2% Milk Roundtable Up on YouTube

2% Milk logo on tee I got at the launch party. Taken by me. 4 June 2022.

Here is the link to the 2% Milk roundtable discussion that I mentioned in earlier posts. Editors Nic Rago and Lily Reed (mostly Editor-in-Chief Nic) follow up with the artists on their views about their creative processes, their art, and the interaction between the arts and their social and cultural contexts. As on the website, the graphics in the roundtable video are trippy, which I mostly enjoyed. I’m both happy to have been a part of this well-thought-out, interesting, and experimental project, and a little sad that it’s over. The amount of time and energy the editors have put in is truly impressive.

So check it out. And if you have created anything especially intriguing and a little wild, 2% Milk is open for submissions here: submission@uddertimes.com.

Review of Everyone is Waiting for Tomorrow Up on Fevers of the Mind and a Video

Matt Duggan’s Everyone is Waiting for Tomorrow. Taken by me, 8 June 2022.

Thanks to David L O’Nan, editor of Fevers of the Mind, for posting my review of Matt Duggan’s Everyone is Waiting for Tomorrow on the Fevers site. It is my Wolfpack contribution for June. I have written very few reviews. Generally, I feel that literary criticism, though an honorable pursuit and a crucial aspect of literature’s power to speak to people, does not give me the thrill of immediate connection I get from producing or directly experiencing literary discourse.

I wanted to put in the effort for Everyone is Waiting for Tomorrow, though, because it is good and should be read widely, and because I believed I would learn from the process of reviewing and achieve a deeper understanding of the work, and because, while I don’t know Matt well, I believe he is a kind person, and I deeply respect his talent—so I wanted to show support for his collection.

Everyone is Waiting for Tomorrow grew out of Matt’s experience in the pandemic, during which time his father grew ill and died. The collection also hits many of the notes of Matt’s earlier work–themes of decay, the corruptions of imperialism, capitalism, and bureaucratic institutions, the magic of travel, the beauty of nature, and our need of it–and the pieces in it contain the rich imagery and variety of inventive formal approaches readers of his work will have come to expect.

It seems to me, though, that the breadth and depth of subject matter combine with a sense of urgency and extreme emotion to give this collection an epic feel. You can read the review for the details, but Matt is telling an important story about where we are and where we are going, one we can all find ourselves in, and, perhaps, learn from. I’m proud to know him.

Speaking of wonderful artists . . .

Here is a video on the book about Rena Williams that I have an essay in. Her daughter, Mary Dansak, made it. You can see more about Rena’s life and art, as well as photos of her beautiful pieces.

2% Milk Up at Last

2% Milk logo on tee I got at the launch party. Taken by me. 4 June 2022.

After a fantastic visit to San Francisco, during which my husband and I attended the launch party for 2% Milk, the issue has launched. It looks spectacular, and I’m not just talking about my poetry. Find out what all the fuss is about here

In case you’re still not convinced, check out the trailer for the project:

The trailer was shown at the launch party, where we also enjoyed the superb fare and beer of Pizza Hacker, the company of indefatigable editors Nic, Reed, and Lily, and conversation with fellow contributor Bob Ernst, as well as various other attendees. I also read my poems there, and a selection from The Jesus Wars—all welcomed by the friendly audience.

As I have said before, 2% Milk is full of cool artists in a variety of media. The editors thoughtfully sent their files to all contributors ahead of time, and I have checked most of them out. I feel confident in saying that the issue contains not just something for everyone, but something you really needed, even if you didn’t know it.

And in case you are more philosophically inclined, on June 8th, the editors will put out a round-table discussion with contributors regarding their work, and art in general, in its sociopolitical context. Don’t worry. I’ll remind you about it.

Fun Times at Reading, and Amazing News!

Publicity sheet David L O’Nan made for the reading I participated in.

I had a nice time in Evansville, Indiana, reading with David L O’Nan (Editor of Fevers of the Mind) and friends. I also played Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” on the violin under David’s reading of his poem, “A Hallelujah for a Midnight War.” Met nice people; heard good poetry and an excerpt from Shawna Kay Rodenberg’s memoir, Kin.

Maybe it was a long way to go for a reading, but I’m trying to reach out more. I do hope I will get tips and contacts that might help me market my poetry collection, but I also enjoy traveling to different parts of the country and meeting fellow artists. Now I am looking forward to the 2% Milk launch party in San Francisco (click on link for all the info).

But wait–there was more. When I returned and checked my desktop computer, I found I had been named a featured poet in the erbacce-prize poetry contest! My poetry will be featured in a future issue of the erbacce-journal, and they will be interviewing me. To be named one of the top nine poets out of almost 15,000 is too unreal to contemplate, but highly gratifying nonetheless. Again, thanks to all the judges.

Screen shot of erbacce-prize results. Check out “Featured poets”!

Long-Listed by the Erbacce Prize Again

Sharon Mollerus, The Sun Shines on Weeds Too. 14 Aug. 2008. Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 2.0.

I’m highly gratified to be long-listed again for the Erbacce Prize, or “erbacce-prize,” as the press writes it. “Erbacce,” the press tells us, is Italian for “weed”–hence the picture I selected for this post. Although many people made the long list, it is truly an honor to be selected out of almost 15,000 entrants from all over the world. Also, it is my second time making the long list out of two times I have entered, so there’s that. Thanks to all the judges and everyone who helps facilitate reading and judging all that poetry!

I’m also looking forward to the reading at Bluestocking Social in Evansville, Indiana this Friday evening and the launch party for 2% Milk at Pizza Hacker in San Francisco on Thursday the 26th.

Now, if I could just find the time to organize my novel and write some new poems in this “life filled with incident.”*

*Lady Bracknell disapprovingly describes Cecily’s life this way after hearing her medical history in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.

Launch Party & Reading in San Francisco

Instagram post from 2% Milk inviting people to their launch party. They asked me to share this.

Even though I can only dimly remember the last time I went to a “really cool PARTY,” I was excited to get this invitation in my email. First of all, as I intimated in the “update” at the end of this post, my fellow artists are impressive. Here is a video by Ha Vay to illustrate. Second, the concept behind 2% Milk is to combine an eclectic but edgy and experimental collection of artworks in various media with discussions about art and the artist in society. These were conducted live with the San Francisco-area artists, and will be presented with bits from interviews with the rest of us edited in. There will be an interval when just the artworks will be up on the site, and then the discussions will be added, generating a new conceptual angle on the art.

This is my understanding of the project from what Nic, of the editing trio of “Nic + Lilly + Reed” has shared with me. The site is due to go live on June 1st, and I look forward to seeing how everything is integrated. In the meantime, I am grateful to be included in such a sophisticated and well-thought-out presentation.

These positive feelings, together with the opportunities to read, sell my books, and support my fellow artists, made me decide to go to the party. If you are going to be in the area, please stop by and say hello.

P.S. Now that the academic year is all but over, my son has made our reviews accessible again. So search the “reviews” category, and enjoy.

Bio and Poem Sequence Up at Fevers of the Mind

Doug Smith, Gibbon wolf pack standing on snow. 1 March 2007. Wikimedia Commons. PD.

It was fun to find I had made my debut as a Wolfpack Contributor over at David L O’Nan’s Fevers of the Mind.

Both my bio and my poem sequence, “Three Poems About the Grand Canyon,” are up there now. I have been reading the bios and poems of my fellow pack members, and it is flattering and challenging to find myself in such heady company. I will have to pull my poetic socks up.

I wrote about my Grand Canyon poems a little here. Although Editor O’Nan has kindly called them a “showcase,” they are three very short poems that try to express the sublimity of the Grand Canyon by showing how hard it is to process that awe-inspiring place and convey it in writing. In the poem, my persona views the wrist fracture I got from falling there as a point of contact and communication between the canyon and me. On one hand, this is a fantasy; the Grand Canyon is supremely indifferent to us. On the other hand, I do feel that by cracking my bone, the rocks made manifest my own indifferent physicality, even my stony places, thereby linking me to the canyon more closely.

I am reasonably happy with the piece, and grateful to Editor O’Nan for putting it up. Now. What about next month?

Grand Canyon; taken by me, December 2021.

Paid for Writing BS

Seriously. Not an April Fool’s joke. My “Sonnet from Romeo and Rosaline,” which I wrote about here, and which I thought would be hard to place, has been purchased by Bullshit Lit for their first Bullshit Anthology, whose ETA is late summer. Many thanks to Editor in Chief Veronica Bennett for her excellent taste in excrement.

Judging from some samples I have read, Veronica and team select BS of many varieties, but you can’t just throw any old BS at them and expect it to stick. It has to have a special texture or redolence. So if you have any extraordinarily fragrant piles of BS lying around, give them a try. Perhaps your BS will hit their fan.

In the meantime, tread carefully, dear readers.

Wolfpack Invitation and 2% Milk Update

Doug Smith, Gibbon wolf pack standing on snow. 1 March 2007. Wikimedia Commons. PD.

I was grateful and excited to receive an invitation from Editor David L O’Nan, of Fevers of the Mind, to become a monthly contributor. A wolf is central to the logo for the site, so he is calling us collectively, “Wolfpack Contributors.”

While I am flattered, at first one piece of writing a month seemed a tall order. Some months I don’t produce any suitable pieces, and much as I appreciate Editor O’Nan, I might not want to send him every suitable piece I do produce.

Fortunately, this anxiety intersected with the impossibility of unsubscribing from the undead yam’s emailing list. Occasionally, the spirit moves me to complete this tuber’s questionnaires so I can vent my spleen by ticking “No” when he asks me if I think he was a great president, etc. Towards the end, in the “other” category, I advise him to confess to his many crimes and go to prison for the good of the country.

As a result, I got on his mailing list and cannot unsubscribe. “You can’t get off it?” my husband asks incredulously. “Isn’t that illegal?”

My husband can be naive. (I had to explain to him why the Tea Baggers changed their name.) As if manipulating the “unsubscribe” option on his emailings would bother a grifting, multiply alleged serial rapist turned twice-impeached wannabe dictator whose biggest achievement in office was kidnapping children and putting them in camps, or undermining our democracy, or maybe weakening NATO and emboldening Putin, or mismanaging the pandemic–oh heck. So many achievements to choose from!

We can now add one more to the list: he has become my muse. Fresh off my can poem series, I was wondering if something similar might be in my poetic future, and I was drawn to the yam’s unique rhetorical ad style. The grandiose statements, combined with a smarmy hectoring, present rich opportunities. Suffice to say, I have plenty of material now, which I look forward to sharing.

Meanwhile, at 2% Milk . . .

Curators Nic, Lilly, and Reed have sent us the art they plan to post. I took a peek at work by musical artist Ha Vay, and I am amazed and bewildered. At my advanced age, after being a confirmed nerd my entire life, have I been asked to play with the cool kids?! Stay tuned.

Poem on Elephants Accepted by Grand Little Things

Me with an elephant at Glen Afric Lodge. Taken by our guide, Tim Smith. Summer, 2019.

Some inspiring experiences, like my early-morning kayaking on Lady Bird Lake, readily suggest a poem. Others, like my visit to the Grand Canyon, or my trip to an elephant sanctuary outside of Johannesburg, are so awe-inspiring that I feel unequal to capturing them. With the Grand Canyon, I ultimately wrote a sequence of three extremely simple three-line poems which are currently out and about, so I’ll probably be discussing them later here. For the elephants, I similarly wrote a short rhyming poem suitable for children or adults.

I don’t exactly feel that I failed. It seemed inappropriate to compete with the reality in grandeur and sublimity. No doubt a better writer could do it, but in both cases what I sought to convey was the way the rocks and the elephants, respectively, did not respond to my human desire to connect with them. This feeling of distance was paradoxically central to my experience of the sublime in both encounters.

But whereas short, quirky nature poems should find a home somewhere, short, quirky, rhyming poems about nature, especially ones likely to appeal to children, are much harder to place. I don’t usually write rhyming poems, and the only reason I wrote this one was that the editor of Prime Number Magazine invented a poetic form involving prime numbers of syllables and rhyming lines, and they sponsored a contest for such poems.

My poem about the elephants didn’t go anywhere, and I have since re-lineated it because I don’t believe my attempt to execute the correct prime number of syllables was convincing. Nevertheless, I think the poem conveys my experience in a charming way, and I’m grateful to the editors of Grand Little Things for finding merit in it.

I would end with something unequivocally bright, but that seems inappropriate as we teeter on the brink of World War III and climate apocalypse. Here’s a compromise: