Friday, March 12, 2010

Time marches on its stomach.

I recently booked a show for a Tuesday this summer, and I am very excited. I promise to post details when I have every hammered out. The whole world is flying past me at breakneck pace and I am not sure if I want to slow down or speed up to be even faster. I've been posting a lot of thesis-related writing experiments over here because involving the internet in my homework seems to make the whole motivating myself to sit down and do it part much less of a hassle.

The Hampshire slams to decide this year's NPS team are the 23rd and the 30th, and I am quaking in my stilettos. I am swimming in a see of words, and only half of them are memorized.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Road blocks.

I am trying so hard to fit writing into my schedule, as it has to be there for thesis purposes, but I'm finding it increasingly difficult. I'm working five shifts a week, or rather, full time, and going to school full time. Creative writing is an overwhelming endeavor as it is, but finishing a degree alongside an eight hour work day is making me a bit terrified.

I have set up all of the necessary allowances. I built myself a reading and writing cave so that my ideas have a special space to brew in. I am in the process of reorganizing my desk so that I can sit down at my typewriter and actually write. I am trying to figure out the best reading schedule to make for myself. A book a week? A book every two weeks? I can't decide what a good speed is--too fast, and I'll get discouraged and check out of my work; too slow, and I'll get lazy and complacent.

I also lost my glasses. I should't even be attempting the internet right now. I am trying to justify this moment by saying that my web browser is open as an aid for looking into buying a second pair of glasses so that I'll have a spare. This is only half true.

I'm really not sure how I am meant to build any structure out of words when I cannot see to read or write them. This will be an interesting experiment.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Preparing for the new year.

I've successfully completed the 365 project for 2009, and right before I was able to breathe my sigh of relief, I got an email from Boston about the 365 project for 2010. Being the competitive (and also bat-shit insane) person that I am, I decided to accept the invitation and attempt it again. Although this time, I'm letting myself play by my own rules. This new year is going to be about words just as much, if not more, than the last one, but I want to be more controlled in my efforts. Since it is the thesis year, I am making sure that all of my reading and writing efforts are focused at making me a better reader and writer. I have a great big list (that's only growing) of books recommended to me, and several hundred poems to edit and send out to journals and contests to see if the publishing world wants anything to do with me. Partnering up with the 365 project again, as crazy as it may seem, will help me stay focused and on task. I'm mostly going to use it as a space to rework old poems and try out new ideas with the possibility for feedback. I will not let myself be daunted by a daily writing practice. It can only make me better at my craft; after all, practice makes perfect.

The following is my list of resolutions (most of them concerned with writing) for the new year. The parenthetical note on #14 is a title I'm considering for the collection of poetry that's part of my thesis, although I tend to change my mind about titles almost constantly.


1. One book every two weeks.
2. Get published.
3. NPS (one way or another).
4. Live somewhere I've never lived.
5. Be a little bit smarter about my crazy side.
6. Fly away short notice.
7. Finish Hampshire.
8. Get to know a new city.
9. Choose an affirmation for each day.
10. Forgive, but never forget.
11. Be a better listener.
12. Find out something new about myself.
13. Let the world surprise me.
14. Learn how to take compliments
(if not, learn how not to blush in public).
15. Make visits/take road trips/love the open road.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Words traveling on the wind.

Spindle is officially published (by the duplications department in the basement of Hampshire's campus library) and I am so proud. There are copies floating around all over at this point--a few in Boston (of course), Iowa, California, Mexico, Seoul, and soon maybe even Canada and Paris. The most appropriate way for me to respond to this phenomenon is with the first epigraph from the book:

I am not worried that poems reach relatively few people. As it is, they go surprisingly far--among strangers, around the world, even. Farther than the words of a classroom teacher or the prescription of a doctor; if they are very lucky, father than a lifetime.

From the mouth of Sylvia Plath, who graces the cover of the chapbook with her typewriter. The book contains the following poems; the titles followed by asterisks have been read either in draft or current form in open mics or slams in the past few months (not counting what's been read at Hampshire). I am proud to say that the entire book comes from poems I've written for the 365 project, in collaboration with all of the academic things I've done this semester. It's nice to know that the two largest arenas of my life have finally intersected in a way I want to share with anyone and everyone who will listen.


Smith-Corona, a love poem
The Plaths, of Winthrop
Emily Dickinson, to the town of Amherst
"I'll never speak to God again."
The Church of Tchaikovsky*
Insider Information
Running With the Downcity Furnace*
The Train From Wellesley, June 1953
EBB, to Robert*
On Hugs Between Friends
Mary Oliver Breaks From Writing A Poetry Handbook
Yes, Virginia
Books Don't Read Me
Viral Pneumonia
Ted Hughes Bakes a Cake
Master of None
Lost and Found

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Nose stuck in a (brandy new!) chapbook.


I am so excited to be able to make this announcement! I have been letting my writing stew for quite long enough--I haven't had a proper chapbook since March (not counting the limited edition zine I made for my Got Poetry Live feature this summer)--and all that simmering and boiling over and simmering again and freezing and thawing and reheating and serving etc. etc. has finally paid off. With a large chunk of the free time afforded me by the holiday weekend, I pulled together Spindle, a collection of poems that revolves around my thinking about women writers. I've been doing a lot of reading and writing on the construct of the woman writer over the past few months, alongside a lot of recreational reading of women writers. Top that off with a sprinkling of bell hooks' writing on the theory of love in American culture, and you get the raw materials for all the writing you'll find in Spindle.

Many of the poems are imagined biographies, either in third person or first (these mark my first foray into the terrifying, delicate, difficult realm of persona writing, which has me both baffled and delighted), of the women writers held up as examples of women writers through history: Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Mary Oliver snuck into the party as well. Ted Hughes also makes an appearance as a hapless baker, if you can imagine such a thing. I tried to.

The copy I currently have in my hands is just a proof spat out by my dad's office printer, so they aren't for sale just yet, but I hope to have some real copies printed up by the middle of this coming week. I am probably more proud of this book than anything I've accomplished recently; it represents so much of what I've thought about/been plagued by in my study of writing and literature; it is the exorcism of a frustration I didn't know how to articulate until very recently. I hope to have it in as many hands as I can manage, as soon as possible.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Homecoming, for the first time.

I'm in New Jersey for a long weekend to visit with my family before the flurry of holiday mess (Thanksgiving and Christmas on Columbus Avenue, while typically delightful, are also incredibly overwhelming) and last night I decided I should continue my slow and steady exposure to venues beyond those I regularly attend. So, in spite of having driven the three hours from Amherst to my grandma's, I again hopped in the car and drove a little while longer so that I could see some friends at Loser Slam, which happens every Thursday night at the Inkwell in Long Branch.

Long story short, after much silliness (involving Muppet sex haiku throughout the open mic, among other things) and the feature (I swear, by the time the year is out I will be able to do Erich's set in my sleep, simply because he ends up being the feature every time I go anywhere), a slam was pulled out of the air.

At Loser Slam, they reverse the traditional method of scoring slam so that 0 is the best possible score and 10 is the worst, which is fun and exciting and ludicrous and exactly what I needed after getting knocked out of the Cantab slam the previous night in the first round (as seems to be my lot in life). I read "Running With the Downcity Furnace" first, which seems to have become my fall-back poem whenever I slam unexpectedly because it always gets solid scores and did well enough to make it to the second round. I was up against four regulars, two of which have featured at Hampshire in the past few months, so I was pretty convinced I'd not have a chance. But I made it to the second round, where I did a newer poem called "Conquest" that is still on page and in on-going revision. Surprising myself (albeit pleasantly), I took the slam.

This win may or may not mean that I am qualified to compete for the Loser Slam NPS team. This may or may not mean that I may or may not consider living in New Jersey for the summer. This is a gray area I am refusing to discuss with the part of my brain so set on life in Providence that it is trolling for writer's grants. This is a happiness I doubted the weekend would bring.

The Inkwell felt so home-y. My mom's family has a reunion in Long Branch every August, which probably contributed to that feeling, but the beach isn't really the beach in November. No, this could just be the start of something entirely different.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Road trip.

I drove to Manhattan and back last night on a semi-whim to drop in on louderARTS for the first time, a loss of venue virginity that also conveniently allowed me to support a friend who was performing. Even though I am exhausted in the wake of it, I feel fantastic. I truly admire and respect so many of the poets who are regulars there, and a handful of those same poets came up to me after I performed "Running With the Downcity Furnace" on the open mic and gave me some kind words to fold into my pocket for a rainy day when I'm not feeling so hot about writing.

I'm kind of amazed at how insulated I am from the slam scene at large, especially considering how frequently I am at poetry readings -- at least twice a week, every week, and this week it is three. Who knows what the racket will be come January. Maybe I'll make it my Jan Term project to go to as many different venues as possible. The Cantab is a weekly pilgrimage, but I have no other regular nights, nor do I have time for them. But maybe in January. Maybe I'll skip out to Manchester again for the first time in nearly two years, and the same goes for Worcester. Maybe I'll slam at AS220 and try to qualify for their team. Maybe I'll make the rounds in New York not on a whim, with planning, visits for all my dear friends in the area culminating in raucous nights ciphering on street corners. I want desperately to go on tour, but the possibility of such a thing is out of reach at the moment because of this silly thesis business. I can't wait to grow roots in every major city from here to Bellingham.