Wednesday, January 30, 2013

In Front Of Us

My "about me" has been changed because I'm joining another write a poem every day in February and created a blog and forgot that if I change an "about me" there, I change it here.  Oh well.  I think by now you know who I am.

Yesterday on my way to work, traffic was stalled and there was bits of car detritus all over the road.  Then I saw a deer lying leap-forward in the breakdown lane and a car with its front all smashed in.  So sad...the deer looking as if he would just about make it.  I've been thinking about death lately--some one's partner died yesterday as well.  I keep thinking about the line in front of us--how great grandparents and grandparents and our own parents sort of keep death at bay--it's way in front of us.  But then it keeps getting closer.  I hate that I have to tell my son that, yep, we die (although hopefully I'm a bit more gentler than that).  We're all on this unstoppable ramp.  Death thoughts--gotta shake them loose, I guess.

So yeah, I'm gearing up to write again--hopefully better than last time.  I failed pretty miserably last time and I'm nervous about this round.  I don't have a series that I'm writing toward so that's nerve-wracking.  It's tough floundering around at the beginning, writing stuff that is yucky while figuring out what's going on.  Part of the process. 

I'll be posting my own next big thing here shortly.  I keep wanting to rename it the next sort of smallish thing...

Dispatch Detailing Rust

I was merely on
the cusp of growing
old when I shook
his hand, my enemy's
hand, twelve years
ago & secretly gloated
over its frailty, its liver
spots & now I own
two enemy hands
of my own.

Sometimes now, these
hands of mine stroke
a steel blue dream that
will instantly inhabit rust.
Then they regain sanity,
become old bluebirds
in the blue sigh of sky.

  Adrian C. Louis

New Letters
Volume 79, No. 1

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Guest Post with Angele Ellis

I tagged Angele Ellis for the Next Big Thing.  Be sure to check out her story "Desert Storms" (essentially the first chapter of her novel) at these links:

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing-in-Progress: Angele Ellis

Angele Ellis is known as a poet—Arab on Radar (Six Gallery, 2007) and Spared (A Main Street Rag Editors’ Choice Chapbook, 2011)—but her roots are in storytelling.

What is your working title of your book?

Desert Storms.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

In my mind (and then on the page), I linked the death of my powerful Lebanese grandmother with the brief and savage 1991 war known as Operation Desert Storm—although this linkage is not true to history!

What genre does your book fall under?


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I wish you hadn’t used the word “rendition!” I think more of directors than of actors. Atom Egoyan could do it justice.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

In the early days of Operation Desert Storm, a fragmented Arab American family gathers for the funeral of its matriarch—and trouble ensues.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m looking for an agent for this book.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m still writing this manuscript, although a few segments have been published as short fiction—one will appear in Eunoia Review in February 2013.  My goal is to have a complete draft by fall.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

There aren’t many books within this subgenre.  Put Diana Abu-Jaber’s Arabian Jazz and Alicia Erian’s Towelhead in a blender, add the unpredictable—and whirr!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My late grandmother, whose namesake I am.  She influences me from the beyond.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

A comment made by another writer in a workshop: “I don’t know if I want to meet these people—or if I never want to meet these people!”  Oh, and that the book is funny, despite everything.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Guest Post With Ruth Foley's The Next Big Thing

My good friend Ruth Foley is guest posting, in which she describes her next writing project.
The Next Big Thing

This is The Next Big Thing, an ever-expanding circle of writers answering the same (or variations on the same) questions about their next writing project. I was tagged by Donna Vorreyer, whose blog Put Words Together. Make Meaning. should be in every writer's bookmark folder (or favorites list or RSS feed or however you like to do these things). Donna's answers to these questions can be found here:
but I highly recommend taking the time to dig through the archives—you can thank me later.

Below, I answer questions about my upcoming chapbook Dear Turquoise, and after that you'll find links to the blogs of the writers who have accepted my invitation to participate.

What is your working title of your book (or story)?
It's called Dear Turquoise.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
When I write it out, it sounds ridiculous. As a coping mechanism while my cousin Turquoise was dying, I started writing epistolary poems to/for her. At the time, I didn't know if they would amount to anything. And I titled all of them "Dear Turquoise," because I couldn't think clearly enough about them to work through titles.

What genre does your book fall under?

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Hunh. That's a good question. Turquoise was an actress, and I honestly can't imagine anyone else playing her. She was truly unique—and I mean that modifier. Too many people use "unique" to mean "different," but she was 100% original. My high school acting days are long behind me, though, so I'd have to come up with someone…maybe Camryn Manheim? Without all the upper-ear piercings.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Everything changes, and nothing does. OK, so that's not really a synopsis, but hey. It's poetry. It doesn't take that long to read for content.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? (if this applies - otherwise, make up another question to answer!)
It's coming out from Dancing Girl Press.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Some of the poems came very quickly. Some of them had been looking for the right grouping for a while. It didn't take long to pull the manuscript together once the poems were there, though—I had the rough cut ready in a single evening. If only everything went that smoothly!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
There are so many great poems (and collections) about grief. Donald Hall's Without is probably my favorite, but I don't know if I'd compare it except to say that they both deal with the process of grief rather than sticking to its aftermath. The anticipation of grief, what do we call that? Pre-grieving?

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I don't know what inspired me to put these particular poems together. The chapbook itself is 20 poems, a quarter of which are "Dear Turquoise" poems. I have another 20 or so "Dear Turquoise" poems that aren't in this chapbook, but will end up somewhere else. She was, and remains, such an innate presence in my life that even now I can't imagine the world without her—I can't imagine the very world I'm currently living in. It baffles me to think that she isn't here anymore.  As I was writing the poems, it occurred to me that I was trying to prepare myself for that somehow. I wrote one or two poems for her after she died, but the vast majority are poems of wrestling with that failure of my imagination.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
It's sad but not, I think, navel-gazingly so. Without beauty, there's no loss, right? There's definitely an appreciation of the beautiful in this chapbook.

So that's the story from me. Next week, you can check out the posts of some of my writer friends:

Mary Harwood will be writing about getting her novel Deer Apples ready for an agent at her new blog On Writing and Life.

Rebecca Longster will be answering questions about her first novel Shadows Present  at Renaissance Woman Ink.

Kathleen Clancy will be talking about Robbing the Dollhouse at her new blog Cartographers of Randomness.

Jessica Bane Robert, proprietress of the fabulous Barred Owl Retreat, will be writing about her memoir and the retreat itself at the BOR website—it's an amazing creative retreat that welcomes all sorts of artists and anyone else who needs a little restoration, plus serves as a meeting space for various groups. I've held a couple of workshops there (more to come!) and can't recommend it enough.

I'll post links to their answers as they get posted. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Temporarily Down

Hey there.  Sorry about the blog temporarily being down.  Unfortunately, the older posts are gone and if I wrote something about you on one of them, I'm very sorry.  But we'll just make new ones. 

So I had bluebirds on my suet feeder day before yesterday--four of them!  They were very beautiful--that dusty, powdery blue against the snow was fabulous.  I got a boatload of books in the mail yesterday--books and journals that I'm super excited about.  One is Kugelmass, a journal of literary humor.  I got it cause I wanted to read Roxane Gay's essay about rejecting rejection, which is as fabulous as I knew it would be.  She has a book coming out about being a bad feminist, which I cannot wait to get my hands on. 

I also got Aching Buttons, a Dancing Girl Chapbook from Mary Stone Dockery.  And the newest issue of Pleiades.  Oh and the book I can't wait to dive into:  With Robert Lowell and His Circle, which is a memoir of Kathleen Spivack and her time taking a writing class from Lowell with Sylvia Plath, whom I adore, and Anne Sexton. Should be an interesting read.

I'm really feeling this poem today.

This is the time of day we hear them coming back,
when the first sunlight drops to the field
like an animal being born, slick and shivering
where it falls.  Their hooves grind against the earth,
wheat pounded in a mortar
with a pestle, freed from its husks and impurities.
What wickedness clings to me, it sticks
to the last.  I will keep my mouth with a bridle.

  Richie Hofmann

Fall 2012

Heron Tree

I have so enjoyed working as an editor for the Heron Tree volume 5 edition.  I learned so much from reading submitted poems!  And realized w...