It’s 2015 and Here Are Things

Wonder

Here are some miscellaneous wonders that I never posted about but heyyy:

⚫ My poem “Cantica” will be included in the 2015 edition of Best American Experimental Writing.

An interview I did with Apogee about the poems they published & beyond

“Point/Counterpoint: Reading from Smartphones” cheekiness @ Real Pants

⚫ I will be at AWP in April & I’ll be caking in a very dragtastic reading: Embawdied Lit

⚫ I’ll also be participating in an off-site event about creating & maintaining liberatory space via Apogee (alongside Belladonna*, Litmus, Counterpath and more)

⚫ I’ll have some poems in an upcoming issue of the gorgeous POWDER KEG Magazine so keep ya eyes on those icebergs

Natureculture: 40 in the Arboretum

1) Gail and I sneaked into a park on New Year’s Day when it was closed and walked down trails that had names like “Bunny” and “Psycho”
2) Now that I am in a specific graduate course dealing with the intersections of ecology and poetics I feel “hyperaware” of “any semblance of nature and my body entering such a space”
3) ‘Like… it wasn’t nature before but beating a trail into the ground and naming it “Bunny” or “Psycho” makes it less nature than other nature, right?’ says a voice in my head not unlike a character from Daria
4) ‘Maybe not…’ says a conflicting voice, uncertain and sassy, perhaps from Disney
5) Talking & defining what is and isn’t nature = *sighhh* says anime roleplay action in my head
6) Gail says, “This is like living in a city with none of the benefits” as we pass the Home Depot and the Target and the standalone Dippin’ Dots (“THE ICE CREAM OF THE FUTURE”) store that somehow stays open in all the congested traffic stopped there
7) We are stuck behind a car with the vanity license place CHYNA why does everyone in Alabama have a vanity plate “You remember Chyna?” I ask / Gail shakes her head / “You know like the wrestler… Chyna Doll… she has a giant clitoris” I say & think “my god why did I say that”
8) We talk about steroids / testosterone / “masculinities” / “transgender” / the positioning of the norm / how all of this feeds into “nature” as we park the car
9) We go to the Arboretum although I am not quite sure what an “Arboretum” is although I know arbour from French from Latin herba & yes isn’t etum Latin too a place yes a place of trees a sacred grove yes that sounds right
10) We have parked and we are walking along the trail and I am checking my Google Maps which includes the trail & I find this act ~60-78% insufferable as if I should be putting the entire smartphone on Airplane Mode or throwing it in the lake
11) Thinking “New York” and how I was always walking from somewhere to somewhere else and how I rarely stopped and how stopping in the middle of the street in Manhattan made me feel like an anomaly like a threat like I was breaking some unspoken pact that we all just keep moving or else
12) Feeling that way now [during the walking] and why? why? why? i could stop if I wanted to these legs are permitted to stop
13) Considering Jonathan Skinner’s opening remarks and references to “nature walks” in the intro to the first issue of Ecopoetics
14) Considering that I am a blank slate where the term “Ecopoetics” is concerned and that I have so much to read / consider / consider considering
15) Thinking about Emerson’s “transparent eyeball” & that I am more calorie-counting apps than I am particle-of-god

Houghton_MS_Am_1506_(4)_-_Cranch

16) Wasn’t there a cute drawing of an eyeball in a petticoat and top hat what a silly little man why would an eyeball need a hat
17) Decide to stop worrying about where we are walking to (even though I imagine in my head that we are on a serpentine path bent towards some sacred grove where oaks are arranged in a circle and there are moss-licked stones and holy holy mistletoe swings from the trees like Spanish Moss although that’s not what mistletoe does but yes this is my vision of the trail)
18) But not the actuality of the Arboretum which is owned by “The University” and the trail just winds nowhere
19) Which is maybe better in the end, yes, the purposelessness of the actions of a man-made trail that goes nowhere, the leggy bends around little lakes where the sun mirror-skids & pops through pine
20) And oh doesn’t it come from such a privileged leggy place to have the gams to honor and exalt the walk that is not cosmic / a redefinition of beauty
21) I comment that I associate “The School” with sports and thus fitness and thus health and thus something about wellness yes this ‘nature path’ being owned by the school feels so purposeful and healthy
22) I make a wink wink nudge nudge self-aggrandizing statement about how healthy we are for walking
23) Like how do you know your friend went to the gym don’t worry they’ll tell you
24) Wink wink nudge nudge
25) “the self-awareness of being outdoors”
26) Long legs like shadows like limbs of tree like… OOPS a particle of god!
27) Dogs running up to me (why?) / the reputation of Pit Bulls / owners saying “my sweet pittie” / “my darling pig” / “did you know they used to be called Nanny Dogs?” because it’s safe to keep them around children wink wink nudge nudge
28) I think “I have no thoughts on Pit Bulls” but Pit Bull owners always approach me like I do / should I? / do you always approach strangers on the defensive / do I?
29) A dog comes up and barks at Gail and I and the owner yells, “Gracie! Gracie!” and Gracie stands there and barks at us
30) I think when I say, “I am a cat person, but I love dogs*,” I am not talking about these type of dogs. These types of dogs are next to the invisible asterisk attached to the word bubble exiting my mouth. I think I have no specific opinion on Pit Bulls because I see them as no more or less dangerous than all dogs, which are all inherently potentially dangerous
31) Yes the dog (“GRACIE!”) is going to give up and turn around and run at its owner but the other asterisks acknowledges it could just jump at my throat (the drama!) and then…
32) I do privilege the sweet faces of Pit Bulls though. Their sugary baby faces cuter than so many other breeds… I want to give them kisses!

33) the reflections of trees against the water the shape of a soundwave must everything become so digital
34) silva (“sill-wuh”) / pinecyborg / THE DIVINE SHAPE OF CONIFERS / oh to be proof of something / gnomes the elemental of knowledge / dryads with wires hanging out of their arms / wooden phone poles / Elemi in love with the electrician (電信柱エレミの恋い)
35) “folktronica” could be the representative musical genre for the nature walk in the middle of the city / Central Park is “folktronic”
36) I can’t consider nature like this, fuck
37) When Gail and I went on the contraband hike I said, “maybe we’ll see our car as we exit here” as I held my phone in my hand with its cryptic spinning compass and as soon as I said that we came around the bend & there my car was the only car the car sitting there at the top of the paved hill looking down on us with its candy apple cutey gaze and we laughed and laughed
38) I reference this as we walk to the non-contraband parking lot where there are many cars and I realize my car does not have a name what is it with humans and their obsession with giving everything a name Ah! now here we got we are swatting at the heart of this / anthropomorphizing the barky dogs and the red clay earth versus the earth terramorphizing us and saying “well, this one is quite lumpy” / yes I am a lumpy human stop being so shady you arbor
39) but the earth doesn’t care about my caloric intake or my self-aggranding walks in the name of fitness / the earth just does
40) Gail suggests my car could play tennis and that could be a good creative direction when the time comes to imbue my car with human qualities my car you see I said mine / the implications of ownership / bleh bleh nature / goodbye nature / goodbye trees / goodbye Arboretum / you Latiny name / I agree, though, the car could play tennis…

Calling the Quarters: Earth Poetry Exercise Prompt

1) I’ve pretty much exclusively been using my blog for updates about publications, readings, et cetera, and I’ve made the goal to “journal” more in 2015, so I think this is the perfect opportunity to shake it up a little bit.
2) I hardly (read: never) write about “going back to school” which is a thing I have done which is a thing I currently do, so perhaps that can be churned into more blog updates throughout this year. Is this a thing that people are actually interested in? Who knows!
3) I am bad, horrible, no good about keeping resolutions so this could be the only update like this ever amen.

One luxury in returning to pursue my MFA is that I’ve given myself time to think about process versus product. I am a big instigator of “getting witchy” as a framework of creative process. In fact: I would rather soak in a bath of Kool-Aid & bury a Barbie in the backyard for three days if it gave me some sort of mental torsion to be placed in a creative place I’ve never gone before with my writing. I simultaneous recognize the power of getting weird and the fantastic shame of these imaginary forces judging me for going there.

One of my other 2015 resolutions is to holistically resist shame.

Earth Magick Herbs Tisane

Currently I am taking a course with Heidi Lynn Staples on Ecopoetics, a class she has brilliantly segmented into four sections based on the four classical elements (earth, air, fire, water). I’ve always been a proponent of the occult as a conduit to creative process (e.g.: ekphrastically working off the art of the Tarot or considering the meaning-making behind each card — something I did in my last chapbook). This is of course, not to make light of the work that practicing Neopagans do, but I’m attracted to the creative synthesis that’s formed present-day Paganism. The good type of ‘mental gymastics’, y’know?

Part of Heidi’s elemental quartering involves us, the students, “Calling the Quarters,” a time which can be used towards an exercise based on our current section/reading. I thought I could bring my own interest in herbalism/the healing properties of plants to the classroom as part of this process. My research/idea for “earth” formed a little like this:

1) Although, in theory, all plants are of the earth, some Wiccans have designated certain plants to be more representative of that element. Such plants include: celery seed, dill, lovage, parsley, sage, wintergreen, amongst others.

2) I considered how many of these herbs have medicinal effects that are taken somewhat seriously (e.g.: aiding in digestion, anxiolytic effects) and then the magickal effects which are taken with a grain of salt (e.g.: aiding in spellwork related to protection, love, dreams…).

3) I noticed that a) many of these herbs such as parsley, sage, and dill, are ones readily available in my kitchen (#kitchenwitch) and I could easily make a tisane (herbal tea) out of them. I also noticed b) many of the “earth” herbs share similar properties: protection, purification, love, dreams, mental powers, psychic powers…

4) I made the tisane seen above with herbs I had around my house and brought it to class, with the instruction that I would like to ask my classmates to consider the properties of the tisane and then to use that mental space in writing. We passed the glass bottle of ingredients around so people could inspect, smell, get a visual sense of. I then placed a ceramic tea pot in the middle of the room and poured hot water over the ingredients. After some steeping, I served tea in little cups, and we all wrote for a few minutes. We all entered a quiet space where we worked on our writing/ourselves.

5) As a sort of bonus I considered tea as this combination of the four classical elements: ((…herbs as earth / soaking in water / heated by fire / giving off steam…))

One of my peers noted they were overcome with emotion at this time (was it taste? scent memory? the subconscious overwhelming nature of taking on a creative profane exercise as a group?). Someone else said they think that even the idea of ritual on a subconscious level can be very powerful: the intimate act of serving peers tea in a classroom setting—which is not associated with these activities—is wonderfully disruptive. I also considered the following questions while sipping the tea:

a) What is our culture’s relationship with herbal medicine? Is it taken less seriously than pharmaceuticals?
b) What about herbs that are over-marketed, such as Goldenseal, and thus face a decline through over-harvesting?
c) Is taking part in a ritual inspired by Paganism a resistance to the Judeo-Christian narrative of the earth being a God-given resource… or is this equally problematic as one is also consuming plants for our human “needs”?

Academic institutions are peculiar creatures because they sometimes prefer measurements, and exactitudes. This is not exact. MFA programs themselves are unfortunately plagued by the mythos of the Workshop-with-a-capital-W. This is not a workshop. The mind is powerful in unknowable ways and I’m interested in how slipping into an uncomfortable/outside-the-mainstream/’queer’ mental space can contribute to lateral thinking and thus the nascence of poetry.

Although we had only a little time to write, and I did not save anything to share, perhaps I will be able to do another “witchy” exercise for fire, water, or air, and catalog some of the works that came out of that creative process. Until next time…

Apogee IV, Mental Marginalia, and The Atlas Review

The Atlas Review

I’m delighted to have a couple of poems in the new Issue Four of APOGEE.

On December 9th, I’ll be reading in Brooklyn at Mental Marginalia’s “Decemberalia” reading with Cynthia Cruz, Peter Milne Greiner, Keegan Lester and Chelsea Coreen.

The next day, on December 10th, I’ll be reading at The Atlas Review‘s 2nd anniversary reading with a line-up of furies: Keegan Lester, Emily Present, Marie-Helene Bertino, and Cathy Park Hong. I’ll also have a few poems in their fifth issue sooo keep an eye [or two] out!