Quoting from the Authors Guild Bulletin, Spring 2015

Oh the sheer joy of being surrounded by writers and an auditorium’s worth of books at the AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis.

One of the tables she visited today was the Authors Guild. Self is contemplating becoming a member.

She’s currently reading a copy of their latest Bulletin, which features an interview with Mary Rosenberger, Authors Guild’s new Executive Director.

Here’s her take on copyright and the digital world:

  • With new technologies, the means by which books are disseminated and read may change over time, and publishers may come and go, but you can’t have books without authors.
  • People like to read and, even with all the competing media, they will continue to read . . . Regardless of format . . . the need for professional writers isn’t going to disappear.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Bluestem, Spring 2015

Yay, Bluestem! They launched the spring issue at AWP 2015!

Here is the lovely Poetry Editor, Charlotte Pence, holding up a copy of the issue.

Self’s story of climate change, “The Freeze,” is in this issue. She just picked up her author’s copy today.

Exciting!

Charlotte Pence, Poetry Editor of Bluestem. Her poetry collection, MANY SMALL FIRES, was just published by Europa Press.

Charlotte Pence, Poetry Editor of Bluestem. Her poetry collection, MANY SMALL FIRES, was just published by Europa Press.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Thaw” by Luisa A. Igloria

Surprise, surprise, it snowed! In the late afternoon. Self was supposed to go to a reading, but with the snow and all, she chickened out.

Self is rooming with Luisa A. Igloria again. (We were roommates also last year at AWP Seattle) Luisa is very good at attending panels, which is great, because self has been holed up in her hotel room just reading, and if not for Luisa’s recaps she would be in a great blizzard of Know-Nothing.

Self totally bombed about attending the Karen Russell reading this evening. Luisa loved it.

Here’s a poem from Night Willow (Montreal: Phoenicia Publishing) one of two books Luisa had published in 2014 (The other is Ode to the Heart Smaller Than a Pencil Eraser)

Thaw

Warmer days. Light that fades later and later. Finally we can fling the
windows open. The clasps grate and rasp, like throats gargling salt
water first thing in the morning. Rooms crammed with more than
winter’s fat; eaves with bits of leaf and twig, blinds lined with ledgers
of dust. The drawers groan with socks and scarves, the pantry
shelves with unopened cans of beans. I want to scrub all the corners,
scour the tiles in the bathroom with bleach — even the stripes of
grout between each one. I want a pot of yellow strawflowers, a bowl
of blood-red tulips, nothing else but the mellow gleam of wood in
the middle of the room. I read about ascetics and what they chose
to renounce. Sometimes I think I want that. Sometimes I want to
be both the mountains emerging from their heavy robes of ice and
snow, and the streams they feed below, rushing and teeming with
color and new life. Sometimes I want to be the clear unflavored
envelope of agar, other times the small mouthful of sweet azuki bean
entombed like a heart in the center.

Luisa A. Igloria is the author of twelve books of poetry and numerous awards, including the 2014 May Swenson Poetry Prize and 2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize.

ANNAGHMAKERRIG: Rosita Boland

Flight Paths

The eighteenth century Swedish naturalist,
Carolus Linnaeus,
like Aristotle long before him,
was convinced
that swallows wintered underwater
in the riverbeds they nested on.

The truth is no less strange
small birds flying south to Africa
navigating only by the Pole Star;
a displacement of the elements either way —
like love, when it arrives overnight
and seemingly from nowhere.

Each time we waved the other off
at airports, we had to believe
what was traveling far
would survive to return by instinct
and seem again to have always been there,
swooping and soaring above our joyous heads.

Bolaño Again, Still Page 251 (Apparently Stuck on This Page FOREVER)

A few sentences prior, the protagonist had discovered that he still remembered how to make pork chops (What is it with writers and cooking? Self was similarly moved by Murakami’s protagonist cooking spaghetti in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle)

I learned to combine cooking with history. I learned to combine cooking with the thankfulness and confusion I felt at the kindness of so many people, from my late sister to countless others. And let me explain something. When I say confusion, I also mean awe. In other words, the sense of wonderment at a marvelous thing, like the lilies that bloom and die in a single day, or azaleas, or forget-me-nots. But I also realized this wasn’t enough. I couldn’t live forever on my recipes for ribs, my famous recipes. Ribs were not the answer. You have to change. You have to turn yourself around and change.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Roberto Bolaño, 2666, p. 251

And my life went on, with the same uncertainties and the same feeling of impermanence. The one day I realized there was one thing I hadn’t forgotten. I hadn’t forgotten how to cook. I hadn’t forgotten my pork chops. With the help of my sister, who was one of God’s angels and who loved to talk about food, I started writing down all the recipes I remembered, my mother’s recipes, the ones I’d made in prison, the ones I’d made on Saturdays at home on the roof of my sister, though she didn’t care for meat. And when I’d finished the book I went to New York and took it to some publishers and one of them was interested and you all know the rest. The book put me back in the public eye.

2666, and The Small Magazines That Deserve Your Attention

DSCN9077

At this point, self has to be realistic.  She has to own up to the fact that she will probably never get to p. 800 of Robert Bolaño’s masterwork. She’s been reading it for almost three months and has only gotten to p. 248. It is hardback, it is heavy. She borrowed it from the Redwood City Public Library ages and ages ago. It’s only the fourth book she’s read this year. For a while she was doing really well. January, in fact, was great.

Don’t get her wrong. Self loves Bolaño. She tore through The Savage Detectives in Bacolod, a few years ago. It made her go all elegiac over the Daku Balay (the Big House, you can see those posts if you enter the search item “Bacolod”). She did some of her best writing ever after reading that book.

Now, alas, the only discernible writing she’s produced since the start of the year is: one short story. (Nothing doing, she’s also written 40 chapters of fan fiction). Why why why?

This was supposed to be “her” year. The year she gets to:  Mendocino, Minneapolis, The Banff Writers Studio, and etc etc etc etc

Today, the writer Jill Widner gave her a shout-out after reading self’s story in the spring issue of Witness. Self did not know that Jill subscribed. Jill said that self’s story reminded her of something she had read in Ploughshares. Which was a compliment so vast it produced in self all kinds of feelz.

And further, today, self heard from Lillian Howan, a member of self’s San Francisco writers group. Lillian is editing a new magazine called Nimbus Cat. Nimbus Cat accepted a piece of hers for their inaugural issue, and it just so happened to come out today.

It is a tough and generous undertaking to start your own literary magazine. Lillian is a woman of many hats: mother, novelist, awesome friend. That she chooses to launch this venture is sheer crazy! But self means crazy in a “I-can’t-believe-how-awesome-and-generous-you-are” way.

Here are two other magazines that are small yet bountiful. Local Nomad is helmed by Jean Gier, who launched the Spring 2015 issue while negotiating a hectic move to Santa Cruz. Don’t ask self how.

And Elsewhere Lit is helmed by fabulous Nandini Dhar out of Miami, Florida. She teaches full-time, she just put out her chapbook, Lullabies are Barbed Wire Nations (exquisite), and yet she co-edits this magazine.

Let’s give these courageous women a big, big hand.

Finally, a magazine that has a big piece of her heart: Your Impossible Voice. Which just came out with Issue # 7. And has been doing more copies in print, which have been selling briskly.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Annaghmakerrig, Ireland

Before self left the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, Ireland, last May, they gave her a hardbound copy of a book called, simply, Annaghmakerrig. A compilation of the best of Irish literature, by writers who had all done residencies at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre.

She brought the book with her to Mendocino, and this evening she finally gets a chance to crack it open. She lets her fingers land on a random page, and finds a poem by Rita Ann Higgins:

Anything Is Better than Emptying Bins

 I work at the Post Office.
I hate my job,
but my father said
there was no way
I could empty bins
and stay under his roof.

So naturally,
I took a ten week
extra-mural course
on effective stamp-licking;
entitled
‘More lip and less tongue.’

I was mostly unpleasant,
but always under forty
for young girls
who bought stamps with hearts
for Valentine’s Day.

One day a woman asked me
could she borrow a paper-clip,
she said something about
sending a few poems away
and how a paper-clip
would make everything so much neater.

But I’ve met the make-my-poems-neater type before;
give in to her once,
and she’ll be back in a week asking,
‘Have you got any stamps left over?’

Well I told her where to get off.
‘Mrs. Neater-poems,’ I said,
‘this is a Post Office
not a friggin’ card shop,
and if you want paper-clips
you’ll get a whole box full
across the street for twenty-pence.’
Later when I told my father,
he replied,
‘Son, it’s not how I’d have handled it,
but anything is better than emptying bins.’

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Lydia Davis, “The Other”

From the Lydia Davis collection Almost No Memory (1997):

The Other

She changes this thing in the house to annoy the other, and the other is annoyed and changes it back, and she changes this other thing in the house to annoy the other, and the other is annoyed and changes it back, and then she tells all this the way it happens to some others and they think it is funny, but the other hears it and does not think it is funny, but can’t change it back.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Annotated Alice: The Mock Turtle’s Story (Chapter IX)

Funny how each of her residencies always seems to revolve around different types of books. She placed an order with Gallery Bookshop for The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition (Published by W. W. Norton) when she was last in Mendocino. The Annotated Alice is a beaut, with introduction and notes by Martin Gardner. So glad to have it in her personal collection.

Here’s how Chapter IX, “The Mock Turtle’s Story,” opens:

“You can’t think how glad I am to see you again, you dear old thing!” said the Duchess, as she tucked her arm affectionately into Alice’s, and they walked off together.

Alice was very glad to find her in such a pleasant temper, and thought to herself that perhaps it was only the pepper that had made her so savage when they met in the kitchen.

“When I’m a Duchess,” she said to herself (not in a very hopeful tone, though), “I won’t have any pepper in my kitchen at all. Soup does very well without — Maybe it’s always pepper that makes people hot-tempered,” she went on, very much pleased at having found out a new kind of rule, “and vinegar that makes them sour — and camomile that makes them bitter — and — and barley-sugar and such things that make children sweet-tempered. I only wish people knew that: then they wouldn’t be so stingy about it, you know — “

She had quite forgotten the Duchess by this time, and was a little startled when she heard her voice close to her ear. “You’re thinking about something, my dear; and that makes you forget to talk. I can’t tell you just now what the moral of that is, but I shall remember it in a bit.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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