03 July 2010

the point is not the performance, the point is the poetry.

i guess what it all boils down to is the fact that there's enough shit on tv and on the radio already to entertain me. i don't come to poetry for that. i come to poetry for different reasons.

(after i write up this diatribe, i'm gonna go watch some tedtalk my roomie posted called "how to live before you die." sounds appropriate.)

so, back to our regularly scheduled programming. i've had an internal battle about spoken word for a long time. i recently attended my first slams, and i had a great time. i really did. i do not, in any way, deny that what i watched all those performance artists get up and do took serious talent, commitment and love. i appreciated it very much and i'd like to see more. i also understand that i don't want to attempt to actually do what i saw them doing.

i started off typing "i don't think i COULD ever actually do it." but i refuse to put that kind of self-limiting energy into the universe. i know i COULD do slam if i put my mind to it, but i don't really WANT to put my mind to that...

why? it's hard to explain without sounding crass or snobby... and though that is nowhere near being my intent, keep in mind THIS IS MY SPACE AND I SAY WHAT I NEED/WANT TO SAY. period. so, if you must, get offended. i'm sure you, dear reader, have said or done something to offend me before too. and i bet i kept pretty quiet about it.

i love to write poetry and i love to read poetry. i love to think about poetry. i love to hear poetry in some of the crazy, silly things my three-year-old says. i love to find it on abandoned sticky notes on the streets. i used to write it around the perimeters of sugar packets and napkins in restaurants and leave them there, energy rushing through me just knowing that i'd put poetry into the universe and that maybe someone would notice it, read it, and therefore have it as a part of them (whether they actually wanted it or not). i love buying books of poetry. i love having them on my bookshelves, preening away, waiting to be remembered so that i might reach forward, pull one from the shelf, open it and go into the world of another person's creation. the idea of random poetry on billboards or the sides of buses makes my stomach flutter with excitement. seriously.

i have the weirdest conversations with myself, and God, and my friends, and my child, and strangers in line at the grocery store, and the world, and that's why i write poetry. i can't memorize my poetry anymore than i can memorize those conversations. i'd love to, but something gets lost in translation. the best i can do is either to let you read the poem or to give you some rough retelling (via reading the poem to you) and hope that you can catch the nuances. sometimes, you seriously just had to be there. and that's a shame, but i don't feel i have any right to try and control the situation by recreating that exact moment for you. you're the reader. you're always at least ONCE REMOVED. that's the nature of the beast (or the art).

there is something in slam and/or spoken word poetry that robs me of something essential, something that i long for when i experience poetry. that something just MIGHT be humanity in a certain way. well, first of all, i love the page. i'm a bookworm. that's all there is to it. when i hear someone recite or perform a poem that sounds good or dynamic or interesting, i want to SEE it on the page. it's kind of like checking references. i want to see how the poem is laid out, where the punctuation marks are, where the play with language took place. i love to see the kinds of tic-tac-toe games other people play on a sheet of paper that result in poetry. when i can't have the page, i feel cheated. when someone tries to offer me a cd instead of a book, i feel a little hurt. i can't exactly explain why. it's like not showing me yours after i showed you mine. or something. the page is very intimate. it’s full of room for your flaws and breaths and chicken scratch and typos and idiosyncrasies.

i love going to poetry readings where people step up to the mic and are awkward. i attend a regular open mic (every second friday of the month) where i hang out and share poetry with a really great community of poets – most of them are spoken word artists. i revel in the times when they get up to share a new piece, one they have not yet memorized, and they stand there with a sheet of paper in their hands, reading and stumbling a little bit. that, to me, is a conversation between them and their writing that they’re allowing me to see. those are the times that i really feel i get to know them. i feel closer to them because they’re vulnerable in that moment.

the best poetry performance i’ve ever seen was by a poet named d.a. powell. he’d just done a reading at boise state. he was making his gracious appearance at the reception-like gathering held at the house of one of my professors. everyone was having wine and snacks. the professors started reciting poems – not their own, but great poems they’d read and liked so well they decided to commit them to memory. it was beautiful and humbling. mr. powell launched into this amazing recitation of one of my favorite poems, “the love song of j. alfred prufrock” by t.s. eliot. the entire room fell silent. his voice whispered and shuddered and croaked and flowed. i could feel his humanity reverberating with each word. when he whispered, “do i dare disturb the universe?” i could feel the question of his own mortality couched within. i could feel him living and dying within the words of someone else’s poem. i shed tears – not because of the moving performance but because i was honored to get to know something about this person in a few minutes, and through someone else’s words. something he’d probably never share with me in general conversation. something only the POEM could bring forth. something to which no spoken word performance has ever allowed me access.

watching an incredibly polished, meticulously memorized and well performed spoken word or slam piece is like watching a dramatic monologue. it’s exciting, engaging, moving. sometimes it’s even tender. but the only moments in which i feel i really get to KNOW the performing poet is when he/she is adjusting the microphone, getting his/her jitters out, correcting stance, and taking a breath before beginning the performance. and then i basically LOSE the person and the poem to the performance. the performance takes over. and i enjoy performance. for some reason, however, i prefer my poetry without that element that turns the poet into a character right before my eyes.

i’m easily manipulated. there’s my confession. this means that, when i watch spoken word and slam, i’m WITH the poet/performer all the way… but is it because the poem is that good or because my willing suspension of disbelief is THAT strong? this is what the page helps me figure out. i am a muddled and procrastinating, though passionate and committed reader of poems. i may screw around with your poem for a long time, avoid it, make excuses for myself all the while… but once i commit myself to your poem and read it, i’m going to give it my all. i’m going to profusely praise you for your moments of brightness, newness, love and humanity… and i’m going to call you on your bullshit as gracefully and brutally as i can. because i care about you and i care about your poem. so, i guess it’s hard for me to separate the brightness from the bullshit when it’s all given to me onstage. it’s a performance, so every move and inflection is intentional, meant to be compelling – but what about the POEM?

the point, for me, is not the performance, that’s all. the point is the poetry. i don’t want anything distracting me from the poetry.

oh baby, the rambling!! does anybody understand what i’m getting at here? if you don’t, crawl in my brain and try being my perpetually torn and yearning self for about five minutes. that may not get you any closer to what i’ve tried to explain here, but at least you’ll know my intentions were true.

23 May 2010


ok, so ... it's officially gotten old. i've gotten down to the brass tacks on this "fail better" mission and i just. don't. WANNA.


i updated my list. highlight in THIS COLOR are the journals to which i still need to submit. and have i mentioned that i don't wanna? ok ... *more sigh* so i'm gonna try to put my beggin' card in with at least ONE of these mofos tonight before i hit the hay. mostly what i wanna do at this point is tool about in on 'net and then hit the hay.

so there's that. the home stretch sucks, y'all. nite.


20 May 2010

"back to the grill again"

i'm gonna listen to "ring the alarm" by tenor saw over and over again until something clicks in my head and i feel like writing ... or SOMETHING ...

(embed code is disallowed by the youtubian gods, so commiserate with me by listening to the song HERE. )

so, i need to get back on this list. suffice it to say i've officially lost my steam. is my lack of motivation showing? no new rejections to report, but there's hope on the horizon, i suppose. i've sold a few copies of the chapbook. by the by, i kinda threw in the towel on this whole grassroots, do-it-my-damn-self method of pushing the chappie. i have copies remaining if you want one directly from me. however, lulu's now gonna do some of the work for me, via their online marketplace. you can purchase your copy of "prayers of Calcitrant" via this nifty lil button i'm about to slap you in the face with below. check me out!

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

owwwwww! tell a friend, i say. i'm going to take some of the copies i have and try to get them consigned to some local spots as well.

... ok. i've procrastinated long enough. time for me and tenor saw to go click some links. lah-dee-dah and goodnight.


10 May 2010


happy mother's day to me. i graded papers. i told my goddaughters their gift to me would be making sure i didn't have to look at any dishes in the sink. for the whole day.

i finished reading "wind in a box" by Terrance Hayes. it was a victory hard-won. i'm pretty sure i started this book three months ago - it's all tattered now from the ins and outs of my purse, my hands, my snacks. his books don't usually take me anywhere near that long to finish.

( Hayes is one of my favorite poets, not so much because i'd date him if he were single, but because i would date him because he's brilliant and lyrical and tender. on paper. i keep writing poems to him. anyway.)

the poetry was sharp. warm and fine and full of aching. i like ache. this book made me look up the word "ennui." i think this is important, to remember that you don't know all the words in the world. i am happy to have accomplished the completion of this collection, but sad to leave its little universe. i'm bad about withdrawal, i think. reading it the second time isn't the same. i should just put the damned thing back on the shelf so that i look "smart" or "deep," and stop BLOGGING. sheesh.

thank you again, J. Ruben Appelman, for talking with me the other night. you must bear the burden of my high regard because we shared a pivotal moment. mostly, i was there and you were there too. i wore a pink wig to a dinner party at your house and talked to a woman who'd lost 35 lbs. by smoking. i actually considered smoking then. that's vulnerability ... or it's idaho. either way, thank you. that's all.

05 May 2010

get some.


so, i'm back from the vacay. i had an excellent time, but now it's back to the grind ... before i left i could feel myself starting to get a little discouraged. i collected some more rejection letters (all gracious and interesting, really). but something great also happened ...

the shipment of my chapbook, "prayers of calcitrant" finally came! yaaaay! i'm excited to get these into some people's hands. i really believe in this project a lot. hope people dig it! want one? email me.

so i'm back on that failbetter list tonight! the goal is to click on five links, and submit to any that will allow it, of course.

i'm gonna have to get myself into some swimming pools this summer. the kid too. how am i gonna eek out a trip to atlanta? that's gotta be a way ...

27 April 2010

doves are assholes.

it sounds really sweet and poetic when someone says that a dove is nesting on their porch. really. imagine waking up to the gentle, melodic coo of a bird that symbolizes peace and beauty. when i first saw the dove, i thought, "oh, that must be a positive omen. good energy. we're doing something right in this house."

the problem with this idealistic notion is that doves are assholes.

every time we try to leave or enter the house from the front porch, we face a pretty good chance that the dove will do a crazed, renegade fly-over - flapping at our heads with its evil wings and possibly pecking up a little of our hair in the process! doesn't sound much like the pure white fowl that carried an olive branch into the new world for noah, does it? now, this dove has had a chip on its feathery shoulder ever since a stray cat crawled up to its nest and killed its first batch of eggs. but that's not OUR fault. we felt bad for the damn thing. oh, she went away for a while. but now the bitch is back, and apparently out for blood. nobody in our little midtown tulsa home is safe!

my three-year-old daughter suddenly has a fear of birds. any birds. she thinks they will peck her head. why? because this seemingly sweet, cooing, piece of shit dove, DID try to peck her head! don't birds know that toddlers rank WAY HIGHER than them on the cuteness scale, and that this testimonial has the potential to vilify them forever? JUST WAIT TILL OPRAH READS THIS, YOU FANCIED-UP PIGEON! you're DONE for.

this feathered fiend has riddled with anxiety the hearts of everyone living in our house, and quite a few of our friends and family members. i've noticed that several people no longer come to our front door. why? scared of the damn dove. my roomie just walked into the house, from the SIDE door, frazzled and distraught because the dove attacked her as she fished her keys out of her purse and tried to shit on her head! that's just rude!

ok, so the dove's protective of her eggs. big deal. this B.W.A. (bird with attitude) has NO RIGHT to take out its vengeance over lost babies on US! go find the cat who had munched up your babies, since you're such a bad-ass!

i'll tell you what else, turd bird. you're not the only one around here protective of her eggs. and if you attack my child's head ONE MORE TIME, i'm gonna add a little scientific research to the prince song lyric and find out EXACTLY what it sounds like "when doves cry."

fuck doves!

22 April 2010

i heart lil' jamie

the first time he called my phone, lil' jamie was positive i was sheena - his homie brandon's girlfriend. i assured him i wasn't, but he was positive that i knew him and was acting "all funny." after confirming that he wasn't one of my students playing a prank, i became relatively certain that he was some random jerk ... playing a prank. i hung up on lil' jamie.

he called back. i didn't answer.

he called back again. i didn't answer.

on the third call-back, my roomie took the phone. turns out lil' jamie's intentions were true - he really WAS trying to reach someone and thought for sure he had the right number. the number of the guy on whose couch he'd slept a couple days prior, the number of the guy to whose house he'd arrived in a four-wheeler. my roomie made it clear such was not the case. "we live in midtown," she said. the call ended with a few laughs.

perhaps two minutes later, lil' jamie called back. i asked for him by name. "is this lil' jamie?" he laughed nervously. "how'd you know my name?" i reminded him that he'd just called and that his name was quite memorable. i suggested he release a hit song and cash in on his new notoriety. he laughed again, this time a lot more relaxed.

we talked. he told me that there was, indeed, a "big jamie" - his dad, who was 43. lil' jamie was 25. he was distraught about brandon (the homie he was attempting to call when he reached me) giving him the wrong number a couple days prior. i checked the date. "brandon gave you this number on 420! he was high!" i could hear the grin in lil' jamie's voice. he was pleased i'd made that connection. i knew, in that moment, that if i extended the conversation for another 3-4 minutes, this kid would be inviting himself to my house for a smoke and herbal-induced philosophical ramblings. he was already crashing on my futon in his mind. i could hear it in his voice.

i cut the conversation short, wishing him luck in finding brandon's real number. i couldn't help but smile when i hung up.

i love lil' jamie.

he represents, for me, the hope that there's still some humanity floating around in all this presumptuous digital precision and social-networking-site-application-based friendship. there are still some people in the world who will talk to you on the phone even if they don't know you, and find your house at 10 pm on a thursday night to hang out if you let them. some people who will tell you their story.

this glass of wine is for you, my friend - may you always find a couch to cruise and a connection to miss, so that you might try to connect again. and again.



i FINALLY bit the bullet and ordered my 100-copy run of "prayers of calcitrant" - my little self-published chapbook project vial Lulu. so, yeah, i'm HELLA excited to have it in my hand and to put it into the hands of others.

gonna sell it for $10 in-person and $15 if i have to mail it off to you (to cover shipping). i'll put up a pic of it later. i just wanted to shriek about having actually paid the money and ordered the copies more than anything.

20 April 2010

triple arruh

got my rejection letter from Rattle a few minutes ago.

i need to take my redbox movies back before they end up costing me a fortune - yep, one dollar at a time.

rice krispies at 1 am are better than rice krispies in the morning = scientifically proven FACT.

just like the fact that any sandwich consumed after midnight becomes a SAMMICH. and chicken becomes CHIGGEN. these are important facts about the universe that everyone needs to know.

c'mon, mary, let's SKYPE!

18 April 2010

day. care?

here's what i'm listening to right now:

just submitted to the cortland review.

i also submitted my child to an hourly drop-off daycare while i worked my five hours for the day, teaching a strategies class. she was wearing a white veil and a tutu over her sweatpants, and i was afraid. visions of mysterious bruises on baby brown skin danced in my head. tearful exits. fearful screams. soiled "big girl panties" and disoriented blank stares. all that rot. yeah ... i'm one of THOSE moms.

right. like anybody could punk THAT kid. hard to believe i almost named her "lotus." gentle flower she ain't. she enjoyed the drop-in place. when i walked in to get her, she was wandering about, singing her favorite paramore song, still in her tutu, drinking a capri-sun.

thanks to the following people for talking to me about poetry and bullsh*t: scott, mary, self. scott: i promise i won't drive myself crazy. mary: find me a poet to marry, ok? please and thanks in advance. self: clean the kitchen tomorrow before you get any more agitated than you already are.

12 April 2010

"failing better' update 04-12-10

there are too many literary journals in the world! can you say "overwhelming"??!!

everyone's coming back from the AWP Conference in denver. my facebook is rather flooded with status messages from people boasting the fatigue of having "done" the conference. i feel like such an outsider. dammit, i'm gonna be there in 2011!!

i just sent five of my poems to Innisfree Poetry Journal. i don't know how to feel about that submission, but it's just one of many. and that's not even a journal from my FAILBETTER list!

and speaking of ... CHECK OUT THAT LIST!!! it's dwindling down to nothing (yeah right)!

i'll be sending off my submission to the Barrow Street book contest tomorrow.

there's coffee in queue in the coffeemaker. the baby will have instant oatmeal, fruit and possibly a little cheese (if she wants it) for brekkie in the morning. but i'm NOT cleaning that kitchen tonight. i've decided i should learn to appreciate the banalities of life as something more closely resembling a normal person. i'll never get rid of them, after all, but my time draws near ... i'm going back into the circus tent with the rest of the artist-types. meanwhile, refusing to clean the kitchen at 2 am is no small act of rebellion. i'll take what i can get.

10 April 2010

trying to get back what i lost, maybe.

i am, as of about 15 minutes ago, reading Nota by Martin Corless-Smith. he put it in my hand several years ago at a poetry reading (i think i paid for it. either way, he signed it.) but i never actually tried to read it until just now.

why do i wait so long to do things? this poetry is difficult and wandering and musical and PEACEFUL somehow. martin was one of my professors at boise state, where i got my MFA. when i say that he was brilliant, what i mean is that i couldn't understand a fucking word he said, and even that isn't true. i understood some of the fucking words he said, and it was at those times (within my moments of grasping, even for a split second, the densely abstract thinkymadness with which martin tried to enrich me/us) that i KNEW poetry was about so much more than whatever was going on inside a head or a heart at any moment.

i could feel things outside the greedy realm of selves (students and a prof in a cramped classroom, let's say) converging and conspiring to create a moment of almost random purity i couldn't even articulate, let alone try to capture. i don't think i ever got to thank him for that, or for wine, or for food, or for crashings at his house, or for humoring me in any of the million ways in which he MUST have humored me during my three years under his tutelage. i'm bad at thanking people for things, and (sometimes) that's a shame.

all this to say, martin, i loved your classes and i dig your book. and thank you.


08 April 2010

"failing better" update 04-08-10

i haven't updated in a while, but i SWEAR i've been thinking about it!

i just found out today that i have slightly elevated blood pressure. i'm about to start taking something called a "water pill." gonna have to ask my grandmother about that one. wow.

i got a brochure in the mail from California Institute of the Arts. their poetry mfa looks pretty interesting. i'm still seriously considering applying for my second mfa.

and i STILL have no desire to be in a poetry slam. *bangs gavel on that one*

so, i'm going to send my most recent poetry manuscript, "getting (her) born" in to the Barrow Street Press 2010 Book Contest. the deadline for submission is june 30, 2010.

there's nothing that should stop me from having MY submission in the mail by MONDAY. if i lollygag even a little bit, it just won't get done. soooo, here's the plan:

- look through the MS tonight
- type up the necessary cover pages, etc. tomorrow and email a copy of all that stuff to myself.
- print off the MS and cover pages at work (don't judge me!) on saturday afternoon.
- get me a manila envelope from the wally-greens saturday after work.
- put the MS and such in the padded mailer and address it.
- take it to the post office by my grandmother's house on monday afternoon before work and mail it off.

no one should have to write bulleted lists like that to themselves. whatever. no one should procrastinate the way i do. i know myself too well. anyway, i'm gonna see if i can also submit some of my poems to Barrow Street's journal tonight. wish me luck.

check out the updates on the failbetter list! i'm making progress!

30 March 2010

the "fail better" mission, update 03-29-10


i submitted three of my poems for Adirondack Review's 46er Prize for Poetry just a few minutes ago. they've got a neat little system, too. your entry fee is based on how many poems you submit (1 is $5, 2 is $8 and 3 is $10). AND you pay the fee via paypal. talk about convenient!

i also corresponded with a very intelligent novelist on facebook, who told me i should be prepared to perform at the drop of a hat. good advice. i wonder what that MEANS in terms of fiction, though ... do people walk up to fiction writers and say, "hey, spout some prose for my kids!"?

it's probably WAY too 1:30 to ponder this. but there's my update. thanks for the comments, friends. invite your homies to my blog! hell, i dunno why. maybe so i can feel famous?


27 March 2010

the "fail better" mission, update 03-27-10

i sent my stuff to the good people of 2River Press a couple days ago. today, while i was teaching my saturday afternoon "strategies" class, i looked on my phone and noticed i'd gotten an email from Richard Long, whom i am guess is 2River's poetry editor. he said he enjoyed reading my poems, but couldn't use them for the summer 2010 issue of the mag.

what's weird is that i was almost excited about the rejection. it felt like ... progress. i've been rejected by a few presses and magazines before, and i know that NOT ALL of them include something about "enjoying" your work in their rejection message. so that was nice. besides, 2River is quarterly, so i'll be able to send them more stuff in a couple months. and i WILL. just you watch out, Richard Long!

ok, i need coffee. i'll need to send my stuff to at least ONE place before i can sleep tonight ...

holla back!


24 March 2010

the list of online publications.

Action, Yes not accepting submissions @ this time
The Adirondack Review submitted 3 poems to the 46er prize on 03-29-10
Alsop Review website seems to be out of commission 04-08-10
Archipelago no longer accepting submissions 04-08-10
The Barcelona Review fiction only! 04-08-10
Barrow Street not accepting submissions for the JOURNAL, but i'm submitting to the Barrow Street Poetry Book Contest. my submission will go into the mail 04-12-10!
Beltway Poetry only published literary works from people in the DC metro area. but i followed a link on their site to Innisfree Poetry Journal, which IS accepting electronic submissions at this time. i'm sending off to them tonight! 04-11-10
Blackbird submitted 04-13-10
Blithe House Quarterly only publishes LGBT short fiction, and they're not accepting submissions anyway
Blue Moon Review no longer publishing! *frownie face* 04-13-10
Born Magazine not accepting written work at this time 04-13-10
Café Ireal only accepts fiction, but it's like WEIRD fiction and can be very short. gonna have to come back to this. 04-13-10
Carve Magazine another fiction-only journal. eh. i subscribed to it. 04-13-10
Coconut Poetry submitted 03-24-10
Cortland Review submitted 04-18-10
Danforth Review ERROR MESSAGE! 04-13-10
decomP submitted (yawningly) 04-14-10
Dead Mule exclusively for THE SOUTH, but in an interesting way. i might be able to submit there. i'll check on it. i'm sleepyashe ll.com 04-14-10
Drunken Boat not accepting poetry submissions @ this time
Ducts submitted 05-05-10 (happy cinco de mayo!)
Exquisite Corpse despite its exceedingly cool title, this site is defunct, 04-20-10
Eyeshot fiction only, but they write some awesome rejection latters! 04-20-10
Foliate Oak not accepting submissions until august. i'll be back!
Fringe i THINK i can submit to them. not quite sure. i'll dig around and get that done tonight. 05-09-10
Go Ezines is actually a directory. gonna dig around in there! 05-09-10
God Particle this link sent me to some sort of bible study website. i'm gonna write and ask them if they publish poetry. heh. 05-09-10
Hobart doesn't accept poetry, but they except real or imaginary SPOTLIGHT features. i kinda wanna do one about my roomie. 05-09-10
IdentityTheory only accepting poems about money. that's so weird. since when do poets have MONEY? ok, i'm off to go write something ... 05-09-10
Iowa Review Online not accepting until september. 05-22-10
Jacket Magazine will start reading in june! be back in a couple weeks ... 05-21-10
Le Petite Zine submitted hella early am 05-23-10. nine more to go. fuck.
Literal Latte meh. no electronic submissions. gotta print some stuff off. 05-23-10
Madhatters' Review reading period is over - my bad. five more. 05-23-10
McSweeney's them no likey poetry. 05-22-10
Memorious submitted, bitches! six more. 05-23-10
MiPOesias submitted to OCHO, via MiPOesias, 05-23-10
Monkeybicycle not accepting any submissions for the print journal, but i may try my hand at a one-sentence story!
Muse Apprentice Guild nothing to see here. 05-21-10
Octopus Guild reads during the month of august only. couple more months to go! 05-21-10
Paumanok Review etext archives? huh??? 05-21-10
Pif Magazine tooling around with this stupid HeyPublisher crap. it won't accept my attachments. blah. 05-21-10
Pindeldyboz no longer accepting poetry submissions. waaaah! 05-21-10
Pittsburgh Quarterly Review doesn't look like these guys have updated since 2007. no submission guidelines available. 05-21-10
Richmond Review not accepting submissions. 05-21-10
Segue missed their deadline. blah. 05-21-10
Slope not accepting submissions just yet ... 05-21-10
Small Spiral Notebook i am forbidden. 05-21-10
Snow Monkey submitted, gotdammit. 05-23-10
SoMa Literary Review if they DO have submission guidelines, i couldn't find them. 05-21-10
Storyglossia not found. 05-21-10
storySouth submitted! 05-23-10
Summerset Review poetry is WHORES! submitted 05-23-10
Tarpaulin Sky not accepting poetry/fiction submissions till the fall
2River told me no 03-27-10
3AM Magazine not accepting poetry submissions. 05-09-10
3rd Bed published in a language that is decidedly NOT english, except for the word "RESPECT."
Unpleasant Event Schedule the full deal of someone named daniel nester. he doesn't seem to want my poems. hmph. 05-09-10
Web del Sol told me no 12-2009
Word Riot published two of my poems 11-2009
Words Without Borders can't figure out where to find the submission guidelines!

23 March 2010

my newest mission.

i admit, i'm not what anyone could call "self-motivated." i'm just not. even when it comes to my writing, which is my biggest dream in life. this completely muddled and non-lucrative "being a poet" thing is all i ever wanted to do and i'm not doing a very good job at DOING it.

i get discouraged too easily. i applied (very sloppily and hastily) to three schools for a Ph.D. in English with Creative Writing dissertation right after i graduated from boise state with my mfa, and was rejected by all three. at the time i was crushed and CONVINCED those rejections meant i wasn't going to be successful as a poet & writer - despite the fact that my applications were sort of thrown together and i wasn't very well prepared. instead of realizing that i just needed to really THINK about why i wanted to go into a doctoral program (since then, i've officially discovered that i probably DON'T want a Ph.D. not in that, anyway), i beat myself up. and i've been at a standstill ever since.

i take rejection too harshly. sending out my poetry for publication is always a nail-biting experience. i mean, i KNOW i won't be accepted by every press, but ... like ... i still WANT to! who wants to be rejected, right? but i let that slow me down, and i think the reason they slow me down is because i don't submit my work to ANYWHERE NEAR enough presses, mags, etc. don't give myself a chance to get in the groove and keep going.

oh yeah, and i had a kid and got a job and stuff. i don't regret having my daughter, as she is the coolest person on the face of the earth, but motherhood (especially SINGLE motherhood) is time-consuming ... draining. eleni sikelianos recently asked me on via facebook chat if i'd been keeping up with my reading since i graduated. i asked her if dora the explorer "say it two ways" books counted. i guess you get the picture.

anyway, blah to all the excuses. i need to submit my work more places and stop being such a wuss. (i'm also thinking of applying for a SECOND mfa in poetry. leave a comment on this blog telling me your thoughts on that idea.)

sooo, here's my new mission. i've decided to work my way through the online AND print publication links listed by a really great online literary journal called failbetter. i'd been skimming through the list, researching and reading some of the journals and even submitting a couple of places. then i decided it would make the most sense to just submit to ALL of them that still exist and that would accept my work right now. gives me something to focus on, a task to complete, and some sort of structure to my creative endeavors. i guess you could say i'm trying to toughen up and live by the samuel beckett quote from which failbetter got their name: "ever tried? ever failed? no matter. try again. fail again. fail better."

i'll blog every few days with a list of the places i've submitted my work.

wish me luck, 'k? gonna need it ...

*oh, so far i've submitted to coconut poetry and rattle.

16 March 2010

a nod to harryette mullen and cheryl pallant (inspired by terrence hayes)

special y’ooze

(for cheryl pallant)

you’re too much waist in time.

you’ve been rending a room in the wrong house

this whole time and

your bill was late. you’re bent on audit.

you’re auditory, gotten notice after

the fact of certain.

you are seven of the thinnest dimes I’ve ever seen

and even at one stroke.

you are a Mabe of all seasons, a dog of one.

you’re all bonkity-bonk and diddity-doo the kind that don’t

bite back.

you’re that bigger-than-the-both-of-us brand of file

in the cake

and featherweight.

you back against the wall and forever back

after these messages

you will not sway me with your swamp thing smile

and sorcery-less sword,

your whispers swindle.

you’re the wrong swine for this truffle

and it’s been too long.

too much trouble.

you dine on the wills of men

I will not abide, and you will not attend.

you will not attend the Death Star Disco.

16 February 2010

creativity and responsibility

the problem with writing a blog is that you're sort of expected to say something. i don't know that i want to say anything right now. but i'm thinking about creativity and the responsibilities of creative people ... or, really, the PRESSURE creative people feel to produce something that's considered "good." are my bad poems my fault? yes! you terrible person, mia! look at that bad, bad poem you wrote! you're losing your touch, and for shame. or something like that. i don't know ...

so, you're here in my house. do you have about nineteen minutes? if so, watch this tedtalk. elizabeth gilbert, author of "eat, pray, love," talks about the nature of creativity, creative process and creative genius. i am going to watch it again after embedding it onto this blog. beneath the embed of the clip, i am going to post my "ars poetica," which i think speaks to what gilbert is saying here. it's a little "dawning of the age of aquarius" or something ... but hey! THAT'S NOT MY FAULT! after you see the clip, you'll understand what i mean. feedbacks?

ars poetica

i am merely a medium through which the poem may choose to re-enter the universe and reunite with the Soul of the World. i recognize that the poem is Ancient. it existed long before my birth and therefore does not belong to me. i do not write the poem, but rather attempt to translate it from its natural, Ancient form into something resembling language – something that most closely resembles whatever the poem is trying to tell me it is.

i recognize my simultaneous importance and insignificance in the creative process. i understand the concept of writing and my self-indulgent human need to filter ownership into this process as what they are – tedious hindrances to be circumvented in order to get closer to the poem. as a medium, i recognize my duty to transport the poem safely into language and usher it as far beyond God as my human constraints will allow me.

to attempt to get the poem beyond God is not sacrilegious. there is only one entity beyond the vibrating system of misconceptions, ego-trips, humiliations and cat-fights that comprise our petty construct of God. that one entity is God. i recognize that my desired destination for the poem is impossible, and therefore most vital. the poem can never get beyond God because the poem is God.

it is my duty to attempt, in every translation, to get the poem as close to its Ancient form (within the confines of language [within the confines of my limited knowledge of a language]) as i can. i recognize, however, that every attempt will fail. it is this failure that makes me a poet. i recognize that the value of my work will not be determined by when someone applauds or approves or purchases it. this value will be determined only by the singular instant when the poem tells me that, though i failed to translate it completely, i came close.

30 January 2010

"here's a funky introduction of how nice i am ..."

ok, new project.

i've decided to teach my three-year-old music-lover about hip-hop. i fell in love with the music and the phenomenon at a young age, and feel a responsibility to teach my child that there are and some very intelligent, creative and positive hip-hop artists out there, before she goes to school and is inundated with the pseudo-thuggery and mindless materialistic blabber of most "rap" music out these days.

the new project may sound a little random or silly, but i truly believe hip-hop has great value. there is so much perspective on history, culture, politics and spirituality couched within the music that often gets overlooked in favor of the hottest beat or the flashiest persona. i want her to be exposed to the great lessons hip-hop offers the world, instead of the negativity and madness. i've already started thinking about lessons in musical etymology through hip-hop's notorious sampling. oh you really like talib kweli's "get by," honey? well, that song liberally samples "sinnerman" by nina simone. here, let me play it for you now!

seriously, people. the last thing an over-thinker like me needed was a kid, over whom i could obsess about fostering awesomeness. but there's no turning back now! BWAHAHA!

this all started when my daughter watched a commercial that featured the instrumental to "rebirth of slick" by digable planets. she was instantly captivated by the hook, and walked around for the next few days letting her family know she was, indeed, "cool like dat." i couldn't resist the opportunity. i sat her on my lap and pulled up the full-length video on youtube with my laptop, just to see her response. i thought for sure the kid wouldn't sit through a video that long without colorful visual effects, upbeat singing, and all the bells and whistles of her standard nick jr. experience. but i was dead wrong. my toddler watched the low-key, somber, black-and-white footage with the focus of a great explorer studying an ancient map. her brows furrowed, she tried her best to hear and understand the lyrics. she nodded to the beat and seemed to take in the general "vibe" of the song. i was wowed!

at her request, i've played the video for her several times since then. just today it occurred to me to play her something else. the trouble lies finding songs that will capture the SPIRIT of hip-hop without explicit lyrics or adult content. i thought and thought, and then a lightbulb flashed. "blue cheese" by the UMCs may not be fully-approved fare for a bona fide hip-hop "head," but it's ideal for a little kid. everyone's dressed in bright colors, smiling and dancing around. the beat is cheery and upbeat. there's even a monster in the video! besides all that, hass g and kool kim were pretty good lyricists. not a hard sell for the midget. she loved it, and asked to watch "the cheese song" again!

i've now created a youtube playlist of all the videos i'd like to play for my little music prodigy as i teach her about one of my favorite music genres. mos def's "umi says" made the list, as did "fugeela" by the fugees.i threw in some "ladies first" by queen latifah for girl power and afrocentrism, while de la soul's "breakadawn" will challenge her aptitude by introducing complex lyrical cadences. i'm sorry to report that "B.O.B." by outkast will probably get cut from the list. i found the cable tv edit of the video, so there are no dirty words, and the colorful video accompanies the fast-paced, dance-friendly song perfectly, but uhm ... there are strippers in the video. don't think i can justify that one. maybe i'll add "the whole world" instead ...

anyway, i'm hoping to have this be an evolving playlist that grows as my girl does. check it out! i'd love to see feedback and suggestions on this, and not even just for hip-hop! suggest some great songs you think my kid would like. i'll thank you in advance to contributing to her awesome-ification.