Thursday, April 26, 2012

I love you, I forgive you

The first quarter of my year long nothing-but-my-own-writing sabbatical is almost through and I'm thinking yeah, maybe this needs to be a 2-5 year sabbatical. I haven't written as much as I hoped and dreamed, but I'm writing and happy with the direction. I'm allowing myself to remain open too all sorts of direction, no matter how dopey or unsettling. Create first, discern later is the new motto. Since God Damsel, I became too critical and kept stalling myself before I even started. The negative voices were in major overdrive and sometimes I couldn't write more than a sentence before dropping a piece entirely. Now I reply to those voices with simply I love you or I forgive you and keep plowing on.

Yes, that's right, I'm regularly loving/forgiving her, them, er, me. Whoever it is I'm responding to.

I'm not sure if these voices have quieted because they feel acknowledged and accepted or if they just find my responses excruciating and no longer wish to communicate, but hey, whatever works. My demons are my new bffs.

So far I've only sent out a handful of submissions, just to a few places that invited me. Testing the waters so to speak. The work is bizarre, demented, fill-in-the-blank. Yesterday somebody on FB was going off on poets who don't use proper capitalization in their poems and that brought in a bunch of comments like "guess those cool avant garde kids were too busy skipping English class." That hurt my feelings. First of all, eschewing standard capitalization in a poem doesn't make one avant garde. I'm not exactly sure what does, but I'm pretty sure it's a bit more than that. Second, I was a good student and I didn't skip English class and I wasn't especially popular in high school either and I don't go around calling myself avant garde because I use my own set of grammar rules for my poems, so project your high school insecurities somewhere else. We're grown ass poets, so let's live and let live.

Speaking of going back into time, recently an editor from a new magazine that hadn't yet published its first issue invited me to send work. Now magazines with no past issues put out by editors unfamiliar to me can be tricky because it's difficult to surmise what the final product will be or what it is that they're looking for. After "That's Not Butter" appeared in BAP years back, I got a lot of invites to submit from newish magazine editors who, as it turns out, were only familiar with that one poem. When I'd respond with my latest and greatest, they'd often be like uuuhhhhh . . ., you know, like they responded to my profile on a dating site that only had a picture of me from 10 years/400 pounds ago and I showed up to our date as the Stay Puft Marshmallow in drag. That's OK. An invitation to send work is just that, an invitation to send work, nobody is promising anyone publication. In more cases, I do better sending work unsolicited because I take the time to discover and get to know receptive venues.

Despite these past experiences, I still work under the assumption that an editor who personally invites me to send work, is to some degree familiar with my work. This particular editor's inquiry did demonstrate that he was familiar with some of my more recent work so I sent some for consideration. I heard back not too long later saying that he and his co-editor wanted to take one of the poems but had some editorial suggestions. I opened the file to find that they basically workshopped my poem like I turned it in for an undergrad intro CW class. They standardized all the capitalization (of course) and cut out entire sections dealing with an icky penis monster (yes, I believe my poem passed my test and earned its penis) and the only other monster with references to sex.

Now, I'm not a magazine editor anymore, but back in my day, I wouldn't have accepted a poem that I felt needed such extensive editing. I would have passed. I didn't have to think very long before I wrote back and thanked him for his consideration but I was not interested in making the edits. I went on to write that if they didn't want the poem as it is, I'd rather pull it. I got it, the poem didn't fit their editorial aesthetic. It happens. In my case, it happens a lot.

I received 2 guilt-trippy responses from the editor. He told me how disappointed he was. He said the edits were to start a conversation with me about the poem. That's all fine and good, but by the edits they suggested it was clear that they wanted to change my poem into something very different and I didn't want that. I would have been receptive to editorial suggestions that approached the poem for what it was trying to accomplish, but not suggestions to give it some socially-acceptable makeover colonic. I didn't know what else to say except my vision for my poems comes before publication.

If changing my poems meant $$$ for my mortgage, I'd be more willing to sell out. But as it stands . . .

I'm probably going to distort something Rebecca Loudon commented on Kevin Andre Elliott's blog years ago, but I can't find it now. It was something like, you get to a point as a writer when you know who you are and what it is that you're trying to do -- it's a point where influences that don't really belong no longer carry the anxiety they used to before you knew.

Ok, she said it a lot smarter and better than that, so Rebecca if you remember what it is that you said 12 billion years ago when people used to keep poetry blogs, please note it in the comment field.

Whatever it was exactly that she said, the idea made a deep impression and I feel like I've been slogging to that point over these past few years. Yes, deep down I want everyone to think I'm brilliant and love my work, but it has to be my work, not someone else's idea of what it should be.

That's right, I love you and I forgive you and Damn girl, you smell gooooood.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Craig Santos Perez sees the best minds of his generation destroyed by Facebook and he's quite right. Many of us have become incredibly boring. When I say many, I include myself. I am now very boring. I felt it coming on a couple years ago. I tried to fight it. Boringness won.

You know what? I'm sort of happier. I sleep better. It's been over two years since I've dreamed of being served a bloodied flacid penis in my spaghetti. I don't mean to brag, but generally, my dream-time penises have been waaaay less creepy. I suppose I can't blame all my dreamtime pecker woes on blogging and worry about pobiz. It's probably only around 90%. The other 10% is dealing with fiction writers.

It's certainly not all roses at FB. At this date, I recorded 47 FB dreams and they aren't roses and moonlight. Most of them involve looking like an asshole on FB. Often me looking like an asshole. FB brings a level of high school anxiety. Why did the editor of an anthology where my work appeared not accept my friend request? Did so and so really mean to unfriend me? Was it personal or a general culling? Am I annoying? Why did three family members unfriended me? Why won't my cousin accept my friend request? Are they all talking about me? Are they jealous because I'm so very cute? Am I better off without them?

Answer to all questions: Yes. Even the "why" questions. Especially the why questions. Why? Because YES.

It can kind of drive you nuts, if you let it. So I do these mental exercises where I try to drive away the petty anxiety and leave room for the real problems I should be shitting myself over. Like that squirrel tail I found yesterday while cleaning leaves and brush in the front yard. Where's the rest of the squirrel?


Anyhow. I saw the link to Craig's post on FB. I "liked" it, but I didn't "share" it because that was too much of a commitment. I might tweet it. But I need to think more on it. If I do tweet it, should I tweet it using the official No Tell Books or my personal account? I am on sabbatical and I don't want to give people the wrong idea that I'm willing to be engaged on pobiz matters. These are subtle, tricky waters to navigate and it's so very easy to unintentionally give mixed signals.

I shall not encourage pobiz.

FUN FACT: The two most common search phrases that bring people to this blog: "metal mouth james bond" and "andre the giant daughter"

I didn't know Andre the Giant had a daughter.

My boring blog doesn't mean I don't ever have interesting ideas. I think I still have a few.

For instance, after reading Elisa Gabbert's December perfume column at Open Letters Monthly, I'd been meaning to respond. In fact, not a week goes by where I don't think about giving Elisa a piece of my mind and publicly accuse her of smoking potpourried crack for writing "It manages to smell both grown-up and girlish, such that you can imagine a mother and daughter happily sharing a bottle." about Diane von Furstenberg's Diane. I had a response that was something like, "after smelling DVF's Diane I longed for the days when G was in diapers because a baby's ass is the only appropriate recipient of that powdery stench." Then I'd make some cheap dig on Elisa's MFA because, why not?


That's interesting, right?


Baby's asses and MFAs are classic blog gold.

But is it really worth it to start a blog blood feud over DVF's latest shitty scent? A few years ago I would have said YES! Now I'm feeling very ~~~~meh.

Is anyone, aside from Elisa, interested in hearing about my most recent perfume acquisitions? (Note to Elisa: sorry for all the name dropping, but you're one of the few still interesting and relevant poetry bloggers in existence, I gotta milk our association for all it's worth. It's because you're not on FB. It's your superhero power. It's why I'm targeting you.)

Caudalie Fleur de Vigne: I love this! I bought it last week in Paris and it was way cheaper over there. But the scent doesn't last. How can I make it last? Should I mix in some olive oil?
Betsy Johnson Too Too: Supposedly this one of those young lady perfumes that I'm too old for.
Privet Bloom Eau de Parfum: This is a spring/summer scent. My winter scent is Benefit So Hooked On Carmella. I'm a bit turned off by the Hamptons marketing.
Vera Wang: Why do they market this scent for brides? I get that Vera Wang is known for wedding dresses, but you're only a bride for a day (or several). Wouldn't marketing it as "the scent to get a husband" or "keep a husband" make better business sense?
A bunch of the Toccas: I got two gift collections for Christmas. My favorite is Cleopatra. When I want to smell like a pleasant old lady (about twice a month), I go for Florence.
Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Jasminora: This makes me feel fancy.

There's more, but those are the highlights.

Am I completely irrelevant?


As for G, now that he's a grown ass man of 7, I have to be more respectful of his privacy. Last summer he laid down some ground rules. I am never to use his full first name anywhere online (blog, FB, Twitter, etc.) without his permission. But I am allowed to refer to him as G whenever I want without having to ask permission. Pictures are OK too. I think because G understands how incredibly good looking he is and that's something that should be shared with all the world.

So I leave you with two pictures from last week. We were in Paris. G's old man and my ball/chain, C, was in Europe for two weeks on work, so we decided to meet up with C during G's spring break.

A rose is a G***** is a G*****.