Sunday, March 28, 2010

me stuff

I was delighted to find this brief mention of God Damsel by Rigoberto González at Critical Mass (the National Book Critics Circle blog):

The inhabitants of this sexy, sometimes eyebrow-raising collection of prose poems appear to have been plucked out of ancient fairytales, but their actions, conflicts and desires speak all too clearly about the stories getting spun in the world we live in today.

Other new titles by Oliver de la Paz, Craig Santos Perez, Julie R. Enszer and more are mention too.

In a more unusual acknowledgement, my poem "That's Not Butter" included in Best American Poetry 2006 made the "Elite Eight" at a blog called Scarriet.

My sister asked: how do poems win?

I really don't know.

What I do know is that my poem was included in a group of 64 BAP selections and then it advanced to 32 and then my poem beat a Donald Justice poem and then nobody could believe it, but my poem upset a Kenneth Koch poem (and "TNB" received a thoughtful close reading in the process) and now I'm up against a poem by Bernard Welt who apparently is trashing talking my womanness here.

I can explain it no better than that.

Lastly, I'll be reading this Thursday, 8pm at the Schwartz Center Theater Lab at Emory University with Matt Hart and Abe Smith. If you're in Atlanta, please come by and hear us read.


Charlie Jensen and gallery owner, Elyse Harrison

The reading last night at the Neptune Gallery was great fun. Everyone in attendance participated in a writing exercise in which we wrote lines of poetry while using Freya Grand's land and sea paintings accompanied by Steven Roger's musical compositions (created specifically for her paintings).

Then we put all the lines in a box, rolled some dice and made sweet love (poems).

Seriously. Apparently if you show people a bunch of landscapes, all they think about is sex.

Bittersweet, frothy sex.

And buttercream frosting.

Confession: I first typed buttcream frosting.

I am no more evolved than anyone else, apparently.

I believe the gallery will eventually eventually post the poems on its website.

On Sunday Gideon and I attended Collin Kelley's and Susan Tichy's reading at the Writers Center. As I mentioned here before, Gideon and Collin go way back.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Charlie Jensen and I will be participating in LANGWIDGE at Gallery Neptune on Saturday March 27, 2010, 7 PM, $10 (wine and cheese). Details here.

Now you have you something to do on Saturday night.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I was leaning towards the blue . . .

but Gideon was right, green is better.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Over dinner I told Chris about my scorpion dream and mentioned the recurring bug spray imagery. He pointed out something that I forgot. During my AOL days on the tech floor, I was nicknamed the Debug Queen.

I thought more about that this evening. The whole debug thing was only supposed to be a last resort, when all else failed. It was tricky and there was a chance the customers on the phone could mistype something, really screw up their computers. But I used debug all the time because I failed to grasp a really simple, basic concept to fixing a comm port shift in the Control Panel. Turns out that fix was all about smoke and mirrors and well, that's just not my bag. I didn't realize I didn't understand. I just assumed I was unlucky. Or maybe I just didn't believe in the Control Panel, just like I didn't believe in God. So I ended up always doing it the hard way. And I got damn good at doing it the hard way. Shit, I was hard way royalty.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

new dream symbol

A large, black scorpion in a creepy dream.

There was a box that I was supposed to handle, but I knew something was amiss. I also had a strong feeling that I'd "be next" which was sort of terrifying. I asked a man to open the box because I had my suspicions. I was correct! The alien inside the box was not dead. Not only was he still alive, but his flesh had been eaten off by bugs and critters--he was writhing terribly. It was not too late to save him. He had been put in that box by another alien, but since we just exposed the activities of this 2nd evil alien, he would be dealt with and I no longer had to worry about being put in a similar flesh eating box. BUT, when the man opened the box he released all the flesh eating bugs and critters (in my bedroom!), one was a large, black scorpion. I knew I was going to have to get some bug spray to take care of this problem. Then I gave a poetry reading, then I tried to find matching knee high stockings and then I came back to the house and found Chris asleep in the bathtub. I woke and told him about the bugs, he already knew, they were in the living room. I told him about the scorpion, although at first I said "scarab," we both corrected my mistake at the same time. It was not a scarab, it was a scorpion and yes, Chris was aware of that too.

* * *

I use bug spray a lot in my dreams. In January, I tried to kill the Red Clay Snake Queen with some, but she had her own can and used it on me. In December 2009, I sprayed some on someone I love, immediately regretted it and tried to nurse the person back, hoping no one would know what I had done. In April 2009, I sprayed a large bug and it turned into a cat. I wasn't sure if I should continue or not. In Sept. 2008. I only succeeded in agitating some "hybid flies" by spraying them. In February of 2008, I frantically tried to find some formula to feed a baby I found outside of a grocery store. I asked a store employee for help, but she gave me flea spray. Eventually I found some formula in my grandmother's attic, went back to where I left the baby, but there was a hole in the ground and the baby became a white cat.

Yeah, I know. Bug spray is a tricky solution.

My first association to a scorpion is Scorpio. I have a Scorpio family member who is a rather bent on vengeance, striking out, always on the attack.

My next association is from just a couple weeks ago. Gideon got one of those animal learning toys for his birthday and asked me what was a scorpion. I did what I always do when he asks me questions like that. I go to YouTube to find examples. First we watched two scorpion dance and I explained that when the dance was over, the boy scorpion needed to hightail it out of there if he didn't want to get eaten. Dancing makes lady scorpions very hungry. Then we watched the lady scorpion give birth to her babies and carry them on her back.

The next video was called Mice vs Scorpion. I said, hey, watch this scorpion totally kill these mice with his badass stinger. Then we watched two mice kill and eat the scorpion. This exposed me as the James Bond-watching dumbass that I am. I thought scorpions were deadly. WTF?

So a scorpion, to me, is a venom-filled, loner wussie?


After I go through my own associations, I check the books.

According to the Dictionary of Symbols (Penguin):

Many Africans use a euphemism for the scorption since, like the hyena, the insect is evil and to use its true name would be to release its powers against oneself.

According to a Malian legend, the scorpion said:

I am neither an elemental spirit nor a demon. I am a creature which brings death to whoever touches me. I have two horns and a tail which I brandish. My horns are called savagery and hate and the dagger in my tail is called the avenging stabber. I give birth only once. Pregnancy, a sign of increase among all other creatures is for me the signal of forthcoming death.

. . .

The scorpion was a Mayan god of hunting and was used in their hieroglyphics as a symbol of repentance and also of surgical blood-letting (THOH). The Dogon, too, associated it with surgical operations, the removal of the clitoris in fact. The poison-sac and sting symbolize the organ, the poison being the blood and liquid released by the operation (GRIE). In this context, the scorpion stands for a woman's second (male) soul, but elsewhere the scorpion, having eight legs is the guardian of twins, with eight limbs in all. 'Nobody can touch them without risking being stung' (GRIE). These two symbolic meanings given to the scorpion are not contradictory, but complementary, for, as Griaule explains, 'the birth of twins is an occasion of considerable importance. It repeats the occasion when the first woman gave birth and her clitoris was changed into a scorpion.' (In those days circumsision was not practised until after a woman had given birth).

In Ancient Egypt, this dangerous insect's shape was used for one of the oldest hieroglyphics and its name was born by one of the pre-dynastic kings, 'King Scorpion.' . . . In this context, the scorpion possesses all the symbolic ambivalence of the serpent.

In Ancient Greek tradition, the scorpion avenged Artemis, the eternally youthful virgin huntress, archetypal man-hater. Offended when Orion offered violence to her, the goddess had a scorpion sting him in the heel. . . The scorpion in this context was regarded as the instrument of divine vengeance.

Ok, I got some divine vengeance running loose in my psyche, consider yourself warned.

Unless you're a mouse with a buddy, in that case you two can totally school me in your rodent ways, you rat bastards.

Monday, March 15, 2010

note to self

No more review copies for the Brooklyn Rail.

I get that most review copies won't be reviewed.

For each NTB title I send out over 50 review copies and am thrilled to receive 2 or 3 reviews.

I get that publications can't hold on to a bunch of books they don't intend on reviewing.

I get that times are tough and publications need to earn money.

I'm aware that some magazines sell review copies sent to them.

But if you're going to sell review copies, how about a little discretion? Do you really have to use the magazine's name as your Amazon store name?

Is that good pr?

And those prices aren't much cheaper than retail. $15.85 for a $16.99 (retail) book? For something you got for free?

Besides, you make up the $1 discount with the $3.99 shipping.

Why not price them to move?

Why come off like such dicks?

Congratulations Stephanie Cawley

the winner of the Coconut Books Giveaway!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

bard on friday

Aside from the crap weather during my drives to and from, I had a really good time in Poughkeepsie and at my reading at Bard College. It was one of those poet-studded nights, in attendance: Elizabeth Bryant, Geof & Nancy Huth, Celia Bland, Lea Graham, Anne Gorrick, Lynn Behrendt and I think Robert Kelly. I wore a cream knit tunic with sage asymmetrical jacket and skinny jeans. Lea wore a dress. Anne wore a pink No Tell Motel tee. Celia had a long scarf. The rest I can't remember.

You can hear the reading here. Part 1 is Celia. Part 2 is poems from Your Ten Favorite Words and Part 3 is poems from God Damsel. I briefly describe Jill Essbaum's role in its genesis.

The reading was held in Bard Hall, which is a chapel. I've read in bars, coffee shops, bookstores, auditoriums, classrooms--and it never felt right. Now I realize, that's because I'm supposed to read in chapels. From here on out, if you want to invite me to read, my requirement is that the venue is a chapel. That's in addition to my current "no brown m&ms" requirement.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


If you live in the Hudson Valley area, please come hear me read tomorrow with Celia Brand at the Bard Roving Reading series.

Friday March 12th 5:30 pm
Bard Hall, Bard College
Annandale-on-Hudson NY

I have poems in Rooms Outlast Us #2 along with work by Mel Nichols, Robb St. Lawrence, and Dr. Carolivia Herron

and poems in the upcoming West Wind Review

and God Damsel is the featured book today at Daily s-Press.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Coconut Books Giveaway

This week HTMLGIANT is celebrating the release of Natalie Lyalin's Pink & Hot Pink Habitat. To coincide with this momentous occasion, the women of Coconut Books have decided to offer a book giveaway. The contest rules are simple: leave a comment below with your name and e-mail address. At the end of the week, the names will be entered into a drawing, and a winner will be selected at random. The winner will receive a package containing all of the Coconut Book releases:

Natalie Lyalin's Pink & Hot Pink Habitat
Gina Myers's A Model Year
Jen Tynes's Heron/Girlfriend
Sueyeun Juliette Lee's That Gorgeous Feeling
Reb Livingston's Your Ten Favorite Words

These five titles could be yours! Leave your comment below, and you have a second chance to win by entering over at Gina Myer's blog.


Speaking of my own readings, the card that showed up as my outcome in my past four spreads is The Hermit. That's kind of like my fantasy right now although it seems out of reach. That profound need for retreat, but well, commitments and responsibilities. Maybe it's possible. I'm considering going a week with minimal internet. That would be a retreat of sorts. That's about all I think I could retreat from right now, without canceling travel and events, something I'd rather not do. Or I could wait until mid April when I'll have more flexibility. Maybe retreat comes then.

The meaning of the card is not retreat for the sake of being anti-social. The hermit is the "wise old man" and his purpose would be for contemplation and insight. He offers an inward light to dispel spiritual chaos and darkness. He's connected to meaning that bears new hope. Although if one is not ready for the message, it could easily be misinterpreted.

This weekend I had two dreams of beautiful, tranquil places. In one I had just arrived (Brussels) and in another the pilot of my plane flew low to show the passengers a new place with large, newly-blooming flowers and a pristine beach.

Of course in another dream I wiped my behind with a $100 bill and threw it away. Is that my rejection of materialism or my dumbassery of not recognizing and holding on to something of value?

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I finished three readings so far (there's a number still in the queue, all will be responded to in order received). All three readings had the Tower card come up in the immediate influence or future influence positions.

Coincidence? I don't think so.

Anyhow, nobody likes getting this card cause it's a high building getting struck by lightening, with people falling to their deaths. I'm not going to bullshit you and suggest it's a pleasant time. It rarely is, BUT it's often a blessing in disguise. It's forced upheaval, restructuring, new order. Sometimes were grow comfortable with the restrictions and circumstances that inhibit our development. Sometimes we defend and protect the very things that hold us down. Sometimes something outside of us takes matters into its own hands, does our house cleaning for us and it doesn't care one bit about our attachments, sentiments or feelings.

I got this card so many times in 2008 and 2009, it was ridiculous and painful, but wow, what a difference now.

So if you're feeling like your life is in one big shake-up, take heart. You're not alone. As difficult as it may be, try to recognize and act on the new opportunities that are finally available.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

let me help you make your dreams come true

For those of you who wish to harness my fierce psychic powers for your own nefarious purposes, this is your lucky week.

It'll only cost you the price of one poetry book.

And your soul.

But we'll talk about that later.

Monday, March 1, 2010


I had a really nice day with Gideon. We stayed home for most of the weekend because he had a fever. Friday night he threw up on Chris. I'm always jealous when he throws up on Chris. Children are supposed to throw-up on their mothers.

Gideon is still a snot fountain, but the fever is gone and he's back to his usual self. We took our first walk around the lake in 2010. He kept saying this is amazing and this is such a beautiful day. We sat at a coffee shop. I drank cinnamon tea and Gideon didn't eat his doughnut because it wasn't as tasty as he imagined. I said it's still pretty good and he replied not good enough. He composed a poem on a napkin entitled "Google." He talked about how when he grows up he and his best friend, Mariella, will work at Google together. I read some of Thomas Merton's Contemplative Prayer on my Nook and Gideon read Is that a Wocket in your Pocket? and then the shop owner's Korean newspaper. Gideon spent 20 minutes pretending he could read Korean. He spoke to the paper. I said what? and he said I'm not talking to you, I'm talking to the newspaper. Then we went home and finished his thank-you notes for his birthday presents. I addressed the envelopes, he wrote the rest. Sure, it's illegible, but I'm not going to be one of those mothers who writes her kid's thank you notes.

In the evening we met Chris at a restaurant for dinner. Chris and Gideon had an argument about a revolving door. Gideon wouldn't speak to Chris. I mediated. I said, Daddy, you have to respect that Gideon is 5 now. He can go through the revolving door all by himself. Gideon nodded his head. Chris agreed. It was all good after that.

The three best movies ever are Tooth Fairy, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2007). Not only is TMNT the best, it's also awesome.

There's an emoticon that makes a pile of shit.

It's hilarious and it's been decided that I have no sense of humor.