Poem-In-Progress Self Wrote on Twitter

Self has no idea what #PoemCrawl is. But in no way, shape or form did this prevent her from tweeting a nondescript poem last night. It goes:

An island. Notes written on an island.

An island big enough for games.

Where the death of Jesus sounds like today’s headlines.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Work-in-Progress: Short Story

Monica knew how to laugh! She knew how to enjoy her life! She would never sit at home like her mother, with her nose buried in a book.

– “Things She Can Take” a work-in-progress

Self Wrote the Libretto for a Two-Act Opera!

Self wrote the libretto for a two-act opera.

Self doesn’t watch opera. But she is never one to let a little thing like not knowing anything stop her from writing!

Self’s composer/collaborator, Drew Hemenger, is sick, as self was before she left California. A few shots of chili-laced Szechuan soup near Harvard Square and she’s all better!

The world premiere of The Marife Suite is this Saturday, in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Boston is freezing cold. Self tried walking around Harvard Square this morning. CRAAAAP! She didn’t even make it five blocks. The wind and — ugh, ugh, ugh! Lips are chapped! Yikes! Hands look like wrinkled prunes!

She’s switching all her fan fiction (the ones that had Peeta as a Harvard undergrad) to Palo Alto.

So glad. Just so glad she chose to study in Palo Alto, where giant palm trees line the broad avenues etc. May the Heavens preserve us, she just can’t take this bitter Boston cold.

Self brought with her the libretto for The Making of the Representative for Planet 8, the opera by Philip Glass and Doris Lessing. Believe it or not, reading this libretto, six years ago, was what started self thinking that maybe, just maybe, she could pull this one off. Maybe she could actually write a full-length opera.

Lessing’s libretto combines two of self’s most enduring interests: science fiction and terse language. Here’s an excerpt from Act II Scene 4:

BELOW THE WALL

The people stand huddled together, waiting. Beside them is a great heap of insulating material.

The People (variously)
Like coats for houses.
In this new time of ours buildings must wear coats and skins.
Like us.

They sink down into the snow. Sit listlessly. Some go off to sleep.

Reading the above, self wonders how much of her story The Freeze, the one that’s coming out in Bluestem Magazine (It’ll be on sale at the AWP Book Fair. Yeessss!), consists of lingering echoes from The Representative for Planet 8. In self’s story, the temperature drops overnight, everything stops working, every living thing dies — except for huddled bands of starving people, who decide to head south.

Her story follows one intrepid band (teen-agers and one very old woman) who decide to follow Highway 1 to Mexico.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Local Nomad

Local Nomad took self’s Biblical Revisionist Story “The Ark.”

YAY YAY YAY YAY!

The editor called it “lovely and disturbing.”

Here are their submission guidelines.

Stay tuned.

 

Am Reading: Maureen Eppstein’s Poetry

Greensboro, North Carolina: Marsh Street Press, 2007

Greensboro, North Carolina: Marsh Street Press, 2007

Curves

by Maureen Eppstein

Head down against the wind,
surf pounding to my right, I notice
the pattern the sand makes
as it blows along the beach,
filling in footprints,
covering chevron streaks
left by the falling tide.
The sand moves
like smoke from a chimney,
or water-weed in a smoothly flowing stream,
or the curve — I forget its name —
drawn by tying a pencil
to a thread unwinding from a spool.
There are connections here.
My mind struggles clumsily, glimpsing
an elegance I long to comprehend.

Maureen Eppstein is a New Zealander now living in Mendocino, California, where she helps run the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Metamorphosis Generator

From A Work-in-Progress:

The Jaguar I know is a bit much. Especially for the country. But Wolfgang must have his toys. The Jaguar, the helicopter, the espresso/ice cream machine, the Jacuzzi with 20 different spurt settings, the 80-inch flat-screen HDTV, the four-foot Bose speakers, the laser wrinkle removers, the Do-It-Yourself Botox injectors and hair implantation devices, the state-of-the-art dollar-printing mechanism, the 3D Alternate Universe Hologram, the foot-high platform shoes with the massage feature, the metamorphosis generator . . .

Once, he trapped a fly in the metamorphosis pod, and what emerged was a woman with wondrous, bulbous dark eyes and gossamer hair.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Symmetry 5: The Mendocino Headlands

Such a gorgeous day! Tonight is self’s talk on Flash Fiction at The Mendocino Hotel.

She walked along the bluffs, just to let her mind organize her ideas.

She’s having different people read her short shorts, and then she’s throwing in two more: the piece that appeared in Vela Magazine right after Typhoon Haiyan, and Shirley Ancheta’s piece “Kristine,” in Going Home to a Landscape (Calyx Press, 2003)

In the meantime, here are some pictures she took of the Headlands, with an eye to the WordPress Photo Challenge this week, SYMMETRY.

Standing on the bluffs, just off Main Street, earlier today

Standing on the bluffs, just off Main Street, earlier today

A Wider Perspective

A Wider Perspective

Port of Richmond, on the last day of the Codex International Book Fair, Feb. 11, 2015

Port of Richmond, on the last day of the Codex International Book Fair, Feb. 11, 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Place, Memoir, Journey” Workshop, This Saturday & Sunday

Self’s primary purpose in coming here to Mendocino is to teach a workshop. A travel writing workshop. A workshop on writing about place. About a physical location. Something that exists. And damn self is going to make the students write as hard as they can. Write write write write write write, dear students. The funny thing about travel writing is: you’re writing about place, but you’re also writing about memory. And damn we will mine those memories to the max, dear students! Especially those of you who arrive in Mendocino from far away. From, say, Louisville! So, in order to prepare the students for this wonderful two-day hard writing weekend, self has been immersing herself in manuscripts. She’s looked at Zack Linmark’s Leche, which is tremendously inspiring for voice work. And she’s reading Tony Robles’s about-to-be-published manuscript Cool Don’t Live Here No More, which is amazing for being about a specific place that he loves so much: San Francisco, South of Market (which may be disappearing under the onslaught of construction and high-tech companies moving in)

She’s also reading the absolutely heartbreaking memoir by Sonali Deraniyagala, Wave. Deraniyagala lost her entire family in the tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004. She lost her parents, her husband, and her two sons. And everyone told her: You’re so lucky you survived! Which just goes to show, people are stupid when it comes to pain. They either don’t feel it, or they feel it but they don’t want to feel it so they fight it and end up doing things like telling a woman whose entire life has been wiped out in one day: Thank the Lord you survived!

She’s also reading Thomas Lynch, who’s a poet but also an undertaker and also a memoir writer. She’s reading Nandini Dhar’s Lullabies are Barbed Nations. She wishes she had something by Atul Gawande and Abraham Verghese but after all, she could not bring her whole personal book collection to Mendocino. She’s still reading Roberto Bolaño and on the basis of the individual sentence, he is amazing. She thinks he has one sentence that goes on for two pages (Translator Natasha Wimmer, self salutes you) She will include the first page of her story “Rufino,” because it’s so far the only one of her short stories that mentions Neil Young. And Luisa Igloria’s poem “Oir” from her collection The Saints of Streets. And that’s as far as she’s taken her reading list at the moment. Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Masters of Style: A List

Self is teaching a two-day class on travel writing this weekend.

The great thing about teaching is, it makes you ponder your own predilections.

Because unless you yourself are very clear about the kind of writing you favor, you will never, in self’s humble opinion, be able to communicate anything worthwhile to your students.

These are the writers whose books have stayed longest in self’s head and heart. Some have only written one book. Doesn’t matter. The point is, their names have become part of self’s font of inspiration.

Debra Ginsberg * Kyoko Mori * Chang-rae Lee * Annie Ernaux * Tim Parks * Ron Carlson * Alison Moore * Mo Yan * Thomas Lynch * V. S. Naipaul * Gish Jen * Deborah Digges * Paul Theroux * Kathryn Harrison * Jason Elliott * W. G. Sebald * Nina Berberova * Peter Hessler * Michael Herr * Ruth Reichl * Tony Horwitz * Elmore Leonard * Brian Hall * Nicholson Baker

(Aaargh, list is getting long! Perhaps she’ll do a Part 2 later)

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Reflections, Yesterday

Feb. 12, 2015: Saw this outside the Stanford Bookstore.

Feb. 12, 2015: Saw this outside the Stanford Bookstore.

It was warm yesterday! While walking around the Stanford University campus, self saw that someone had stuck glittery red hearts around the planter box in front of the Bookstore. The Post Office looked exactly the same. They’re tearing down Meyer. Which means self will have to re-write the stories she’s set there. Yes, she does have stories set in Meyer Library.

The students she spoke to yesterday certainly made her think. Yes, she told them, the stories in Mayor of the Roses were written while she worked at Stanford at various administrative jobs.

Did you ever go to The Bridge (24-hour free counseling service on campus), someone asked. Of course! self replied. Didn’t everybody?

Self told the students that she had a more recent story about the Bridge, but in tone the story is as different from the one in Mayor of the Roses as night and day. In self’s story, which appeared in Waccamaw, the Bridge is a counseling hot-line called 1-800-U-R-Saved. The story is “Bridging.”

She talked about her Creative Writing Program years, and how she felt at the time she wrote the stories in the collection. She really really wanted to take a picture of Professor Miner’s copy of Mayor of the Roses because it was completely marked up. Notes on the margins, arrows pointing every which way. Looked like a piece of post-modern art.

She told the students she was writing science fiction now.

The time was really too short.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

« Older entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,260 other followers