Friday, October 30, 2009

Tonight's Card

Try a Random Idea: There once was an Indian medicine man who made hunting maps for his tribe. When game got sparse, he'd put a piece of fresh leather in the sun to dry. Then he'd fold and twist it, and then smooth it out. The rawhide was now etched with lines. He marked some reference points, and a new map was created. When the hunters followed the map's newly defined trails, they usually discovered abundant game. Moral: by letting the rawhide's random folks represent trails, he pointed the hunters to places they hadn't looked. Stimulate your thinking in a similar way. Open any book at random and put your finger down on a word: "magnet." How does it relate to what you're doing? What associations can you make? What random ideas can you try?

* * *

Ok, well I'm sitting next to a spanking stack of PERSONATIONSKIN, let's give that a try:


Associations: setting, scenery, background, eye drops, pink eye, squirming, child, 3rd grade, squirming, Visine, kitchen, resisting, standing, hallucination, fever, pass out, water fountain . . .
After selecting the "what's out of whack?" card, the only dream I remember is that I was driving a small, red rental car. I double-parked it, got out and into my own car and tried to drive away. My undergrad fiction teacher stood in my way. She asked if I was going to return the rental. I planned on doing something else that evening, but knew I really should return it. It occured to me that I've kept it way longer than I needed.

* * *

So the question is what does the red rental car represent and why am I holding on to it for so long when I have my own working car? And why am I parking like an asshole?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tonight's Card

Find What's Out of Whack: Be critical and sense what's out of whack with the idea. Remember: you don't want to put a piece of garbage out in the world with your name on it. Why won't the idea work? What's lacking? What doesn't feel right about the idea?

* * *

Oh goodness, these are going to be some cruel dreams tonight. I anticipate appearances from both my sister (one of my more harsh dream shadows) and meanie Barrelhouse Dave.
After selecting the "shield" card I dreamed:

I was driving to a book/bake sale held at a church in a small town. It was a stop on the way to somewhere else and I was two hours late. When I finally got there, I pulled into a parking garage and my car wheels became tangled in rope. The garage attendant pushed me out of the way as he went to fix the wheels. I exclaimed, "Just when I think I caught break!"

that Chris finally fessed up about the time he flew to Honduras to rescue his former girlfriend back in high school. I was hurt because it meant he lied about his "first time" (getting a passport).

that Clyde (our dearly departed cat) peed on somebody's carpet.

of pretty pair of earrings I was likely to return because I didn't want to pay for them.

that I realized a blogger poet would be on the same panel as Chris at an upcoming conference in Japan.

* * *

I should deflect negativity by:

being more conscious of time?

not having high expectations that things will go smoothly and according to plan?

staying out of the way of aggressive attendants?

being less sensitive?

letting the past stay behind me?

accepting that I have to shell out for nice things in life?

not allowing my cats to pee on people's carpets?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tonight's Card

Use Your Shield: New ideas can be threatening and they often provoke a negative reaction. For example, when Stravinsky first presented his Rite of Spring ballet with its unusual harmonies and primitive rhythms, he was met with a rioting audience. When Kepler correctly solved he orbital problem of the planets by using ellipses rather than circles, he was denounced. Be prepared for such a reaction and don't let it prevent you from acting on your idea. A German statesman Konrad Adenauer put it, "A thick skin is a gift from God." What negative reaction do you expect? How can you deflect it?
Last night I dreamed that I passed out at a literary conference and woke up with some guy's finger in my ear.

I felt violated.

Tonight I'm going to select a new whack pack card.

All this wandering is creeping me out.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Barbara Jane Reyes asks 2 broad questions about indie publishing to Eileen Tabios, Francisco Aragón, Rusty Morrison and me over at Harriet.
Didn't spend much time meditating last night.

Tummy ache.

I'm trying to figure out if my dreams "wandered" anymore than normal. It doesn't seem that way.

I dreamed:

Barrelhouse Dave was pissed about a blog post I wrote about Barrelhouse. He told me to stop trying to be funny and stick to writing about "minor" poetry

of a woman poet who wore blue face make-up

I downloaded a bunch of scary/Halloween movies to watch with Chris, but there was only one he was willing to see

I made up with a writer with who I recently had an icky interaction

* * *

Perhaps the dreams are demonstrating a resistance to wandering?

I will try wandering better today.
Not too long ago I came across my Creative Whack Pack. The guy who created it gave a creativity seminar at AOL in 1996. We all received a deck. Honestly, as far as corporate seminars go, this was a better one. Not that I ever used it for my job. I remember during a meeting with our manager, my office mate suggested we pull out the whack pack to brainstorm for some project we were discussing. Our manager was like, "um, yeah, stop fucking around." Well, he had an MBA, so he knew best.

As I've written here, I'm in kind of a transformative stage creatively. I decided to pull out the whack pack and see if it could be any use. Last night I drew this card: Change Its Name: If an architect looks at an opening between the two rooms and thinks "door," that's what she'll design. But if she thinks "passageway," she may design something much different like a "hallway," or "air curtain," "tunnel," or perhaps a "courtyard." Different words bring in different assumptions and lead your thinking in different directions. What else can you call your idea?

So last night before sleeping I mediated on "changing its name" which was difficult because I didn't feel like I was calling it any one firm thing, in fact, I'm not even sure what "it" is. But I had this dream:

An editor from the West Wind Review accepted my poems and suggested I use the nickname "Sous Rature." Then my sister told me that's a stupid idea and I shouldn't.

So I got a new name to call it! Although I kind of fucking hate it when I dream literary theory. Not sure what it all means, but hey if you can name it . . .

Tonight I drew this card: Let Your Mind Wander: Much of our thinking is associative: one idea makes you think of another--no matter how logical the connection. Use this ability to generate new ideas. Look at something, and make associations based on whatever you can think of: function, location, size, shape, sound, personal, opposite, weird, etc. Example--work: play: actor: star: sun: light: bulb: tulips: kiss: love: tennis: net: profit: prophet: oracle: auricle: heart: life. What things does your idea remind you of? What do each of these remind you of? How can you use this cluster of associations to develop your idea?

I'll let you know if my psyche wanders into any bright ideas.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Gideon said he wanted to go to a haunted house. We took him. We explained how it was going to be people in scary costumes, pretending to be monsters and using their imaginations. We asked the haunted house staff for the "mild" treatment. They obliged, the actors softened their performances, our guide didn't take us into the scariest rooms.

It was a horrible mistake. We almost made it out with just trembling and wincing, but then . . . then came the fucking clown.

It was all over after that.

Tonight we earned Gideon at least a year of therapy.

Speaking of right and wrong, Big Parade Pisser, Rauan Klassnik, interviews me at HTMLGIANT.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I have 3 poems in issue 4 of Absent along with Dan Boehl, Karen Carcia, Darcie Dennigan, Jessica Fjeld, Andrea Henchey, Lauren Ireland, Matthew Klane, Marc McKee, Daniela Olszewska, Matt Shears and Kim Gek Lin Short.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I haven't yet wrote about my visit to Hobart and William Smith Colleges last week. It was a really happy, pleasant experience. So far every college visit I've done has always been positive. I am always treated well, but HWS treated me very well. Plus there was a good turn out for the pizza social and a large turnout for my reading. AND the students asked a lot of questions.

One amusing (to me at least) highlight was at the pizza social. I was sitting at a table with Karl Parker and 20 students, eating pizza, chatting about poetry, publishing, all the stuff I love to talk about. About 45 minutes into the discussion a student asked, "What exactly is it that you do?"

I said, "Oh, did you just come in?" He said no, he'd been there the whole time. There was a hushed, sort of oh-oh, response from the rest of the students cause I just spent 45 minutes chatting about publishing Karl's book, managing No Tell Motel, writing poems, etc. But I certainly wasn't offended. I said, "Oh, you're just like my dad. He asks me that same question several times a year" and I explained the stuff that a poet, editor and publisher does. Again.

There are certain things in life I've made peace with.

Having to explain, repeatedly, what I do, is one of my lots in life.

Good thing I really enjoy talking about myself.

When I visit colleges to speak as a poet, a poet who doesn't teach, some students see me as a curiosity, like I just whipped out a tail. In many cases, the only poets they've ever met are their teachers and often they see their teachers as teachers first, poets somewhere after that. That is if they bother to think that much about it at all.

So don't feel bad, Dad. You're not the only person puzzled by my existence.

Another funny highlight is that when everyone left after my reading, I noticed that there were 4 less books than what was paid for. Nobody was watching the table, there was a sign that said $10, it was mentioned in my introduction and some people did find and give me money, so I'm not sure exactly what happened. The faculty were aghast, but I thought it was pretty cool. Four kids in the audience thought I was so awesome and they wanted my books so badly that they stole them!

I'm a hit with the youth!

Watch out Bukowski!

Or at least that was my fantasy until Rauan disabused me of that ridiculous notion.

"You don't really think they took your books to read, do you? I bet those books are already for sale on Amazon."

Rauan Klassnik is the world's BIGGEST parade pisser.
Another exhausting, taxing parenting effort on my part:

Being more aware of what I'm saying in earshot of Gideon.

Recently he asked, "Mommy, what's a dick move?"

We were in a car, listening to a radio program (not of my choosing) and I verbalized my reaction to a commenter who suggested President Obama should refuse the Nobel Peace Prize.

Come on, that WOULD be a dick move.

But there must be some other way to phrase such a sentiment.

I know in my heart of hearts there must be another way.

Is there a charm school for profane parents?

Preferably one that offers online classes.

my popeye

This week is pink eye.

Not me, Gideon.

Or at least not me yet.

You ever try putting eye drops in a little kid's eye?

3 times a day?

It got a lot easier after the first time.

When after 20 minutes I gave up with the soothing talk and jellybean bribery.

And held his head down and barked "Stop squirming!"

Some times Menacing Mommy has to make an appearance.

That's a Jungian Archetype.

Look it up.

When Gideon was done screaming he said, "Wow, that didn't hurt at all. I didn't even feel it."

How could he? What's one more drop in an eye full of tears?

I knew he had pink eye that morning when he woke and couldn't open his eye.

It was crusted shut.

He wouldn't let me put a warm wash cloth on it.

He insisted it was all good, he still had the other eye.

I let him go around the house one-eyed for 2 hours.

He insisted he was perfectly content.

But he seemed awfully happy after I finally cleaned it.

After he was done crying.

Our pediatrician better hurry up and get the H1N1 vaccinations.

Clearly the Livingston-Morrow abode would not survive the swine flu.

Clearly we are just too ridiculous.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Gideon said my poetry and book publishing make me boring.

He said I need to get all the "crazy talk" out of my head.

He also regularly criticizes my wardrobe.

He says my clothes need more flowers.

He's been experimenting with his own style lately.

Last week it was a touch of goth influence (black shirt with flame sleeves, plastic skull ring)

This is what he was wearing when he left the house today.

Maybe a little Hunter S Thompson?

(Minus all the "crazy talk")

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chinese Fortune Sticks

1st: You will soon best a rival -- Ooh boy, bring it on!

2nd: An event will soon bring you money -- Yes, on Thursday I'm reading at Hobart & Smith Colleges. These sticks are really accurate.

3rd: You will soon have to choose between 2 friends -- Should have stopped at 2 fortune sticks. I always push my luck, don't I? Ok then, I will remain in Fate's sturdy hands by making my selection via coin toss.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I haven't written a poem since I started this blog. While this break lasted a little longer than I expected, I'm have no anxiety or concern about it. Some of my friends bemoan when they go any length of time without writing. I tell them they're being ridiculous (which usually pisses them off, but I know I'm right). I don't believe we're supposed to be nonstop poem-production machines. The downtime is when we recharge, when we unconsciously incubate. We can't rush that. Not without consequences. If we don't recharge, it shows in our work. I wrote the last poem for God Damsel on April 30. This summer and early fall I've been editing and revising. I'm close to finishing. I can feel the hamsters in my brain back in their wheels. It's noisy in there again.

I mentioned here that I've been dreaming a lot of death and pregnancy these past couple months. Those are becoming fewer. Last night I had two dreams. The first one I dreamed that Gideon opened a box and let out all the animal-flies. The crocodile-fly grew full size and bit my arm. Crocodiles and snakes occasionally bite me in dreams, so I'm kinda used to it. My second dream was about writing poems again. The first one was long and ended with an exclamation to Harriet! I was quite emphatic about that. Then I started my second poem, something about that story being over in my life.

I guess that's my cue.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Delirious Lapel is a new forum curated by Danielle Pafunda and Mark Wallace addressing the issue "This is What a (Pro)Feminist [Man Poet] Looks Like." Every weekday this week three new responses are being posted. It's like the "This is what a feminist [poet] looks like" except the essays are written by gentlemen poets instead of lady poets.

We all have our preferred labels, those are mine. It's OK if you don't like my labels. Your labels are valid too.

I appreciate the gentlemen poets who took the time to think about and respond to the invitation. I understand the possible trepidation entering a conversation where one may be perceived as culpable to a problem or appearing as if one is trying to make it all about himself or take over. There's a million ways to respond to the topic and I'm approaching each response with interest and curiosity.

The response posted so far that resonates with me the most is Hugh Behm-Steinberg's because he directly addresses what some do not. I can't help it. I love a man who takes action. He's taking action on a situation some (here I'm speaking in general) spend a lot effort avoiding or denying. Hugh writes of how he sees himself fitting into both a problem and a solution and how he actively addresses it as both a teacher and editor. I find this valuable for a number of reasons.

One is it helps me frame my own part and participation as an editor in the wider scheme. I'm partial to useful and constructive. These past few years I've put my editorial work under more internal scrutiny than I had before. Where am I doing well? So-so? Where am I sucking? How do I address the so-so and suck? What am I trying to do? What message am I sending out? Where do I go from here? type stuff. Maybe every editor does this, but I don't hear a lot of editors talk about it. Well, who walks into a room and announces "Check out this huge zit on nose"? Maybe a masochist. You put that out there, you can expect others to step up and tell you exactly why you have a huge zit on your nose and what you should be doing about it. Although often that can be useful and constructive, if one can get past that the only person who said "Oh, that's really small, hardly noticeable!" is the person with a boogar swaying from his nostril.

Another reason Hugh's response gives me solace is because he perceives a role for himself. Whenever an issue affects a part of the community, is it every members' responsibility to find ways to do his small part to make improvements? Even if it he doesn't perceive it as directly affecting him? Or should he do anything at all if possibly it indirectly gives him an advantage through no fault or doing of his own? Is feeling guilt enough? And if one doesn't see it as his responsibility, is that because he doesn't consider those who are directly affected to be part of his community? Who do we consider to be part of our tribe and who are the others? Or is it one big tribe with multiple layers of hierarchy? Is it a pre-divided pie chart? Is it not his concern because he thinks other people within the community should address it, not him because ________? Or does he blame those who are adversely affected for not doing ________? Or does he view it as all circumstances out of his control?

My feeling is that if you recognize and are bothered by a problem, then you should work towards a solution, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant your role may seem. And if you don't recognize a problem and/or are not bothered by it, then do nothing and stay out of the way of those who are addressing the problem that is not your responsibility. Unless of course, you consider those addressing a problem to be creating another problem. Maybe the "problem" isn't really a problem. Maybe the "problem" is really a good thing? I suppose if one believes that, that's quite a good reason to discourage others from making their own adjustments.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Rauan Klassnik's Stupid Drawings . . . introducing Reb Livingston.