Tuesday, April 28, 2015

final note (I hope) on speaking up

According to Statcounter (and as of this posting), 2384 unique visitors have read Saturday's post. 2020 were first time visitors to this blog. Suffice it to say, a lot of people are interested (and I hope concerned) about what's happening.

I've made my thoughts known. Others have too. I don't think I have much else to add on that front. I'm not interested in having fruitless discussions with individuals who abuse and intimidate in the guise of protecting abuse victims. It's a tactic that I regularly endured starting from childhood through my mid-30's and there's just no productive way to deal with that. I might point it out from time to time, but I won't engage it. I also have no intention of sanitizing comment fields either here or on FB. I think it's important for there to be a record of what a few are saying and doing.

I haven't (at least not directly) written about my own past abuse experiences and if I ever do choose to write about those events, it won't be to teflon myself against accusations of being an apologist or defender. It'll be on my own terms.

I truly appreciate all the messages of support I've received and am very grateful to see all the support and love for Bruce. I wish healing and recovery for EVERYONE tangled in this awful mess and to those who have been affected just by it being ever-present in their social media.

For now, I too would like to talk and write about other things.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

time to speak up

I've been trying to think of how I can respond to this in a forgiving and level-headed way, but to be upfront and honest, I'm really struggling. I am full of anger and have been for weeks as I (along with others) have held my tongue regarding these anonymous and bogus accusations against Bruce. 

A day before AWP, word came out about an impending flyer that would be distributed at the conference that would in some way expose Bruce of having somehow been inappropriate or hurtful to women. Many of Bruce's friends and Coconut authors were shocked, confused and very hurt. This went against everything we knew about him. We wanted to know what he was being accused of, we talked to one another, asked one another about any inappropriate or unseemly incidents with Bruce, personally experienced or heard of. If Bruce had indeed been "fooling" all of us over all these years, we wanted to know. We each understood that just because we had overwhelmingly positive experiences with him, didn't mean that was every person's experience. 

We also knew that false allegations are rare and when they do happen, they tend to get way more attention than the countless actual rapes and assaults. Many of us have experienced sexual violence and harassment first hand. We understood as well as anyone how difficult it is to speak about such experiences and the potential fallout from speaking about them. So we did our best to support one another and try to find answers.

I personally heard from roughly 70 women who published with Coconut or read in one of Bruce's reading series or worked with him in some other capacity. Everyone was as dumbfounded as I was. All throughout the conference we waited in agony for this mysterious flyer that was supposed to blow the lid off and expose Bruce for the betrayer of feminists and all women that he was. 

But there was no flyer at the conference. Hundreds of us had our eyes peeled for it.

Miraculously, after the conference was over, someone at Quaint Magazine tweeted jpegs of this flyer claiming to have found it hanging in a restroom at AWP. I hesitate to include the jpegs and the variations Quaint published in a later essay, but at this point it's out so let's all see what Bruce is being accused of.

Accusation isn't even the right term. We don't know what Bruce is being accused of because no actual accusations have been made. His name was included along with the names of men who have long been known to be accused of sexual harassment and/or violence. The flyer listed accusations, but did not match any of the names to any of the accusations. The accusations against the other men are well-known and the details disseminated widely, in some cases covered by media outlets. Including their names on this flyer did not communicate any information that is not already known within the writing community. The only new thing on this flyer is Bruce's name.

This flyer associated Bruce with men who are widely believed to be guilty of sexual violence and/or harassment. Associated without any specific accusations. Supposedly associated by individuals who aren't even claiming to be the victim(s). 

And we're all just supposed to accept and believe it. Believe what? That Bruce is a hateful, violent man who has betrayed us all? How so exactly? Stop asking questions. You just have to believe it. Because if you don't believe it, or if you question it, or doubt it, you're victim blaming, you're creating an "unsafe space" for women. Forget everything we know about Bruce, all of our collective experiences, the lack of a single person coming out and saying he ever did a single inappropriate or violent thing to them, let's set Bruce on fire because someone decided to anonymously insinuate something that someone else might have claimed. Not that we know what is being accused. We just have to believe the mystery accusation because otherwise we're blaming a victim. How can we blame them if we don't know who they are? Stop blaming them, STFU and believe motherfucker, believe!

Well, I do see a lot of victim blaming and unsafe space creating. I see a rape survivor being publicly attacked and demonized by some rather self-righteous assholes who don't strike me as having much interest in protecting sexual abuse survivors. 

That's right invisibles, anonymouses and other brave social media warriors, you have become the monsters you claim to be fighting against. You created an unsafe space for a rape survivor and his family. How many other sexual abuse survivors were triggered these past couple weeks over this shit show? How much easier did you just make it for people who don't want to believe actual rape victims by pursuing these corrupt tactics? Answer: Quite a bit.

Do they care? I doubt it. This isn't about protecting rape victims or creating safe spaces. It might have started with that intention, but it's well past that now. I don't know what this is about anymore. I just know what's happening now is really fucked up. 

What has been done to Bruce is nothing short of evil. Accusing someone of doing something evil, without any legitimate basis, in such an insidious way is straight up evil. Its rarity doesn't make it any less evil.

It has been suggested that Coconut authors are supporting Bruce because we're putting our careers before sexual assault and harassment survivors. Um, a number of Coconut authors are sexual assault and harassment survivors so a BIG FUCK YOU to that. Seriously, anyone who thinks that, FUCK YOU.

Pretty much every Coconut author can find another publisher. Many of us have books published elsewhere. Some of us have published our own books. As it turns out, many of us chose to publish with Coconut because we know Bruce to be the exact opposite of everything that's been insinuated about him. 

Again, an anonymous few and a small, vocal group on social media are trying to associate a rape survivor, someone who was raped as child and received no support when he tried to speak about it, of in some way being a sexual predator himself. Without any concrete accusations or details. Without anyone coming forward. Without fucking anything. And anyone who doesn't lock and step in with this line 10000000% is the enemy of women?

This is supposed to be truth? Victim rights advocacy? Justice? Creating safe spaces?

If you support Bruce, speak publicly about your support. Let the people behind this shit show know that what they're doing is not OK. 

If you don't feel safe or comfortable speaking publicly, send Bruce a private note of support or support him by buying some his or other Coconut titles. His decision to suspend the press will make it challenging for him to recoup his operating costs. If you support Bruce, do whatever you feel comfortable doing. He needs you. I can't even begin to explain what he's been going through.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bombyonder Review & Page 69 Test

Marie Curran reviews Bombyonder in The Collagist:

Beyond logic and linear thinking, manners and order, humor and horror, there is Bombyonder. Not exactly a physical location, but more than a passing thought, Bombyonder echoes poetry of mythic proportions. It smells of decaying flesh, drips with bodily fluids, and brims with the anger of a Medusa. It is a subconscious space of both apocalyptic absurdity and astonishing lucidity, where zombie sex jokes can morph into profound commentaries on social media, and vague memories hilariously allude to Ancient Greek literary characters. Poet Reb Livingston's debut novel, appropriately titled Bombyonder, explores this confusing realm in lyrical prose that, while often overwhelming and disgusting, is searing and unforgettable.

Bombyonder is a disjointed tale made up of fragments: diary entries, memories, text messages, letters, forums from the future, and other indirect narrative forms. The book, however, opens as legend—like so many myths, a passionate patricide leads to an impossible quest—and it is important to remember this classic grounding because as the story continues, it dives into sensuous, often outrageous obscurity.
I couldn't be any happier with this review. As a writer (and sometimes as a human being too) I often feel like people don't "get" what it is that I'm trying to do. This is a common lament among writers and artists, but it feels true. So it's gratifying and very appreciated when someone both takes the time to seriously consider the work and engages it in its own realm instead of trying to force-fit it into a tidy category.

If you're curious as to what's on Page 69 of Bombyonder, you can see how it fares at TNBBC's The Next Best Book Blog.

Baby Got Books

Pre-AWP Book Booty

AWP Fashion Spread #1

AWP Fashion Spread #2

AWP Fashion Spread #3

All together now!

Monday, April 6, 2015

AWP, Broets, Poemblots & NaPoWriMo, Oh My!

I'll be at AWP in Minneapolis/St. Paul this week.

Thursday night I'll be reading at the Queen Mob's Teaparty along with Kirsten Kaschock, Nicholas Rombes, R.M. O'Brien and music by Vernon Dixon, Elizabeth Ghandour and Gabriel Douglas.

The Teaparty will be held at at Dulono's Pizza starting at 9pm.

Copies of Bombyonder will be on sale at the Coconut Books/Bloof Books table. Table 1633

I'll also have a few copies on hand myself.

At Queen Mob's Teahouse I have an interview with Collin Kelley regarding his poem "Saving Anne Sexton" and the critical reception both it and he received.

There's a Poemblot of a Julie Bloemeke poem where the reader contemplates whether or not Julie might be a stalker.

So far I've stayed on scheduled for NaPoWriMo.

We'll see if I can keep that up later this week when I'm at AWP.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

NaPoWriMo & Queen Mob Teahouse News

This year I'll again be participating in NaPoWriMo over at my tumblr: Psychic Novel & Poems, Inc.

It should be fun and a mess, but whatever.

If you're participating yourself this year and looking for prompts, may I suggest the Bibliomancy Oracle. As of this posting, there are 2800+ potential prophecies/prompts/divine answers.

Would you like to be a regular contributor to Queen Mob's Teahouse? The editors are looking for 4 or 5 regular contributors and an assistant editor. Details here.

If you can't commit to a regular writing gig, Queen Mob is always looking for people to write occasional reviews and essays. Details here.

There are some new Poemblots for Bruce Covey, Cynthia Arrieu-King and Michael Gushue.

wrote a collage poem using a PR release and another poet's work. Taking someone else's words and making them your own is a lot of fun and easy. I'm considering writing all my poems this way. It would really up my productivity level.

in other words . . .
greater rhetorical awareness: the paradox faced by language-users
virtually no one actually understands the principles

he feels a murderous rage toward his community but swallows
to rescue language from a perversion of language
from social media to blog posts: any way that content can be delivered

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Reb Livingston Suggests Everything

Inspired by a Borges reading list that was making the rounds, I'm doing a new regular feature at Queen Mob's called Reb Livingston Suggests Books For Your Personal Library. I plan on adding books for the rest of eternity.

And there are new Poemblots for poems by Sarah FoxTarfia FaizullahTeresa BallardLynn Behrendt, G. M. Palmer and Brent Terry.

Unless you're living under a bookless news rock, you've heard about Hausfrau, the new book by G's godmother, Jill Alexander Essbaum, coming out in a few days.

Yeah, I plan on spending all next week hanging out by the front table at my local Barnes and Noble saying, "That's my son's godmother, you know."

I will also be passing out flyers highlighting all the kick ass small presses who were publishing Jill's excellent books long before the big dogs ever heard of her.

Heaven (Bakeless Prize, selected by Agha Shahid Ali, published by Middlebury Press, 2000)

Oh Forbidden (editor H. Palmer Hall, Grove Press, 2005)

Harlot (editor, ahem, published by No Tell Books, 2007)

Necropolis (editor Neil Ellis Orts, published by neoNuma Arts, 2008)

The Devastation (editor Adam Deutsch, published by Cooper Dillon Books, 2009)

I suggest you get the entire Jill Alexander Essbaum backlist in addition to Hausfrau.

I suggest you do it now.