Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Craig at Harriet

I'm sending you over to two posts by Craig Santos Perez at Harriet: Gender & Poetry (Part 1): ‘Why Don’t More Women Do Blog-Oriented Writing?’ and Gender, (Race), & Poetry (Part 2): Numbers & Unnumbered Trouble. In the latter post, Craig quotes some comments I wrote last summer at the H_HNM_N blog

I believe these are important discussions and I'm grateful to Craig and others who bring them up. What I don't believe is that women still have to "catch up" to men in poetry blogging or poetry writing or self-promotion. I don't see what the "men are doing" as the goal. It's not my goal. What I see is what women ARE doing in poetry (from poem writing to publishing to yes, blogging, and beyond)--which is pretty fucking impressive and I feel sorry for anyone who can't recognize and appreciate that. The same can be said for poets of color, gay and lesbian poets, etc. Comments like "Where's the female ___[insert man]___?" or "the black __[insert white person]____?" miss the point. It's about being the poet and writing the poems you're supposed to be writing--not emulating and being a second-rate someone else to better fit in with someone else's idea of ______.

Past experience has taught me to be selective where and with whom I enter these discussions. One of the several reasons I started this new blog was to make a symbolic break from the jerkwad abyss (term coined yesterday on Twitter, how's that for creative collaboration?). I'm all for healthy debate, disagreement and if you don't agree with me on this subject, we can certainly still be friends. But I made a decision that I'm finished putting my precious energy into discussions where it quickly degenerates into personal attacks and being told my intentions are self-serving or whatever. I'm having trouble balancing the "be confident and promote yourself like a man" recommendations with the "shut the fuck up, your shrill opinions make people feel guilty, angry, threatened or whatever."

Actually, I'm not having trouble balancing it. I'm not bothering with it. Not here and not anywhere.

For the moment, I believe I've said everything I've wanted to say on the topic; on my old blog, in the comment fields of other blogs, in interviews, Twitter, ad nauseam. Please don't assume that my not jumping into the same repetitive loop means I care any less or feel any differently on the matter. It also doesn't mean I'm not giving it attention in other ways. I find that I much prefer putting my energy towards creating examples, evolving my projects and working with others with similar pro lady poet agendas. Insidious, I know, but the truth is that after working on my own projects or brainstorming on something with another poet or publisher, I don't feel demoralized or like I wasted the afternoon. I don't get the urge to cry or kick a puppy.

I decided that is a good place to be so that is where you will find me.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

the death of my ass or how I ruined poetry for all y'all

Wondering what the urge/incentive is for "successful" or "high profile" writers (and editors) to crap on the rest of the struggling, less successful writers? How many "death of" or "_____ is ruining literature" declarations really need to be made, over and over, every other week?

Is it a desire to set oneself apart from the pack? Killing the competition? Is is the threat of becoming bacon and having to move over for something leaner? The fear of the changing and unknown? I honestly don't know, but am always incredibly annoyed when I come across these articles on what seems to be a more frequent basis.

What is the purpose for publishing these limp declarations? Controversy=page hits=advertising revenue/subscriptions/book sales? Is anyone else tired of all these inflated, made-up controversies and declarations of DOOM? It's feels emotionally manipulative. Is feels like somebody is trying to shove the rabid soul of a teabagger down my throat.

Ew, don't I know it . . . and no thank you.

Speaking of death, today is a friend's birthday and I drew a Tarot card for her. Yes, you guessed it, DEATH. Does that mean she's doomed? No. It means the end of a cycle. And what comes after the end of every cycle? That's right, a new cycle. Gideon is in preschool and understands this concept. It's called the changing of the seasons, the harvest, ringing in a new year, graduating and moving on to kindergarten.

Do you see what's rising in the background? That's right, it's called the fucking DAWN.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Neil de la Flor conducts a potty mouth interview with me at Almost Dorothy.

I have absolutely no idea why anyone would consider me for a "potty mouth" interview. But I was considered and for that I am grateful.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dzanc's National Workshop Day

I'll be participating in Dzanc's National Workshop Day on March 20.

The Washington DC instructors will be Dan Brady, Dave Housley, Mike Ingram, Laura Ellen Scott and me.

I haven't figured out my workshop structure or what Darth Housley is going to require of me, but let me assure you of one thing: we will not be discussing your poem's flow.

Thank you very much.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rauan hasn't been to any more committee meetings since the agents took him away. Rauan also hasn't been driving me around anymore either. In fact, on Saturday first I dreamed that I got brand new car and the next dream Chris and I were being driven around Paris by a talking, female blow-up doll. I was concerned that maybe she wouldn't be a safe driver, but she was fine. Those lady blow-up doll drivers sure get a bad rap.

I'm hoping, for Rauan's sake, he wasn't sent to my psyche's Guantanamo Bay. That place is fucked up.

Today I dreamed that I was riding on a bus to get to train station. Looks I'm going back to a transitional stage. Crap. I just got out of one a few weeks ago. Well, I generally prefer travel by train, so maybe this won't be so arduous. The bus ride was a mixed bag. There was this guy going through our bags, doing stand-up. Even though he was sometimes funny, he was still annoying. We're riding on a bus, just give us some fucking peace already. Then some other guy asked wanna-be comedian guy what tribe he belonged to and then told him that he didn't belong in that tribe, he belonged in another--the situation got tense. I didn't quite understand the tribal politics, but knew the comedian guy was deeply offended. The ride improved, the man sitting next to me gave me a little juice glass filled with champagne, we started kissing and that was OK.

Still, travel by train is by far preferable.

As long as Rauan isn't the conductor.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

It's been a very busy week. Lots of tasks involving God Damsel and No Tell Motel. Luckily yoga classes started up again. I usually felt good after a pilates session, but I feel spectacular after yoga class. Something I don't remember feeling years ago when I first started.

My psyche is busy dreaming poets, most notably Rauan Klassnik.

The other day I finished a book that described the way our psyche makes decisions. It was explained as a bunch of people (of both genders, different ages, varying backgrounds and interests) sitting around a table, like a committee. The ego gives certain people's comments more weight and consideration. Some people are very forthright in their opinions and others sit, quiet and ignored, moving their agenda along behind the scenes in our unconscious (forgetfulness, easily avoidable mistakes, psychological symptoms like phobias, etc.).

I wondered, how does my psychic committee work? Then I went to sleep and dreamed:

I'm at a table with other people, including Rauan. We have to decide whether or not we're going to enter into some kind of challenge. It's four parts with deadly consequences. For the first challenge we need to select a particular button on a dog's collar. If we don't agree to accept the challenge, the dog blows up. If we do, we have to press the "accept" button on the collar. Rauan is participating in the challenge, but I also suspect that he's the one behind it. The committee agrees to press the accept button. The dog lives.

The second challenge is timed. Two committee women are controlling a cursor on a screen. Our task is to decide between two buttons. One button is to continue the challenge, the other is to quit. If we quit, a well-known poet blogger will be blown up. The decision is made last minute although each woman selected a different button. I'm not sure if that's an accident or intentional--meaning I wasn't sure if they had different opinions or just weren't working well together. We decide to save the poet blogger although it seems likes the button was clicked a second after the deadline. Now I'm wondering if perhaps the dog and poet blogger might not have really exploded. Maybe Rauan is just using the threat of explosion as an incentive for us to take this all seriously.

Before we begin the third challenge a bunch of plain-clothed agents come in. I tell Rauan that they've set their sights on him. They take him into another room for questioning.

* * *

The next day I dreamed:

Rauan is driving a convertible in Virginia (Leesburg). It's snowing. He gets out and lets me drive. The driver's seat is full of snow. My body doesn't fit the mold that Rauan's body made. I'm having a difficult time reaching the pedal or finding the wheel.

* * *

But don't worry, today I dreamed I got a brand new car that I managed not to wreck.

So all is good.

Monday, January 11, 2010

God Damsel Available on Lulu

God Damsel is available for purchase at Lulu. It'll be available at retail outlets in the coming month, although if you plan on purchasing it and don't have a strong preference, it's considerably better for the press if you purchase via Lulu (the royalties minus the retail and distribution costs are 3x). If you really love a particular retail outlet, that's fine. A sale is a sale and you'll have that option soon.

IF YOU PURCHASE FROM LULU by January 31, you can use coupon code: READMORE2010 for 10% off.

Next week I'll receive my copies. If you're interested in a review copy, please contact me.

Cover Design: Mary-Behm Steinberg

What people are saying about God Damsel:

Just because fairy tales don’t exist doesn’t mean we don’t need them—need their promise of a happily ever after—need their heightened, fanciful language to infuse our flat, modern vernacular with pomp and poof and oompf—but need especially their infusion of momentous meaning into our seemingly pointless actions and humdrum adult lives. Through that hole of need enters Reb Livingston’s stunning God Damsel: a pyrotechnic, syntactical orgy wherein the speaker’s both creator and victim of a world that mirrors our own in disappointment and loss. She’s a creator of her own language, yet a victim of the limitations of all language. The poems are like the bizarre, hybrid-mutant animals slithering around the island of Dr. Moreau—cross-breeds of humor, whimsy, sharp intelligence, and deep—near unspeakable—sadness. I can hear Henry Darger’s Vivian Girls eerily reciting from God Damsel, like a primer, in unison. Do avoid the dreaded Woe-Dodo, and take a stroll through the puffy pink clouds (careful to avoid the inky-icky black pits) of God Damsel-land.

–Jennifer L. Knox

Reb Livingston (hymnographer, crier of laments, wry chronicler of blockages, seepages and Thingamabobs) combs the spiritual runes, tunes and ruined stockings that remain after traffic between the sexes. God Damsel is a fractured, fractious and funny allegory which just might get biblical on your ass. Check it out.

–Tom Beckett

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I'm expecting (what I hope to be) my final galleys for God Damsel to arrive today. The one change I made since ordering the galleys is on the Acknowledgments page. That's tricky business. It's the opportunity to both honor and thank those you list and unintentionally insult those left out. It's why the 13th wise woman/fairy/witch always puts a curse on the host's offspring when she's not invited to the party. They only had place settings for 12.

Between last week when I ordered the galley and today, I realized I unintentionally left out at least 20 people--and its quite likely there are more who haven't yet come to mind.

There's a handful of people who acted as editors, directly assisting with the manuscript. I don't think I forgot any of them, dear lord, please make sure I didn't forget. As I thought more about it, there were a number of people who didn't do editorial work or directly support GD, but were (and still are) tireless supporters of No Tell Books. They all, not-so indirectly, helped make GD possible, at least in the way it came to be. Coconut Books offered to publish it, so it would have came to be in some form, but whenever you hand over your manuscript, no matter how awesome and wonderful the press is (and Bruce C. was quite awesome and wonderful to work with), you lose some control. For this particular book, I did not want to hand over anything. I'm very grateful to have my own, already existing, press that allowed me the clear option to do it myself. A major factor in all of this was due to the generosity of many.

Many people arranged multiple readings for NTB authors, wrote multiple books reviews and pieces on the press, conducted both print and audio interviews, assigned books in courses, invited me to speak in classrooms and conferences about the press, helped at bookfairs and so on. Without their contributions, I very likely would not have been able to operate the press for as long as I have. These series of "little" favors and gestures made all the difference. In the press' almost five years, it's accumulated many gifts.

I'm a bit ashamed that I didn't fully appreciate the magnitude until now. I never put it all together.

As I wrote out the list I was struck with how many people offered their time, skills and efforts. The list kept growing and growing. I remembered three names since I started writing this post. There are so many and now . . . I've run out of room on the page. I can't widen the margins, squoosh the lines or make the font any smaller. Tonight I will wake in the middle of the night screaming out another name . . . helpless.

I limited the list to those who gave multiple times. The list will have to be incomplete. I hope no one omitted will be hurt or feel that I don't appreciate what they did for the press. To avoid this inevitable situation, I considered limiting the acknowledgements to just those who directly helped with GD, but that felt incomplete and . . . cowardly. I console myself with the belief that perfection is a perversion, both a fantasy and sickness, a static ideal that neither matures nor evolves. It's better to work towards a full development which includes our many shadows and "lesser," not yet realized, qualities.

That's what I'm telling myself tonight.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

a recycling/fire dream

From February 12, 2009:

Poet A and Poet B are married. Poet A criticizes that I'm not recycling enough. I do recycle, but not consistently and not all the time. I'm about to throw away some paper bags with plastic bags. I'm defensive about his criticism. I tell him that I could easily criticize something about his house, but I wouldn't because that would be obnoxious. He presses me to share my criticism. Finally I tell him that their house is a cluttered mess, a fire hazard and their children will burn to death. They immediately start cleaning their house. Poet A thanks me for the insight.

2010's first medical emergency

Last night around midnight Chris slipped on the wood floor while holding two drinking glasses. (He's a gentlemanly type, headed to the kitchen to refill both of our glasses). One hit the ground hard and shattered into thousands of pieces, some pieces were as small as dust.

I told him he better not have broken his ass, that's my m.o.

He cut himself in a few places on his hands including one small artery near his thumb.

Click for gross-out emergency room pic

He says his blood squirted onto the doctor's face.

Chris failed to get a gross-out picture of that.

He's fine now, a few stitches, x-ray AOK.

I did not fail to seize the opportunity to practice my glass and blood removal skills.

You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.
--Rahm Emanuel


I'm in 2010 to win.

I received The Other Rebecca's confirmation today.

She drew the 8 of Wands on New Year's for me.

That's indicates a time of excitement and movement channeled in a positive direction.

I concur. All the spreads I've done for myself this past month are full of Wands.

Think fire.

Which, omigod, on December 22 I dreamed the serial killer who cut off my head and hands told two little girls to throw me in the fire, but they didn't cause I could influence them. They threw me on the pile of wood next to the fire and lit my candles. I became a piece of firewood (wand), blowing in the wind, planning my wrath-fueled return to come back for that murderous motherfucker.

Monday, January 4, 2010


I just realized I neglected to include Frank Bidart in my dream anthology. According to records, I dreamed of (a reference to) him on August 16, 2009. He's now added to the list. My apologies to Mr. Bidart.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

So far three poets dreamed in 2010--each already included in last year's anthology. I hope this anthology doesn't become some stale project mocked by the youthful poets for its predictability and lack of risk taking.

Oh, big surprise, Reb dreamed of _______. Again.

The dream with the three poets was in a classroom. One of the poets was the teacher. He showed another poet's poem video (like a music video) to the class. It was amazing, strange and surreal. There were multiple voices. The third poet scoffed and said he didn't like difficult poems. The class was dismissed early. I wanted to go to sleep, but had something I needed to recycle. I couldn't find the correct bin to put it in. So I was like, screw it, and looked for a garbage can. I couldn't find a garbage can either. I had this thing and not a clue what to do with it.

* * *

I recorded 4 recycling and 5 garbage dreams in 2009.