Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This made me laugh...

"If a poet demanded from the State the right to have a few bourgeois in his stable, people would be very much astonished, but if a bourgeois asked for some roast poet, people would think it quite natural. That would not scandalize our wives, our daughters or our sisters." -Baudelaire

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Good things

First, the rad JA Tyler is compiling all the Mud Luscious chapbooks into one monster book. See here:
Mud Luscious to print first year anthology {MLP: FIRST YEAR} featuring shane jones, brandi wells, nick antosca, james chapman, colin bassett, michael kimball, jac jemc, kim chinquee, kim parko, norman lock, randall brown, brian evenson, michael stewart, peter markus, ken sparling, aaron burch, david ohle, matthew savoca, p. h. madore, johannes göransson, charles lennox, elizabeth ellen, molly gaudry, kevin wilson, mary hamilton, craig davis, kendra grant malone, lavie tidhar, lily hoang, mark baumer, ben tanzer, krammer abrahams, joshua cohen, eugene lim, c. l. bledsoe, joanna ruocco, josh maday, michael martone, and more.

Next, I'm happy to announce that Starcherone Books will be publishing an anthology I've co-edited with Blake Butler called Thirty Under Thirty. Look for it Spring 2011. It'll be ready for AWP!!

Finally, my housemate Ana passed her first round of comps!

Talk about a good day. Even with all the dampness.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

something positive

as a follow-up to the previous post, this is something i loved from vn's lectures on literature: "there is no such thing as real life for an author of genius: he must create it himself and then create the consequences" (10).

unfortunately, i look around, and south bend is all too real. that must mean i am no author of genius. bummer.

beauty plus pity

thing is: i agree with vn to a point. yes, of course, seeing something of beauty incites pity because beauty necessarily dies, but does this make it art?

i want to believe great art--great writing--is more than this.

i also want to believe that there is more to literature than satisfaction and comfort. am i wrong?

i'm not trying to go head to head with vn here because i agree with almost everything he says, even his harsh--read: honest-- critiques about "talent," but there are some things that beg questioning. such as, for instance, the role of great literature and what "defines" art.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

on accepting limitations

there are things i cannot do. this is a good thing to know.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kate Greenstreet

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of going to a kickass poetry reading (Carrie Olivia Adams & Kate Greenstreet) at Tasha Matsumoto's apartment. Carrie Olivia Adams was great. Her poetry is solid. Kate Greenstreet, however, blew the air out of me. She reads softly, almost mumbling at times, her poems half-memorized, flipping through her book for markers of the few words she needs. Perhaps it was the softness of her voice or her bare feet or the poetry itself, but the whole room seemed to vacuum sound to hear her words. Kate makes me rethink what a reading ought to do. When I read, I'm loud, anxious, etc. Her reading was the opposite, and it functioned beautifully.

Afterwards, shyly, I introduced myself and offered to trade books, and can you believe it, she'd actually heard my name!?! Unbelievable! Then, although she's been plagued by headaches, we went to dinner with her charming, questioning, absolutely fantastic husband Max. Over dinner, it seemed like we had the most improbable conversations, and because of their improbability, they'll stay with me as cherished artifacts of our meeting.

So yes, Kate & Max: you made my week. I've been feeling pretty dolor of late, and you both have given me something invaluable. Thank you.

Everyone else: Kate & Max will probably be coming to a city near you soon. If you can, go check her out. She will blow you away. Brilliant brilliant brilliant.

Just typing this, I am humbled.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

New MLP chapbooks

Everyone check out MudLuscious Press.

The giant J.A. Tyler has brought out three new very cool chapbooks, one of which is mine, called MOCKERY OF A CAT. It's an excerpt from my yet-to-be-picked-up choose your own adventure love story novel OLD CAT LADY. Other chapbooks belong to Lavie Tidhar & Kendra Grant Malone, both of which are brilliant beyond words. I'm humbled to be in such company.

random thoughts on what i've been reading

Bataille says: Writing's always only a game played with ungraspable reality.

I dig this. A lot. Isn't writing--realist or not--an attempt to understand reality by creating another reality? Or rather: My writing is an attempt for me to understand reality by creating a non-reality, a non-realistic reality, a reality grounded not in the real but in truth, as I know it best.

Bataille says: I can't abide sentences... Everything I've asserted, convictions I've expressed, it's all ridiculous and dead. I'm only silence, and the universe is silence. / The world of words is laughable. Threats, violence, and the blandishments of power are part of silence. Deep complicity can't be expressed in words.

I am complicit, but even in stating my complicity is to undermine it. Make it less real. Then, when written, does the real become less real or more real? Or can the real ever be written? Would all realities written be nothing more than simulations--in Baudrillard's sense of the word--no matter how faithful to reality it is?

I have no real issue with this. I don't work in realism, but I wonder how realists would respond to this. Thinking in these terms, it all feels pretty futile.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

new review

The ever brilliant John Madera reviews Changing at The Collagist.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Feeling good?

I spent all of yesterday (minus time to eat) editing, and I have to say: I'm really proud of this collection. There are some damn fine stories in it. Is this a bad thing to think? Should I, as a writer, feel down on my writing? I hope not.

Then again, the crushing defeat of rejection wouldn't feel so bad if I didn't feel so good, right?

But of course, I'm still in the Honeymoon high phase, where I think everything is brilliant. In six months, I'll wish it was in a box, being burned, with some potatoes roasting underneath, that way, there will be some semblance of value or worth to those wasted pages. But I'm being melodramatic. As always.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

something to think about

"The real is produced from miniaturised units, from matrices, memory banks and command models--and with these it can be reproduced an indefinite number of times. It no longer has to be rational, since it is no longer measured against some ideal or negative instance. It is nothing more than operational. In fact, since it is no longer enveloped by an imaginary, it is no longer real at all. It is a hyperreal, the produce of an irradiating synthesis of combinatory models in a hyperspace without atmosphere." --Baudrillard

Monday, September 7, 2009

on pretense

I've been thinking about pretentiousness a lot lately too. Mostly because I fear I'm pretentious but also because there has been a spike in the pretentiousness index around me lately. So I wonder: wtf?

Pretense is the act of giving false appearance. Ok. That makes sense. As a teacher-professor-professional, there's always a certain degree of acting. I have to give a false appearance. It's part of the job. Maybe not. But I don't think of myself as a "commanding" figure, one who "commands" respect, so I "act" in order to get it. This is, in no small part, because of my size, age, race, gender, etc. I've been cultured to be "small" and those who are "small" don't "earn" respect. It's a screwed up system, one that I'm working to change, even if it's only within the confines of my own classrooms.

Pretentious, however, is defined as making unjustified or excessive claims. That goes way beyond pretense.

But why are people pretentious? To me, the obvious answer is insecurity. So then, Person A is pretentious--making an unjustified or excessive claim--to Person B so that Person B knows that Person A is legit. Is it that simple? But clearly, Person A isn't legit, and Person B is a fool to fall for it.

This is getting complicated. I guess my question is: Why bother? Of course, I'm as guilty as anyone else. In general, I think I'm not a particularly pretentious person, but once people start asking about writing--or rather, my writing--my voice changes. I become some cross between pretentious and awkwardly shy. These "ums" and "likes" pop up everywhere. I don't know. I think this is going no where. Well, then. Yeah.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

PEN/Beyond Margins Announced

It's official: PEN/Beyond Margins.


I'll have a post on contests as a concept forthcoming...

on virtual friendships

i've been thinking a lot about virtual friendships. html giant had this posting recently asking if people were friends with writer/artist types, and that got me thinking about virtual friendships and why they're so attractive.

growing up, i didn't have a lot of friends, but i very much so wanted to be social. i wanted it so badly that i began to gossip, telling all my family friends anything & everything i knew, regardless of how it affected others. i was fairly young then, maybe 5-7. maybe younger. the point is, though, i understood that people would give me attention if i had something to give them. this legacy of unhealthy notions of friendship has followed me.

throughout high school & most of college, i--like most young women--flirted my way into friendships. and yes, duh, women flirt with women. it's socially acceptable. it's socially desirable. these are things i enacted without being conscious.

now, though, i'm more aware. does that change things?

but back to virtual friendships: what is it that makes them so attractive? well, the most obvious answer is that people are looking for validation, and if they can't find it in the "real" world, they look for it in the "virtual" world. people who are socially awkward in "reality" can have huge followings "virtually." besides, if you're actively blogging, facebooking, etc. etc. etc., when do you find time to be social? (of course, there is a balance.)

here's something that sucks: many people rely on the virtual world because they're unaccepted in the real world. the virtual world just gives people an opportunity to be doubly rejected. man, rejection sucks.

here's the hitch though, what happens when virtual world & social world intersect? that is, when you meet your virtual friend in real life... over the years, most of my writing friends (with a few exceptions: frances, kirsten, michael... well, now kirsten & michael are virtual friends since we don't live in the same place) have been virtual friends. when we (writer virtual friends) correspond, i don't mind being utterly vulnerable with them, mostly because i know i'll probably never meet them, and if i do, it's at AWP or some conference where there's no time to really talk anyways. except when there is. interactions that were once smooth, intelligent, smart, funny, and so on become stilted, awkward, filled with gaps. why? well, obviously, we're used to technology mediating our friendship. we're used to having time to think, be witty, whatever.

here's the other thing: when we type and email or whatever, the person on the other side is still a mystery. we just see an email address, a name. maybe we've read their book or stories or poems. we have a romantic sense (not as in romance, i want to sleep with you, but romance as is archetypal) of the other person. when we're confronted with a real person on the other side for the first time, of course, there's bound to be disappointment, and not just physically.

next, no matter how quick virtual interactions are, even with chatting, i'd argue that all virtual interactions are one-way. there is no real "conversation." i type something. send. you type something. send. but that "send" takes away the "conversation." there person on the other side may or may not be there. may or may not be real. may or may not be genuine, but none of that matters because i've sent "send." it could go anywhere. (i haven't really thought this part through. there are holes, i know.)

anyways, &now is coming up. i'm excited to see old friends (who i actually know) and meet new old friends (whom i've never met). i guess this post is a precursor to that.

i haven't blogged much over the past few months, but i'm back. say hello to lily, virtual world.