Yesterday It Was My Birthday…

…I hung one more year on the line.

–Paul Simon, “Have a Good Time”

So now I’m the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. My husband, Inspector Spacetime, reached this age last month, and he doesn’t seem to be more enlightened yet. Maybe it takes a while to kick in.

Anyway, to celebrate my first full day of being a brand new age, here are a sampling of the callouts I’ve wanted to make for a while. I haven’t gotten around to writing them all down because I’ve either been chasing after small children, playing with poetry, lying around in a semi-conscious haze, or just generally being insane:

First, I’ve had some nifty Publication News in the past couple of months! (You know the Goddamned Writing Life? Sometimes it ain’t so bad.) I had a horror poem, “Mother Killer,” published in Spectral Realms, along with many a fine spec poet, such as Ann K. Schwader, F.J. Bergmann, Marge Simon, Mike Allen, and spec-poetry bigwig Bruce Boston.

I also had not one, but TWO essays published this spring: the first, “Rape Stories,” is a reprint from Mid-American Review but made its official Internet debut in Hippocampus Magazine, a journal devoted to memory and memoir. I have to say I couldn’t be happier about this publication. Not only did Hippocampus provide a new forum for a piece that is really important to me, the layout folks on staff found a picture of the fountain from my old stomping ground in Rome, where the essay happens to be set. Many, many heartfelt thanks to whoever found that picture. Even though I wrote about some fairly dark topics, the fountain itself takes me back to a beautiful time and place.

The second essay, “Dead,” appeared in the 2015 issue of Moon City Review, which isn’t online but can be ordered here. A really gorgeous journal, which also includes a piece by Curtis Smith, an amazing writer and all-around beautiful guy who incidentally helped me work on the very essay that appears in MCR. Lots more deep and heartfelt thanks to Curtis, whose workshop did so much to boost my confidence when I felt like I was starting from square zero.

Back to Hippocampus: this month, I had the overwhelmingly self-esteem-boosting experience of opening an email about a journal’s latest issue to see my name listed as a contributor. Yes, in case you missed the umpteen times I announced this in the past week, I’m officially on the schedule of Hippocampus reviewers, and my very first review appears here. The book is Elizabeth Alexander’s “The Light of the World,” a stunning piece of writing that shows what extraordinary innovations a poet can bring to prose. Definitely a must-read.

Two last things: as a birthday gift, I finally got the Poet Tarot, which is in fact a pack of Tarot cards plus a guidebook for “creative exploration.” This nifty item is produced by Two Sylvias Press, which is also currently running its poetry chapbook prize. (I personally covet the trophy they give out with the award, but I’m not sure I have anything on hand that’s especially prize-winning.) And I must say, I’m SO looking forward to playing with my Tarot cards and seeing what happens. I looked through them already and noticed a certain Mr. W.S. is not among the poets represented. Very ballsy, ladies!

Fie on thee, froward, fen-sucked flax-wenches!

And finally, April is over but the PoMoSco poems will be up for one more month! Here’s the official wrap-up post discussing the 3000+ poems that were written, plus links to some favorite individual pieces. Though my own work isn’t featured here, you should still explore the site for some excellent poetry! (And if you think I’ve forgotten about my proposed list of ruminations on my own found poems of April, oh how very wrong you are. I may just pick a few I like or want to grumble about, or I may write about them all in one lump, but you can be sure you’ll get bugged about them, yessirree!)

Found Poem #3: The Great Moon Hoax in a Blender

Yup, I’d definitely say I’m on a roll now. Just finished two more of the PoMoSco assignments. The first is going to take some technical finagling to put online. The second is all online, which allows me to keep my butt firmly planted on my couch.

So here are the fruits of my efforts: a poem based on the first few paragraphs of what became the Great Moon Hoax of 1835. This is a little known yet highly entertaining journalistic prank in which the New York Sun published a series of articles claiming that a famous British astronomer had discovered life on the moon. Frankly, I have yet to delve into this piece successfully–the prose is old-timey and academic and as such is thick as cement. Which is probably why it was so much fun putting these passages through the Lazarus Corporations’ Text-Mixing Desk, a lovely internet deelie that rearranges the words of any chunk of prose you can paste into its text window. The excerpt I used from the Sun didn’t change much in terms of readability (at least for me), but the exercise itself did show how pompous diction sort of becomes an end in itself. You start following these enormous periodic sentences because your brain thinks there’s going to be some sort of gigantic, meaningful payoff at the end when really you’re chasing wave after wave of vague big-picture concepts. A familiar experience if you’ve ever spent any time binge-reading nineteenth-century novels (or criticism of those novels, in which case you’re probably even more traumatized).

Here’s hoping my humble poem makes a teensy bit of sense. I wanted it to reflect the original text on a thematic level, especially since the mixing process left big chunks of original wording which I promptly ripped off. (But I sourced the whole thing at the end, so that makes it okay! Right?) Anyway, enjoy!

News News News! New Name and Found Poetry Online

Hey, Fickle Readers! Believe it or not, I got sick again this week, hence the lack of posts. I’ve been trying to save up all my news to post in one big info dump. Usually this is easier to do when mental energy is low and words and ideas get caught in my brain like wads of hair in a bathtub. Anyway, without further ado:

My blog has a brand-spanking-new title: Miss Fickle Reader’s Backwater Domain! I feel this new moniker has a bit more bite, and it has a pun in it, too. (Domain, you know. Domain = kingdom, and also web site stuff. Get it?) Mighty Tiny Bill would be proud.

“Thou’rt as monumental as buzzard urine.”

Second thing to report: This month, I’m officially a Poetry Month Scout in Found Poetry Review‘s National Poetry Month project. (Say that three times fast!) I have to say, I was a little trepidatious about doing this–I haven’t been working at poetry very much recently, and it’s always nerve-wracking to post spur-of-the-moment pieces. Kinda like leaving photocopies of your naked butt at random intersections in your hometown. But so far, it’s been pretty engaging. The FPR people have links to a lot of cool internet tools to get your creative mind spinning. My fave so far is this random username generator, which you can set to Shakespeare as well as emotions, body parts, and (my preference) just plain random.

In the interest of really hanging my nude ass out the window, I’ll be posting the links to my found poems here all this month. Here are the first two:

Narcissism x3. This was generated using three haiku (or maybe they were technically senryu–I’m not up on my Japanese terminology) by Shiki and put through the Haiku Discombobulator.  I think I may have boffed this one up a bit. Other scouts got lovely results, whereas mine were mostly mixtures of prepositions and conjunctions. Ah, well.

Vulgar Ballads. I was much happier with how this one turned out. The assignment was to take a phrase from the random username generator (or make up your own), plug it into Google, collect words from the descriptions that Google spits out, and write a poem from that. I quickly dumped “zip death” (too clinical and depressing) and “liquid thunder” (apparently a form of explosive diarrhea) and eventually went with “bawdy weeping.” Surprisingly enough, there’s a lot of overlap between “bawdy” and “weeping.” Much of that overlap is even old-school literary or–gasp!–Shakespearean. So I had a lot of fun with this exercise. Also, it may have loosened me up for writing sex stuff. Enjoy!