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Are you also a little sad that this sleeping shadow did not make it into my little book of poems? I know, right? Me too. All of the pictures in my little chapbook were drawn by Stephanie Kwak who is a true fellow friend, and who just recently went to Beijing and met Ai Weiwei. This drawing of the sleeper is her interpretation of my poem “Travel Accommodations.” She is a pure talent, isn’t she? Don’t be too sad because the book is lovely.
It was made by the nimble hands of Liana at Damask Press (with much help from her grandmother), and just last week I had a little celebratory reading. It was like when Dorothy wakes up from her knock on the head and her trip to Oz and she says “and you were there…and you and you and you were there!” That’s how I felt at the reading. My boss, the very boss Amanda (boss meaning cool!) of Chicago Detours fame was there. My beaming parents, Wanyu and the Cho crew, and even little miss Lisa Hiton appeared all tan and from completely out of the blue! Well, sort of from out of the blue. More like from off a plane that came from Greece where she had been writing poetry and concussing her head on trees. What a happy day. The reading, not the concussing. Also, I got to take home the boxed wine that Nancy brought and I am drinking it right now. Here is another image from City Structures. This one is from “Light Structures in the Library of Babel.” Isn’t is just wonderful?
I just returned from a brief stint at the Grimes Farm where my family encouraged everyone to enjoy nature by giving away trees and hosting the 13th annual Grimes Farm Run! We had a whopping 170 people register. You should join us next year! While I was in Iowa with my family, I found:
2. A tiny book of poems by Persian poet Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Since I am drinking wine, I will quote his wise words: “Better be jocund with the fruitful grape than saddened after none, or bitter, fruit.” So there you go.
You missed it! This reading happened Sunday night (June 16th) at Logan Square’s Uncharted Books. Have you ever been? There is a lovely blue-eyed, white haired dog that lies around in the middle of everything and there are stacks of used books everywhere and even a section of “Vintage Communist Propaganda.” The readers, in this order, were:
1. Me (I went first)
2. Caroline Picard Who is many things. She is a comic maker, a writer, and an artist. She is also involved in film and does a bunch of interviews (check out her “writing section on her website so see some of her published interviews.) She read a piece about Helen and Penelope but sort of set in modern times Odysseus had a “Conference” of all the warriors. I believe it is a story from her book, Psycho Dream Factory. A haunting piece that ends in a way that must be as abrupt on the page as it is when Caroline reads it. Hiccuped and broken.
3. Peter Jurmu, the editor in chief at Artifice Books. As my friend said during the break, “that was one angry dude.” His poetry was graphic, vivid, powerful and sharp.
4. Sean Lovelace picked up the energy level after the break reading his on point flash fiction. It was good. My friend lay down and spread out on the ground to get a better grip on the stories. Sean is a wonderful writer. He also has, as he told me at the reading, “sort of a thing for nachos.” And Velveeta, which became clear when he concluded by reading a numbered piece about Velveeta. It is a very versatile food.
5. Then there was Jac Jemc who read poems that were completely different than Sean’s flash. I don’t remember what they were about, but I remember the texture of them, the crisp alliteration and soft rhymes. We’re facebook friends now.
6. Carrie Lorig ended the night with a bang. Swaying back and forth and her poetry just bubbling up with a smart country grit to it somehow. The tang of the midwest was there, but also something inside it was taking flight to much further internal places. Russ Woods and Carrie read the last poem together, which you can read here. Stunning.
That was my Sunday. It was so exciting to be a part of that.
Chicago is a cool place. Often I hear about cool things that have happened after they have happened and I feel grumpy because I’ve missed them. I am trying to keep my ears open because there is a ton of exciting stuff going on. Here are a couple things I would like to announce.
1. ANOBIUM’S freaky, twigged out branch project officially called, the RESCRIPTION PROJECT has made a book. Thanks to the majorly devoted efforts from a guy named Ben Van Loon, you can order this patchwork, purely collaborative publication of short stories. Here’s the premise: A group of Chicago writers got together, each person brought a story they thought had promise but wasn’t quite there yet and surrendered it to the group. Each piece was re-written multiple times by multiple authors. It was a lot of fun. This book is the end result.
Okay, so this interview below is the reason I created my own website. The poet “self-interview chain” stipulated that you must post this on a personal blog or website. I have a personal blog. It’s here. But, as you can see, it’s a little embarrassing, and doesn’t really fall into the genre of poetry.
So here we all are. Me, You, and No One Else. That’s right, Miranda July. Please find my self-conducted interview below.
But before I post it, I want to quote Toby Altman, who posted me in his interview. I think he put the general idea into some nice context here:
“I was tagged by Amelia Bentley, who was tagged by Hassen Saker, in this on-going self-interview meme–which is also, increasingly, a map of the channels of affection and aesthetic allegiance in contemporary poetry. The common world, collaboratively mapped, through the (narcissistic) act of self interview.”
THE NEXT BIG THING INTERVIEW:
What is the working title of the book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
——-Much of it came from me trying to recreate the weird feeling I had while living abroad. Feeling distant from certain things, yet hyperaware of others. Oh, and not being able to say what I meant. How you have to say everything all awkwardly, all round-a-bout, and then new meanings and fragments from that attempt split off from the original intention.
What genre does your book fall under?
——-Freaky funny. Word clippings tacked up on a wall, and hey! There’s a shape there!
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
——-Robyn. She’s not an actor, but she would dance around in an abandoned hospital, and Kai, the guy who went viral just recently would be doing his thing in a secluded temple. Edie Beale would be there, too.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
——-Landscapes are traps: they wear you, not vice versa.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
——-Most of the poems were constructed during the year I spent at Boston University. Then a few were tacked on during a trip back to China.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
——-Engrish.com, the high school students I taught English to in Yunnan China, the bursting-heart feeling I have for my Boo.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
——–It’s got hoarding and a bit of Borges. I am also thrilled to tell you that the illustrations are by my friend Stephanie Kwak who is hugely talented. You can see her stuff here, and I urge you to see it. Her’s is a good, bright world: http://www.stephaniekwak.com/
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
——–Damask Press will be publishing my chapbook in June!
My tagged writers for next Wednesday are: