cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (neon sign)
Bogi Takács ([ profile] prezzey) recently featured my poem "Golden Age" in eir #diversepoems recommendations on Twitter. Knowing how much Bogi appreciates bonus notes, I thought now would be an excellent time to elaborate on my poem, which originally appeared in Devilfish Review.

A note about the venue: Okay, coolest name ever! And some kind of cephalopod on their banner? I was sold! But when I read the editors' profiles, I realized they too are from the Rio Grande Valley. That definitely influenced my decision to send them "Golden Age."

I titled this poem "Golden Age" because I thought a certain type of science fiction becomes really appealing when one is first coming to understand mortality, specifically the mortality of our older loved ones.

Diabetes runs in my family. The grandmother I grew up with had Type 2 and her brother had Type 1. He needed regular injections, and the needles frightened me. I don't actually remember him doing the blood test strips, but he'd already lost an eye from diabetes complications. His glass eye was another fright to me, especially when he didn't have it in the socket or he took it out to tease us kids. Not understanding the difference between the two diabetes and seeing the common problems they caused my grandmother and her brother, I had a constant background worry that my grandma would get "as bad" as him. (And, in fact, she did have a host of health problems, related and not to the diabetes.)

Bogi mentioned the code-switching in the poem, and honestly, I had to go back to see what I'd done. I knew I'd used Spanish, but I'd forgotten how I'd had the child and Abuela go back and forth from English to Spanish, the give and take that was necessary to have that conversation between a mostly English-speaking Latina child and her mostly Spanish-speaking grandmother. That bilingual waltz was so ingrained in my childhood--and continues to this day between me and my mother-in-law--that it naturally emerged in the poem.

I had a difficult relationship with my grandma. In my opinion, she was not a good mother and she was unfairly thrust into the role a second time when my parents separated and she became responsible for us kids most of the time. I've written unhappy, even angry things about Gram, so I was glad to write a small, intimate remembrance that condenses the tender moments we shared.
cafenowhere: teacup brimming with mysterious violet liquid (psychedelic tea)
I'm pleased to report that my poem "Levity" has been accepted for issue 6 of Through the Gate. "Levity" is a short, whimsical, non-angsty piece, and I look forward to sharing it with you. :)
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (drink me)
The deadline for Rhysling nominations is Feb 15. I'm very grateful to see "Una Canción de Keys" among the long-form nominees. Thank you, Bogi!

Thanks also to everyone who provided eligibility posts, which made it much easier for me to remember when and where I read your poetry. (My depression affects my memory, so if you're still sheepish about doing eligibility posts, consider it a matter of providing equal access for some disabled readers.) No doubt I've still missed important, impressive work, especially if it appeared solely in print. I've also enjoyed much work not listed below. (Some were already on the ballot; some were by folks already much acclaimed/recognized; etc.)

I've indicated the poems I'm nominating with an asterisk. I've grouped the poems as long or short, but I only eyeballed line counts, so please verify the proper category when nominating.

Short Works

It's a Universal Picture by Gwynne Garfinkle in Mythic Delirium*
The devil riding your back by Gabby Reed in Liminality (Her first poetry sale!)
You Are Here by Bogi Takács in Strange Horizons (already nominated, but I can't help but point to it again, emphatically; this poem is emblematic of what spec poetry can do and should be celebrated)
The rivers, the birch groves, all the receding earth by Rose Lemberg in Strange Horizons
After the Mistress of the Copper Mountain by Rose Lemberg in Through the Gate [I'd originally put this in the Long category, but I was wrong]
The Nerve Harp by Mat Joiner in Stone Telling
Coyolxauhqui by Nelly Geraldine García-Rosas in Stone Telling
Nisei by Beth Cato in Mythic Delirium

Long Works

Scales by Ruth Jenkins in Stone Telling (Truly, I don't know if this fits in the long or short category [ETA: according to this blog post, "Scales" really is a Long poem.] Like Bogi's "You Are Here," this poem is a stunning example of what spec poetry can do when poets utilize the technology available to us; not sure how this could possibly be reproduced in the Rhysling anthology, but it's NOT to be missed!)
The Martyr of Baikonur by India Valentin in Liminality (another first-time poetry sale, iirc)
Feather by Mari Ness in Goblin Fruit
Demands Mari Ness in Goblin Fruit*
A Summoning of Monsters Jack Hollis Marr in Liminality
Long Ear Sofia Samatar in Stone Telling

So much poetry goodness out there! Enjoy. 
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (silver teapots)
Currently Reading: I'm finally making progress again with On the Rim of Mexico: Encounters of the Rich and Poor. I left it on a side table the other day and JJ had to move it for some reason, whereupon he exclaimed, "Wow, you're reading the hell out of this book." Because of the number of Post-It notes bristling the pages. (I use one color to indicate a note for the Border Blaster novel and a different color to indicate a general note to self, except for the brief time I lost said Post-It pads and had to sub two other colors, before rediscovering the "lost" pads.) I've gotten past the economic discussion that dragged at me, and the second half of the book covers immigration, la migra, the drug wars, and environmental destruction, which should be easier for me to digest.

Because I needed a bedtime book, I started reading Valley of Bones by Michael Gruber, the second in a series of thrillers starring Cuban-American detective Jimmy Paz. From page one there's the completely immersive level of detail that I admired in the first Paz novel, but some of the characterization is a little too "on the nose" for me, interrupting the dream. I'm interested to see how Gruber handles the sequel-itic difficulties (how much to repeat, to flash back or not, how to work around lost characters).

And, still reading aloud Mouseheart to Tweetie. :)

Just Finished: When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz. This is one of those first collections that you feel hissing on the back of your neck: "Look on me and despair!" I mean, really, who the fuck comes out of the gate looking so good? Some of her brother poems do lose impact from being reprinted alongside stronger ones, but just when I thought I couldn't stand to hear about her tragic, infuriating brother any more, I came to "No More Cake Here," a giddy daydream of celebrating her brother's death with a beautiful twist that both does and doesn't relieve her guilt.

(Also repetitive, when brought together, Diaz's references to Lorca)

The book is divided into three sections (the title poem appears first in an unnumbered section). I'd say section 1 is about reservation life, section 2 about her family and specifically her meth-addicted brother, and section 3 is about the wider world. Section 3 felt weakest to me (which isn't saying a lot, with a writer as strong as Diaz), with several poems I could imagine anyone writing, not only Diaz. But section 3 also had the poems that made me laugh aloud, "Orange Alert" and "A Wild Life Zoo." She really can do it all: make you laugh and cry; shake your fists or shake your head. She wields prose poems, lyrics, narratives, vignettes, formal poetry and free verse, all with enviable skill. I can't wait for her next collection--which, last I read, was tentatively scheduled for this year.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (book)
Currently Reading: a book of poetry, When My Brother Was an Aztec, which is Natalie Diaz's first collection. I should have finished by now. It's not long and it's very good, but I'm in an emotional slump where if I'm not working, I'm sleeping. So I still have part 3 to read.

Something that I've been thinking about as I read (only tangentially, if that, related to Diaz's work): Why do poems end where they do? Probably everyone has had the experience of reading a longish poem and turning the page, expecting more, only to find there's just a few words left. It's disorienting, and it doesn't happen just because of page formatting.

When the poem has a narrative thread, it's easier to understand why it stops where it does. If it's formal verse, then usually it's obvious why it ends even if you wish for it to go on, and good poems often do leave us wanting more.

But if a poem isn't narrative or formal, then what? I look for a realization or wisdom bestowed. I seek crystallization, a sense that the poem has finally gathered itself into its most potent terms, or a crescendo of emotion. When I don't see these things, I wonder what I'm missing. Do our brains operate so differently that I don't see/feel what the poet's put on the page? Or do they have a drastically different aesthetic philosophy, and they don't think what I'm looking for makes for a proper ending? (Here I'm assuming competency; incompetency reveals itself much earlier than the last lines.)

Theories welcome. Nay, encouraged! Tell me what makes for a satisfying conclusion in a poem.

Also Currently Reading: I continue reading Mouseheart with Tweetie and I continue to enjoy it.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (studying)
Not much reading for me this week. I'm pushing through another revision of my border blaster novel so I can send it to my agent (soon) for feedback.

I finished reading Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros, and I'm glad I did, because some of my favorite poems came at the end. I especially liked those in which the poet addressed her female friends, who sound every bit as wild as she is.

Still reading The Fast and the Furriest to Tweetie over breakfast every school day.

Unable to engage the right part of my brain to process On the Rim of Mexico, I turned to Gemma Files' A Book of Tongues, which was exactly the right thing to do. Like Patty Templeton's There Is No Lovely End, this is weird North American Civil-War era historical fantasy. I've long wanted to read A Book of Tongues, which is the first in Gemma's Hexslinger series, but there's a benefit to being so slow: I don't have to wait for the other books to be published! Knowing there's more, I sink into the pages like I sink into a hot bath, sighing with relief and pleasure.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (book)
When I traveled to Texas for my sister's wedding, I took two small, easy to transport paperbacks to keep me from fretting overmuch in the airports. One was Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros, which I believe is her second collection of poetry. The poems are short, so I plowed through about half the book before my brain felt too full of thrilling turns of phrase and genius word choices. The themes are repetitive--a little too fiery for my tastes, especially since they tend toward self-immolatory passions. Which sounds weird coming from me, but... Maybe without grounding context, the passion is too easy to read as melodrama, or romancing martydom? In any case, I'd be happy to finish the book eventually.

The other book was Tropic of Night by Michael Gruber, which was recommended at one of the many "How to (not) Write the Other" panels I've attended, as an example of a white writer doing all right by his POC characters and subject matter. Whereas some folks want an easy breezy read on vacation, I was hooked by the main characters' attention to details. I read a lot of this crime novel (it's no mystery who the murderer is, ever) when I wasn't at the airport; in fact, whenever I needed a break from socializing I picked it up. I'd read it before settling to sleep, too, which gave me a deliciously uncanny experience: I was actually a little unnerved after I turned out the light! I am a huge horror fan, and I'm almost never creeped out by books anymore, so this was a welcome surprise. The creep-out factor doesn't come from the gore, although there's a good amount of that, but because Gruber does an excellent job of showing how an intelligent, highly educated American woman's stubborn rationalism cedes to belief in ritual magic. As I said in my Goodreads review, I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Upon returning home, I returned to There Is No Lovely End by Patty Templeton. This is the Gothic Americana historical fantasy I've been wanting to read for YEARS. Patty's refreshing take on Sarah Winchester moves beyond the long-prevailing "sorrowing hysteric" caricature of the Widow Winchester and her insane house. Equally enthralling are Patty's original characters: criminal brothers Hennet and Walleye; the awful but kinda awesome hellion Hester (she prays neither to God nor the Devil but to HERSELF) and her besotted stalker, a dandy journalist who hangs himself to get her attention, then follows her around in ghost form for years; Hester's ghost-beloved but beleagured son Nathan who's targeted for murder almost the whole book through; traveling medicine man Reverend Enton Blake...not to mention all the animals and houses, all with their own personalities, living or dead. And Patty ties all the story threads together into a deeply satisfying conclusion. It may not be a Lovely End, but I loved it anyway.

No progress on On the Rim of Mexico, but Tweetie and I are continuing with The Fast and the Furriest.

A couple of online story recommendations:
excerpt from "Furious Angels," from the collection We Will All Go Down Together by Gemma Files. I was actually a little mad when I got to the end and remembered "Shit, yeah, excerpt." I definitely need the book now.

"The Husband Stitch" by Carmen Machado. A little funny, a little spooky with its callbacks to urban legends aplenty, sometimes sexy, a lot heartbreaking. It's one of those stories that looks so easy and yet, no one does it like Machado.

"Silent Snow, Secret Snow" by Conrad Aiken. Given my age, my first thought was "Any relation to Joan Aiken?" And yup, her father. This is a perfect creepy story for when the wind turns cold and winter lurks around the corner.

What do you look for in a vacation read? Or, if that's too far-afield for you right now, what are your favorite Halloween-y stories?
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (bloody drinking)
I am giving away two copies of my collection, The Haunted Girl, through Goodreads. Click the cover to enter the drawing! And please, spread the word!

haunted girl cover

This contest ends October 31, 2014 and is limited to Goodreads members in the US and Canada. If there's enough interest, I may do another giveaway that's open to (more) international readers.

You can also purchase the book directly from Aqueduct Press or Amazon.

And you can ask your public library to acquire the book. Requesting the book can be especially important if you believe your library collection needs more diversity!
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (book)
How is it Wednesday again?! Life is like a toddler that keeps running away from me, and sometimes I'm just too weary to give chase.

With the exception of the continued read-aloud with Tweetie (Rising Storm by Erin Hunter), most of my reading this past week has been of short forms.

I finished reading Grace Notes, Rita Dove's fourth collection of poetry. I'd read single works of hers in American Poetry Review in the past, but this was my first time reading a collection. The book begins with memories of youth and concludes with insight into old age. Dove is a poet of surgical precision. Few of these pieces are more than a page long, and several are sonnets or sonnet-like.

The problem, for me, with the surgical approach is that it involves emotional distance. I sense the intensity behind these distillations, but couldn't always share that emotion. The sigils didn't mean the same to me as to Dove, perhaps. Sometimes I had no idea what the poem was even about, which was strange, to be surrounded by recognizable details yet not know where I was. (Maybe like walking into the "your" apartment in the wrong building of the complex.) Rarely was there lyrical lushness that allowed me to get lost in words and rhythms for their own sake. The poems that really sang to me, as [ profile] snowy_owlet might say, were about childhood, parenting, or strong narratives about family. There, the sigils lined up.

Online, I read a marvelous translation: "Cefalea" (Headache) by Julio Cortázar, translated by Michael Cisco. I haven't read the original story, but the translation feels accurate. I loved the homeopathic neepery as the narrator attempts to maintain order in a disintegrating situation, and the cumulative effect is very satisfying. At first, you won't understand what the hell is going on, but stick with it. Highly recommended!

Now I am reading an ARC of Tell My Sorrows to the Stones, a short story collection by Christopher Golden. I bought the ARC at a fundraiser at WisCon. According to Goodreads, Golden has written approximately three zillion books, so it's no surprise that the prose is polished and the stories well-crafted. I really like when Golden writes about work. I'm about halfway through the book, and already I've "been" a miner, a clown, and a National Guardsman. And amazingly, the story with the Guardsman was about patrolling the US-Mexico border and did NOT piss me off.

(Though Golden describes the Sonoran Desert as land so ugly even the Texas Rangers never worried much about it, when I'm pretty sure the Rangers ignored it because it's nowhere near Texas. I'd hope an editor caught that before the final version, but since the story was a reprint, I kind of doubt it.)

My main complaint so far is that whenever a sexy lady shows up, you can bet things will go bloody. The conclusion of "The Art of the Deal" was so grossly, misogynistically unfair to the sole female character, I had to put the book down for a while. "Thin Walls" pissed me off, too. (Newsflash: Women can be sexy and enjoy sex without being evil!) Skip those stories if you can.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (bloody drinking)
I am ELATED to announce that my first collection, The Haunted Girl, will be published by Aqueduct Press as part of its Conversation Pieces series!

The Haunted Girl includes some of my earliest poetry and fiction publications (dating back to 1998!), as well as more recent works originally published in venues such as Weird Tales, Strange Horizons, and Stone Telling. The book also will include five previously unpublished poems and a brand new story: "Bilingual, or Mouth to Mouth."

The Haunted Girl should be available for purchase, as a paperback and e-book, in late summer or early fall. More details when I've got them!
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (coffee wtf)

Originally published at Stone Telling blog. You can comment here or there.

Our interviewee today is Lisa M. Bradley, who contributed to the Body issue with her poem “Teratoma Lullaby“. Lisa’s nonfiction essay “Listening to the Lost, Speaking for the Dead: Speculative Elements in the Poetry of Gabriela Mistral” has appeared in the very first issue of Stone Telling, followed by “Litanies in the Dark: The Poetry of Alfonsina Storni” in the second issue. Lisa also had two other pieces of poetry published by us, Embedded (issue 9) and another poem of epic length, “we come together we fall apart” (ST7: the Queer Issue), which was nominated for the Rhysling award and was reprinted in Here, We Cross.

Lisa M. Bradley

Lisa M. Bradley resides in Iowa with her spouse, child, and two cats. She has poetry forthcoming in Mythic Delirium, Strange Horizons, and In Other Words. The “someone bewitched…more bear than man” in “Teratoma Lullaby” is named Art. Art’s story, “The Pearl in the Oyster and The Oyster Under Glass,” can be found in the Fungi anthology from Innsmouth Free Press.

I knew someone bewitched
enchanted, shifted—
more bear than man.
When I told him about my twin
he stroked his paw down my back
so so gently
(lest his invisible claws rip my skin)
and asked if my twin might not be
a sister.

- from Teratoma Lullaby

ST: What inspired this particular poem? What would you like readers to know about your context, and how it relates to your poem? A friend of mine was participating in Haiku Mondays, and one week her prompt was “teratoma.” I’ve been fascinated with the phenomenon of teratomas since I read Stephen King’s The Dark Half, and the topic lent itself to some stylistic experiments I wanted to try, so I started writing  “Teratoma Lullaby.” I’ve felt at war with my body since childhood, and the invisible illnesses I’ve developed over time have amplified my frustrations. The poem began as an intellectual exercise but quickly morphed into a weird rebus for that sense of not cohering within my self, and the perhaps concomitant desire to excise certain memories and emotions.

ST: Is the Body a central theme in your work? If so, what other works of yours deal with it? If not, what called you to it this time? I come to speculative poetry from a horror background, so yes. Horror is obsessed with the Body, which can be a battleground for competing forces (as in my poem “The Haunted Girl”) or a model of systemic failures (as in “In Defiance of Sleek-Armed Androids”), just to name two modes of body horror. In my work, the Body’s state reflects the Mind’s (“we come together we fall apart”). My characters often inventory the Body out of their desire to impose order (“The Skin-Walker’s Wife” and my Exile novels.)

ST: What else would you like to tell our readers about your poem? My grandmother sang the song in “Teratoma Lullaby” to my little sister, to the tune of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” The metaphasis “Buenos nachos” in place of “buenas noches” is a family joke, though I used it to different effect in the poem.

ST: Do you have any upcoming projects you might like to talk about? I had an(other) epic poem appear in Strange Horizons recently: Una Canción de Keys. (I write short poems, too, I really do.) I am also writing a series of blog posts, “Writing Latin@ Characters Well,” that I hope to continue, time and RSI permitting.

ST: Thank you very much, Lisa!


If you enjoyed this poem and the interview, please consider letting the poet know! Also, we now have a Patreon page, and would appreciate your support.

cafenowhere: teacup brimming with mysterious violet liquid (psychedelic tea)
The bountiful BODY issue of Stone Telling is now live! I am so honored that my poem "Teratoma Lullaby" is appearing alongside work by Sofia Samatar, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Emily Jiang, Jaymee Goh, Sonya Taaffe, and so many other immensely talented poets. Sofia's poem, "Long-Ear," is a retelling of a Somali story, terrifying and tragic and tender, too. Alex's poem, "Bowl," is based on an archaeological find, one of a series that I can't wait to see in collection form. And this is a double issue of ST, so there's even more to admire than before.

Also, for new readers who might appreciate an updated bibliography, here are links to the three poems I had published in 2013. I'll add these to the biblio section of my user profile page, too.

embedded, Stone Telling 9 (includes audio of me reading the poem)

Riveted, Flying Higher: An Anthology of Superhero Poetry, ed. Shira Lipkin and Michael D. Thomas

Hello Kitty, Hello Blood, Lakeside Circus 1
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (jack skellington)
Happy news to share this Monday morning! My long poem "Una Canción de Keys" has been accepted for publication in Strange Horizons. This is the poem I read at the Spindles and Spitfire reading at WisCon in May.

Other pleasing events from this weekend: the apple chutney I made on Friday night; the chocolate cake JJ and Tweetie made, also on Friday night; the spaghetti squash we had for dinner last night; (are you detecting a pattern?); buying two pumpkins for decoration, one a Cinderella variety, the other painted light purple and dusted with white glitter; watching Star Trek Into Darkness with JJ on Saturday night; watching Room 237 while JJ snickered on Sunday night.

Room 237 is a documentary about people's theories regarding Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, everything from the semi-plausible notions that the movie is "really" all about the Holocaust or the genocide of Native American tribes to the bizarre "explanation" that Kubrick was confessing his role in the supposedly staged footage of the Apollo 11 moon landing. I love The Shining, and it's about time to watch it again, but I love it for the cinematography and how Kubrick subverted the concept of the traditional horror movie. So my favorite part of the documentary was not the conspiracy theories, but the demonstration of what happens when one watches the movie forwards and backwards at the same time, that is, running the movie beginning-to-end while superimposing on it the movie end-to-beginning. For me, what becomes clear from that experiment is how precisely Kubrick selected his camera angles, and how consistently. The method is a very literal-minded version of how many (most?) critics analyze works: fold the works over on themselves to see where the correspondences lie.

Another point of obsession for many of the people interviewed in Room 237 is, not surprisingly, numbers. How the number 42 shows up x number of times, or how 237 corresponds to the distance to the moon, etc. I considered how I run certain of my stories and poems through to create word clouds and realized it's a preemptive version of the same thing: I'm looking for unintended repetitions and whether or not the themes (or proto-themes) are represented in the words that frequently appear, ensuring that my form follows my function, if you will. A quantitative approach to a qualitative process.

A much less pleasant aspect to my weekend was the miserable headache that's persisted for about a week now. It's a bit better today--I haven't had to take any medicine yet--but if it's still a problem tomorrow, I'll have to head to the doctor. I've had migraine symptoms, but I suppose it could be a sinus infection also or instead.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (studying)
Every morning over breakfast, I read aloud to Tweetie. Right now we're between books, so I picked out some poems from an old issue of American Poetry Review, including some really delightful translations by Matthew Rohrer of the Iranian/Persian poet Hafiz. Here's one.

Might as well spend money
on wine instead of new clothes

Might as well pour all the wine on these books

Might as well get drunk in a bar

Might as well pour myself
a tearful glass of fire

Might as well stop dreaming
of heaven, legless

Might as well unlearn
the smell of your hair

   I am old.

Here's another.

I poured out my heart
to her in a letter
I said it was the end of the world

I said my face is wet with tears
and that's my best feature

What a waste of time
How many of the ancients' love poems
actually worked?

...I knew it would be embarrassing
to be seen walking around
outside her apartment

   I went to the bar.

Because Tweetie is learning Japanese, she's aware of the vagaries of translation. Still, we were both stunned to learn that the translator has never read Hafiz in his original language. He's read multiple translations and kind of distilled them into his own version. Rohrer paraphrases another poet, Matthew Zapruder: "translating a poem works, despite all the ways in which it doesn't, because of the way a poem moves. The way the mind in a poem moves. That movement can be translated. So even the Hafiz translations that are 'real'...are translations of the movement of Hafiz's mind, not his music, not all those things poets do that set them apart from their contemporaries."

Much as I enjoy these versions of Hafiz's poetry, I am wary of the erasure of the craftsmanship that "set him apart from his contemporaries," as well as the particulars of his time and place that get brushed aside in pursuit of this more "universal" experience. It is both wonderful to partake of something so familiar in an unexpected place, and distressing to think what is lost to attain that particular strand of familiarity.

But to make another connection, Rohrer's theory of poem/mind movement reminds me a distinction between royal science and nomadic science articulated by Deleuze and Guattari. What they call nomadic science, "uses a hydraulic model, rather than being a theory of solids treating fluids as a special case; ancient atomism is inseparable from flows, and flux is reality itself, or consistency." So, "The model in question is one of becoming and heterogeneity, as opposed to the stable, the eternal, the identical, the constant."

The traditional method of translation, which relies on word substitution and attempts to replicate a form, would be the royal science here. Whereas Rohrer's attempt to recreate the flow of a poem would be the nomadic science. "
One does not represent, one engenders and traverses. This science is characterized less by the absence of equations than by the very different role they play: instead of being good forms absolutely that organize matter, they are “generated” as “forces of thrust” by the material, in a qualitative calculus of the optimum."

I sense also an implication regarding the difference between heritage speakers and those who are fully fluent in a second language, but I don't have the expertise to suss that out.
cafenowhere: frog, arms crossed, sitting on a rock (chillin)
The skies were good for stargazing on two of the four nights of our retreat. We could see the Milky Way, and the first night, I spotted four or five shooting stars, plus what I suspect was the ISS, because as it trucked along its path, it flared really brightly for maybe 15 seconds. I thought it was getting ready to crash to earth. While I was trying to decide whether to run for my life, it dulled down and continued on its way. I'd never seen a satellite do that before, except for artists' renderings in science vids.

A distant owl hooted its way into our raucous, often-raunchy conversations. Busy bats swooped past us on the deck. I appreciate bats, but their sudden, erratic movements startled me every time. The crickets were loud and multitudinous.

midnight crickets
a chirp for each star


I decided to make it a detox weekend for myself, which mostly meant I didn't drink any alcohol. I also ate better than usual, but it was the liquor I was really avoiding, since I wanted my mind clear for writing and revising. My decision was initially met with surprise and disappointment by the other ladies, but they accepted it. (One of these buddies doesn't drink at all, ever, but she knows most-all my vices, so she raised an eyebrow, too.)

My room was on the lower level, which also had the entertainment center, hot tub, and a small bar. I noticed that the bar's open shelf was stocked with pint glasses and other tumblers/cups, so I investigated its other cubbies--just out of appreciation for its fine craftsmanship!--and discovered a quarter-full bottle of Jägermeister. Stop fucking with me, universe. I showed the other ladies, and one of them exclaimed, "How do you just find bottles of liquor?!" like I have 70-proof radar or it falls out of the sky for me.

56 forbidden fruits
herbs and spices


The Midwest is being scorched by a heat wave that has the public schools dismissing two hours early every school day. This is why it is ridiculous to begin the school year in August.

Because I am not entirely human until I've been awake for a couple of hours, and because the retreat is my chance to sleep in late without judgment, I twice ended up taking my walk down the gravel roads at blazing midday. Hence the sunburn and blistered toes (my sneakers are cheap and ill-chosen). But it was fun to watch the roads come alive with grasshoppers at my approach, and to see butterflies tiptoeing on thistles and bees working the giant clover. During one trek, I encountered a city limits sign for the next town. Wikipedia lists the town's population as a whopping 253 souls, but from my visit, I'd guess those 253 are swallows and barns. On one walk back to the house, I found a pretty feather on the side of the road.

turkey feather
tucked into her hair
rare bird
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (skull gloves)
I am back from our family vacation in Niagara Falls. We had a really good time, doing the usual tourist stuff. We oohed and aahed over the American falls by day and night, when they're fancied up with colored lights from the Canadian side. We rode the Maid of the Mist. We went to Goat Island for the Cave of the Winds, and we climbed right up to the Hurricane Deck and screamed into the cold deluge. Three times. We visited the aquarium and enjoyed the seals and sea lions. But I took no photos of them. Instead I was quickly smitten with this little diva.

gramma? fish at Niagara Aquarium

And these critically endangered "water monsters" from Mexico, aka axolotls.

photo (63)
axolotls from Niagara Aquarium

The second is bleached out, but it is actually white, with bright pink gill stalks. Some of the cutest monsters I've ever seen!


I didn't have a chance to squee about this properly before I left town, but Flying Higher: An Anthology of Superhero Poetry burst onto the scene on August 8. Editors Michael D. Thomas and Shira Lipkin ( [ profile] michaeldthomas and [ profile] shadesong ) have made this ebook available for FREE download via smashwords. A SUPER nice review of the book has already popped up, and Ka-POW, it even mentions my poem, "Riveted"!


While I was away, I received a comment from David Lee Summers, editor of Tales of the Talisman and editorial director for Hadrosaur Productions, on my first entry regarding the misprints in this year's Rhysling Anthology. Since Hadrosaur Productions assisted with publishing the Rhysling antho, David had this to say:

I was also unhappy with the quality of the print Rhysling when I discovered how many problems there were. As such, I asked F.J. Bergmann to send me an updated version of the print file and I've replaced the version at the print vendor. Versions of the Rhysling purchased at online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble will now reflect the proofreading corrections. I notice the preview does not yet reflect the changes, but Amazon claims it can take up to a week for that to happen.

I am very glad David took the initiative to ensure future copies of the antho will present the poems in their proper forms. I had no idea this was even possible. Although the change comes too late to help with voting, I am grateful that the errors won't be perpetuated. Thank you, David, for this professional response.

Incidentally, David published two of my poems--"Changeling (TM)" and "Mind Reader Tanka"--in Tales of the Talisman waaaay back in 2007. I'm still grateful for that, too. :)
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (sugar in my coffee)
Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to receive a formal acceptance of my poem "Riveted" from the editors of the forthcoming Flying Higher anthology, [ profile] michaeldthomas and [ profile] shadesong. I knew they would be including my poem about Rosie the Riveter, but the anthology is a non-paying, for-the-fun-of-it collection of mostly silly superhero poems. So I did not expect to receive such a professional response from the editors, which included an explanation as to why there would be no contracts issued and a copy of the anthology to proofread before it goes online. Color me impressed! When Tweetie and I return from an event at the public library this afternoon, I will review my poem and endeavor to be as cool to Shira and Michael as they have been to their contributors.

And that's pretty much how I expect the next month to go for me: squeezing writing and revising into the few chunks of time remaining between family obligations. Tweetie has an afternoon camp that runs all next week, so I might have a couple of hours when she's there. The week after that, we are meeting up with my sister-in-law's family at Niagara Falls. Then we have a week before Tweetie returns to school in which to run ALL the errands. Then she starts school the same day JJ goes out of town for business, then it's his birthday, then I have my women's retreat in Wisconsin. And thus I will tumble into September.

Did I mention my carpal tunnel/RSI is acting up? Yeah, so that's a thing, too.

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (accomplished)
Last night I received an email from the president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, David Kopaska-Merkel, explaining that he had make a mistake that resulted in several poets (we were bcc'd, so I have no idea how many) not receiving their PDF proofs of this year's Rhysling anthology. The PDF was provided in an attachment, and David wrote that we could send him corrections and the PDF would be revised, but there is nothing to be done about the print version. (I didn't expect that a revised print version was within the realm of possibility, anyway. That's a pretty big order!)

SFPA members may refer to the PDF once it's been corrected before casting their final ballots--if they are aware that there were misprints. I don't know how/if SFPA will go about informing members. That wasn't mentioned in the email, and I'm not a member myself, so I'm not in the loop.

As per David's email, I've sent him a list of the errors in that printing of "we come together we fall apart". In the meantime, as I noted in my last post, anyone can read my poem in Stone Telling 7. And, if you're fortunate enough to have a copy of the beautiful book Here We Cross, you can read the poem there, too. :)

Other poets with Rhysling-nominated works who did not receive a PDF proof (or who, like me until two days ago, did not even know a proof had been sent out) should probably contact David directly. Contact info for SFPA officers.

I'm glad to have heard from David, and I hope everyone's poetry can be read and appreciated in its proper format soon!
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (book)
...but a misprint.

--Oscar Wilde

In addition to the Very Important Piece of mail I blogged about yesterday, I also received my contributor's copy of The 2013 Rhysling Anthology. This antho from the Science Fiction Poetry Association compiles all poems nominated for this year's Rhysling award and includes my epic poem "we come together we fall apart," which was nominated in the Long Poem category. Because my poem is over 4000 words long and written in seven voices, I was very impressed SFPA was willing to reprint it. (I'm told, however, that even longer poems have been included.)

Unfortunately, although I gave permission for my poem to be reprinted, I did not receive the PDF proof that other contributors received. Even if I had, it is unlikely I would've been able to review the proof in the requested turnaround time of 24 hours. But if I had received the proof, I would've caught several formatting errors: missing italics, missing boldface, and missing stanza breaks.

I am exceedingly grateful that my poem was nominated at all. If you nominated my poem, I thank you from the bottom of my black heart.

To see the poem in its original format, I suggest readers go to Stone Telling 7. I thank editors Rose Lemberg and Shweta Narayan for publishing "we come together we fall apart" and their incomparable editorial assistant, Jennifer Smith, for her supernaturally keen eye.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (scheming)
I have not even had breakfast yet this morning, but I HAVE read an amazing poem by [ profile] shadesong at Strange Horizons: "And The War Is Never Over." Right now, my favorite part is "Some essential part of me / has burned...Chalk-bone-dust / to spiral up my arms. / This is my armor now." But I do think the turn in section 7 (Or we may yet prevail.) is a stroke of genius and opens up the poem to healing.

During the Open Secrets reading at WisCon, Emily Nordling tweeted: "I just want to listen to poetry all day every day and I don't think that is too much to ask." I concur.

My book haul from WisCon includes two new coloring books, Fat Ladies in Spaaaaace and Unicorns Are Jerks. I didn't realize the creator, Theo Nicole Lorenz, was actually AT WisCon. *smdh* Just as well, as I'm not the smoothest operator even when I'm not starstruck.

I also dropped a bundle at the PM Press table. I'd been mooning over Barred for Life: How Black Flag's Iconic Logo Became Punk Rock's Secret Handshake for over a year, so I picked up that. Also, Anarchist Pedagogies, because, as I told [ profile] diatryma, when anarchists talk about eradicating public education, I get chills--the bad kind--because if it weren't for public ed...I don't know where I'd be. And I bought Don't Leave Your Friends Behind: Concrete Ways to Support Families in Social Justice Movements and Communities and Ursula Le Guin's Wild Girls, Plus...

From Crossed Genres, I picked up INK by Sabrina Vourvoulias, which has been on my to-buy list for a long time. And now I've got a signed copy!

And from the freebies table, I snagged The Arbitrary Placement of Walls, a collection of short stories by Martha Soukup, which I know nothing about but it was reviewed by Locus and blurbed by Neil Gaiman, so...all signs point to Yes?


cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (Default)

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