I’m honored to be reading with the charismatic Raina Leon and Tereza Kramer this evening at Alley Cat Books. Join us at 6 pm for wine, cheese, and poetry in this gorgeous Mission space! I will be reading poems from my two forthcoming chapbooks, thanks to Dancing Girl Press and Beard of Bees, who will be releasing my work in late spring/ early summer. I hope to see you there!
Thanks to my inspiring poet friend Raina Leon, I have been tagged in a fun blog hop project called “The Next Big Thing.” Writers around the world are tagged by other writers and asked to respond to 10 questions in a self interview about their latest big project. Here is my response, which outlines the inspirations behind my forthcoming chapbook, out soon through Dancing Girl Press.
1. What is the working title of the book?
in the way of harbors
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
The spark for the book’s ideas occurred much earlier than its actual composition. The conceptual foundation takes its materials from my experience of traveling solo in the summer of 2005 through the strange tundra of Iceland. Iceland is such a mercurial place of geological extremes; a place that is forever shifting in a literal, visible way; a place where the unpredictable natural environment so clearly determines not only the landscape but also (perhaps) the moods and ideas of the people there. At the time, I was writing many of the poems of my first chapbook, which was concerned with the power of human projection—the way we all tend to create truths and realities based upon our own subjective perceptions. But traveling to Iceland in that “endless” summer and again in the dark winter of 2006, I began to appreciate another notion of projection, thinking of how the seemingly inanimate (natural elements, as seen in Iceland, but also objects of the city, as well as intangible social constructs) can have a moving, mind-rendering force as well. I began to imagine that maybe we shape and project upon what is “other” just as much as outside forces render our internal identities. In any case, my interest in these fluid ways of understanding selfhood and meaning began to enter my poems. Before I knew it, I was obsessed with this fact of impermanence and finding mirrors of it everywhere during my travels, including in the similarly shape-shifting cities of Sao Paulo, Rio, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Bangkok, and Mexico City. I began to collect several poems that emerged out of those wonderfully dislocating but revealing experiences.
Yet I suppose the language and prosody of the book has much earlier roots. In my former life, I was a musician, and grew up playing jazz guitar and flute in various bands, both in the U.S. and abroad. As such, I’m really attracted to the movement and rhythm of music, and its power to reveal a certain solid, sublime truth in a life that can have just all too much uncertainty. So the poems are very interested in the infinite music hidden within that uncertainty.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
4. If applicable, whom would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
My protagonist would definitely be an imaginary actress. Let’s say, the mid 20s adult love child/daughter-actress of Leonard Cohen and Virginia Woolf. Let’s call her Shalene Woolf Cohen. Her godparents were Ingmar Bergman and Gertrude Stein.
5. What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Perhaps it’s best summed up by Virginia Woolf (the epigraph):
“But they beckoned; leaves were alive; trees were alive. . .Sounds made harmonies with premeditation; the spaces between them were as significant as the sounds.”
We are invited to explore life’s transience through the imagination of a skeptical tourist who engages the paradoxes of fixed human constructs and eventually learns to embrace the invisible music pulsing inside all things.
6. Will your work be self published or represented by an agency?
Dancing Girl Press will be publishing in the way of harbors in the late spring of 2013.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Most of the work was written over the course of 2010-12. A few poems originate from the last year of my MFA program at University of San Francisco (2006) and take their inspiration from those Iceland trips.
8. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
See question 2. Or:
Urban and natural experiences involving flux, impermanence, or some form of violence….Volcanoes, earthquakes, Camus, my husband’s forensic engineering field notes, a bridge demolition at Vermont Studio Center, Celan, glaciers, hotel or motel or pension rooms, looking out the window during road trips in foreign countries, geysers, hospitals, Marker’s Sans Soleil, mosques…..And, as always, the invisible— the space between.
9. What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?
Questions like this always make me uncomfortable. I’d like to think the work stands on its own just as the work itself challenges the human obsession with categorization. But, I’d say my chapbook shares a kinship with Brenda Hillman’s Cascadia, Christine Hume’s Alaskaphrenia, Brian Teare’s Sight Map, Andrew Zawacki’s Petals of Zero Petals of One, and Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons.
10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Some readers might enjoy the Mallarme inspired use of space featured in most of the poems (think: “Un Coup de Des”, or maybe Barbara Guest’s Quill, Solitary Apparition).
I have chosen and tagged the following writers to discuss their latest project(s) on their blogs or websites. Thanks to these incredible artists for sharing their inspirations. Please feel free to visit their blogs and comment. Keep the circle moving!
1. Fiction writer Ryan Wilson will be talking about his debut novel, Spiral Bound Brother, on March 20th.
2. Poet Della Watson will be discussing her new book, Everything Reused In The Sea, now out through Mission Cleaners Books. Della co-authored these poems with poet Jessica Wickens. Della will be posting on March 27th.
3. Poet Jessica Wickens will be discussing her new book, Everything Reused In The Sea, now out through Mission Cleaners Books. Jessica co-authored these poems with poet Della Watson. Jessica will be posting on April 3rd.
4. Poet Tiff Dressen will be discussing her new book, because Icarus-children, out later this year. Tiff will be posting on April 10th.
5. Poet Ed Smallfield will be discussing his new work on April 17th.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to read from my two chapbooks at Litcrawl, thanks to Robin Ekiss’ generous invitation. I read with three other inspiring poets, Dina Hardy, Sarah Maclay, Amy Maclennan, and Genine Lentine, who also have chapbooks available, and I’m grateful to them for their work: http://litcrawl.org/sf/events/chapher-verse/ I was also very impressed by the gorgeous simplicity of PRESS: Works on Paper (on 24th Street), an eclectic, creative bookstore that sells hard-to-find texts on everything from poetry to 70s Playboy anthologies, along with one-of-a-kind backpacks and stationary. Thanks to the graciousness of PRESS, you can buy my chapbook at this beautiful store.
I am fortunate and thrilled to share that that my second chapbook, in the way of harbors, has been accepted by Dancing Girl Press and will be published in early 2013! I am in love with Dancing Girl’s vivid, vintage aesthetic and gorgeous covers; plus, they publish many inspiring women writers. Please check them out and support them if you have not yet! I am also happy to announce that a few of my new poems are now available at Diagram and Realpoetik! Thanks especially to Lily Brown for all her warm support.
I thoroughly enjoyed all of the readers at the Lone Glen prose night that I curated at the end of July. Matt Martin, Paul Ocampo, and Anna Pulley all gave inspiring and diverse readings: Matt gave us hilarious rules on “How to be an Eccentric,” Paul read image and dialogue rich lines from his moving memoir, and the infamously witty Anna gave us an unexpectedly serious and naked view of unsent love letters she once wrote to a married woman. And the charismatic Rose Tully, often bent over with laughter at her own story, gave us this: “Earwigs”
Join us in our garden from 7-8:30 pm on Friday evening July 27th to hear seductive and scintillating prose from four inspiring, mind-bending writers: Matt Martin, Paul Ocampo, Rose Tully, and Anna Pulley. Expect a prose gamut, including essay, memoir, experimental fiction, and stand-up comedy lines that are sure to bring you to laughter and tears! For complete details, go to LONE GLEN. Please feel free to bring a friend who creates or admires those who do. Meet us at our home at 239 Cotter Street, SF, 94112. We will provide wine, soda, and simple treats but if you have the means or memory, please bring something to share. Don’t forget to bring a coat in case we are blessed with Twainian fog!
Lone Glen is a reading and art series motivated by a love of creative community and a passion for all art forms. We seek to create a space in which diverse artists, writers, and genre bending creators can mingle, share, and inspire.
I love the journal alice blue, with its crisp images and simple, streamlined look. I also love that alice blue has featured poets and poet friends I admire, like Val Witte and and Ed Smallfield. You can find three of my new poems here in Issue 17, with thanks to Amber Nelson and the alice blue staff. For those who are curious, “Eros” was written with two constraints (Petrarchan sonnet and an exercise given to me by Carolyn Forche). Camus’ L’estranger first inspired “The Day Before the Burial,” and “Reconstruction” is based loosely off of engineering notes my partner took during his site visit to Christchurch (after their big earthquake).
I recently reviewed poet Arianne Zwartjes’ first book of poetry, The Surfacing of Excess, winner of the 2009 Blue Lynx Prize. Zwartjes writes with only the most gorgeous excess. You can read my review here, thanks to Issue 19 of Word for Word. I really loved this book!
I had the pleasure of speaking at length with Lindsey Tony Anthony on Sunday morning while the rain pummeled San Francisco. Lindsey interviewed me about poetry, art, and teaching, and she was kind enough to make some sense out of my answers to her daunting (but important) questions. Thanks again for the support, Lindsey! Lindsey writes a fun and smart little blog called “Rewind Revise.” Each Tuesday, she features a different artist that she’s interested in. Scroll down to read about our conversation re: the muse, fear, MFA programs, and my inspirations: “Tuesday Treats with Lindsey Anthony”