“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.

 

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My First CNF Publication

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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. The effect of these influences in the group’s 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 (to her) 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Lolita Proofs Are Here

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The proofs of the article on Lolita that I wrote about here have arrived! This is good because it means the essay and the collection will soon be out, The Palgrave Handbook of Affect Studies and Textual CriticismOn the other hand, it is scary because of pronouncements like, “After you have finalized your proof, no further changes can be made.”

And there are problems. I am already leery because I know editing is a lost and disregarded art these days. It doesn’t help that they claimed a perfectly good sentence of mine about Humbert and Lolita journeying (so there’s your subject and verb) was incomplete, while missing at least five things that were wrong. And when I cited other parts of the collection I left question marks instead of page numbers because I was working from the document of the manuscript, not the set-up book. They left the question marks, in at least one case, which means I have to check all the cases and ask one of the editors (good thing he’s my husband) to give me page numbers from the proof of the manuscript. And one more thing: why can’t Word work out how to turn quotation marks and apostrophes the right way? This is fiendishly difficult to catch.

OK, end of rant. If you need me, I’ll be here, in front of my computer, for some time.

Photo credit: Alex Bakharev (assumed), Samizadat copies of en:Vladimir Nabokov’s works Colection [sic] of en:Nabokov House, 14 April 2006, Wikimedia Commons, PD.

Malevolent Soap Acceptance

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I’m pleased to announce that my poem, “Out in the Code,” has been accepted for the first issue of Malevolent Soap, due out September 1st. I am especially happy and relieved because once again I tried something new in this poem. It is my only work structured as a sort of list, although, being a list by me, it goes off the rails pretty quickly. Also, I use mathematical symbols in it.

I am also excited to appear in an Australian publication for the first time. I was not at all sure “Out in the Code” would meet with the editors’ approval. Although it deals with disorientation caused by the passage of time and the pace of contemporary life and confronts fears, including the fear of death, it is on the whole a brief, playful piece. I was not sure it was hip enough for a journal that wants pieces to “explore . . .  intersections of ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture.” But apparently, yes it was.

I am honored to be included in what sounds like a very cool project. Can’t wait to see the first issue!

photo credit: Buildings at MIT. Taken by me. CC.

 

Quilting with Unstitched States

 

IMG_1942Last spring I spent a lot of time researching and writing the Lolita essay that I blogged about here. As a result I did not get a lot of other writing out, so there has been a hiatus in acceptances.

But I am back in the game now, and proud to say that I have added a square to the collaborative virtual quilt being created by the curators of Unstitched States. Collectively, the squares are “a testament of solidarity to the principles of equality and dignity” in the face of the recent and ongoing escalation of “hate acts” in our communities.

I am honored to have contributed to the quilt. I recommend Unstitched States not only to artists looking for a venue where they can publish responses to our current social and political situation, but also to anyone who needs a quiet place where one can contemplate the America of diversity and hope.

You can find my square here.

 

photo: My pussy hat. Taken by me. CC.

My First Real Reading

                                                                                 luminous_echoes_anthology-1On May 13th I participated in my first public, professional reading. As I mentioned here, the purpose of the reading was to promote Luminous Echoes, the anthology of runners-up in Into the Void Magazine‘s 2016 poetry competition, with proceeds from the anthology benefitting Pieta House, an Irish charity dedicated to preventing suicide and self harm.

I decided to go because I had won the opportunity, many of the authors in the volume are distinguished poets, and I could combine the occasion with seeing family and friends. The reading was very well planned and run by Tom Daley, one of the poets in the volume.  We sold out of Luminous Echoes and raised $940 for Pieta House. 

I was somewhat embarrassed because I had the idea we were going to read from Luminous Echoes, but actually, of course, we were supposed to read our work, of which I have little, and tout our books, of which I have none. Discovering this recalled my violin anxiety dreams–“Here, go out in your underwear and play this concerto you’ve never seen before.” 

Also, we were reading in alphabetical order. I was last. 

So while my talented, practiced fellows were masterfully reading, I was feeling like an idiotic bumpkin, and I’m sorry to say I was too nervous to properly appreciate their work. In the end, it was OK, though: I read the first poem I ever published, which you can read and listen to here, my poem from Luminous Echoes, which I wrote about here, another poem from that volume, and the winner of the most recent Gemini Magazine poetry contest, because I am Associate Editor there, and I helped select that poem, which you can read here.

I was able to buy books by several of the poets to help make up for my inattentive listening, and I am honored to have participated in this event with them and made their acquaintance. I am thankful to Tom Daley for organizing, Heath Brougher, the judge of the contest, for conceiving of the volume, editing it and participating in the reading, Philip Elliott, the editor of Into the Void, for his support of the project, and the five Boston-area friends who came out and supported me. Next time I will try to have a book to hawk. 

 

Luminous Echoes Reading May 13th

I just drove from Dixie to Cape Cod, so I’ll be brief. The reading I talked about in this post will be from 1-3 today at Arts at the Armory Cafe in Somerville, Massachusetts. Please come if you can, and enjoy some good poems for a good cause (Pieta House, a suicide and self harm prevention charity). Thanks!

“The Land of Rainbow Greetings” Already Up on With Candlelight

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Those editors at With Candlelight are fast. My story is already up, and I’ve already been paid.

The story is about a man who writes icky poetry for greeting cards. He meets a woman who claims his greeting cards changed her life, but things aren’t always as rosy as they seem to be at first. The man has a crisis about the meaning of his life and work.

I especially had fun inventing different greeting card poems for this story. Also, the woman can hardly finish a sentence–hence her recourse to prefabricated poems–so her dialogue was fun to write.

As usual, I found some typos in the printed product. It is very difficult to get all these out. I hope you will check out and enjoy the story here anyway.

Photo credit: 13bernta, Rainbow. June 2010. Flickr Commons. https://flic.kr/p/bXs3Uh. CC BY-NC 2.0.

“The Land of Rainbow Greetings” Accepted

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I just received word that my story, “The Land of Rainbow Greetings,” will appear in a new journal called With Candlelight. This is especially welcome because when I first wrote this story, I wasn’t sure I liked it. I wrote it in a hurry for a deadline at a place that rejected it, and at the last minute I Hemingwayed it big time–cut three quarters of what I had written. Initially, I’d had a whole dinner party, but I pared it down to just the two main characters. I also didn’t know if I liked it because it is based heavily on an idea, and I wondered if the idea had taken over the story and made it a dull fable.

I liked it so little that for a year I just left it here or there at places that seemingly forgot about it. Then a few days ago, on Submishmash, I think, I saw that With Candlelight was looking for material. I went there and had a good vibe from the editors’ statements. This story seemed right because it is basically literary with a slight element of horror, and they like horror but are open to various genres and cross-genre work. Still, was the story good enough to bother them with?

I reread it and liked it a lot better. I even felt bad that I had consigned it to limbo for so long. I felt it might merit the $15 honorarium With Candlelight was offering. And luckily, the editors agreed–in very short order.

I draw a couple of conclusions from this: 1. Keep your eye on those newsletters. Some opportunities will pan out. 2. Revisit your work once you have some distance on it. It might surprise you. And 3. The editors of With Candlelight are cool people with great taste.

Cheers. 

Photo credit: 13bernta, Rainbow. June 2010. Flickr Commons. https://flic.kr/p/bXs3Uh. CC BY-NC 2.0.