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Monthly Archives: June 2012

I am SO EXCITED because Tuscaloosa has a new Chinese restaurant, and it is GOOD. It is REAL. I was a little skeptical because it is a chain (a small one–only 2 other locations), but DAMN SON. I’m a Chinese food snob. I grew up surrounded by an incredible number of ethnic restaurants and I was spoiled at an early age. Chinese food has a special place in my heart, and it’s been hurting me to live without it for the past 2 years.

I held back on buying all the frozen dumplings because I’m going back tomorrow with boyfriend. It will be delicious.

One of the really interesting things about the prose poem is that it becomes like a little haunted house, this small container, this little box, a kind of snapshot. The prose poem gives way to a content that felt very haunted at its center, which is what I wanted. I wanted the sense of the uncanny, and I feel like the prose poem offers that because it is a form that should not be but is. I think it’s Charles Simic who says that the prose poem should not exist, but it does, that it’s the coming together of two contradictory impulses: prose and poetry. So it’s a kind of marvel already because of its form. It gives way to a subject that is a subject of marvel — hatched at its center is a kind of marvel.

– Sabrina Orah Mark, from an interview up on BWR’s website

I actually transcribed this interview, back when I was a research assistant for BWR. You can read the whole thing on BWR’s website, if you are so inclined. I transcribed a bunch of interviews that year, and this was the only one that I lingered on, the only one that was formative and beautiful. I wanted to go back in time and shove the interviewer aside so that I could do it myself.

I’m reading it again right now, and suddenly I’m all What am I thinking? SOM took 5 years to write each of her books. What makes me think that I could have the best possible version of this manuscript in only 2 years?

But also, I’m excited that Sabrina Orah Mark is judging BWR’s poetry contest this year (!!!).

I had macaroni and cheese for both breakfast and lunch today, because friends came over and made dinner for my birthday and left all the leftovers in my fridge. I feel gross. I do not feel the need to eat dinner. Instead I am sitting on the couch, drinking Gatorade, because it is SO HOT here that I almost threw up during spin class and now I’m worried about electrolytes.

This feeling might also have something to do with the amount of wine I had last night, which was a lot. I know I had several phone conversations with relatives that ended in them saying, Um, well. Okay. I’m going to let you go now, which I think means that I spaced out and stopped talking.

The last few days have been a rush of working on and thinking about writing, which has been great. A lot of people I know are doing the same thing right now, because A Really Great Small Poetry Press’s open submissions period ends on June 30th. Today I rearranged and deleted and added to my manuscript, but I am still not convinced by its form, so I haven’t submitted it yet. I’m doing a lot of writing my thoughts down, and asking questions of other writer friends, which has helped me to articulate those thoughts. I don’t feel stuck–I feel like progress has been made, and I’m moving in the right direction. I DID, however, submit the Cheerleader chapbook to a different place tonight, which is EEEEEEEE and YEAH and OH SHIT all at once. Unlike the book, none of the pieces of the chapbook have been published (or sent out). Maybe I should do that. Yeah. Maybe I will do that tonight, too. Good thinking. It helps to write stuff down.

Today is my birthday! I never know how to handle birthdays. I come from a long tradition of bad birthdays. But this one will be great! I can feel it. I don’t have to travel anywhere, and I don’t think everyone has forgotten my birthday (that really only could have happened in the pre-Facebook era. Shows how old I am?).

Here is the very first ripe tomato from my garden, which I ate just a few minutes ago:

It was an itty bitty cherry tomato, because in a sad turn of events, pretty much all of the larger tomatoes have blossom end rot. Whomp whomp. The cherries all look lovely though, starting to turn colors, and there’s some giant okra growing, along with teeny peppers and watermelon. And I fell asleep last night after a long conversation with boyfriend about my book and what it means to me and how it makes meaning and what its philosophy is, so that was a nice way to ring in my birthday.

I just woke up from a dream that took place at my Grandma’s Margate house, that featured my Bubbe (not my Grandma). The house was a lot like the Margate house, but it wasn’t exactly. My Bubbe was alive in the dream, but she was also already dead. She also looked nothing like my Bubbe, yet somehow I knew that that was who she was. She looked more like my Grandma than anyone else.

This dream logic, when someone or something is several things at once, is not problematic for me, but in my manuscript it seems to cause problems for readers. Along the spectrum of writing whatever I want to write and writing what I think others want to read, I’m not sure where I want to land. I don’t want to lose what I love, which is this sameness, this doubleness, danger and safety from the same character, two characters that can’t be easily distinguished.

In my Baba Yaga research, one of the most interesting things about her is how she shifts. Sometimes she’s the villain, and sometimes she’s the donor that provides the magical object. Sometimes she’s both, because she is unwilling to help and must be forced. Sometimes she’s harmless, and sometimes the jailor, or the cannibal. Sometimes her house is a place of refuge, but it’s also surrounded by spikes topped with human skulls. Sometimes she is a giant and sometimes a small, old woman, your fierce grandmother, one, or both of them, the dead one and the one that still lives.

But my book isn’t about Baba Yaga. Or it is. Or it’s about the human house, and what it means to rent it out. And what are you doing, reading these words? You’re living in my house. You’re the tenant of this text.

 

This, all of this, is what I’m trying to write. A dream in which someone is both entirely elusive, and yet right there. In your house. In your head. Maybe I’m answering my own question.

 

I cannot stop the song The music is the continent

– Brandon Shimoda, The Girl Without Arms

Sometimes I read books and then I have to immediately read them again.