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 more reading.

For instance, I really liked Neil Aitken's poem "Babbage, Waking Beside Georgiana, Considers the Moon, 1815."  And then I read his bio and found he's the editor of the Boxcar Poetry Review, which was another magazine I knew nothing about. And then, in the current issue of Boxcar, I found this interview with Will Schutt, who wrote Westerly (another book on the "to read" tables -- particularly because he lives down the road from me, and I thought we might ask him to come to the college and speak/read to our students).

The interview is funny/not funny. Not funny in that Will Schutt is kind and writes good answers in response to the questions he's given -- and funny in that the interviewer, Peter LaBerge, is so very young and so very cute and full of enthusiasm. God, that sounds incredibly patronizing and slightly demeaning, doesn't it? I can't help, though, that his headshot makes him look like the human equivalent of my labrador retriever. He's adorable, and his questions don't help to shake that impression.

So: This is the reading I've done in the last 24 hours, which was mostly precipitated by being published in a magazine. I fear I'm becoming more and more solipsistic. Anyway, I'm making that point simply to say that if it sounds like I'm doing so much reading, that's false. I haven't had much time for anything outside of my crazy, convoluted schedule. 

Life's not too bad, though. I managed to send off an application to Stony Brook Southampton's Summer Writer's Conference on the day of the deadline -- I have to take more graduate classes to be promoted eventually, and my strategy for taking these classes in addition to working a full time job and being a mother to three children is to take the courses during the summer months, in a compressed schedule. The workshop for which I applied is a playwriting workshop led by David Adjmi, who is a fantastic writer and a very engaging, fun instructor (I took a mini-workshop with him a couple of years ago). 

I feel all right putting myself back into the student seat when it comes to playwriting -- I really know very little about the genre. But really, I've never had too much of a problem being a student -- I like being a student: I like learning, and I like guidance. With everything going on in my life I'm too distracted to be much of a self-directed learner. I do it to some small extent, but I like being given information directly. Spoonfed, I suppose. Maybe I'm just lazy. Maybe I'm a big baby.

Speaking of babies, at work I'm currently up to my eyeballs in two pet projects: The Creative Writing Festival and the first issue of the campus literary magazine, East End Elements -- which is going to be one of those printed, perfect-bound book-like issues, but will be an immense improvement over previous issues in terms of physical/visual aesthetic. It's just going to look more professional than it has in the past, and I'm proud of that. I'm not really sure it's going to read any better than previous issues -- this is still mostly student writing -- but we're including reviews of literature and interviews with two visual artists and a memoirist. Also, we are lucky enough to use two pieces from each of the visual artists, and so the cover is going to be stunning. So, you know, yay!

Hopefully the CW Festival won't be a complete disaster this year. I feel a little disjointed, organizing it from a different campus, and being physically separated from the other organizers (who remain back on the Ammerman campus, about 20 miles away). It's been a bumpy year for the festival. But I'm so excited to have Allison Seay come to read -- she's a fantastic poet and via our phone conversations I gather that she's a lovely person. Kelly Daniels has lived a crazy, full life AND is a fantastic writer (and an old friend from the Prague Summer Program). And Colum McCann seems like a good guy, based on the articles I've read, and he's our big-deal Keynote . . . so maybe their presence will make up for any mistakes in the organization.

Anyway. Vampire baby is awake and crying, and so the day must begin. I managed to babble on for quite a while here, huh? I'll probably pay for that later, when I realize there was something else I was supposed to be doing this morning. *sigh*


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