Poem About Last November Up at Literary Yard

donald_trump_nymaCheetolini, showing his early love of uniforms (but not service) and signature comb-over hairstyle.

My poem about the aftermath of last year’s tainted “election” has been accepted and published in one fell swoop by Literary Yard. You can find it hereLiterary Yard has recently been “ranked among the top 100 best Literary [sic] blogs on the planet” by Feedspot.com.   

This is not my favorite poem I have ever written. I think it is too literal. But my husband really likes it, so maybe I am wrong. Anyway, I couldn’t think of a way of changing it because, as he says, it conveys how I felt and what it was like right afterwards–hence the title, “How things are now.” As usual, I invite you to read it and let me know what you think.

Thanks!

Photo credit: Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library, Donald John Trump, pictured on page 107 of his [ca. April] 1964 New York Military Academy yearbook. Full yearbook: http://www.classmates.com/yearbooks/New-York-Military-Academy/32008. Source: “Photos show Donald Trump in military uniform, with athletic teams before dodging the Vietnam draft with ‘bull—t’ injury,” New York Daily News (July 21, 2015). Wikimedia Commons, PD.

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“Audit, 2016,” Up at Wiki Lit

page1-464px-Form_1040,_2011.pdf

My autobiographical essay, Audit, 2016, is up in Wiki Lit, which I wrote about here when the essay was accepted. The piece is a meditation on my life, what it means and what it amounts to, using questions on the income tax form as prompts. I like it because it seems to wander, but in the end concisely articulates who I am. Besides being a good way to get to know me better in a hurry, it is also a fun reinterpretation of tax terms and something of a commentary on their limitations.

I hope you will read it and let me know what you think.  

 

Photo credit: United States Internal Revenue Service. IRS Form 1040. 2011. https://www.irs.gov. PD.

“Improv” Up in Jerry Jazz Musician

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My story, “Improv,” is up on the Jerry Jazz Musician site, here. Please check it out!

As always, once I saw my work in print, I realized that it was perfect in every way, and all my earlier doubts were ridiculous. For one thing, it had been a while since I read it, and now I see that although there is a little rough sex, the most detailed romantic description is sweet and tender, but not too overpowering, since it’s a wistful fantasy.  Speaking seriously, of course I don’t consider anything I’ve written “perfect,” but I was satisfied, and editor Joseph Maita has provided a nice picture of a jazz lounge to go with it.

 In the story, a young woman who has broken out of her humdrum life and love affair experiments with new musical and romantic possibilities, but it turns out she is not the only one willing to push boundaries. So check it out, and enjoy, and also check out the other jazz-themed stories, poems, and articles on the site, which is lively and informative throughout.

Photo credit: hds, Bohren & der Club of Gore performing at Hamburg, Nochtspeicher.  27 Feb. 2014. Wikimedia Commons, Bohren dcog (12843586343).jpg; original at https://flic.kr/p/kyWJKR. CC by 2.0.

 

My First CNF Publication

page1-464px-Form_1040,_2011.pdf

My first creative nonfiction piece, “Audit, 2016,” has been accepted for publication by Wiki Lit, A Living Anthology!  Wiki Lit is a brand new project that aims to link pieces it publishes with in-text hyperlinks. Since the project is so new, I can only say that I am excited to see what the editors come up with and flattered to be a part of it. I am also glad that two young and no doubt hip MFA grads from Columbia College in Chicago thought highly enough of the autobiographical meditation I produced and shaped using terms from the U. S. income tax form to hyperlink it to other works I can’t wait to read.

Photo credit: United States Internal Revenue Service. IRS Form 1040. 2011. https://www.irs.gov. PD.

 

 

“Improv” a Finalist in the Jerry Jazz Musician Contest

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Some years ago I attended an improv jazz concert at the Jule Collins Smith Museum in Auburn, Alabama. The performance was part of the museum’s “A Little Lunch Music” recital series. The group  were highly skilled and professional, but improv jazz is often thought of as more akin to Western contemporary art music–the experimental, post-classical tradition–than to “real” jazz. As a result, their efforts proved too much for several of the fans of more traditional music, and I was somewhat embarrassed to see them trickling out whenever the performance got raucous. This also made me think about rules in music and elsewhere, and the unspoken contracts between musicians and their audiences. 

In the end, I wrote a story, “Improv,” about a young clarinetist who is improvising in her life when she becomes entangled with a visiting improv jazz group. This story proved to be difficult to place and has been hanging around here and there for a long time. So long that I started to wonder what was wrong with it.

Did they object to the sex? I haven’t seen a lot of sex in the more fashionable tales I’ve read lately. Are all those hipster editors out there secretly prudish? Or perhaps we’ve advanced so far beyond prudery that the details of sex are considered literarily boring. But maybe it was the hints of romance genre they objected to, or the fact that the sex was rough, though consensual.

Or worse, I thought, descending further in my paranoid spiral, perhaps they thought the story was racist. Partly because I was not fully aware of the European roots of improv jazz when I wrote the story, and partly because it seemed to me racist not to have musicians of color in my portrayal of a  professional jazz group, I made two members of the group African American. Then I made my white protagonist have romantic fantasies about one of them.

I decided not to change this because, as far as the improv jazz group is concerned, even though the ensemble I saw was all white, it seems perfectly possible that there might be some traditional African American jazz musicians who wouldn’t mind picking up an improv gig, and I like the inclusivity and cross-fertilization inherent in this possibility. As far as the romance goes, although my protagonist is naively romanticizing the exotic other, I’m just describing a phenomenon that occurs, like the rough sex. So I left it. 

I also wondered, at times, whether editors felt I spent too much time describing music, but that was crucial to the story’s examination of freedom. When I learned through a newsletter of the Jerry Jazz Musician contest, which is free to enter, by the way, I thought, “Well, at least they’ll appreciate my descriptions of the jazz.”

And they did! While I do not normally enjoy communications that begin, “It is with regret that I write to inform you . . . ,” the news that although I had not won, I was a finalist in the contest and they wanted to publish my work (sometime this month, the editor informs me) was highly consoling.

So I look forward to the story’s appearance in print, and in the meantime I shall enjoy reading the winner’s story and other articles in Jerry Jazz Musician.

 

Photo credit: hds, Bohren & der Club of Gore performing at Hamburg, Nochtspeicher.  27 Feb. 2014. Wikimedia Commons, Bohren dcog (12843586343).jpg; original at https://flic.kr/p/kyWJKR. CC by 2.0.