Before mercury, my blood used to fill thermometers.

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

SteelStacks.


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

Press.

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.