoping to see brand new people (to me) reading brand new work and it was not loud and I was just waking up and it was perfect beyond hyperbole. Especially Mary Wilson's poem made out of Nicki Minaj lyrics.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

You'll miss me honey certains des jours.

I'm leaving for &Now tomorrow night! I am a little scrambled. Last week at work, the engineer leaned over and said, "Kari, Kari - I think great minds are really tortured." That didn't flow appropriately, those statements, but I didn't want to forget about it.

I mean to say I'm scrambled as a segue to assert how I have not properly freaked out about Say you're a fiction. I didn't even use the possessive in my announcement. Say you're a fiction is MY little book of twenty-eight poems and two epigraphs and a lot of references to the Tempest. One long poem occupies seven pages. This is the poem appearing in the New Fraktur Arts Journal vol. III, which comes out while I'm at &Now. The Pittsburgh Small Press Festival was this past weekend. I had to miss it this year because my boyfriend's brother had his wedding. But I went last year with Ron Mohring and talked about the character/s that Anna Karina plays in the films of Godard, how interested I am in that story of that character. Working in the classroom we'd take over to make books, I think I handled Alluvium, Erin Bertram's Dancing Girl title, I was definitely aware of it. And I thought yes! This is an aesthetic I want to be involved in. I love the form of the chapbook. It is responsible for ninety-eight percent of the good time I had in college. And I think I'm going to be reading in Pittsburgh. I don't know when. But all of that is so perfect.

I do not get publicly fired up about my ambition but this fulfills one of the rigid and unreasonable goals I had set for myself upon graduating and I did it! I really want to celebrate with my boyfriend by making gin and tonics out of the gin he was given as a gift for his role in the wedding. Its label describes how strange it is and says enjoyed by a tiny handful of people all over the world - we're not for everyone!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Challenge 21.

Day 01 – The best book you read this year
Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than 3 times
Day 03 – Your favorite series
Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 05 – A book that makes you happy
Day 06 – A book that makes you sad
Day 07 – Most underrated book
Day 08 – Most overrated book
Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 10 – Favorite classic book
Day 11 – A book you hated
Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore
Day 13 – Your favorite writer
Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer
Day 15 – Favorite male character
Day 16 – Favorite female character
Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book
Day 18 – A book that disappointed you
Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie
Day 20 – Favorite romance book
Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood

Day 21.

I in my youth was all about Richard Scarry. Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. I also loved Don Bluth's Rockadoodle. There is nothing I dislike more than cars, trucks, farms and country-swagger-Elvis-rock-about-sunshine. Reality is poor with these things. Scarry and Bluth set the bar too high.

I loved Don Bluth's characters because even the talking animals drank, smoked, gambled, ran away to the city to be in show business, got depressed, contemplated suicide, consorted with evil in a less-than-heroic manner, and were really scared of death. From what I'd gleaned from scenes of movies I wasn't allowed to watch and my own fear of mortality that I was confronted with upon seeing a commercial for a touring production of Cats coming to the Poconos, I was comforted by knowing that even though that major animation conglomerate was deluding everybody, Don Bluth and I know the truth.

Also: I Spy books. I remember them being super voyeuristic.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book Challenge 20.

Day 01 – The best book you read this year
Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than 3 times
Day 03 – Your favorite series
Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 05 – A book that makes you happy
Day 06 – A book that makes you sad
Day 07 – Most underrated book
Day 08 – Most overrated book
Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 10 – Favorite classic book
Day 11 – A book you hated
Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore
Day 13 – Your favorite writer
Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer
Day 15 – Favorite male character
Day 16 – Favorite female character
Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book
Day 18 – A book that disappointed you
Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie
Day 20 – Favorite romance book

Day 20.

Colette's Cheri. No hesitations. It was the one Colette on a trip to New York last year that I saw, that I didn't own yet. I had money. I was prepared to buy whatever I found that I kind of wanted, even a little bit, because it was the first time I had money in years and years. So I bought it along with many other books (including the Bad Seed which let me down!) and only afterwards did I really covet and adore it and now when I see copies for sale I swoon. I did swoon when I found the Complete Claudine. It was at RiverRead Books. One might get a grossly inaccurate idea of that place from the website - it is really beautiful, right on the Chenango River (or the Susquehanna, actually, I'm not sure - there's a confluence). I had no money and was visiting an ex who was not an ex then (I speak here of my weird trip to Ithaca with him) which cost me a lot of money. So it was rare on my visits to have extra money and he didn't have any either so he staunchly wanted to avoid the very seductive bookstore that we had to pass to get to the library. I finally forced us in sometime because I had twenty dollars. The Complete Claudine was twenty dollars. I went there. The bookseller was aghast with me. I was so charmed. Usually I encounter booksellers who aren't familiar enough with material to find it morally reprehensible. I didn't get to relive that thrill until last summer. After a year of enjoying John Waters' pronunciation of Marguerite Duras (which is so dramatic and all over the commentary for Polyester) I bought the Lover from the Bookworm. The Bookworm is a bookstore in the West Shore Farmers' Market in Lemoyne, PA, right outside the capital, and it just moved to the prime retail spot in the first corner one sees when walking in. All my favorite memories of being an unemployed college-graduate (only a summer's worth, which is the perfect amount) are tied up in my ability to go to the Farmers' Market. When I found the Lovers there and bought it, the owner touched my hand and asked "Are you old enough to be reading this, little girl?"

Monday, October 3, 2011

Have you seen the future?

1. I went to see Tabloid with my boyfriend. We were in line for tickets when I saw a poster for Miranda July's the Future in front of which stood an elderly gentleman waiting for the bathroom. I pointed and yelled "THE FUTURE" and the old man, frightened out of his senses, flew out of its way.

2. Anobium has a $500 Kickstarter campaign happening as we speak. That amount goes a long, long way on a little venture like Anobium. The campaign is in support of our first chapbook, Sebastian's Relativity by Jonathan Greenhause. Rosebud Ben-Oni gave to it, and I would encourage you to follow her example in all things. She is appearing in the forthcoming and unreasonably gorgeous Anobium vol II, due out in the spring, and is among the chief reasons for its gorgeousness. Submissions are still on.

3. Tabloid was so great. I avoided reading anything about it or the case involved before watching. I just knew it was lurid. The way it started with Joyce McKinney in a wispy princess in the woods by a brook seventies white dress situation reading from her very special love story drove me wild - and the face that the film went in some somewhat satisfying directions, which were fascinating (beyond hyperbole), but not what I was yearning for after that opening, have me thinking about it continuously. I love its porousness and lack of psychological investigation. I love the guy obsessed with the term "spread-eagled." I love that each individual who participated in the film was so obsessed with a particular aspect to the story that no one was presiding over its arc, what it all could mean. Even the director was so excited to get to the part about cloning dogs that little was done to effectively marry the first part to that part. I love that it was called a cross between Rashomon and Looney Tunes.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tomorrowland Forever!

The festival is in sixteen days. Kara just told me there's a Whole Foods by the hotel, and I'm freaking out all over again. I am always nervous going somewhere new, not knowing where to buy sushi. My protein situation is dire.

Some of the panels and panel-dwellers I am most thrilled to see:

  • Prose Poetry/Flash Fiction: the Orphic Genre with Alta Ifland, Joanna Howard, Joanna Ruocco, Anthony Tognazzini, and Peter Grandbois
Our panel seeks to explore the narrative possibilities of highly condensed prose modeled on the Orphic descent as opposed to the dominant model of the Freytag ascent in western literature.

I love Joanna Ruocco's writing. I reviewed her Man's Companions for a forthcoming issue of Prick of the Spindle but the review is really just a meek plea to check every available thing by her out. She and Joanna Howard addressing this topic is a dream. The pieces of a Compendium of Domestic Incidents that were in Web Conjunctions completely knocked me out with how massively the mood ulcerates in such a tiny space. "Josephine's Father" is just badass. That's how I really review.

  • What's That Mess? It's Excess! with Kate Durbin, Kate Zambreno, Amaranth Borsuk, Bhanu Kapil, and Johannes Göransson
This panel enacts and explodes the history of aesthetic excess as it pertains to experimental literature, in particular the literature of madness, the internet/technology, and the feminine. Excess may not belong in the institution, yet it seeps out of the cracks in the walls.

Every single person on this panel blows me away. If you are someone who found this googling the phrase tattooed on Frances Bean Cobain's back, take heed: Kate Durbin just heaped hundreds of panties onto Sunset Boulevard. Kate Zambreno's Green Girl is out in four weeks and it will do such things to you maybe you will never say them because they'll live in you forever because she said them so perfectly (although the book she will read from in this panel is Heroines for which I am so excited - I have not been this excited for a book since Nabokov's the Original of Laura which was just a fetish object that I needed to clutch and cry at college because I was so weird, going crazy the senior year that turned into my junior year). Amaranth Borsuk co-authored the forthcoming Excess Exhibit with the aforementioned Ms. Durbin and as we speak is teaching the coolest classes at MIT. I recently contributed to public transit's culture of total discomfort by crying like an idiot reading Bhanu Kapil's Incubation: a Space for Monsters and her Schizophrene just came out and I can't wait to cry over that, too. Johannes Göransson is in this month's Evening Will Come and I will get to in a little how jazzed beyond reason I am about Montevidayo. This is an arena rock concert. Not "the literary equivalent of" or anything like that. I hope I'm not the only one ripping my top off. I expect a lot out of the UCSD crowd.

  • "Guarding the Fort," which consists of Borderland in Panopticon: all parts of the interior visible from a single point with Chris Mazza, On Pornography and Common Sense with Rob Halpern, Homeland Insecurity: Panoptic Fictions with Pedro Ponce, and Cascadian Poetics y Haibun de la Serna with Paul E. Nelson
An exploration of surveillance as a metaphor and structuring device for narrative.

Yes! Mr. Pedro Ponce is a Seven Kitchens author and his book, Homeland: a Panorama in 50 States is my favorite 7K title ever! I got to spend a year with its proofs and the mad mad ravishing Roxanne Carter, of whom I'll speak in a second, lent her photography to the cover. They are such flamboyantly uneasy stories! So funny and awful and abruptly cold and visible everywhere.

  • Seeing Stars with Tisa Bryant, Roxanne Carter, Masha Tupitsyn, Ronaldo Wilson, and Kate Zambreno
For this creative panel, we will celebrate our own literary works that are star-struck, rapturous and consumptive about not only these images that flicker and grace our screens but also the embodiment of the stars that play these myths, examining ourselves and our own ambivalences, our simultaneous roles as fans as well as critics.

Maybe this is the rock concert. Tisa Bryant is one of the editors of one of my favorite projects living today, the Encyclopedia Project, and is one of the people about whom I know less and am all the more excited to see live. I love falling for art in person. I went to see Amanda Palmer in Philadelphia in the winter of 2008 and her opening bands were Vermillion Lies and the Builders and the Butchers and I am fervently, voraciously, soul-crushingly in love with their music and it hitting me right there in the crowd for the first time was revelatory. Roxanne Carter's Glamorous Freak is due out soon. It cannot come out soon enough because everything she has published of it is maze-like and mesmerizing and that Jaded Ibis rocks enough to feature all of the gorgeous photographs that accompany the work makes me dread not being able to afford the limited-art-edition of it. Since I was unfamiliar with Masha Tupitsyn I googled her and her latest book, Laconia, came out ten days after my birthday and is about "whether we can any longer truly see corporatized cities like LA and NY other than in old movies, how to understand David Lynch's women, and whether there is any real possibility for connection in social media, or for that matter, in watching films," so the fact that I am not all ready a gigantic fan is offensive to me. Here is where Kate Zambreno will read from Green Girl and that all these works of art are being read together is the most unreasonably perfect thing. I am so proud of the time I live in that this art is happening, that this is the art of my time on Earth.

  • "Women on Women and Bodies," which consists of a Curious Body: Shelley Jackson's 'My Body' with CA Schaefer, a Species Spectacle: the Hybrid Body Narratives of Djuna Barnes and Bhanu Kapil with Cristina Milletti and Christine Hume, Interlacings: Rae Armantrout and Susan Howe's Filigree-Work with Elisabeth Joyce, and Banal new world: Fatty XL and narratorship in the work of Finnish Poet Tytti Heikkinen with Niina Pollari
Tytti Heikkinen's Fatty XL represents a new kind of narrator - one who has no desire to grow despite the public backlash against her for it.

Being a massive fan of the work of Shelley Jackson, Djuna Barnes, Bhanu Kapil, and Susan Howe, I am still looking forward to Niina Pollari on Tytti Heikkinen most of all. Niina is a Birds of Lace author and I love the juxtaposition of "no desire to grow" with the name Fatty XL.

  • 21st Century Lit as Mashup with Roxanne Carter, Janice Lee, John Dermot Woods, c. vance, Christopher Grimes, and Doug Rice
Jaded Ibis Press authors discuss their perspectives on the convergence of their literary manuscripts with visual art, music and video, focusing on what these collaborations tell them about interpretations of their own writing and what they see as future creative possibilities provided by the Press' multiple-edition/multimedia collaborative structure.

Jaded Ibis' vision is utopian and I love their promotion of a new generation of art collectors. Everything about it from the commitment to print-on-demand to the authors they've worked with so far - I am sad Anna Joy Springer isn't here but she is in charge of the entire festival, so slack is cut - this is what it all ought to look like, publishing, all this joy.

  • Montevidayo Omnibus Reading with Sarah Fox, Johannes Göransson, Lucas de Lima, Joyelle McSweeney, Monica Mody, and Megan Milks
This panel showcases the creative work of six Montevidayo contributors to highlight the ways in which the aesthetic ideas developed on the blog - which include the necropastoral, atrocity kitsch, ghost theory, and queer, carnal, and animal poetics - are exercised in their writing.

This was the only spot where I was split squarely between two panels but I don't think I can pass this up. I had a really bleak week recently where I stayed in and read Montevidayo, grateful to the marrow that it was free and even if I didn't now have this fuzzy attachment to it, necropastoral is a powerful bargaining chip. Sad that Danielle Pafunda isn't here, she's my favorite contributor, but I think I would cross the US just to see this, anyway. Sans everything else I've just talked about.

Also my festival roommate, Tantra Bensko, will be reading - I don't know where or when, but I am intensely looking forward to that, too. And partying in the Whole Foods parking lot with my best friend the farthest away from Pennsylvania that I've ever been.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

When you see your own photo, do you say you’re a fiction?

Say you're a fiction is forthcoming in the summer of 2012 from Dancing Girl Press! If you like your poetry full of assassinations, lavaliers of talking portraits, and Alfa Romeos, Say you're a fiction is the ride for you!

A tsunami-sized psychic squeeze for Kristy Bowen whose response time was really like lightning, and also for accepting Andrea Quinlan's We Speak Girl. 2012's got the radiance.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Life is a dream when you're reeling.

I am in rare form tonight! Capturing thoughts so lucidly! I've been a mess at communicating lately. Misspelling names I'm perfectly familiar with. Reproducing "I read this study of..."-stories full of inadequate insights. I heard myself do that today in the office and was like ugh you are the worst.

I edited an entry by an intern for an ezine. I taught him how to pronounce "ezine." I edited the entry. I got some glowing observations from my coworkers about my approach, my attempt to have some impact on the way he writes vs. making sure there are no embarrassing spelling errors. My greatest strength as an editor comes from my highly specialized intellect - that is, whatever I'm reading about, it's madly likely it's not anything I know about. What I know a lot about is pretty finite. But if I am reading an entry for an ezine and I do not understand what it's about, you've failed me. You've failed to teach me about the intersection of sports grills, new media, and effective marketing. And I will take your face to school.

I persist in gold-medalling the "you know what I'm talking about so I'm just going to omit the subject from the body of my statement and intuit it via your undoubtedly perfect recall of our last conversation four months ago that was half on Twitter and half in the hallway during break at work and your well-honed psychic skills" category. I need to demand of myself WHAT ARE YOU DOING all the time. Leave no chance utterance unmonitored.

&Now is so close. Three weeks. I am so grateful one of my best friends is going with me. And it is the first time I will travel a significant distance, the second time I've ever been on a plane, my first time to California - where my dad is from. Kara and I got seats together and traded off window seats and she is bringing her sketchpad. I anticipate falling asleep on her shoulder and enjoying a good, neurotic, hopefully mute sob because I am so lucky. That this exists - this is a fucking rock concert of awesome, and all I want to do is fangirl and rip my intellectual top off and TAKE IT IN, the treasure of people writing real good important glorious radiant things now while I'm alive, things that matter to me in ways that are really altering things that badly need altering - and that I can afford to go, this marks a significant development in my life that still feels otherwise like a suspiciously long vacation. Because it is fall and it's been flooding here and I've had pangs of gloom and panic my whole person is convinced I am still in Williamsport and I am sleeping through class and I will wake up in the awful weather and desolate, empty town alone with the knowledge of my ruptured GPA. That this trip is in October is so perfectly what I need to reinforce to myself: I did sleep in, I missed a 3.0 by one point, and it is still totally fine.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Please I want so badly for the good things to happen.

Quoth Plath.

Up to my eyelashes in action.

1. There is a local press that put up a notice for part-time copy editors months ago. I responded, and even though I wasn't selected, the publisher responded saying he'd keep my CV on file. I got one or two other emails subsequently, alerting me of editorial vacancies that were out of my league or area of specialization. One day I received an email about a part-time, paid vacancy for a nonfiction editor with a very tiny window of opportunity to submit. I responded and the next day got a notification that I was selected from over a hundred applicants to interview for this position. I am still proud of this. I didn't get the position because although I impressed the publisher on many levels, there is nothing about my professional history that screams I can edit the face off of nonfiction. Still an excellent experience that entrenched me ever deeper into this man's mind with the phrase "paid editorial assistant." Someday.

2. I came home from my boyfriend's Sunday night to find stacked up on my bed packages containing an advanced copy of Kate Zambreno's Green Girl from Emergency Press, an extra copy of Joanna Howard's In the Colorless Round from Noemi Press (I ordered this earlier in the month, it arrived safely, so safely it's here again!), business- and postcards from Anobium to distribute at &Now, and the new issue of Poetry. On top of all of these (none of which I paid for, except Poetry, to which I subscribed during their sale) was a self-help book of my mother's about controlling one's desire for material objects. I thought this was great. I explained to my mom that I didn't do any reckless spending in pursuit of those items when what should turn up on my doorstep but a copy of Laurie Weeks' Zipper Mouth that I clearly ordered from Amazon (it came a month early, just to sabotage me).

3. On Zipper Mouth: "My copy arrived early! I don't want to do anything but fall in and out of sleep all day, waking only to parts of this book. Ugh, desire." Abitha Denton on me on Zipper Mouth: "I thought you said '...waking only to part this book' and thought, oh, awesomely graphic metaphor for that cover."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011


My boyfriend's brother is getting married in a few weeks. To celebrate, we went with he and his fiancee to the arts space at SteelStacks in the old Bethlehem Steel plant. The arts center is across from the ruins, which they illumine after dark.

We went to see the Found Footage Festival, which is one of the favorite things of my boyfriend and his brother. The guys responsible for FFF, Joe and Nick, were getting food at the Mike & Ike Bistro (whaat) when we arrived, getting in line behind them, then ultimately sitting next to them in an otherwise gigantic, vacant lobby. So I thought my boyfriend knew they were there. He did not. We could take alcohol into the theatre. Something happens to me when I see Bob Odenkirk that happens when I see no other human.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


All this plus my ability to carve out a plan of action for Enigma Machine. So I want to say: the ideology behind this project is my love of new writing, of writers, of perpetuating and encouraging. I want to pay to read the work I love. I set the compensation for $50 per contributor now with submissions to open in May, which is half of what I was hoping to provide but this is safe for now since I can definitely pay $50 on my own, so with absolutely no help I can do that, and with donations, more. And people can order copies, and copies will be lovingly printed, probably with some hand-written annotation like a notebook passed around in high school, but no copies will be printed without a home to go to. Every book a wanted book. And hopefully individualized ebook-format archives. All I care about is having fun and reading things and supporting people who do work that delights and inspires me with a little more than a congratulations. I'm a poor congratulator. I think it is my distrust of language.

Monday, September 5, 2011

I also understood right from the start that it would take everything.

For the amount of jobs to which I've applied in the last year, I have interviewed for slightly less than half of them. A few of these interviews were for jobs - bill-paying, full-time - with some editorial responsibility, but most of them were not. They were all local, and this not being any kind of hub of printed writing, I'm pretty impressed with that. In virtually every interview, though, I was asked how I prioritized writing and how I managed this responsibility versus working. This question has come from a place of spontaneous curiosity and respect on the part of the interviewer. This question has been met with relentless shock and awkwardness on the part of the interviewee. I find I volley veiled insults and defensive attitudes with practiced ease.

One interviewer, gravely put off by my experience managing a staff and proofreading manuscripts, oblivious to my recent experience in programming and technical assistance (for a job that required both varieties of experience), asked me three times in the course of a half-hour - riding all the way an ascending current of totally annoyed with talking to me - why I majored in English, of all things. I was genuinely mean. It felt right to assert my dissatisfaction with her questions.

A trap I fall into - as distinguished from traps that I am inured to spotting, which don't really exist - is such: I go in for a job I can definitely perform, way below my skill level, met with some enthusiasm by the interviewer. Interviewer launches battery of enthused inquiries about writing, editing, publishing. I talk myself into oblivion about it. I vanish. No conclusions have been drawn about my ability to code medical insurance information or answer phones, but I feel awesome and rare.

After competently establishing the service-oriented-nature of my employment history, a recent interviewer who had made me feel very human asked me about writing, what my goals were, if I wanted to pursue graduate study. We got into it, and my hands went into grave-digging convulsions. I was completely honest about it. I usually take this position when I decide I want the interviewer to rue the day she/he met me. This was the job I got. In the interview.

The pay is so good I can self-finance Enigma Machine. Kara, the Production Designer, is coming with me to &Now, and our registrations are in and our room is set thanks (forever and ever and ever) to ISMs author Tantra Bensko. And the time is reserved from work. And I am finally prepared to get some elementary design happening on the website. Because I have a job. And I really put my life on hold in all ways and just held my breath waiting for that to happen with utter conviction that I wasn't going to die doing that. Or that I would annihilate myself in a conflation of my desire to pay off my student debt (that is not of unfathomable immensity but is real and finite and all ready a year behind me, a year during which I got so many other things accomplished so I can do this) with my desire to develop as a professional in a less-than-traditional manner, with my disdain for "professional" where art is concern where I'd prefer there be ardency, longing, obsessive enthusiasm and adrenaline-slicked, relentless work writing, editing, designing, printing, and my tendency to mix up "conflation" with "conflagration." Immolate my determination with my desire, and vice-versa.

I don't pit these necessities against each other. What I do for money right now is not my foremost concern. What I do with it comes in just behind what I can accomplish during my waking hours and that is what is important to me now. Shamefully under several other things is where I rank the getting of sufficient sleep (I am actively reshuffling).

I don't see why I would pit these necessities against each other to claim my place on the plateau of having professionalized my writing/attained the safety of a well-paying career. No one's making me pit these necessities against each other, either. I have spent a lot of time lately trying to locate that pressure. Part of it comes from my education. I think I got an incredible education at an extremely reasonable rate. I feel amazing every week setting that money aside to pay for it because I really feel daily the tremendous effects of it, how worth it it was, even the parts that I can't communicate efficiently on a CV, like my failing of Chaucer. I failed it. I'd fail it again. I want to excel and go back and tell the small people who made the strange decision to study writing in the kind of place that can kick off a Shining-esque psychotic break with all its isolation and dreariness what kinds of skills they are equipping themselves with, what kinds of things they can do with them. I don't want to reassure. Reassurance is poisonous. Any amount of firing-up, ignition, conflagration goes so far there. It's closed, it's small, it's far from everything. So I feel that.

This interview with Carole Maso, during whose keynote speech at &Now I will cry forever, which I read the day I got my new job, made me feel exponentially better, so amazing, not only because MOTHER & CHILD will be out in the spring. I always wrote and always strictly with the utmost irritating seriousness to myself, for myself, because I wanted to be good, I wanted to impress myself and make work I wanted to read, and that was all. To study it didn't occur to me until I liked it, I saw how it helped me, not as a writer alone but as a student and I felt proud of myself and learned how to place and achieve goals (time-wise, particularly) and that was, I think, the most important thing I've ever learned. To finish things. And she says: I also understood right from the start that it would take everything. I felt this. When I talk about writing, studying writing doesn't make one a writer, but tuition is a serious investment, and I knew if I did that, whatever I studied, I had to love it, I had to live up to it, and I knew I wasn't giving up writing anyway so I didn't go to it immediately. It felt more right than anything to go to it. It wasn't a lifelong dream...I had no romantic notions about it. I love it all - all the weird and terrible things. To become familiar with her and her work has been the foremost inspiring thing for me since finding Dennis Cooper when I was in middle school. Her total adherence to it at the expense of looking like the standard college-graduate success - commit to it, stick to it, love it. And Sing Heavenly Muse! That is the best.

I feel good about everything. Everything makes me feel good.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Il meglio albergo! Il meglio, il meglio!

It is perfect that elimae is publishing my poem "Hot Light" because it explicitly references the movie the characters are making, Diablerie, and the "Synopsis of Diablerie" is forthcoming from New Fraktur. That is perfect! I say this now because the good Mr. Renner is putting it in the September issue which goes up tomorrow. Even though there is a lot of news I haven't gotten to yet because it's hanging in the balance of other things. This is plenty to be happy about.

One thing: I will be making more money now and I am going to get that Day-by-Day Les Figues membership. I want those TrenchArt titles!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Challenge 19.

Day 01 – The best book you read this year
Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than 3 times
Day 03 – Your favorite series
Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 05 – A book that makes you happy
Day 06 – A book that makes you sad
Day 07 – Most underrated book
Day 08 – Most overrated book
Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 10 – Favorite classic book
Day 11 – A book you hated
Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore
Day 13 – Your favorite writer
Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer
Day 15 – Favorite male character
Day 16 – Favorite female character
Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book
Day 18 – A book that disappointed you
Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie

Day 19.

I'm still not out of news! Berlin Stories! The news keep amassing! Life is a cabaret!

Monday, August 29, 2011

In today's room with today's view.

This week's started off with a downturn to rival last week's radiance. I'm all right with that, because last week was still stunning, and I am still overwhelmingly happy about it all because I have it.

The first journal to accept my fiction, Sein und Werden, is published by the press ISMs, and I'm editing there now and hoping to enhance its web presence. Shine it up. I hope submissions are open. I'm fairly certain, since I'm editing something newly submitted right now, but I hope to read scores of gorgeous fiction and outfit it accordingly.

The phones in my house are set up, between upstairs and downstairs, to ring in a call-and-response manner. Whoever is responsible for this is my new arch rival.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The surrounding hullaballoo.

Things keep happening. I'm not caught up.

Last month I won $75 from Anobium Books, a very new Chicago press. I don't take charity gracefully, and to pay them back, I've joined their masthead. I'm working on networking Anobium's way into the heart of east coast bookstores and libraries. Their submissions period for issue two is ON.

Every time I think I've processed everything I am overwhelmed anew: the program schedule for &Now is out. I am so lucky to go to this. I wouldn't have the time or money if I was in school.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Set the house on fire.

This week is action-packed. I am going to focus on one thing at a time. That is my new thing, my biggest new thing: not being all over the place.

The first thing - the biggest thing, I retract my previous statement - is that I love, am all a-throb and heatedly and voraciously and viciously a fan of all the art that Kate Zambreno makes.

I like a lot of writing, I like the act of reading. I have a lot of books and I spend a harrowingly comparable amount of time reading writing online as well as in print. Of all the books I have, there is a shelving unit in my office where I have approximately five cubbies - there are twelve that make up the whole unit - filled with the books I find vital. A quick survey: Sylvia Plath is dead, Colette is dead, Anais Nin and the anonymous author of Autobiography of a Schizophrenic Girl. Anne Carson is still alive, and so is Carole Maso with two unreleased books in her queue, and Katherine Dunn had a story in the Paris Review this past year and that is all since Geek Love. Anna Kavan is dead, Kathy Acker is dead, Shirley Jackson, Clarice Lispector. AM Homes I won't buy another book from since she disowned authorship of the one I love. Mortality aside, of these, only three oeuvres get touted around by me fanatically, commitedly, inspire me endlessly: Plath, Carson and Kavan. When I read them I feel a constant yes. I feel at turns placated, understood, outdone in every capacity - it's all the other books, all the other stuff by everybody else that I read for a second, put away and write instead. When I read Plath, Carson and Kavan, it is all but then I saw the face of God and took the whole arm off.

Kate Zambreno is more important to me than them. It is different - I can enjoy an ultra-enmeshed relationship with reading Plath. I kept a copy of the Bell Jar - not my own copy - as a diary one year in college. But Kate Zambreno is making art that to me operates at that solar-white-blinding level of revelatory, and reading her - her blog, her fiction, her nonfiction - makes me feel the way I felt when I was fourteen, discovering Dennis Cooper. That was pivotal, discovering what fiction was capable of - but this was different, reading Kate Zambreno for the first time, discovering that fiction could be as staggeringly formed and speak to my experience. Which is to say: with Plath I feel the predilection for self-alienation, the apoplectic frustration with wording dread, Carson is distant and stellar and all the stuff about her father, ahhhh, and Kavan is void, the things that speak to her do so in a language that, in her translation, come across as paranoid and crazy, but her translation places her vulnerability to this, her mastery of this, at the forefront, and these are all important things to me, to see someone experience, but they are very different from me. And not that I am so insufferably singular - the experience of a girl who's been a teenage girl and been angry and had problems with the space she's occupied is pervasive and Kate Zambreno SINGS TO THAT.

One of my best friends and I went out to dinner and she told me about how, at her office, a female coworker constantly sexually harasses her, making the most audacious comments, and when my friend shut her down, there was an abrupt complaint to management that my friend dressed too provocatively. The next day, a male coworker made an unwanted advance, and when my friend, distraught, talked to one of her coworkers about it, this coworker advised her to just put up with it, since the recent managerial alert to her provocative dress would just prove that she was too much of a tart to let anyone get any work done. I told her: you need to read Kate Zambreno. This was my first impulse. This is the sign. This is all I want to do with art, that I can never do with art: say, with all conviction in every particle of my being: THESE WORDS HAVE THE POWER TO SAVE YOU.

And so when another of my best friends posted a Venn diagram marginalizing the work of Sylvia Plath that was constructed by the same individual who created one marginalizing Kate Zambreno, I - I did not say, I demonstrated, using the much more effective words of Kate and Jackie Wang how wrong that thinking is. Girl = emotional, girl = weak, girl = bad. I was repulsed. And I wanted to tell Kate Zambreno that she's my heroine, because I believe the work she does is important. And she has a book coming out this coming year called Heroines and it is the kind of book that I can't believe does not exist, that has to exist, that I am going to be giving to everyone I meet, as it looks like I might have a real, well-paying job soon it is really too soon to say and that is part of more news I plan on sharing in another post but so many books - the great great fucking miraculous King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes that really held me and rocked me gently after my college meltdown over how my paper on feminist writing and problems of autobiography turned into a grueling, graphic justification on why such a paper should exist, and Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy which frightens me constantly with how much I see its contents every day all around me - so many books I would like to turn everyone onto but Heroines is not just accurate or timely but VITAL. And Green Girl is coming out circa &Now when I will see Kate read and I am beside myself with excitement, for how it's all come together and I have a room and wonderful roommates and money and freedom to travel that I am celebrating with this trip. And I wanted to say something about this, and I did, and Kate had seen my tumblr, and thanked me, and said you are my heroine and linked my tumblr on her blog. And my hands are still shaking.

That is so cool.

My tumblr, my feelings about the form of the tumblr (which are lavish), and a lot of other news is forthcoming. So much. An avalanche.