Sunday, December 27, 2009


I'll be spending the next week in New York City (queue Jay Z and Alicia Keys song) and I'm pretty excited. My boyfriend bought me this book as a supplement to my trip to San Francisco this summer. I'll be researching the Beats as a movement and exploring the city while visiting him for July and part of August. But for this week I'll get to do some boyfriend-family-friend bonding and returning a pair of boots I got from DSW. They make a weird noise when I walk in them. Like crinkling plastic. I can't have that.

I've been spending money a little bit lately, but I suppose that's just the holidays. Excess is the name of the game. I've bought presents for people, but also a lot of presents for myself. Mostly just things I've needed for a while now (like a new spatula) and also some things I could probably have gotten by without (like the car mount for my new Droid phone, but it's really sweet). Ok I just spent like 20 minutes updating my wishlist. I'm such a consumer these days. I think it's probably retail therapy. That's ok. I've had a shitty December.

I'll be posting some pictures of my trip to NYC and probably writing a bit about the experiences there. I'm driving there tomorrow so perhaps I'll manage to do some live blogging with photos and such. I've not tried that yet. Experiment! This will be a fun escape, as I've got poetry out to 8 journals and I've heard nothing from any of them. I need to write some more to send more work out so I can't stop worrying.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Oh right, it's a new decade

So I survived my first semester of graduate school. Now, while I'm in a two year program, I'm also taking classes in the early summer and late summer semesters. If I combine the summer sessions into one semester, that means I have five more left until I finish. The countdown begins.

Truth be told, I kind of never want to leave my MFA. So far, having all this time to devote to my writing has proven to be worthwhile. I've really strengthened my poetry muscles and I didn't have a full workshop this semester, so just thinking about the spring makes me a little bouncy.

I've also learned a lot about teaching. Not just from my job, but also about the particular issues associated with teaching a creative process. This will be endlessly fascinating to me. I never thought about how my education did not foster my creative writing abilities. Writing was a fun pass time, a hobby, but not something I could pursue as a career. I'm so glad to pursue it now. I so much enjoyed my pedagogy class. It also turns out that my undergraduate degree in education was not a waste. It not only got me a fantastic teaching job, but also really connected me with the community. I also noticed that other MFA-ers really envied my job, which was a surprise, considering I was going into this terrified that I would be so far behind without an English degree. Turns out, I've just got different strengths and experiences.

Wow. I just realized how much I grew over these past few months. I was terrified to start teaching and to start grad school. I knew I could handle either thing individually, but both together was uber-scary. Plus managing Weave and having a personal life (sort of) just added to the pressure. Not only did I do it but I also managed some serious personal stress and grief without losing my head.

I also got a paid writing gig today. Woot!

Overall, 2009 started off pretty bad for me all around and has improved tremendously as the months went on. Losing my grandfather a couple of weeks ago certainly has changed my overall assessment of this year (honestly, it still doesn't even make sense to me). However, he would not want his death to negate the good things in my life. I know he was proud of me and so I should be proud of myself too. Go Laura!

Happy New Year folks. I think I'm in love 2010 already.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Submissions Galore!

I'm mostly done with finals and classes this past week, so today I woke up and decided to devote the day to submitting some of my new poems to journals. Before I even got out of bed I called my good friend Margaret and asked her to go to breakfast (ok lunch, I woke up at 11am) at the Quiet Storm. Margaret is my submission guru; she has been actively submitting her work for publication for a number of years and is rather well published. In fact, her first chapbook Barefoot and Listening was just published by Tilt Press (and I must say it's rather fantastic). I thought that Margaret would be able to take a really close look at my new poetry and decide which I should prioritize with submissions.

I have a rather detailed spreadsheet that I use for submissions. In the past, I've submitted work to both online and print journals that I enjoy reading. Slant, deCOMP, Pear Noir are my more recent submissions for each of which I received a personalized rejection with an invite to resubmit. While it's still pretty much a bummer to get rejected, it's also nice to get a resubmit invitation. At least I didn't totally suck. Plus, I'm working on growing some thicker skin. I actually ended up submitting to eight journals today, all via email. I have a handful more to submit to via postal submission. Of course, I'm sending simultaneous submissions so generally the same 5-8 poems being sent to each journal. I have spent time with at least one issue of each of these journals, with the exception of an anthology of persona poems. I either purchased or borrowed copies of journals to determine whether I would send submissions. I am kind of excited to hear back from these publications (ok, really excited!) but I have to somehow put it out of my mind. Also, I must bash the hope I have when sending out my newest work into the world. I know that this hope and expectation is ultimately what leads to my disappointment when none of them get picked up by a publisher. But I still have hope. Because if I didn't I wouldn't submit my work in the first place. I do have to say, I have written some really cool poems this fall and I hope that I get to share them with the world soon.

Also, this day resulted in the tightening of some friendships, both new and old. I am happy that Margaret and Thom and I could hang out and do poetry all day. It was pretty awesome. And also resulted in this great picture of Thom.

(Nice beard)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Thanks TypewriterGirls!

I had an awesome time at the TypewriterGirls show last night! The audience was great and they were really receptive to my poems. Karen Lillis and Kevin Bean were such amazing writers and performers. I also had the best time collaborating with my friend Erika. I read my newest poem (which shares it's title with this blog) and she played her musical saw. The collaboration was fantastic and resulted in some really great edits to my poem. Putting music to words really helps with sound edits as well as finding the places that need emphasis. I hope we get to perform it again soon.

Does anyone have any pictures of the reading? I'd love to snag some.

Speaking of readings, the TypewriterGirls have ANOTHER show this Sunday @ 6pm! This show will not disappoint. Sandra Beasley and Nancy Krygowski read. Phat Man Dee sings. Dave Doyle balances stuff on his face. Dancing too! All for a $7 donation to help fund our libraries. Here is a great quote I found on libraries:

Books permit us to voyage through time, to tap the wisdom of our ancestors. The library connects us with the insights and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all of our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species. Public libraries depend on voluntary contributions. I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries. -Carl Sagan, Cosmos

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Writing and Procrastination

I've been thinking a bit about art, creativity and procrastination. It seems to me that I work best under pressure and I know this is true of a lot of creative people I know. In fact, most writers tell me they absolutely need deadlines to keep themselves motivated. As I enter finals week, I have a lot of work to get done still (although, to be fair I am relatively well prepared going into my last week), but clearly pressure does do something for me too.

There are, of course, other conditions under which people write profusely. Take writing and emotional expression. I'm fascinated by work that comes out of people in very authentic ways, like after a traumatic experience or a particularly emotional life transition. Art that comes from the voices of the oppressed doesn't have a deadline, but rather, a mission. It's still a pressure, but an internal motivation that spurs creativity, rather than the external motivation of expectation like deadlines. Perhaps these highly emotional conditions are a natural condition in which to create art.

My musings lead me to wonder whether procrastinating is really simply a form of creating these intense emotional conditions in which to produce work. I know I will eventually get it done, but why do it now when I can work my ass off later? Our modern lives have so many contraptions that do things for us so we have more time to do other things, but we end up bored. We end up in affairs. We end up picking a fight with our brother. We end up staying out all night the day before the big presentation at work. We end up in car accidents.

We end up in graduate school.

This is all perhaps just a nice excuse for me to blog when I should be working on my research paper. Just helps me justify my procrastinating.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I have a Droid!

Feel free to be jealous.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Grateful for Poetry

I am so grateful for my wonderful and supportive family. I'm really thankful for all my fantastically talented awesome friends. I'm also really grateful for Sal and his love, advice, patience and humor. I am so grateful for poetry and I'm so honored that I get to be a poet.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dear Lady Gaga

I consume a lot of popular culture. I enjoy watching television. I read Harry Potter. I go to movies a lot and I listen to pop music. I also consume a lot of subculture but I enjoy keeping up with the latest in the mainstream. For a while I worked in offices and I found my experiences there more tolerable if I could chat with coworkers about American Idol when I needed a break. It also keeps me from taking myself too seriously. Plus, I have a subscription to Bitch so I'm consuming and then deconstructing.

There is a lot about pop music that is disappointing today. Much of what I hear on the radio is over-produced hip-pop that has been autotuned and has pilfered all the good music that has come before it. For example, singer Jason Derulo's use of a Imogene Heap song in his hit "Whatcha Say" is criminal to me. The best part of his song is her haunting harmonies and lyrics. There is very little that is original to me in popular music. I make a giant exception though, for my lady, Lady Gaga.

I originally heard "Just Dance" by Lady Gaga probably a year ago and I was mostly unimpressed. It did stand out among the landscape of other music being played on the radio; she has a distinct sound, yet it's difficult to tell how good her vocals are on the radio. Everyone can be made to sound like a decent enough singer to get a pop hit. It was some time before I really began to seek out more information on Gaga. In fact, the song "Love Game" and her inspirational lyrics about 'disco sticks' really made me sit up and take notice, if for nothing else but to satisfy my desire to read up on the various lives of celebrities (yeah, I'll admit it: I read People Magazine). But to my surprise, it seemed that Lady Gaga had some real depth to her. While still a rather young artist, she has been performing in NYC's underground music scene for years and has been anything but an overnight success.

There is so much to love about her. She is openly bisexual and a huge supporter of gay rights as well as women's rights. I was disappointed to hear she denied calling herself a feminist in an interview, stating that 'she loves men' (because apparently those things are mutually exclusive). However, I think that was said shortly after all the rumors about her gender identity surfaced, so I forgave her (frankly, it's no one's business what her gender is). Her persona is something that fascinates me to no end. Mostly because I feel like it's not a persona that someone constructed for her, but rather one that is a part of who she is as a real person, who is also a performer. She has said she does not consider herself a celebrity and sings about the perils of fame in her song "Paparazzi". Her performance at the VMA's this September showed her bleeding to death on stage while she sang. She is not afraid to be ugly, even gruesome, in a public space. And her live vocals were strong, haunting and so memorable.

Her latest album entitled The Fame Monster was just released and I am stunned by her latest video for "Bad Romance" - I can't even describe how creeptastic and surreal the costumes and message is. She clearly has a lot going on that she needs to express. And she can articulate what she is expressing. In an interview with MTV Veejay Sway, Gaga responded to his questions thoughtfully, even though it was painfully obvious he was not really that interested in her in-depth explanations of what each song was about. He laughed a number of times when she would discuss something very serious like her fears addiction to sex, bad relationships and alcoholism. Yet, she did not waiver. Gaga spoke her mind and her emotions so intelligently, not just for a pop star, but as a human being. She even mentioned Sylvia Plath in this interview on MTV. I wanted to kiss her!

Lady Gaga mentions a lot that she didn't fit in when she was in high school and she openly calls herself a freak. I hear this a lot from celebrities who want to invoke the "geek-chic" trend that is occuring in popular culture right now. However, I really believe that Ms. Gaga was and is a freak in the best possible sense. She is making really fascinating performance art through her videos and she is singing about though-provoking concepts that are usually missing from pop culture altogether. I cannot say enough good things about this woman. In fact, I'm working on a poem about her and I hope I have a decent draft to read at the TypewriterGirls show on December 4th. She deserves some poetry.

Here is her latest video that's disgusting and fantastic.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Poetry, Criticism and Honesty

I have been getting a lot of feedback on my poetry in the past couple of weeks. I'm surprised with a lot of the responses. Mostly because I am not a good judge of my own work; a lot of people aren't apparently. But one thing in particular people have said is that I'm brave.

Let me clarify: I'm not brave. I'm a coward. Journalists who go to war-zones are brave. Women giving birth are brave. Children trying something for the first time, that's brave. Me and my little words on a page are really not brave.

I don't mean to diminish the things I'm saying. I have some interesting new ideas I'm working with regarding mental illness and the creative mind. I'm revealing secrets, which is exciting, but I don't know if it's brave. I also know what people are saying. They are saying that because I'm being open and honest with feelings and facing the things people shy away from, that this somehow makes me brave. For me, not facing my feelings is not an option. I also prefer being open to a fault. Sometimes I really kill good moments with a blurted-out obvious comment.

On another note regarding feedback: I get a lot of energy when people tell me what they like about my poetry. Getting compliments just makes me soar. However, when I get harsher criticism I swing the other way completely. I feel almost sick. I begin to doubt myself and it really stifles my writing.

A good friend of mine says he prefers harsher feedback because he feels like it will make him a better writer. I clearly don't react the same way. Perhaps different people just prefer different styles of feedback. But I also want to know if something just isn't working at all. Just let me down easy maybe? I wish I wasn't so sensitive about this.

I also think that at some point you have to stop accepting criticism about a poem. You have to decide that as a poet, you have done your best work and that you have a vision and you believe in it. Or that you know you need to scrap the whole damn thing and start again. Sometimes you might need to just take the poem, light it on fire, bury the ashes and grown a new poem from that earth. But we need to trust ourselves as artists. I think that knowing yourself, believing in your vision and deciding that your work is worth the effort can be the most difficult battle.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Reading: Dec 4th with The TypewriterGirls!

I'll be a featured reader at the next TypewriterGirls show along with poet Karen Lillis on December 4th. Show begins at 9:30 and will of course include mayhem and debachery. And poetry! I will unveil my poem "Dear Outer Space" which may or may not be accompanied by a musical saw. Info below.

I've been doing more readings lately. I read for The New Yinzer in August and I read for Six Gallery Press this past Saturday (photo to the right). That reading went really well actually. I got to unveil my recitation of a poem entitled "And Maybe Dat's Your Pwoblem Too" by poet James W. Hall. Check out the blog post he wrote about his poem. I hope to post a video of a recitation of this poem here soon. Perhaps from the upcoming show. I really enjoy doing readings, especially now that I'm more and more excited about my writing. I feel like I'm hitting my stride with my voice and style lately. And I'm learning about what makes a poem a poem. More on that in another post.

So yeah, come hear me read sometime! Hope you can make it on the 4th.

The TypewriterGirls will be hosting Remedy Bar and Lounge’s “Speak Easy/Talk Dirty” every other first Friday. In addition to their famed writing and whiskey games, they’ll be bringing along with them a diverse array of local dance, poetry, and music.

This December 4th, they’ll be featuring the cross-genre writers Laura Davis and Karen Lillis, burlesque dancer and performance artist Cuntess Von Tella of the Bridge City Bombshells, and experimental musician Dean Cercone. Dance party mayhem will ensue when the TypewriterGirls’ favorite DJ, Randy Spinster, takes the stage.

Show starts at 9:30 pm. Cover $6.00

Another Poetry Blog

I've gone and gotten a little blog happy.

In September I began a new adventure. At 28 I started a new job, began my MFA in Creative Writing and moved into a new apartment. I also began a long distance relationship. I have another blog that I started back then (so so long ago) where I examine the overlap between being a student and a teacher at once. I found myself rarely writing there because it was so narrowly focused. I believe blogging to be a good tool for reflection and I certainly need to reflect on my experiences as a teacher and a student. But it felt incomplete or strange to write about poetry or the artists lifestyle in that space.

I know now I was leaving out something important. What does my life look like as a writer? More specifically, a poet? How can I present myself as a writer to the world? It might seem odd that I'd leave out this large detail, but it makes sense to me that, a few months ago, my focus was more centered upon learning to be a teacher. I've been a student before and the student aspect of those two roles was attached to being a writer. But I had never taught and I couldn't fudge that role. I had to know my lines.

I've got a good grasp of the job now and I know I have a lot to learn as a teacher, but more so lately I am fascinated by this lifestyle I have chosen. Being a writer is confusing. We are sort of the odd-ducks of artists, both inside and outside of a particular lifestyle. People do not perceive writers as artists. We can get away with seeming mainstream. We can pass as journalists and editors. We can be professionals.

Yet, I have chosen a subgroup of writers that people understand even less so, perhaps because of it's more obvious association with the role of an artist. Poets can't pass as mainstream. Automatically you are thrown into a category where assumptions are made (and some of them are true) and those assumptions may make us unrelateable to mainstream society.

So here I am, a writer, a poet, an artist of words, of language (yes, I said it) and I'm trying to figure out what that means.

I've been writing poetry and stories my entire life. It wasn't until this past year that I realized I have some real talent for writing. Recognizing that in myself was a long time coming. Like many people, I don't see myself as I am. However, I've set up a life that includes art and poetry and creativity around every bend. I've started a literary magazine, I run workshops, I organize poetry readings and I read my own poetry. I am well connected with my city's literary community and I feel at home here. I know writing is my calling and the literary artists are my tribe.

I had some big realizations this past week. After my boyfriend had to take a job in California, I was left to my own devices the following weekend. I wasted away (not just hours but) days of my week watching television, surfing Facebook and Twitter, sleeping and talking on the phone. I did a lot of crying and beat myself up for "being a writer" - whatever that means. After realizing that my behavior was a response to two things: the loneliness I felt after my partner left for the other side of the country and also to the lack of control I felt in my life. I finally had a job I enjoyed, yet I could not put the time into it I wanted to. I finally had the chance to delve into my writing, yet I found myself avoiding writing at all costs. Work was demanding. School was demanding. My relationship was now also demanding. I felt I had no time for any one thing, as I should always be working on something more important.

After realizing that television and the internet were distractions I was unable to discipline myself to avoid, I had my boyfriend permanently block my access to certain time-sucking websites. This past week I was forced to reconstruct my time and use it wisely. No distractions. Many questions came to mind. What was I doing with my life? What did being a writer mean? How should my life change? How should my day be organized? How should my writing and space and home be organized? How does one live like a writer? These questions only spawned more questions. I've been writing rather prolifically this past week too, beginning a number of new poems and voraciously editing many as well.

So here is where I will be discovering what it means to live like a writer, a poet, an artist. I have titled this blog "Dear Outer Space" after a new poem I've written recently. I feel like it's my strongest poem to date and marks a turn in my writing process. I am looking forward to beginning the process of getting my work published. I will examine the concept of space(s) in future posts, both outer and inner.

I like transparency. I like processing experiences in words. I like sharing said processes and experiences with others. I hope you like reading about them.