On Sunday, Entropy published my first creative nonfiction essay, and I suspect I haven't written about it here because it meant so much to me. This is definitely an essay about Doctor Who, but it is also definitely about reaching toward a void, returning to the missing, to the things you cannot and will not ever know. Like I said in this earlier post, I have been returning to this piece about returning since 2012. Talking about this yesterday, I explained that language, writing, the open field of abstracted thought—these are ways, for me, of reaching into that blank space. Literally: the blank page, but also the specter of what waits there. The nothingness of numbness. The silence between us. The space between the sections in this essay are just as interesting to me as the sections themselves. I leave it open-ended because if it was not open-ended, it would be a still and edible thing. You wouldn't have to reach for it.
I finally finished Annie Liontas' Let Me Explain You, sort of quietly in the dark morning-time, which felt right, and now thinking of the wound that cannot be seen. And the act of always reaching toward it.
This week I have some time to myself, to do all of the things I put off, I hope. I bring you:
This interview I did with The Cloudy House
This review I wrote for PANK, of The Volta Book of Poets
These poems of mine at Yes Poetry
In this quiet in-between week, I'll see the beach for the first time in several years, and visit a friend that I miss so much, and sit and drink coffee looking out a window onto an empty square with an empty Word document in front of me. I'll meet an old friend and a new friend to talk about writing. I already rode my bike in the city for the first time, less scared than I had thought I would be, and we rode to the Schuylkill and out over the water on a concrete boardwalk, into a headwind. Another old friend is here in the city for a month. In general: trying to gather back the pieces of myself, and to remember how it feels to speak them. Writing more. Riding more.
Turns out this is the craziest time of the year. Oops.
I drove back and forth to Western PA and then took way too many trains to read in Brooklyn for the first time for The Atlas Review, and then jumped back into business and just had a visit from a Bama friend, and the weekends never seem to be long enough. My parents and sister threw a book party for me, which was incredibly sweet. I had cake after dinner every day for almost a week.
It has all been fast and fun, but I'm looking forward to some slower days, and time to think. I want to revisit Doors of New Jersey and see how I feel about it after a year. I want to edit the burst of writing I did last summer and fall, and add to it. As always, I want to write more openly, more affectively, more effectively.
More like these poems, which just went live in Quarterly West today. I'm going to refrain from telling you how many times "Bomb / Shell" has been rejected, but it's one that I couldn't let go. It's one that destabilizes me, and I want more of that, selfishly.
Wednesday, May 20 was the official launch for The Bone and the Body, and then I went to New York to read for The Atlas Review, so what I'm saying is that I'm totally exhausted but pleased and proud, and here is the link to purchase the book, and here it is on Goodreads, and the first 20 orders come with letterpress materials (made by me!), and I will write more about this all later.
I will also take pictures of my cat dressed as a bat, so, you know, don't worry.
My contributor copy of Parcel jst came in the mail, and I'm pretty excited to read it. The magazine is run by two Bama CFAs, which is cool, but it's also a carefully curated journal and I'm into that. "Golem" is one of the pieces of Doors of New Jersey that speaks most to questions of distance and proxy and fault.
I have spent some time this morning updating broken links and I realized that I never posted about some of my recent work, out there in the world, living quietly on the Internet. So, for you:
B tells me that blogging is "over," but I am only just now hearing about the phrase "on fleek," so I think I'll stay behind the times for a bit longer. Here's to saying things out loud.
Poems from The Bone and the Body appeared in Tarpaulin Sky Magazine today. I am pretty happy about it (is an understatement). I've been focused on Doors of New Jersey for the past year, so it's nice to return to the rhythm of these prose poems. This voice and these beachscapes still matter, still echo.
in Iliam /
I've been sending and receiving work to/from a friend, and last week I sent her everything that was left from what I had written since moving here. The end of August and the beginning of September were a tired time for me, and I wanted to give my friend everything so that I would have nothing to send. Yesterday I only managed a showing of a revised and expanded poem, but this morning I woke up and wrote for real, for real for real, and it has been really nice. My writing journal alerts me to the fact that I haven't written anything in it in a month. Self, I forgive you. If you want to read something else I wrote, here's a piece for Coldfront's Song of the Week series.
And here's a poem I wish I'd made more of a fuss about when it went live in the Nashville Review. It was one of the first things I wrote last fall while the conscious feeling of my book was sprouting, and it sat for a long time in a very different form, and I came back to it at the end and reworked it and reworked it. It was very frustrating. And then one day I came back to it again and sort of let it lead me where it wanted to go all along.
B and I finally made it to the Philadelphia Museum of Art yesterday, along with everyone else in town who wanted to go for free for First Sunday. It was crowded and somehow it felt like a hero's journey to get there and back, but I'm glad we did. Some pieces, like the giant Chagall ballet backdrop, I remembered. Some pathways through the contemporary collection, some sculptures I had passed when I was shorter, following somebody else around. I loved a painting by Roberto Matta, The Bachelors Twenty Years Later, and then we walked over to Duchamp's The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even, and then the last, Étant donnés, laid bare behind a wooden door. All these questions about experiencing a museum space, moving from art to art, I the viewer / the digester / the reader / the meaning-maker, and the artist points to me / the artist / in my looking and looks back through the glass / the door / the slash mark.
Then we found a room I didn't remember, Fifty Days At Iliam, a Homeric narrative stretched on canvas in long crayon lines. Was it at the museum when I was young? I don't remember. I stared at The Fire That Consumes All Before It for a long time. That depth of red. It made me think of my Bubbe, and I no longer care if it makes me a cheesy person to continue writing and thinking and talking about my dead grandmother. She was the person I followed through the museum space. I was very sad in that room, and that's the truth. Did she love that painting? I don't know.
I can tell the story about how she set me going as a writer, how she made me love art, and those are true stories. But I realized yesterday that part of my sadness is that she died before I ever got to have real conversations with her about art. That's the door I keep peering through.