Poetry Sunday: Diane Kirsten Martin

The following appeared in Crab Orchard Review’s The West Coast & Beyond issue, Summer/Fall 2014:

Contiguous

— by Diane Kirsten Martin

Don’t you wonder about the panhandler
On Fremont and Market, sharing his day’s
proceeds with his pink-nosed pit? Or

Frank Chu, with his sign of 12 Galaxies?
What about the World-Famous Bushman,
hiding behind the branch he shakes

at passers-by, or the matching — from pumps
to pillbox hats — Marian and Vivian Brown.
Who are they and who are you, starting out

from the glass eyes of your apartment?
Do you wake in a sweat on an October
night with stars, the moon a fat orange

and the temperature pushing 90
and remember a silver filigree ring buried
under the azalea, the mute orphan who lived

with his uncle, your father who gave you
the back of his hand? Do you, like Frank,
dream of aliens? I’ll bet the man on Fremont

dreams about Thunderbird and wakes up
as if he drank a whole bottle of fortified wine.
Nights like this, with windows wide, you can

hear the rush of the freeway, like the sound
of whitewater Ronald Reagan had piped
into his bedroom for insomnia. Nights like this

we lie naked, contiguous in this warm
ocean that flows around our back and breasts
our arms our throats our lips, necks, thighs.

  • Diane Kirsten Martin won the Erskine J. Poetry Prize from Smartish Pace and was included in Best New Poets 205.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Admiration 4: A List (Far From Complete)

OH NO! SELF ACCIDENTALLY DELETED HER OWN POST.

It happened while she was trying to expand on her reasons for assembling this particular mosaic of images to represent the week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge: ADMIRATION.

And she couldn’t find a previous saved version. Gaaaah! And in re-selecting images, she decided to stop at six instead of the eight she originally had. And she also substituted some images. Sorry for the confusion!

  1. Lady in Red: Ger, chef of Cork’s pre-eminent restaurant, Café Paradiso. Such a great chef, and also very direct and witty! Self loves Ger.
  2. Katniss Everdeen: Self-explanatory, really.
  3. Allison Joseph, co-editor with Jon Tribble of Crab Orchard Review. Fabulousness.
  4. The mother-daughter team who cook and manage Chez Mamie, 22 Hanway Street, London. They make London feel like home.
  5. SeaCity Museum, Southampton, England: Thank you to Joan McGavin, who took her here last year. What a great exhibit on the Titanic. While other cities lay claim to having the best exhibits on the tragedy, Southampton’s is so poignant because it focuses on the crew, most of whom were from this city. And therefore, the focus of the displays is on working-class people. Which makes this a much more layered story. In one gallery, there’s a map on the floor with red dots representing the houses of each of the victims. The dots are clustered around the poorer sections of the city.
  6. Last but not least: Nutschell Ann Windsor, Program Administrator for UCLA Extension’s on-line Writers Program. She is the best. She not only handles all requests with Zen calmness, she is a writer herself. And an editor. She’s holding an anthology she edited.

And now self will post before she accidentally deletes something again.

Stay tuned.

Allison Joseph, Crab Orchard Review Panel, AWP 2016

One of the thrills of 2016 AWP in Los Angeles was participating in a Crab Orchard Review panel on the West Coast & Beyond Issue.

That issue was the final volume in a series that focused on different regions of America (Geography = destiny. At least, self wholeheartedly believes so).

Self read last, from her story “Crackers.” It’s about an American who goes AWOL in the “wild mountain fastness of the Philippines,” acquires three wives and fathers 27 children. As self was reading at the panel, she found herself less nervous than she expected to be. Hallelujah!

Afterwards, sighing with relief that she didn’t make too many out-and-out gaffes (such as mis-pronouncing words, which is the trouble with writing stories filled with words one normally doesn’t utter during conversation), self happened to mention to someone in the audience that she’d tried for a long time to get into Crab Orchard Review, and she was so proud to have actually made it. Allison Joseph said, without missing a beat, “Because we were waiting for that story.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Victory Can Only Come After Struggle

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, VICTORY, posted on Friday morning. Right after that came news (from Twitter; self’s news always come from Twitter) about the Paris attacks.

It seemed very ironic, that the photo challenge urged us to think of the positive. The terrorists made that all seem like such a travesty.

Nevertheless. Nevertheless.

Here are some pictures that self needed to look at today. Reminders of the positive.

The inaugural issue of Irish lit mag Banshee was celebrated at the most recent Cork International Short Story Festival, in September. Self was so glad she attended the launch:

It is a perilous venture, the field of literary magazine publishing. But the young women who edit BANSHEE prove that the dream never dies.

It is a perilous venture, the field of literary magazine publishing. But the young women who edit BANSHEE prove that the dream never dies.

One of the most life-affirming and redemptive characters of recent fiction is, in self’s humble opinion, the baker of The Hunger Games. She only caught the symbolism today: Hunting doesn’t feed the belly, doesn’t sate it, to the degree that bread does. In the purported love triangle of the trilogy, there was never really any other choice for Katniss: Peeta Mellark rocks.

Self will mourn the passing of this franchise when the final film opens on Nov. 20. J-Hutch, you did a great job bringing Peeta Mellark to life!

Self will mourn the passing of this franchise when the final film opens on Nov. 20. J-Hutch, you did a great job bringing Peeta Mellark to life!

Finally, one of self’s favorite reads in 2015 was Crab Orchard Review’s West Coast and Beyond issue, which included a haunting short story by Lucy Jane Bledsoe. Self brought the issue with her to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, this past summer. Whenever her writing energy flagged, reading a bit from the Crab Orchard Review never failed to revive her inspiration:

Several of the contributors from the West Coast & Beyond issue will be participating in a panel during AWP 2016/ Los Angeles, end of March.

Several of the contributors from the West Coast & Beyond issue will be participating in a panel during AWP 2016/ Los Angeles, end of March.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Part 2 of Vanessa Hua’s “Accepted” (Crab Orchard Review, Vol. 19, No. 2: Summer/Fall 2014)

Self is hugely enjoying this story.

(Self has written her own Stanford stories, but OMG does Ms. Hua ever kill it)

Rodin Sculpture Garden, Stanford University

Rodin Sculpture Garden, Stanford University

Flipping open my binder, I found a flyer urging Stanford cadets to apply for the ROTC honor roll with the attached form and an unofficial transcript. A reminder I didn’t have grades, and wasn’t enrolled, a reminder I should give up and go home. Surviving day-to-day brought me no closer to becoming an official student. I imagined my father’s disappointment, my father’s words: ignominious, mendacious.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

These Characters Self Writes

Self adores FictionFeed.net for doing that piece on her. She’s started following them on Twitter.

The writer of the piece (on her story “First Life” in Juked) is listed simply as Curator. Here’s an excerpt:

No, the story isn’t particularly out of the ordinary, but its narrator (a boy by the name of Dragon) makes up for that in spades, with a wildly unusual voice and bendy-spoon perspective that basically defamiliarize the story’s world in its entirety.

Some time ago, self began writing stories about male characters on the edge, she’s not sure why.

Recently, she’s been thinking of another of her Male-Characters-on-the-Edge, from a story called “Crackers” that appeared in Crab Ochard Review’s The West Coast & Beyond Issue (Vol. 19, No. 2, which is also going to be the focus of a panel in next year’s AWP: Midwest Magazine Searches for West Coast Writers, YAY!).

Crab Orchard Literary Review's The West Coast & Beyond Issue (Vol. 19, No. 2, Summer/Fall 2014)

Crab Orchard Literary Review’s The West Coast & Beyond Issue (Vol. 19, No. 2, Summer/Fall 2014)

Hello, “Crackers” is speculative fiction, so of course crazy. Do not expect real-world Philippines, and you will be okay:

In December 2012, I finally emerged from the wild mountain fastness of the Philippines. My left shoulder had a tattoo of a python, my right a tattoo of a kris, the blade of choice of the mountain tribes. I wore a necklace of red parrot beaks. I spoke only in monosyllables. They said I was crackers.

They made me register at the Palo Alto VA for a psychiatric evaluation.

Thank you, Juked, thank you, Crab Orchard Literary Review, for taking a chance on self’s crazy writing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.