May 28, 2015 § Leave a comment
I don’t need to tell you it’s been a while.
Though my Fellowship at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center concluded almost a month ago, my heart still belongs to my cozy digs in Barn #2, pictured above in October and then again in February. One day I’ll write more about how much my time at the Work Center meant to me; until then, these photos can serve as a modest illustration of one kind of transformation.
I’ll say this for my there-and-back-again, four-states-in-four-years, my-drivers-license-is-never-current way of living: breaking one’s life into series of months spent in different places really clarifies exactly how much can happen in a short time. One’s body begins to get a sense of exactly how long a month is, and exactly what is possible in that time to build from scratch.
You can listen to me read (and over-enunciate) two pieces I built from scratch in Provincetown, and the incredible work of the other Writing Fellows, here in Shankpainter.
(The above photos are thanks to fictioneer and winter documentarian extraordinaire Cecily Scutt who, having come to the US from Australia excited to see her first snow, got more than she bargained for.)
While I was gone, the internet kept right on ticking and I forgot to tell you.
The persistently wonderful Joe Chapman and I co-wrote a list of Fantasy Fantasy Football Teams for the latest issue of 32 Poems, which you can still get yr hands on, in case you’re looking for a team name for next season.
Speaking of Joe Chapman and fantasy teams, I’m staying steady at fourth place in our Fantasy Game of Thrones league this year, which sounds impressive until you learn that there are five of us in the league. Unless good things start coming up for Sansa and three out of four Tyrells, things aren’t looking good for ol’ Laura Eve. Or, generally, women in the GoT universe.
RS 500, masterminded by Brad Efford, is an ambitious project to pair a short piece of writing with every one of Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. I wrote a piece for #439, Sam Cooke’s soul-melting Live at the Harlem Square Club. It was the most fun I’ve ever had thinking about middle school.
In two weeks, I’m once again Virginia-bound for my ninth summer with the Young Writers Workshop. Then, because I can’t get enough of summer camp living, immediately following YWW I’m headed to western Massachusetts to work at the Great Jewish Books summer program for teens at the Yiddish Book Center.
Until then, I’m going to appreciate every non-cafeteria food item I put in my mouth, and every bed I sleep in that isn’t a twin extra-long.
November 5, 2014 § Leave a comment
I’m crawling out of my ironic hole to share something my very smart Grandma, Rosalyn Saz, wrote me after she woke up and saw the election results:
“This is not the legacy I wanted for you. This is a disturbing and heartrending time for people like myself, who have come out of the muck of despair, and seen what can and could be done…only to see us sinking back into a deliberately created pool of ignorance. In my small way I have fought the battle for myself and for my kin, but at my age it causes physical pain to read the latest election results and think of what could have been.
My father was a socialist, and I am proud of that fact. From day 1 I was made aware of how to think and care about others, to think of those worse off than ourselves, and to have a sensitive conscience where others were concerned. We have good people who feel the same way, and whose eyes are on the horizon or above, with dreams and hopes for a better life for all who are born today. Surely we must find a way to round these people up, and rally them to a cause that is greater than themselves. There is a greater call for us to listen to more than the grumbling of our own stomachs from a missed lunch, to those who have never known a full belly. It will be up to you younger more vigorous citizens of the world to do the writing, gathering, invigorating job that awaits doing. Writers and poets for centuries have carried the banners for the world to see. I guess it is your turn now.”
It’s not just our own futures we should be worried about. Those of us who are lucky to still have our grandparents and elder loved ones with us owe it to them to turn things around while they’re still around to see it done.
October 1, 2014 § Leave a comment
September 9, 2014 § Leave a comment
The fantastic, writerly, readingly Alex Crowley has tagged me in this Writers Process
Chain Letter Blog Tour, for which I am grateful. Go read his answers and then get to work. What are you still doing here? Go.
If you’re still here, here are my answers to this thing, which I am doing because I fear that if I don’t, I’ll never find my one true love, or everyone will send me poop in the mail, or something.
1) What are you working on?
These days, I’m trying to find my way back to the fine, fine art of writing one poem at a time. I don’t know when I started to feel less in touch with that—maybe the deeper I got into “working” on a “manuscript”—but the poems I’m writing now, when I’m writing them, haven’t yet announced themselves as being a part of any one particular thing and I’m finding I’m satisfied with that. More than satisfied. I’m excited. I don’t know what they might become.
2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?
I don’t know about differs, but I know that I often feel like the eyeballs in my poems turn inward, see thought machinery coming from the inside and maybe they project that onto the outside world, when they see it. I admire rich imagery in poems but my poems don’t really have that. The things they “see” feel, to me, like patterns. Boxes with thoughts inside. Definitions. I’m realizing I’m really into definitions. The way time moves, and how things can’t necessarily happen simultaneously but you can play with the time of their happening with tenses, with language, until you can somehow muscle past, present and future into a single sentence.
3) Why do you write what you do?
I’m pretty into the idea that we write what we want to read but haven’t yet found in the world. I’ve found lots of things in the world through reading that have made me feel connected to the world; I’d hope that something I write might make a person feel that uncanny, rippling pleasure of being somehow understood by an art object. Also, I like the experience of making feelings and movement in others out of language and imagination. Poems are only language and imagination. Both of those things are free and I am lucky to be free to use them. It’d be a crime not to use them as much as possible.
4) How does your writing process work?
I write sentences in a very big blank book. I try to exert as little control as possible. It’s not an entirely automatic, capital-S Surrealist exercise because often enough in the writing I find myself becoming interested in ideas and sometimes I allow myself to pursue them, but the goal is always to follow language first, to make myself available to it. Later—hours, days, weeks later—I transcribe the sentences on my laptop and take stock. I start moving them around a bit, changing them, acceding to patterns that emerge. During this time I’m also trying to make myself available, trying to listen for connections and ordering principles, trying not to be a person with an ego who can fall in love with the sound of something and decide at that point not to go any further. Sometimes this process yields nothing I want to revisit. Sometimes, there’s a poem I like. I try not to think of the nothings as failures, though that’s maybe the hardest thing to do. They’re just practice, like everything. A sharpening. As Jack Spicer might say, I’m honing myself and my machinery so that when the eventual transmission comes I’m the best receiver I can be.
August 31, 2014 § Leave a comment
* This is a photo of the new Timber which, holy Annie Paradis Kendra Bartell Julie Carr Eleni Sikelianos Mathias Svalina, Batman, it’s a smokin hot issue. I’ve got words in here, and on the world wide internet, along with a video in which my bookcase takes up 75% of the frame. That bookcase is 100% better than my poem(s). I’m looking at it now and it’s doing the bookcase version of nodding, which looks like standing still and holding all the books.
* This photo also features my to-do list white board. (Not pictured: all the items on my to-do list, uncrossed off. “Write blog post” is not on this list.)
* This book The Answer to the Riddle Is Me by David MacLean is very good and you should read it instead of my blog, Mom.
* Recently I have been riding a lot of my bike. It’s a lovely turquoise color.
June 19, 2014 § 1 Comment
“A juxtaposition of two more or less distant realities.” —Andre Breton
I had great time teaching a class on the surrealist image at Writer House in my wonderful hometown. I taught a riff on it here at Young Writers for our model day, tailored to our summer theme: remix. I called this surrealism-inspired version a “Dreamix.” Naturally.
Two years ago, this time, I got an email from Timothy Donnelly telling me he liked one of my poems. Today, it’s up on the internet over at the Boston Review. It has trains in it. Go figure.
It’s Counselor Orientation Week at Young Writers, which is one of the longest weeks of the year, and busiest, and sweatiest, and best.
May 19, 2014 § Leave a comment
Some other news is I’ve been hoarding news to give you in one big digest. Are you ready for it? Here it is.
* In October I’m heading to the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, where I’ll write things near water until May. I’m excited, and grateful, and contemplating taking the opportunity as a seven-month social media break.
* You can start your Night Block perusal with these lovely poems by Chen Chen, who I have not met but will meet in a week because he’ll be at the Tent workshop, where I will also be. It’s been a really long time since I’ve been in a position to think about poetry and Jewishness with folks who are equally excited by that idea (though I’ve been doing a lot of reading in this crazy awesome book on my own). I can’t wait.
* I have a new website! Every bit of it was made by the love of my damn life, Mike Devine, whose Twitter and Tumblr continue to get tons of retweets or notes or internet points or whatever makes things meaningful in this world we live in. Click on them now. You will laugh til you pee.
* Not to bury the lead, but I’m in second place in my Game of Thrones fantasy league by one point. Here’s hoping Tyrion and Oberyn go tell it on The Mountain.