Tuesday, May 27, 2008

MFA Residency: Day 5

Day 5 is just ending of the residency for my low-res MFA here at Spalding University in Louisville. A lot has happened so far, adn I'll cram as much as I can into this post before I feel the tug of poetry draw me back to my notebook.

I got in on Thursday night (after being completely raped by a Chattanooga cab company - $28 to take me one and a half miles to the airport! WHAT?! Mental note: call Beverly and beg a ride home from the airport on Sunday), and the Brown hotel is as beautiful as ever, and equipped with the same decadently absorbent towels. I love crossing back into Kentucky - even Louisville, though my heart is closer to Danville and Lexington. It always feels like coming home.

Residency started on Friday, and I amazed myself by remembering the map of Spalding's small downtown campus - I got myself turned around regularly in November, but now I'm pretty adept at getting around our little 4-block cube of the city, and its homeless folk. (Thanks for the catcalls, guys. Seriously. You have no idea how that makes the day of a big-bootied woman like myself. I heart the looeyville homeless!)

Coming here is really like coming home. As a writer, there's little better than finding an entire gaggle of people who understand your random frisking of yourself for a writing implement to jot down (on paper, or your bookbag strap, or your arm) a thought that you think might grow into a nifty little sapling of a poem or story. Folks who understand the devastation of those teensy little impersonal rejection slips that count as responses to your deepest secrets sent off to editors. Folks you don't feel guilty with when you press your latest pieces into their hands for workshopping, because you know they're really interested in your work, and you know you'll get honest and constructive feedback from. Smell that? That's beer mixed with artistic potential. Those stains? Ink. I love it.

So far, I have attended lectures on:

Pico Iyer's Sun After Dark: Flights into the Foreign, lyric essays on travel

Creative Non Fiction: Where the Public Meets the Private

The Life of the Place: Ko Un's Abiding Places

A Rhetorical Approach to the Sentence

There are No Zebras Among the Roses: Negation & the Imagination in 20th Century Poetry

The Art of Poetic Failure: Identification, Method & Practice

Metaphor as Analysis: Transparency, Translucence, Opacity in Language

the Shapely Poem

On Translation

Writing in Animal Time

The History of Every Country

Structural Screwity: A brief Guide to Reading & Writing Experimental Fiction

Sudden Physical Moments in Short Fiction

And we're not even done until Saturday night!

I've been workshopping daily with my small group and Greg Pape, who will also be my mentor for this upcoming semester. He's not only a hell of a poet with a real eye for the details in nature, he's also Montana's Poet Laureate and an all-around interesting guy with a really intense reading presence and a good sense of humor. (He's going to need it, with me as a student.)

Tomorrow I've got my small group discussion on syntactic doubling and line breaks, an expository writing workshop where we'll go over each other's critical essays (on a book we all hated, so that should be particularly painful), poetry workshop, a lecture on fiction for the book in common for this coming semester, and a play at the Bunbury Theater, Rabbit Hole.

All told, it's going pretty well, though not quite as gangbusters as last residency, when I seem to remember staying up until past 4am drinking beer (um, I do not even like beer), and there may have been an occasion or two where I raised my shirt above what was proper to show off some ink. So far it's been pretty tame, with folks quitting for bed before 10pm. I do hope that we end up hitting Fourth Street Live again sometime this residency, because the poetess desperately needs an excuse to shake her tucchus on the dance floor sometime in 2008. One more dance while I'm twenty-eight, before I turn the big two-nine next week.

Anyway, among the great workshopping and the notes I've made on lectures, I've also been hitting the student and faculty readings at night, which are really impressive. Last night I read "Love Letter from a White Woman," "Intercession" (a rewrite of the ail Mary prayer), "For my Unborn Son" and "Thorns," and they seemed to go over really well with the crowd. (It was getting on 9pm, so it is also altogether possible the crowd was simply pleased to be getting out, since I was the last reader.) Anyway, it was a good time, and I was re-impressed with the crop of talent in my classmates.

That's about it for now, and you likely won't hear from me for awhile, since I don't get home until June, and then I've got three book chapters and one poster session to complete before July hits. I also had a conference presentation pitch that I made with a gaggle of other librarians picked up as a half-day preconference at one of the big librarian conferences (Internet Librarian 2008, in Monterey) picked up, so the fun never stops! For now, I need to go back and make margin comments in this batch of critical essays, and try to crank out some of the poems - or at least flesh out some of the ideas for poems - that have been growing in my head. Much love from a poetess steeped in her element...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Update, Meme

Hey all! It's been quiet on my end for a number of reasons. I've been posting over at my other blog, Guardienne of the Tomes, and am currently in Louisville until June 1 for my residency for the MFA program. It'll be a wonderful but exhausting week of all things literary and artsy, and as an added bonus, I get to stay in the luxurious Brown Hotel, whose towels I want to steal (but won't, because my mom raised me better than that) because I've never met such lovely, absorbent towels. (And yes, I'm totally the one who turned one of them purple with my hair-dyeing yesterday. Sorry, y'all. If it makes you feel better, mom would be appalled.)

Just wanted to check in, let you all know that I am indeed still alive, and will likely have tons to post either after residency is done (they keep us pretty busy) or once I get back. However, my good friend over at PinkandChocolateBrown tagged me with a meme, so here goes:

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?

I had finished (or was finishing - our semesters ran late) my first year of college, and prepping for a summer of flipping burgers at the Dairy Queen off campus. Not glam, but I was thrilled at not having to go home, felt very independent to be doing my own thang.

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order):

a) Go to Hotel fitness Center for workout. (Actually, this is already done, and I'm feeling pretty damned altruistic because I got up and went to the gym from 5am-6am on a Saturday morning. Guilt from the carrot cake I ate last night, that I'm pretty sure my trainer will see on my thighs when I return.

b) Get to the Lectorium early (7am) so I can snag a slot for a reading of my own work.

c) Attend Debra Kang Dean's poetry lecture at 11am.

d) Attend Sena Jeter Naslund's plenary craft lecture at 1:15pm.

e) Attend my daily workshop with Montana poet laureate Greg Pape.

4) Snacks I enjoy:

Hummus on pita chips or carrots, bananas, water with Lipiton green tea mandarin & mango flavor packets. (I know. Awful list. But I've done away with anything with high fructose corn syrup in it, and I hate to indulge after an asswhupping by my trainer, so, there you have it. I have been known to be easily seduced by dapper chocolate chip cookies, though.)

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

Pay my mother's mortgage & other bills, pay down my student loans and credit card debt, take mom around the world on a nice leisurely trip to all the non-depressing spots (no Cambodia for me, Pico Iyer, thanks), and buy a house with a nice yard. And a delicious young man to mow it for me. The rest: savings, so I can afford to adopt a bunch of Chinese and Guatemalan babies.

5) Places I have lived:

BayShore, NY; Danville, KY; Atlanta, GA; Lexington, KY; Chattanooga, TN.

6)5 peeps I want to know more about:

Can God count as a peep? God, my mom, my dad, (um, my parents are alive. We just don't discuss our inner workings much), my maternal grandparents (I guess that counts as two, so that's five). Also, if anyone writes a *useful* handbook on men, I'd be all over that.

Your turn. if you read this blog, consider yourself memed!

7) I have been knitting:

Nothing, since I know not how to knit. But I'm crocheting a blanket for Beth, and for the impending birth of my Maziebird's boychild.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Of Publishing and Eye Candy

Happiness is:

an envelope in the mail at the end of the day saying that one of my favorite poems was accepted for publication. "For my Unborn Son" will appear this time next year in Main Street Rag.

an email the day after that envelope in the mail, informing me that another poem has been accepted in another lit mag. "Visiting Cary" will be published in the next issue of Free Verse.

knowing that I'm doing something that will ultimately be good for me, in the form of delicious beefcake. Ahem. What I mean to say is that I bought not just a gym membership, but 12 sessions with a personal trainer. At 2 trainer sessions a week, and 2 weeks that I'll be gone for the MFA residency and then travel for work, that nearly takes me through the summer. Let's set aside the fact that I am paying some nubile young sexyman to scream at me and watch me flap my armfat until I can reach some semblance of fitness. Let's set aside the fact that this boy (he sounded very young on the phone) told me to make certain I eat before the workout tomorrow. (I figure along with caliper-ing my fat rolls, he's also going to measure how fierce my projectile vomit skills are.) Let's also set aside the fact that I feel absolutely ridonkulous going to a gym where I don't know how any of the torturous-looking machines work, and that I obviously look out of place in a building simply teeming with young blonde fit things, and hunky no-neck manthings. We can even set aside how pathetic it is that I have to pay someone to tell me what to do, since I'm more likely to exercise if it's structured as homework (with the supervisory training sessions like pop-quizzes with the teacher over my shoulder).

Hm. While we were overlooking all of that stuff, I forgot what we were supposed ot be looking at.

Anyway, I have 2 pairs of jeans that I could wear when I was at my most seriously ill, when I had a fab bod. (Not skinny-skinny - I've never gotten to the point that you can see my ribs. But hot woman fabulous.) Before I go to bed tonight, I will be hanging those jeans - and the killer-neckline top - on my bedroom door. And maybe (since there are two pairs) over the fridge.

I have the willpower to do (and enjoy) my job. I have the willpower to grind away at poetry manuscripts until I can't see. I have the willpower to pursue graduate work until my eyeballs want to bleed before reading more literature, and my hands want to fall off from the typing. So why is it so goddamned hard for me to step away from the burgers/ice cream/whatever? I find that most annoying.

Anyway. Yes. Publishing. Yee-haw. And with any luck, feeling better about my bod in just 2 short months. And by short, I mean hellaciously long and painful. But with eyecandy. Who will be screaming at me and cleaning my barf from his shoes, but eyecandy nonetheless.