January 25, 2008

I Want to Believe

Just got some smashing news: one of my poems will appear in The Believer...possibly sooner rather than later. I'll keep you posted. The Believer is one of those polarizing magazines--some love it, some hate it. I'm a fan, for reasons that I think are well articulated in this 2005 New York Times essay by A. O. Scott.

If you happen to look at the current issue, check out the cover article on the commercialization of Niagara Falls, by Ginger Strand; it is drawn from her first book, Inventing Niagara, coming out in May from Simon & Schuster. I'm intrigued.

January 24, 2008

Woo, Doggie

Am I the only one slightly crazed in anticipation of AWP?

Go over to Paul Guest's blog and congratulate him on this news. Worth noting that the second author mentioned in the Publisher's Weekly article, Doug Anderson, is one of my panelists for AWP. Congrats Doug!

Speaking of which, my AWP panel: you should come. It's on Saturday--the same day the book fair is open to all--and if you sneak in without a badge, I certainly won't tell anyone. Here are the details:

"Breaking Lines on the Battlefield: Poetry of Wartime" featuring Brian Turner, Doug Anderson, Kevin Bowen and Susan Tichy; moderated by Sandra Beasley

SATURDAY, February 2 at 1:30 PM at the Hilton New York
in New York City - "Beekman & Sutton North" Rm., 2nd Fl.

There are some other fine panels during the same timeslot. But I have to say that, after looking through the whole conference schedule, our panel has a unique pitch and urgency. I'm really intrigued by the questions that we've been circulating amongst ourselves in prep for the event. This is a conversation you'll want to witness (and they'll read a few poems, too). And it is Brian Turner's first AWP since Here, Bullet came out.

Ten things I have learned from AWPs past:

-Pick two readings or panels per day that you're REALLY excited about. Other than that, keep yourself free to improvise.

-If you've got a large group of friends you want to see--MFA alumni, maybe--pick one of the sponsored receptions and use that as a meeting place. Typical misstep: people say "I'll call you!" to coordinate, then everyone has their cells off all day because they're in events, and then it never comes together in time. Also, be considerate: some of your friends are really trying to save money. Pick a gathering place that's free, so to speak.

-When you meet someone, don't immediately angle your head to see on their namebadge who they're "with." It's rude.

-Pack as if you're going hiking. Bring nuts and raisins and refillable water bottles (you can spend a fortune just trying to stave off hunger pangs) and comfy shoes. I'm also bringing my flask of scotch; damned if I'm going to spend $14 for a cocktail every time I want to hang out in the hotel bar.

-Use a shoulder bag that will stand out among the 7,000 identical conference tote bags.

-If you show up to a panel or reading because you wanted to see one person and that one person flaked out on showing, it's okay to leave. Just do it quickly and quietly. Life is too short.

-Don't wait until 4 PM on Saturday to drop by the bookfair for your first time; a lot of cash-strapped university programs and journals will have packed up by then. That said, you can get a lot of free swag if you do one last sweep around 4, because people leave what they don't want to pay to ship home.

-Don't commit to an offsite event until you understand just how far offsite it will be. This could be particularly salient on the cold, cold, cold, streets of New York. The subway will help; otherwise, it can be hard to catch a ride (or even a taxi) back at the end of the night.

-If you're going to have coffee with friends, do it early--make it the thing that gets you out of bed. Beyond 11 AM or so your schedule will get away from you, making it hard to be on time for social dates.

-And: have fun. Because I don't know about you, but no one's paying me to do this. It is a labor of love, every bit of it...and a chance to act just a hair crazier than usual.

January 17, 2008

Up On the Roof

This morning it began to snow. From my fifth-floor apartment window, I could see that the roofers on the building next to mine were still trying to do their job, laying out rolls of tin and wielding big, fist-sized flames--to make the material more malleable, perhaps. DC is all white and gray and brown. I appear to be living in an Ashcan School painting.

[[Above: "Snow in New York, 1902," by Robert Henri, 1865-1929, from the Chester Dale Collection, 1954.4.3]]

Tonight I drive to Middleburg, Virginia, to the be poet-in-residence at Foxcroft--an all-girl boarding school--for a couple of days. I'll be visiting classes, giving a reading, and judging a poetry slam. The best part will be hanging out with Mia Noffsinger, a wonderful poet I know from UVA days who now teaches there. Here's an old, old poem of Mia's that I still love:

Upon Reading Hemingway for the First Time

Breath on my windowpane --
the river rises with each grey dawn.
I am overcome by longing
to sing the songs of the Appalachains,
to harvest grapes with my bare hands,
to press wine from a ripe
swollen bunch of words.
We would drink it with the
toreador before he went out
to die. Or maybe today it
would be the bull.
Either way, the moon
would still be waning.
Or alternately, it would grow
round. Either way, you
would be alone tonight,
and I would be kneading
bread dough and counting
stars, empty.

My bed is cold without you
and my words naked. If you come
back, we will drink wine as if
we were doomed lovers in Spain,
and whether the bull-fighter lives
or dies, or the bull, I will
show you the waterfall
by Dripping Rock and the
cliff where the hawks nest.

I will kiss you under the stars,
or alternately, there will be no stars.

Either way, I am lonely.

--Mia Noffsinger

January 16, 2008

What Goes Around, Comes Around

A nice surprise: I've been Harriet-ed again. I don't know Stephen Burt. But if I did, I'd send him a fruit basket.

Here's a few books I'm excited to see in the coming weeks...

the why and later, edited by Carly Sachs
Anthology of Poems about Rape and Sexual Assault Released by Deep Cleveland Press

"This anthology of poems about rape and sexual abuse - many written by victims themselves, and well-known poets such as Marge Piercy and Adrienne Rich – brings to light a topic that has been all but neglected by the mainstream publishing industry. These powerful poems will shock you with their candidness, touch you with their emotional edge, and amaze you with their perseverance of spirit."

With an incredible range of contributors including Julianna Baggott, Erin Belieu, Laure Anne Bosselaar, Grace Cavalieri, Lucille Clifton, Nicole Cooley, Teri Ellen Cross, Toi Dericotte, Denise Duhamel, Molly Fisk, Clarinda Harriss, Marie Howe, Maxine Kumin, Joan Larkin, Dorianne Laux, Harriet Levin, Frannie Lindsay, Marge Piercy, Adrienne Rich, and Rosemary Winslow.


The Royal Baker's Daughter, by Barbara Goldberg
Winner of the 2008 Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry, selected by David St. John, and published by the University of Wisconsin Press

"These poems, at once elegant and earthy, reveal the inner workings of the human psyche and show us that sometimes the best defense against terror is making mischief. The Royal Baker’s Daughter was raised on a diet of stone soup and the occasional leftover royal treat. This leaves her with an appetite for authenticity. With nothing but her two deft hands to guide her, she embarks on a journey into the dark forest, “where sticks and stones and absolutes reign and nothing, even sin, is original.”"

January 11, 2008

Drum roll please....

...Coming in March to a bookstore near you. Brent Casanova, the artist at Western Michigan, did a fantastic job. The image of a cat falling is taken from the title poem. I like that it has an immediate, identifiable connection with the book (seems like a lot of new covers bear an eye-catching but random image: a visual non sequitur, at least until you read the book). This design has a strong graphic and kinetic value; no paintings in boxes here. Thanks Brent!

January 10, 2008

Proud to Be Ranked #1,321,084 in Sales

While trying to figure out my ISBN number in order to make postcards, I was surprised to discover today that my book is listed on Amazon. New Issues is really a fantastic press--generous in sending out review copies (and galleys), thorough in proofing, professional in distribution. When I pick up the phone and call Michigan, most of the time I actually REACH my real, live editor. I can't praise them enough.

January 09, 2008

Pretty Machinery

Radish King questioned my use of the term "girl" to describe the figure in the Hopper painting at left (see my last post). I agree that her hair, shoes, and body suggests she's no longer a teenager, much less prepubescent. She's an adult woman. So does "girl" become an inappropriate way to refer to her?

It's an interesting (and fair) question. I'd venture that fifty years ago, these were common gender-based reference terms:

Gentleman and Lady (used to denote formality)
Man and Woman (used as a generic standard)
Guy and Gal (used to denote a peer)
Boy and Girl (used to denote youth)

It makes sense that feminists would have bristled at the use of the world "girl" in professional or other public situations, carrying as it did a connotation of immaturity. And there wasn't (and isn't) a lot of parity between "boy" and "girl" in terms of workplace usage. Rarely do you hear "the boy who..." used to identify someone in an office, with the possible exception of Jimmy Olsen at the Daily Planet.

Yet I've been known to call myself and others "girls" casually and with some regularity. It feels natural to do so. As a twenty-something, I'd posit that "girl" has migrated to the place (in American language) that "gal" used to hold: as the counterpart of "guy" and meant, in many cases, to denote familiarity versus diminution.

In an office where I'm the youngest by oh, thirty years, being called a "girl" doesn't phase me even if it IS age-based. In my first job out of college, I corresponded regularly with academics to whom I was simply a name on email. In this abstract space, they always referred to me as a "woman." Every year I'd meet a few of them face-to-face at an awards ceremony. A few times, I did notice a switch to "girl" after they'd seen me. But I didn't notice any corollary decline in respect; I didn't lose any sleep over it.

I'd hate to think that I might be leaching away the victories of feminism through laziness--a lack of self-awareness in my word choice. That said, I'm unmarried and living off my own salary in the city, sustaining a career in writing and holding leadership positions comparable to or outranking a number of men of similar age and educational background. I may not be Rosie the Riveter, but I'm no Betty Crocker either. = )

All of this to say that I appreciate the thought-provoking nudge.


Rumor has it that the new Barrow Street is out. I haven't seen it yet, but I look forward to neighboring poems by Ada Limon, Annie Finch, Campbell McGrath, Dana Roeser...a diverse buunch in here.

In prep for book-age (the latest release date: March 1!), I made up some mini-cards at Moo.com. For the graphic front, I collaged some images from the (as-yet-unrevealed) cover of THEORIES OF FALLING:

Because the cards are so small (actual size shown), the flip side only has room for "Winner of the New Issues Poetry Prize," the title, my name, and a couple of website addresses for ordering and author info.

For promotional postcards I'll be able to use the full book cover, and I'll have more room on the back for pertinent text. Any suggestions from folks on what to include, and what not to include? Should I leave a generous space to write in a particular reading date, etc.?

January 04, 2008

Oh, it's...Friday. And...2008.

Okay, apologies for entering the new year in such a dormant state. Blame the mulled wine (who knew? add cinnamon and oranges, it's really tasty). Unfortunately, the projects at hand cannot be blogged about. Mysterious, I know; they also taught me a secret handshake. Let me rassle up some poetry hijinks and get back to you after the weekend. Tonight: jazz at HR-57.

If nothing else, I'll try to assemble my thoughts on the Edward Hopper show at the National Gallery. If you can go this weekend, then go. The painting above is called "11 A.M.," which if you think about it is a kind of embedded narrative. What circumstances bring a girl to still be in that pose at mid-morning?