“Emptiness of Air”

Wrote this piece after Typhoon Haiyan/ Yolanda devastated Tacloban City in the central Philippines. Read other pieces on the disaster on the Vela Magazine website.

Pericles lost his wife to a great emptiness of air, and water, and sound.  One moment, she was alive in the house with him. In the next, she had shifted somewhat. She still had the same form, the same face, but something had changed. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but he knew what had happened had happened. He also knew there was no going back. Whatever had happened to his wife had stolen her from him as surely as if she’d been abducted and lost to him forever.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Matthew Park’s Illustration for “The Freeze”

Lately, self has been writing science fiction in the apocalyptic vein.

She wrote a story called “The Freeze” which imagined a woman as the only survivor of a drastic temperature drop, who decides to abandon her home city of San Francisco and head south. Along the way, she encounters a band of teen-agers; they all somehow find each other while stumbling around in the dark. She joins their group. Keeping the Pacific Ocean to their right, the group heads for Mexico (What? You expected them to come up with a better plan? They’re all starving, freezing, and in semi-shock. Sorry, this was the best anyone could come up with)

The story’s been published on Bluestem (Spring 2015) but here’s the illustration Matthew Park did for self.

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.

TheFreezecover_concept02-3

Witness: The Trans/lation Issue (Spring 2015)

Where is self? She is here, right here:

Witness: The Trans/lation Issue, Launched at the AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis, April 2015

Witness: The Trans/lation Issue, Launched at the AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis, April 2015

This issue of Witness features writing from around the world. And self is more than proud to be in the same issue as:

  • Dario Belleza (translated from the Italian by Peter Covino)
  • Arthur Rimbaud (translated from the French by Donald Revell)
  • Hossein M. Abkenar (translated from the Persian by Sara Khalili)
  • Christos Chartomatsidis (translated from the Bulgarian by Velina Minkoff, Rayna Rossenova, and Borislava Velkova)
  • Moniru Ravanipour (translated from the Persian by Shirindokht Nourmanesh and Moniru Ravanipour)
  • Karl Ove Knausgaard (translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett)
YAY! Self made it! She is here!

YAY! Self made it! She is here!

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.

Two of Self’s Flash Were Published This Month (April 2015)

“The Ark” is in the Spring 2015 of Local Nomad, an e-zine edited by poet Jean Gier.

“I Am Cyclops” is in the inaugural issue of Nimbus Cat, edited by novelist (and writing group member) Lillian Howan.

Both are speculative fiction.

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.

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