Thursday, August 16, 2012

Literary Roundup: Calling All Life in Outer Space

I like this week's search term that lead someone to my blog. I can imagine them typing it into Google, thinking maybe the search would reach much farther (or further) than just a server or another computer somewhere, but past our atmosphere and into the galaxy, hoping to connect with ET, or the bad guys from Independence Day, or the alien from Contact that just looked like Jodi Foster's dad.

No extra-terrestrials here, but I do feel a bit alien-like. I suppose most poets feel this way. Speaking of poets and strangeness, check out what's up first in this week's literary roundup.

Rochelle Spencer writers about poetry readings in unusual places for Poets & Writers. A highlight:

"Stacia’s events don’t have the muted atmosphere you sometimes find at an academic reading...you hear cheers when a favorite poet “blesses the mic,” and you see audience members nod their heads to a poet’s voice like they’re listening to a favorite song."

Jonterri Gadson shares a bit of advice for the budding writer trying to build a career.

Susan Slaviero has a new chapbook. It is called Selections from The Murder Book (Tree Light Books) and is "handmade, featuring unique endpapers from a mid-century medical textbook." Oh yeah. Here's a nibble:

This might have something to do with predation, a paper cocoon
in a dead girls mouth, a bloody arrow drawn on an oak leaf.

This essay over at The Rumpus pissed me off. Yeah.

Back to happy things! Patricia Caspers writes about lady-writers and finding the time to be/come a writer. This is the end of a series she wrote for the Ploughshares blog called Hearing Voices: Women Versing Life. Lots of goodies in there I must go back and read. I have a couple favorite parts:

"I grew up writing truly awful poems in my closet or under my covers late at night. I shared them, on occasion, with my family or close friends, and they’d say things like, “That’s cute,” or “That’s nice,” and I couldn’t pinpoint why those comments deflated me, but they did."

This paragraph really struck a chord with me. I had pretty much the exact same experience a bunch of times. Once a family member, after reading a rather lyrical essay I'd just written (at like, 11 years old), asked, "...but what is it for?" *sigh*

Also particularly striking was this bit:

"I realized that every single one of us is ever-in-search of a balance between inspiration, creation, and the mundanity of daily life. Like these women, I write while I empty the dishwasher, fold whites, drive to soccer practice. I write into the slender hours of the morning while the house is quiet."

I'd add motivation to my list of things-searched-for right now, but perhaps that's related to inspiration. I'm trying to embrace the fact that I have limited energy and focus. But a girl's still gotta eat. So lots of my attention goes to work, then promises I've made to other people, then making sure I've eaten, then maybe writing. I need to move these around.

Dorothea Lasky's tweet made me smile.

Roxane Gay shares some wisdom about How to Become a Contemporary Writer. Few favorites below (bold parts are mine):

1. Read diversely.

5a. If you’re a woman, writer of color or queer writer, there are probably more barriers. Know that. Be relentless anyway. Strive for excellence. Learn how to kick the shit out of those barriers. Don’t assume every failure is about your identity because such is not the case.

7. ...If you can write a good sentence you are already heads and shoulders above most of what is found in submission queues. You’re not competing against 10,000 submissions a year a magazine receives. You’re competing against more like 200. Those are still intimidating odds but they’re also far more reasonable.

The Twitter hashtag #writetip has an ever-changing stream of advice for writers. If you have any, feel free to use it. Thanks to Nancy Chen Long for this one.
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