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.

Word Music Featured in Mslexia

Marta Stankevica, Woman_Writing_a_Letter.gif. Derived from Gerard ter Borch – Woman Writing a Letter – 797 – Mauritshuis.jpg. 2020. Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 4.0.

It is quite exciting to see my blog, where I often feel as if I were talking to myself, featured in a magazine with 11,000 subscribers, most of whom are women writers. “Blogability,” featuring Word Music in the latest issue of Mslexia, consists of a short description of how I came to write this and what I do here, and an excerpt from the blog. I chose a bit describing my can poems, because it fit well in their 300-word format. Thanks to Production Editor Maxine Davies and the whole editorial team at Mslexia for choosing to feature Word Music.

Mslexia is online and in print. You can learn about it, read some of it, subscribe for access to the whole magazine, and sign up for additional writing-related experiences here. Mslexia has many resources and opportunities for writers, including many opportunities to submit to the magazine.

Mslexia also pays for all writing, I was especially grateful for the boost to my online finances from the “Blogability” publication because my account had become quite low, owing to my getting behind on rotting up violin and viola lesson fees. Now I can buy Tom Daley’s latest chapbook, Far Cry, without waiting for my snail-mail check to get to him.

Looking forward to it.

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”!

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.

Flash CNF Accepted at Pine Cone Review

Darrell Taylor, Magic Kingdom – SpectroMagic Parade. 22 Oct. 2006. Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 2.0

One of my violin students is a magic child. She always wears magic clothes. Last lesson it was a retro kimono over athleisurewear. Sometimes it is a glittering unicorn t-shirt. Other times, lots of sequins. It’s not just her wardrobe, either. Sometimes she “is” an animal. Other times, she expresses astonishment over my (very rudimentary) piano playing, as if it were miraculous. Always, she gives the impression of living in her own world, a world where anything could happen, at any time. She also has a magical name: Isabella.

She is eight years old–a magical age. When I was eight, I remember visiting some friends of my mother’s in Rome. They were a couple–grown-ups, but young grown-ups. I called the man, whose name was George, “the Wizard” (not sure why–I had read some of The Hobbit by then), and I had a great time with him. He gave me a copy of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, which I loved because my third-grade teacher, whom I had left behind at my regular school, had worked on a reservation and woke us all up to the sufferings of Native peoples. It was magic to be in Rome with cool adults, to be allowed to swing George’s hand and carry his umbrella, and to talk about books with him. I know eight is a magical age.

So of course I had to write about Isabella. I juxtaposed her magic with Ukraine’s surprising and seemingly miraculous defense against the Russian invasion, and the editors of The Pine Cone Review accepted my flash creative nonfiction for Issue 4. I look forward to seeing it there and to familiarizing myself with the publication. It is interesting because it is rooted in “brown” identity–the staff are from various formerly colonized nations–but open to a mix of perspectives, as long as they are creative voices. I feel this is a hopeful and positive approach in our divided world. It seems like the sort of magic we need.

Blog To Be Featured on Mslexia

Marta Stankevica, Woman_Writing_a_Letter.gif. Derived from Gerard ter Borch – Woman Writing a Letter – 797 – Mauritshuis.jpg. 2020. Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 4.0.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that my blog–yes, the very blog you are reading right now–has been accepted by Mslexia for their “Blogability” feature. It will appear in Issue 94 in June.

Mslexia is a print and digital magazine produced in the UK for women writers. I am not very familiar with it, but I was on its mailing list, and when I saw the call for “Blogability” submissions, I thought, “Why not?” After all, blogging is writing too, and, as I said in my description, I have become fond of the opportunities this space affords. It is not just a place to advertise my writing and thank those who publish it, but also a place to explore the issues I face as a writer, to link my work to the personal events that lead me to produce it, and, at times, to vent. I’m happy to find that Mslexia thought this would be interesting and helpful for their readers, and I hope some of those readers may meander over and check out Word Music.

Maxine Davies, Production Editor at Mslexia, sent me a form that asked for further information, such as what I do besides writing and what my most recent publications are, so I look forward to seeing how the whole piece incorporates that. In the meantime, I will subscribe to the digital edition and familiarize myself with this useful resource.

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.

Celebrating Rena and Her Art

Water color and pen and ink work by Rena Williams, photographed by me. I am not sure whether this has a title, but she said she created it for her son Robert, who passed away in his thirties.

My friend Rena died in October. As her artwork suggests, she was an endlessly creative person. She was also full of love for all things good and beautiful and perpetually curious about the world. She left a lot of great art behind–I am fortunate to have a small collection of it–and her family and friends are making a book to share her art and spirit with others, especially people who might be interested in displaying her works. I’m proud to say they have accepted my short tribute to Rena for this volume.

I will just tell a short anecdote here, which is one of my favorite Rena memories. Rena’s friend wrote Under the Tuscan Sun, so Rena and her husband Steve were invited to the Hollywood premiere of the movie. They chose to attend their granddaughters’ violin recital instead (I was the girls’ teacher). While I was (though flattered) still reeling from this decision, Rena came up with a plan to have our own premiere when the movie came to our town. We all put on strings of pearls, sunglasses, and other stuff we imagined Hollywood people would wear, and we gave each other air kisses and called each other “dahling.” A wonderful time was had by all.

I’ll leave you with another work by Rena that I am privileged to own.

This is a photo I took of one of many postcards Rena created while listening to music (often opera, especially Baroque and early Mozart). She graciously allowed me to choose a small selection of these, and I was drawn to the ones with asemic writing (art that looks like script).

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.