Writer, editor, teacher, other.

http://botticellismars.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/a-dappled-thing/

So I’m working on overhauling this tumblr and setting up (finally) my own website. In the meantime, I’ve been a bit neglectful here; sorry! More soon on the new setup, but for now, I wanted to share this lovely review of my piece “Prognosis,” which was published in Corium Magazine. The author, Dana Burgess, teaches classics and is spending this semester teaching other teachers in Costa Rica. It sounds like she’s doing really interesting work, and I’m thrilled she’s turned her careful attention to my writing. 

This week’s mail brought the new issue of NANO Fiction, a special anniversary issue which includes both work from brand-new NF authors and works by a writer chosen from each previous issue. I was thrilled that the editors chose me to represent issue 5.1.

The piece they published here is a piece about the farm, and about my last real summer there. It was a complicated time. If you’ve been to the farm with me, the piece might surprise you. The place is pastoral; the piece isn’t. 

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It’s been a bustling few weeks here, as summer sneaks up on us….the job I’d spent several months preparing to exit actually didn’t wind down the way I thought. My boss approached me about ten days prior to my exit date with a new proposal…there’s a lot of blahblahblah in between, but the short version is that I’m still doing the same work, only with a new title & some new logistics. This is really wonderful news—I love the work & my coworkers—but I had never imagined it might happen, so I’m still getting resettled. (And my summer of leisure is quickly fading away!) But it’s welcome news.

We’re growing very invested in the idea of changing our decorating color scheme when we move later this summer, and I’m looking forward to embracing more neutrals and soothing colors—more blues, fewer reds. 

There’s more to come, so I’ll be in touch soon. Until then, be well. Eat something delicious—silver queen corn when its season arrives, or berries, or basil. Here, we’re saving our appetites for our favorite food event in town: the local Greek Orthodox Church’s Greek Festival. Pastichio! Dolmades! Loukoumades! This weekend, if you catch me at the right moment, you’ll see a great big, honey-smeared grin. Yay delicious.

(xo)

My latest piece, “Burning the Negatives,” appears over at Housefire today, which makes me very happy. If you don’t know Housefire, check it out—-it’s a collective that does great work to promote innovative writing. They routinely publish prompts for folks who’d like to write their way into the group. (That’s how I got in, way back in the spring.) 

Often, when you write about things that have happened to you, it takes some time. It’s usually necessary to wait and reflect, to sit on your work for a while so you may revise at a time that’s more distant from the time of writing. So there’s often a long time that passes between the event and the writing about the event and the publication of the writing about the event. I’m always happy to see my work published, but sometimes when I get a journal, revisiting my poems is similar looking at land as I fly away from it in an airplane: it seems so small, so quaint. 

That’s not the case here. I had a birthday. December came. Advent started. I wrote a poem. It feels very immediate still, and that’s fun. 

I should add two things: the line “the man with the gun is satin” comes from a typo I encountered last spring. Thanks, H, for letting me steal the line. (If you want me to name you fully, just let me know!)

And the bio is my very favorite ever. The one who brings the most joy wins: of course she does.

Bring on the joy, y’all.

(xo)

(Disclaimer: I wrote this a few days ago, but it’s just now getting posted.)

I have a piece from the prose poem sequence up today at Housefire. (Click on the link above to read it.) In the sequence (and, I think, on the page), it’s part of the bigger narrative. And I know that and intended that when I wrote it. But the beauty of fictionalized work (regardless of genre) is that it can be about many things. So on the page, it’s about a character, the “you.” But as I wrote it, I also knew that it was an elegy for someone other than that character.

So this piece is weighty for me. I’m happy to see it up at Housefire. And that bio! Jesus! The bios are one of my favorite parts of the Housefire experience—they’re written for you, generally by people you’ve never met. So they aren’t about the author in any way. And yet….reading them, they seem somehow to fit a little more than you might expect. This intrigues me. Are we just reading what we know into things? I’m not sure. I don’t think so, though…and I know other Housefire authors who’ve pointed out the fitting nature of their own bios. So there might be something to this.

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So my morning started in memory and elegy. But then I went and taught, and so far, this batch of students is making me happy. They’re engaged and energetic, and I’m excited about what’s ahead this semester. It seems full of possibility. And that’s how we work, right? One foot in what’s passed, another in what’s promised. I think that’s a good thing.

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Yesterday I spent most of my afternoon at the zoo, where I saw the snakes get fed. I’d never seen this happen before. So I watched the various approaches—the venomous snakes inject their prey, then sit back and wait for venom to take effect. The constrictors do just what their names imply: they constrict, suffocating their prey by wrapping tightly around it. And the thing that’s fascinating to me is that even though the zoo I was at feeds prey that’s already dead, the snakes do the same thing they would do in the wild, where they’d capture live prey. So they don’t just start eating, though they could. Instead, they follow the process they’d always follow: they bite the dead rat, or they wind themselves around it. They understand that there’s a way to do things, and they do them in that manner. It was kind of beautiful.

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I’ve spent a lot of this year thinking about & looking for forms. Decemeber felt, more than anything, formless. Finishing the prose poem sequence (which, I should add, I sent off as a chapbook submission this week!) helped me regain sense of the shape of things again. And so, like those snakes, in this formless & tumultuous year, I’ve fallen back on the thing I know best. I keep writing.

Thanks for reading.

(xo)

August 1 is a humbling day, as I also have two pieces up at Corium Magazine today. They include one of my most favorite of the prose poems (“Prognosis”) and my favorite-ever bio.

I wrote the bio because Corium has a very kind policy where they won’t reject your work on your birthday. This started me thinking about birthdays. And then astrological signs, which I sort of believe in a little bit, and then the turn that the bio takes at the end.

Here’s a secret, loves: when I wrote “that thing you said that time,” I was thinking of an actual time, an actual you, an actual statement. But here’s the other secret: I could have asked the speaker what it meant, but I didn’t. Sometimes we need to believe things we aren’t actually ready to know. This was one of those times. (Sometimes the inverse is true, too—we know things we can hardly believe—but that’s another set of stories.) So I do still wonder a little bit, but at my core, I’m still believing. And at the end of it all, on some level, isn’t that what matters?

*****

I’m big on faith and belief, though not necessarily in a religious sense. For me, it’s often faith & belief in people and in their roles in my life. Relationships, like most things, have seasons. But I tend to believe that the bloom’s never off the rose for long.

Last week, I sat in the farm of my childhood, my spiritual (though not physical) home, with my best friend from middle school. Our friendship, too, has gone through seasons, though we remain quite close. But sitting there, we talked late into the night about things—One of us mentioned how this farm was the place where he would mail me letters when we were young. He asked me about a line of an essay referring to my family. He mentioned being in sixth grade and first reading my writing. I remembered that he was the first person, aside from teachers, who liked my work, and I remembered how significant that was.

Sitting there, I realized that, though my life isn’t at all what I expected it to become, one thing I’d have known for certain back when I was 12 was that decades later, he & I would still be having those conversations, still be in it—whatever “it” is—together.

I should probably clarify that the line in the Corium bio isn’t referring to this friend at all. But it’s the same sentiment: an abiding belief that the people who belong in your life will always be there, and you in theirs.

So keep the faith, loves.

(xo)