New Publications Roundup

Happy New Year! Before I solidify some writerly goals for 2018, I thought I’d start the year off by sharing a Publications Roundup for the past few months, starting with my most recent (this week!) It’s been a pretty exciting time!

Check out these latest print and online publications. See all publications information at my Publications Page. Thank you for reading and for all your support!

Survival

Off The Rocks, Issue 21, January 2018.

My first official published short fiction piece Survival is included in the 21st edition of NewTown Writers‘ journal of LGBT writings. I’d like to thank them for welcoming me back into the fold for this issue.

Everyone Should Go to Live Lit Events

Proximity Magazine‘s TRUE Blog, December 7, 2017.

TRUE is Proximity Magazine’s space for conversations around true stories. I write about the importance of attending live lit events for writers and non-writers alike.

Swim Lessons

Waxing & Waning, Issue 02 (_print_), Fall 2017.

Waxing & Waning is the literary magazine of Nashville-based April Gloaming Press. My nonfiction piece Swim Lessons appears in this issue.

A Love Poem for Sleepaway Camp

FreezeRay Poetry, Issue #14: Putting a Band-Aid on 2017 With Sweet Nerd Poems. November 2017.

The editors of FreezeRay Poetry, an online quarterly literary journal dedicated to the poetry of pop culture, have included my “A Love Poem For Sleepaway Camp” in the latest issue (#14). The piece was originally written for and performed at Flick Lit: Reel-to-Real Storytelling at the Logan Theatre, Chicago, May 11, 2016.

You can also listen to me read it via a new audio recording of the piece. I let out my inner Judy. The audio is a little NSFW.

Other Me Can Sing

Eclectica Magazine, Vol. 21, No. 4 – October/November 2017.

The Editors at Eclectica Magazine published my new poem “Other Me Can Sing” as part of their Word Poems special feature. The words for this issue are: parallel, tide, knot, and lantern.

The Pantry

Rust Belt Chicago: An Anthology, Belt Publishing, August 2017.

I am thrilled to be a part of this exciting collection! This piece about my experiences volunteering at the Lakeview Pantry began life in 2013 as coursework for my Truths & Lies in Creative Nonfiction class at DePaul University. Thank you to my instructor Rachel Shteir and my classmates for their help in shaping it. I presented it at the 2013 DePaul Univeristy English Conference.

Mortified in Photos

Thanks to everyone who came out to Mortified Chicago to “share the shame” with me as I presented a collection of high school poetry and song lyrics affectionately titled Angry Young Man. As I navigated through the music-inspired personas I put forth, I shared such titles as “Downhill,” “Get Off My Foot,” and “My Bleeding Soul.” I had a blast and can’t wait to to do it all over again.

Photos by my fabulous cast mate Jill Howe who shared with us her take on The Crucible by way of Alanis Morrisette.

UPDATE: Listen to the audio at Soundcloud.com!

Image

My inner Robert Smith and I.

Mortified 2

Giving the Censor Board a piece of my mind, yo.

My air guitar and I "sing" about a love that's gone "Downhill."

My air guitar and I “sing” about a love that’s gone “Downhill” from 8th grade.

Mom's "moody one."

Mom’s “moody one.”

“In Praise of Joe”

Joe

Just heard this on The Writer’s Almanac. I guess I don’t have to write my own coffee poem, because this pretty much sums it up. Though I have and will continue to write about coffee. I love this! This poem added to my coffee definitely inspires. πŸ™‚

In Praise of Joe

by Marge Piercy

I love you hot
I love you iced and in a pinch
I will even consume you tepid.

Dark brown as wet bark of an apple tree,
dark as the waters flowing out of a spooky swamp
rich with tannin and smelling of thick lifeβ€”

but you have your own scent that even
rising as steam kicks my brain into gear.
I drink you rancid out of vending machines,

I drink you at coffee bars for $6 a hit,
I drink you dribbling down my chin from a thermos
in cars, in stadiums, on the moonwashed beach.

Mornings you go off in my mouth like an electric
siren, radiating to my fingertips and toes.
You rattle my spine and buzz in my brain.

Whether latte, cappuccino, black or Greek
you keep me cooking, you keep me on line.
Without you, I would never get out of bed

but spend my life pressing the snooze
button. I would creep through wan days
in the form of a large shiny slug.

You waken in me the gift of speech when I
am dumb as a rock buried in damp earth.
It is you who make me human every dawn.
All my books are written with your ink.

“In Praise of Joe” by Marge Piercy from The Crooked Inheritance. Β© Alfred A. Knopf, 2006.

Poetry-ness

So, I never remember that April is National Poetry Month. I used to write much more than I do now. I like to think that I’ve carried a poetic voice into my prose and dramatic writing, though.I’m glad it is, because while at Barnes & Noble the other day, there was a poetry display table which included a book of essays on Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass: The Sesquicentennial Essays from 2005. Score for me and my final paper for Jake’s class. I’ll definitely be able to use it!

Some writers do a sort of NaNoWriMo in April by writing a poem a day for the month. That’s a cool idea, and maybe something to think about for next year. For this year, I thought about posting a high school poem a day or something, but I really need to save them for my high school poetry solo show. It’s a project that’s been on the back burner for about 10 years or so. Seriously. It’ll stay on one of the burners until it’s done. I do have a title:

Big Black Room

Dig the font? It’s “Batik Regular”. It’s rather inspiring, I think.

The pre-show mix CD will be all or mostly Cure. Big surprise, right? The biggest challenge of the piece will be deciding the balance between fiction and non-fiction. How much do I embrace the narrators of the poems, especially the more character oriented ones? Am I 15, 16, 17? Am I 33, 34, 35 (or however old I am when I finish the damn thing?) Is it even cool for a 35-year-old to dramatically share teen angst suicide poems? How much “real” stuff do I reflect with each poem? What’s the, like, story of it all?

I know the opening poem. It’ll be one of my faves, “Shut Up!” which I wrote one morning while half paying attention in Spanish 2 class (sorry, Ray!) Ray’s was my teacher, by the way, for those of you who aren’t Ray. Anyway. I was tired and everyone was annoying me. The words, I realize, are slightly more-than-inspired by The Cure’s “Babble,” a B-side to “Fascination Street.” It was also published. But as I eventually learned, not really. I entered it into a World of Poetry Foundation “contest” and was awarded an Honorable Mention. I think that’s what it was called. I couldn’t find it with a quick search. Anyway, all “winners” were invited to include it in their anthology, which we had to pay for. I eventually realized that I was sucked into the world of vanity presses. I still have my book. It’s HUGE. Seriously. Crazily heavy thing that I can’t seem to get rid of. That book is my albatross. Heh.

I look forward to sitting down and really figuring out all the projects I can work on. This show will continue to stay with me. And I’ll tell you all about it right here. But please, do other things with your life while waiting for it. I wouldn’t want to deprive you of fulfillment.

While I’m here, I thought I’d mention that I heard Ron Padgett on A Prairie Home Companion this morning. He read from his latest poetry book, How to be Perfect. I may have to pick it up. That can be my way of supporting poetry for April. Yay.

It’s a beautiful day in the SB. Vienna Teng plays, and I’m feeling the call of my front porch. Be well.

Hangin’ With Uncle Walt

whitman_young.jpg
He was quite the dashing fellow back in the day!

So, up to this point in my life, my Walt Whitman experience has pretty much been limited to a section from 9th grade Honors English (a long time ago…) and several (!) viewings of Dead Poets Society (one of my all time favorite movies). The “barbaric yawp” scene between Robin Williams and a (teeny-tiny baby) Ethan Hawke still gives me shivers. Interestingly, said English class was taught by my own Mr. Keating of sorts, Mr. Bean. I haven’t watched the film in a while. I should. I have the video. This semester, for my 19th Century American Lit class, we read “Song of Myself” from Leaves of Grass (the original 1855 edition), including Whitman’s preface. Here now is very general, yet positive review: Amazing stuff!

For my response for class in January, I reflected on the lessons Uncle Walt (as Robin Williams called him in DPS) teaches us:

On the surface, what may seem to be self involved praise of himself and his profession as a poet, quickly dives into extremely inclusive territory. We are all poets. In the preface, he writes that we all have the power to think “thoughts [that] are the hymns of the praise of things” and that “the poet sees for a certainty how one not a great artist may be just as sacred and perfect as the greatest artist.”

Through poetry, he gives valuable life lessons. The preface passage which struck me most begins with “This is what you shall do.” He instructs us to “Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms….” Etc. He continues these lessons in the poem itself: “Have you reckoned a thousand acres much? Have you reckoned the earth much?” He tells us that embracing the great artist in all of us, “You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me, You shall listen to all sides and filter them yourself.” And later: “I think I will do nothing for a long time but listen, And accrue what I hear into myself and let the sounds contribute toward me.” In some ways these lessons remind me of a 19th century version of Sark’s “How to be an Artist.” She writes, “Make friends with freedom and uncertainty. Look forward to dreams. Cry during movies.”

While I was drawn to the personal and artistic lessons, one of my classmates wrote about how Whitman reminds us that these individual freedoms and expressions are so much tied to what it means to be an American, what it is that makes our democracy what it is, and how poetry was Whitman’s perfect way of expressing it. Unfortunately, I’m not sure our democracy has ever reached the status of what it could & should be in the eyes of Whitman. Have we truly listened to Uncle Walt? Have we all embraced all classes, professions, and races as he does in the poem?

For my recent mid-term paper, I continued my investigations into the poem. The assignment was to basically do a close read of a primary source with light to no research. Just come up with an argument and prove it with evidence from the text. While some of my classmates thrive on the research, I found it refreshing to just bond with the poem. Just me and Uncle Walt. The images of rugged masculinity and sexuality run rampant throughout the work. I know this isn’t real news–the poem’s been around–but I guess I’m finally just getting around to knowing this. These lines in Section 24 make me swoon:

Divine am I inside and out, and make holy whatever I touch or am touched from;
The scent of these arm-pits is aroma finer than prayer,
This head is more than churches or bibles or creeds.

My paper covered the connection in the poem between homosexuality and the divine. I think I found some pretty solid evidence (though I just turned in the paper, so we’ll see if my prof agrees…. Hi, Jake!) Of course, I admit to being slightly biased and perhaps reading into things what I’m looking for with little research about the period’s views on sexuality. Perhaps I can incorporate all that into my final paper.

I like that grad school really lets one build something. There’s a through line. Not that there wasn’t in undergrad–but lawd that was a long time ago. I guess it’s the freedom to really find something that interests us and then run away with it.

It’s been fun hanging out with Uncle Walt. I feel a connection with a literary and personal past that doesn’t happen with every author. Good times. I’ll have to keep up with it. You know, along with everything else. But it’s a start. πŸ™‚

Okay, so while looking for the linked scene above, I found this clip which edits together footage of the film into a video for Liz Phair’s “Why Can’t I Breathe?”

Anyone who wants more homo erotic subtext to the film may have it here. It’s a good clip–and I give props to those who have the editing skills, time, patience, etc. for all that.

Enjoy!

UPDATE June 9, 2008: I’m seriously bummed that this video is no longer available. πŸ™

UPDATE August 20, 2017: Looked for it again; no dice. πŸ™