Monday, August 27, 2012

Literary Roundup: Google Plus Poetry Circle

It occurs to me that these roundup titles are a bit deceiving. Someone found Dear Outer Space via the phrase "google plus poetry circle" this week. I don't know what that is exactly, but it sounds like it is both nerdy and fun. I've heard of writers using G+ hangouts to write in 45 minute blocks and then chat for 15 minutes. I'm interested in other ways to use this new social network, but I'm having trouble finding people there.

Also, a lot of folks are searching for Submission Bombers, which is cool. Word is spreading! Now, onto this week(ish)'s roundup, literary style.

I'm in love with this poem over at Linebreak (where else?) by Bill Neumire entitled "Father is the Factory". It's just a lovely and sad exploration of working class fatherhood.
He of the wink / & walnut-crushing hands. He of the night without / dreams.
Issue 2.1 of Stone Highway Review features a bunch of work from the Submission Bombers! Some of my favorites include

New (to me) journal, Holiday Cafe, is looking to showcase work by writers of the City of Champions.

A few interesting job opportunities for writers! An indie bookstore in Virginia needs a booksitter. The online lit mag Anderbo is looking for a paid parttime fiction reader. There are a few others over Erika Dreifus' blog.

Contests? Why yes! California residents can still apply for the California Writers Exchange Award, so long as you've lived in California for at least two years prior to submitting. I'll have to wait until next year. The online lit mag Mixed Fruit also has a no fee contest.

Carolee Bennett weighs in on the continued discussion over whether an MFA in poetry is worthwhile.

Finally, I'll leave you with Bill Murray reading a couple of Wallace Stevens poems, via Poets House.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

THNKR Videos: Illustrator Maira Kalman on Walking and Wandering and Books and Theater and Despair and Fruit Bowls

Seriously, watch both of these videos back to back. You'll fall in love. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Maira Kalman.
"Half the time I don't know what's going on. But I love it." 
"Allowing my brain to empty. Which usually means taking a walk....Wonderful things happen when your brain is empty." 
"It's very important not to be bored for too long. Like more than a minute."
"I'm pretty much off-kilter all the time."
"It gave me a wonderful platform to just wander around and talk about stuff that I really like, from books and theater and despair and fruit bowls. Things like that." 
"I'll get to the point at some point."
"...if you don't look at the things that catch your attention along the way...I don't think you've had any fun."

(via P&W)

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 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.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Post-Workout Confessions

Life is not crazy lately. It is just life. Well, there are a few extra stressors I could do without, which is why my already Moderate-Strong levels of anxiety are reaching Richter magnitudes at the Major-Great 9.0+ end of the scale.

Anxiety is not something people talk about for some reason. True anxiety, that is. The kind that cripples people, causing them feel they are on the brink of terror, constantly irritated, fatigued, and sometimes just plain mean to the people around them. People who don't realize they are in a constant, low-level state of anxiousness might begin to think they are actually just a horrible, sad person.

Why don't we talk about it? I don't understand that. Being ashamed of how we feel just makes it worse.

So here is the truth.

I don't love San Francisco. I've lived here for a year and haven't been to Golden Gate Park. Most days I stay at home, because I work from home, but also because facing this city is exhausting. Facing a city that doesn't get me. Feeling so completely displaced. The city does have it's moments. They are usually when I leave the city and remember that the ocean is so close I could reach out and taste the saltwater.

Making friends is hard. Good ones, the kinds you can be an anxious mess in front of. I have a handful here that I am grateful for. I need more.

Writing poems is beyond hard right now. With the chapbook coming out, I keep thinking, "But these are the best poems I've ever written. How can I top these?" Plus, when a writer has a small sphere without much stimuli to stir up new connections and ideas, the poems tend to be a bit navel-gazey. That's all I write these days. So I mostly don't write.

I'm not in love with my life. I feel most ashamed of this. In theory, I *should* be. Shouldn't I? I teach poetry, I write for an awesome company (from home!), my partner is more supportive and loving than I ever thought possible, and I live in this amazing city. Yet, I'm still trembling. From the "little t" trauma of starting over completely. It's only been a year, but in this past year I've left school, my family, my friends, my hometown, moved across the country, to a state that might as well be another planet, to a city that doesn't get me, moved in with my partner, started a new career, and damn, that's not even half of it.

Lately I've been waking up way too early, averaging around 5-6 hours of sleep a night. I do not function well when I'm this sleep deprived. I wake up and begin to feel the pulse of anxiety creep into my veins telling me to wake up, get going, start working, go go go. Falling back to sleep becomes impossible.

At some point, an anxiety-ridden person gets either depressed or angry. The anxiety becomes too overwhelming to deal with, so bed is the safest place. Or the anxiety becomes so overwhelming that you run. Literally run. Run off all that stored energy that your body seems to think you need right now. Your body is telling you, "Feel threatened! Go go go!" So you do. You run or swim or climb flights of stairs, make your heart beat faster and sweat until your body surrenders. Waves that little white flag and screams, "For the love of life, please stop! You are safe now. Stop stop stop!" And you have a few moments of calm inside.

Working out is a weird term for what I'm trying to do. Yes, I want to be OUT of this shitty feeling. But it doesn't happen like that. It returns. One jog will not be the healing balm for my anxiety. It's more like a work-through, I think. Or working-through, even. A perpetual state of maintaining, care-taking, self-loving. Owning your out-of-control pulse. Telling your body that you are safe everyday, if you are lucky enough to be safe, that is. And I am. Both lucky and safe.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

What I Want, Circa 2008

I found this journal entry from a few years back. Perhaps it is kismet, because lately I've been asking myself, "What do you want?" and I had no answer. This is as good a starting place as any.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My Internal Muni-logue

Mine internal monologue is pretty constant, but in public it usually happens when I ride the Muni. Typically I'm sweating profusely and panting because I just ran to catch the N-Judah (somehow I'm always late) and now I'm trying to appear relaxed and cool amongst the oh-so California-cool folks.

via xkcd
My Muni-logue: How do I stand? Do I look around too much? Should I do something with my phone? There's no wireless here. Don't look at people. You are staring at that woman's purse. It's really cute. I'm sweating, gross. Don't look at your reflection in the window that's weird. Should I stand and lean or hold onto the bar? What if I have giant sweat stains on my shirt? Is this shirt stupid? Why can't I get my scarf to stay in one place like these other girls? Everyone here has awesome boots. I wish I had awesome boots. I wish I had remembered a book so I could look smart while reading. Am I in someone's way? I think I just poked that person's backpack. Oh god. Which way will the doors open? I wish there was a seat. Oh, god can people tell I'm from the suburbs? Why does everyday still feel like middle school? 

Damn, my pre-teen years were traumatizing. Thanks xkcd for illustrating my awkwardness.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Literary Roundup: come out like astronaut because mosquitos

Been a while since I rounded up a roundup. What do you think of this Google search that lead someone to my blog? Obviously Sally Ride has something to do with it, but mosquitoes? It's a cool line though. Might use it in a poem somewhere.

I'm so proud of Submission Bombers! We got a little blurb over at Superstition Review. So much positivity is coming out of that project. Sal suggested I consider incorporating it into my literary nonprofit idea that I want to start for Weave. I've been thinking about thinking about names. Haven't got one yet. But I'm thinking about it.

Speaking of bombing, did you catch this actually explosion of poetry in London?

Two Submission-Bomber-Featured issues of lit mags came out yesterday, one which features a poem of mine. Check out all the work in the latest issue of Right Hand Pointing  and Rufous City Review for more tasty literary treats.

Poems I've read recently include Wishful by Linda Umans, #11 by Carina Finn, a whole series of poem by Molly Spencer at Escape Into Life.

I really want at least half of these unique chairs for maximum comfort. Especially that last one. Can I just replace all of my furniture with giant pillows please? I would curl up and finish reading The Book of Orgasms by Nin Andrews (which is *so* good so far). Which chair would you read in?

Super awesomely cool dress with poetry on them zOMG!1!!! want.

Maisha Z. Johnson writes about being shy. Joy Ladin answers five questions for Her Kind. And this news article reminds us not to be so serious with our art all the time.

On that note, I'm going to go write a poem about a polka-dotted shark. And maybe eat some watermelon.