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Showing posts from 2014

Arse Over Elbow . . . and Other Ways In Which I'm F****d

I need a personal assistant. Or a straight jacket.

I woke up with a headache. 

I'm in charge of a blog for our faculty union and I haven't posted to it since October. I'm teaching an online composition course and most of the students appear to have no idea how they're doing in the class -- and at this point, I can't tell if it's because they can't use Blackboard correctly or if I'm really THAT behind in grading. 

I'm meeting my creative writing students in conferences this week because I AM that behind with grading.

I'm writing here because I have the time because I feel like a little reflection and disclosure might help manage my guilt about how badly I mismanaged my responsibilities this semester, despite feeling, more times than not, like I was doing something that needed, absolutely, to be done.

One more week. One more week. One more week.

This is something I am looking forward to because it has to do with writing and the practice of writing and m…

Not Waving But Drowning

Is this not the most apt phrase ever? Maybe Stevie Smith wrote the ultimate poem. I feel like this every time someone says hi to me in the hallway at this time of year . . .  Other Person: Hey, how's it going? Me: (Suuuper chipper) Oh, good! Fine! How are you? (Prolonged, tinny, nervous laughter) I might be on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Actually, I know that I'm not -- I don't think people who are about to have a nervous breakdown are conscious of the fact. I'm just in the weeds. Major f*****g weeds. 
Anyway, I received an acceptance for a poem from the fairy tale part of my manuscript this week, which marks the first time ANY poem from that part of the book will see the light of day, so I thought it worth posting here (and it gave me the excuse to take a break from the months-long backlog of grading I'm doing).
The poem will appear in So to Speak: A Feminist Journal of Language and Art, Spring 2015. Yay!
I needed the good news. And I was all like, "t…

My Morning Reading: Kate Zambreno on Kathy Acker

I think I've posted about Kate Zambreno before -- she wrote the wonderful book Heroines, in which she writes about modernist women (wives, girlfriends, colleagues, friends of modernist males) and her complex relationship to them (how she idolizes them, empathizes with them, rejects them, lives like them and as a reaction to them) -- and now she's resurrected her blog to post an excerpt from an essay on Kathy Acker. I'm not sure how long it will remain up, because quite often she becomes exasperated with herself and the world and shuts down her blog -- which is frustrating for fans of her blog, but a really interesting exercise in, or exploration of, voice and the silencing of one's voice, a kind of editing or self-censorship.
I'm writing this blog post rather guiltily, myself. I have so much to do. I should be using every waking moment that's not spent in service to my family in service to work. I'm really, really behind for the fourth week of the semester…

PowerPoint is The Devil's Plaything (or, How I Spent My Weekend)

I believe I've broken a record. After struggling all weekend with the demonic force that is Microsoft Office's PowerPoint, and failing to successfully record a sound track to my lectures -- the damn program keeps cutting off my narration abruptly on several slides --  I've taken a personal day.
Two weeks in and taking a personal day! That's gotta be a record, right? But it's necessary. My face to face classes can survive having their schedule bumped a day, particularly because it's so early in the semester, and that will give me approximately six no-kids-or-husband-in-the-house hours to concentrate wholly and fully on fixing the technical problems and then, perhaps, getting some grading done. I spent so much time fooling around with PowerPoint this weekend that I neglected to grade the quizzes and small assignments that have already begun to accumulate.
And I'm bone-tired, the result of staying up until 2 a.m. fiddling with my f*&*^%g files and then w…

38 is the New . . . Nope. It's Old. My Knees Creak, Y'all.

One week of school completed, and I'm all sorts of in-the-weeds again. Not panicking especially yet, but that's because I'm deluding myself into thinking I have control by paying attention to my little list-making phone app (Wunderlist) and occasionally running (three times last week!) and then also kind-of sort-of staying on top of the laundry situation in my household.
Yesterday I turned 38. I don't think this is especially significant except that it means I'm still eligible to have my manuscript rejected for the Yale Younger Poets Prize, because under 40 is still considered "younger," and I haven't had a book published yet. Also, they haven't published anything that looks or sounds remotely like my own work in  . . . maybe forever? . . . and yet I'll probably continue to send my MS in each year until I get the book published by someone else or I turn 40. 
I really, really hope it's not the latter, but  . . . you know.
OHMYGODCOFFEEISSO…

Further (Ineffective) Attempts at Control

I had a bad day yesterday. Not that anything catastrophic occurred, but I was riddled with anxiety right up until about 8 o'clock, when I self-medicated and had a beer just so I could calm the fuck down. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, considering it was the day before the semester began . . . but I was surprised. After nine years of doing this, you'd think I'd be more calm and have my shit together, right? Um . . . nope!
I'm trying not to become too worried about any one thing but it's proving difficult. I attempted to make this transition from summer to fall semester easier by going into the office three days a week for the last two weeks in August, but that time really didn't produce the results I was anticipating. I thought I'd be much more together, under control, prepared. I thought my classes would be prepped, committee work complete, my house tidy and in order, doctor's appointments out of the way . . .
But no. My online class is only s…

The 2014 New York City Poetry Festival

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Photos from the Hyacinth Girl Press reading on Sunday afternoon:







Post-Conference Wrap Up, a Poem, and the Necessity of Taking a Break

First, the poem: Epiphenomenon by Karen Skolfield.
I'm still in recovery from the 12 days of the Southampton Writers Conference. It was a useful experience and I learned a lot about theater and the way playwrights work and how actors approach plays . . . and I enjoyed many of the readings and panel sessions (which doesn't always happen in these things, as you don't really have choices about the events you attend)  . . . but oh my god, I'm exhausted now. More so than in past years when I've attended the same conference. It's either because the Three Kid System is far more difficult than I thought, or I'm getting really old. Maybe it's both.
Maybe, also, it's because I know I have so much work to do before I finish my verse play -- in terms of revision, and as I construct the next two acts. The prospect of all that work, at this point, is a little tiring, even though I usually find writing pretty energizing. I guess the stress of the past few weeks …

I'm Not Dead Yet (and Neither is the Blog)

So, one thing I'm discovering in The Year+ Orientation to Having Three Children is that, surprise, you have to super-duper plan and prioritize. Priorities go something like this:
Are the children dressed?Am I dressed?Does anyone smell or show visible signs of yesterday's sandwiches/spaghetti dinner/backyard dirt pile debacle?Will any of the speaking children complain audibly about not being fed? If the answer is yes to the first two questions and no to the last two, we can leave the house for school/camp/store/violin lesson/sports practice/babysitter etc.

The bar is lower than it's ever been before, people. This is probably not a surprise to anyone with half a brain, but you should remember that through the course of giving birth to the aforementioned three children, I've lost an incredible amount of brain power. I believe it was A.P. who pointed out that -- three years after having The Boy -- I was just beginning to regain myself, to become more clear, and more on-p…

Professor Mommy Zombie Reporting for Duty

Yup, still here. I know you were worried.

The Creative Writing Festival went well. There were some problems: the usual SCCC facilities/bureaucracy nonsense but nothing insurmountable. Allison Seay's reading was so lovely. I really love To See the Queen, and her preface to the poems and her subsequent delivery of them was intimate and clear and kind of raw, in the best way. Kelly Daniels is awesome -- A. and I had him over for dinner the night before the festival and they traded stories about breweries and craft beer and he was assaulted by my dogs and my children and not only survived, but seemed to enjoy himself. Colum McCann, too, rock star author that he is, was charming -- extremely down to earth, endearing everyone with his sense of humor and his self-deprecation. It was a good day after all.
I've been doing some writing, but none of it here (obviously) and little of it on my creative work, like poetry, like the verse play. One of my duties at the college is to write a …

Harumph. *Grumble grumble*

April is the worst month. It should be so spectacular and fun with National Poetry Month and all, and I'm a frenetic ball of stress. Every. damn. year.

But here's a lovely poem from Gregory Orr, who I *heart*. He's a gorgeous man, a wonderful poet.

Carry on! As you were!

My Morning Reading

These:

A poem by Ryan Black in AGNI Online.

Another poem, by Anya Silver, in my inbox thanks to Poem-A-Day through Poets.org.

Still laying out the student magazine, barely keeping up with class prep and committee work, totally and thoroughly NOT keeping up with grading, and writing scraps here and there.

I did, however, come up with an idea yesterday for having our Eastern Campus journalism students contribute to and edit the East End Elements (student magazine) blog, which is good because I REALLY NEED ANOTHER PROJECT RIGHT ABOUT NOW.

Also, my house is a shameful depository of laundry and dog hair. Everyone's fed and at least 60% clean, though. That's something, right?

On Literary Journals, Being a Student, and the Appearance of Getting Sh** Done

One of my poems was chosen for the April edition of Stirring: A Literary Collection, guest edited by Margaret Bashaar, the editor of Hyacinth Girl Press. Shamefully, maybe, I didn't know anything about this magazine until M.B. invited me to submit a few poems to the issue she was guest editing -- and I like the journal a lot. (Not just because they chose one of my poems! Although, you know, it helps.) 
I like its approach -- it's monthly, but it doesn't publish a ton of work at once. There's just enough here to read, to ruminate on, to appreciate or dismiss -- but either way, the work printed here doesn't get lost in a sea of other pieces. While I like many of the printed, perfect-bound journals out there, many of them are on my "to read" tables (that's right, I wrote tables, the plural!). I just can't manage to move through each issue quickly. But a magazine like Stirring: A Literary Collection is easily digested in a sitting -- and can lead to mo…

Good News and a Mini AWP Wrap-Up

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Back in August, a self-described "reader of poetry" (and poet himself, although he didn't let me know that at first!) named Paul David Adkins contacted me through Facebook and said that he'd reviewed my chapbook for Luna Luna Magazine. I was totally flattered and very excited and checked the magazine quite frequently to see when the review would run . . . and, well, it didn't for quite a few months. I didn't totally forget about it, but I'd resigned myself to the thought that perhaps the editors of Luna Luna didn't find the review compelling enough (because of the subject matter, my little book) or that they didn't have room for it, etc. I came up with lots of reasons inside my crazy head.
And then yesterday, quite out of the blue, I found this posted to my Facebook wall.
It's a really thoughtful, generous review of my chapbook. I'm touched and flattered and happy to have my poems written about so well, and at such length. So, you know: g…

More Good News -- And it's Not Just Mine!

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The REALLY good news? I managed to teach the first two parts of Anna Karenina to my Intro to the Novel class yesterday without having thoroughly re-read the material. And I don't think I screwed up my students! In Kermit the Frog fashion, can I get a big "YAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYY . . ."


Hello? Anyone?

ANYWAY. William Kelley Woolfitt generously published my verbose answers to his interview questions yesterday on his wonderful project, Speaking of Marvels. You can find my specific interview here, but I would recommend scrolling through the site and reading the interviews from all of the other chapbook authors. It's interesting to see inside other people's writing processes. Also, I like that he provides a sample of each poet (or fiction writer's) work at the end of each interview. ALSO, that he interviews authors of fiction chapbooks, and non-fiction chapbooks, which are a little more rare than poetry chaps. 
So it was pleasant and exciting to see that interview …

Post-Reading Optimism

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The reading went really well -- a lovely, sizable audience (the IOTA Poetry Series has been going on for well over a decade, and has a dedicated following), and a good opportunity to read poems outside of the context A. and I established with our "Poets on Childlessness and Parenthood" tour. Instead, we could just read poems. I read about 10 minutes from the chapbook and then 10 minutes of poems from the rest of the Fabulous Beast ms, and A. read a lovely selection from his book, Little Songs and Lyrics to Genji
Here we are in action: (HA!)


Also, I had a snifter of Bourbon Barrel Stout. Drinking beer out of a snifter is pretentious and really shouldn't be condoned, but sometimes it has to be done. It was worth the risk of looking like an asshole. It was delicious.
Beer and poems aside, I'm amazed that I managed to get through the weekend and NOT be a complete stress case. I answered student emails while I was at my mother's house, and didn't feel resentful…

The Spring 2014 Semester: Now Featuring Snow, and More Snow!

Yup -- still around. This semester's not quite the kick in the pants that last semester was . . . er, YET . . . but it's been keeping me busy. The elements have been conspiring to keep me from seeing my creative writing class. Since this semester began, I've seen them TWICE. And because I'll be away in Virginia this weekend for a reading Sunday night, traveling back on Monday, I'm not holding class until Wednesday. The last I saw them was LAST Wednesday. So when I DO finally meet with them, it will have been two weeks since our previous meeting. Crazy, huh?
Of course, the college will cram a whole bunch of make up dates into the last week of school, which will make grading finals absolutely maddening unless I start moving things around on my assignment schedule drastically.
Our phones and internet and intranet have been all sorts of compromised by the snow and ice, too, so I haven't had access to my computer files all week. I get to the office and I feel a lit…

Oh Hello, 2014 ...

Good god. It's been a while.
Welp! Today is the first day of the new semester. We're supposed to get a lot of snow tonight, too. So that should make the beginning of classes go smoothly.
At the very least, I can say that my family is 80% healthy. Maybe 75%. At least, healthy enough that my children can go to school and/or the babysitter and I can go teach.
I feel like I'm JUST beginning to get my life back from babyland. Vampire Baby, as of last week, is finally sleeping for most, if not all, of the night . . . AND if she wakes up around 5 or 6 in the morning, most of the time I can convince her to go back to sleep! IT ONLY TOOK 10 MONTHS. This means that last week, after realizing I'd slept for more than 5 hours, uninterrupted, I woke up early and managed to work on both my verse play and interview questions I'd been sent by the curator of a lovely blog about chapbooks, Speaking of Marvels
It took me nearly two months to answer those questions -- no joke. And …