Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Field Report on The Next Big Thing

Thank you Steven Karl and Christopher Kondrich for tagging me for The NEXT BIG THING. Here's the interview with myself.

What is the working title of the book?
Wolf and Pilot

Where did the idea come from for the book?

My first book had more personal subject matter, centered around the tragedy of my sister's death. I wanted to really break away from that, start fresh, so I invented a sort of fairy tale-ish world. Think Sleeping Beauty meets Twin Peaks.

What genre does your book fall under?


What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

My new beautiful son could play all the parts because he's a genius.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Four girls run away from their mother, who is a witch, and find shelter with the teacher and detective who have sex together while becoming the chosen parents of the girls.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Are you kidding? Three years at least. With a great group of friends, I workshopped the first draft and finalized the manuscript at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Four Way Books, my publisher, granted me the opportunity to spend time there.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Well, as I mentioned earlier, I really wanted to do something different and several books and films were setting up the new project. I watched Picnic at Hanging Rock shortly after reading Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine. So I was interested in exploring the spooky nature of spookiness--girls who communicate without speaking, torture, bad things that happen to good people for example.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Wolf and Pilot consists of poems that tell a sort of story. The poems also embody the voices of the four girls, the witch mother, the teacher, and the detective. The usual dynamic of a fairy tale is that the children lose their idyllic, perfect mother and have to escape the hatred and jealousy of their step-mother. I was interested in thwarting that dynamic by having the four girls escape their evil mother and find a new set of parents. 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My book is published by Four Way Books, who also published my first book Rising. You can purchase both books here.

Watch my book trailer here

I'm tagging Christie Ann Reynolds, Maureen Alsop, Lily Ladewig, and Tara Betts.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

White Wolf Party Tour

My new book Wolf and Pilot will be physical soon! To celebrate with my publisher Four Way Books I'm headed out west with Jared White and Dan Magers. Jared is celebrating his forthcoming chapbook This Is What It Is Like To Be Loved By Me, out by Bloof Books, and Dan is celebrating the release of his book Partyknife, out by Birds, LLC. Come to a reading! Come buy a book! You can read a review here.

There will be more readings hereafter and I promise to keep you posted. I will read until the baby is born and then I will read some more!

Sept 30--in Boise, Idaho with Jared White, Dan Magers, Farrah Field, and Kyle Crawford
7pm, at The Crux, 1022 W Main Street, Boise. 
October 2--Portland, Oregon with Farrah Field, Jared White, and Dan Magers with musical guest import/import
7:30 PM, Recess Gallery 1127 SE 10th Avenue Portland, OR 97214 (207-409-6763)

October 5--Oakland, California with Dan Magers, Farrah Field, and Jared White
at Studio 1 Art Center

Oct 6--San Francisco radio appearance with Jared White, Farrah Field, and Dan Magers
Poet as Radio
airs Saturday from 9-10

Oct 8--poetry talk and tea with students at Cal Arts Los Angeles, CA
4 pm

Oct 9--Los Angeles, CA reading with Michelle Detorie, Jared White and Dan Magers
The Pop-Hop bookstore
5002 York Boulevard, Los Angeles, in Highland Park
7 pm

Oct 10—the book tour ends in NY with this great reading
@ 6:30 pm in New York, NY.
Celebrating New Work from 2012 CLMP Face Out Grantees
Cynthia Cruz,  
Farrah Field (Four Way Books)
Dan Machlin reading for Frances Richard (Futurepoem Books)
Dan Magers (Birds, LLC)
Kristin Prevallet (Belladonna Books)
NYU Main Bookstore, 726 Broadway
Farrah’s dad will be there!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Two podcasts from This American Life, "Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory" and "The Retraction," reveal to us that nothing is ever what it is and nothing is ever simple. Since I choose not to participate in the world where everything has a news cycle that is soon forgotten about, you may think I am approaching this conversation late. I don't particularly care if you think that's over, but the truth (a funny word to say here) is that I can't stop thinking about it. 

What is most troubling about Mr. Daisey's fabrications and half-truths is the reaction to Mr. Daisey's fabrications and half-truths. (I wondered if the podcast should have been called The Reaction as opposed to The Retraction?) Mr. Daisy presented his theater piece as a personal experience and he therefore should not have fabricated or exaggerated any truths, given that context. The factory guards have no guns, for example, because guns are illegal in China. The workers don't meet in coffee houses or in Starbucks, as Mr. Daisey implicated, because they make so little money that they could not afford coffee there. 

These lies are brought forth. Thank you. Good job. How come the conversation is not taken further? If these factories are so great, why do they have guards? And shouldn't a factory worker be able to afford a cup of coffee at a coffee shop? There weren't hundreds of under-age employees. Out of thousands of workers, there were only 91 under-age employees reported. Only 91! A real win for labor! Mr. Daisey, among other fibs, lied about a group of people forming an illegal union, but it is never corroborated that he met with any union organizers and what is implied is the possibility that are are no union organizers. You liar! Ha. This American Life sure showed him.

The real conversation that needed to take place never happened because Mr. Daisey lied and now no one should feel bad about factory working conditions; the conversation is over. Later during the podcast, Ira Glass interviews New York Times reporter Charles DuHigg, who points out the most common violation among factory workers is that they work more than sixty hours per week. Ira Glass's response is shockingly cold; he wants to know if working more than sixty hours per week is such a bad thing. The workers are becoming a part of a rising middle class, they're making more money than they ever have, and more complicated still, some of them demand to work obscene amounts of hours. Although the nuances of the facts are challenging, I still think workers have been exploited and I still think that's a wrong thing to do. I wouldn't want my own children working more than forty hours a week, which in itself is on the verge of too much. I have a problem buying a product made by a person who can't afford a cup of coffee and who may have worked two twelve hour shifts in a row. 

Charles DuHigg says that we can't hold foreign factory conditions against rich American standards and Ira Glass doesn't question this. Why can't we? DuHigg later on points out that what we have exported are harsh working conditions that we basically outlawed here. America is a first-world country with third-world views of labor. Most American products are made by workers in another country and we seem to care about the new economy centered around the laborers so much so that we can overlook the improper use of overtime (see previous paragraph), but we shouldn't expect that a foreign factory would reflect the standards of an American factory? That's too complicated? Let's keep in mind that the aluminum dust sitting around that caused the two explosions in factories where Apple products are made could be easily compared to the leftover shirtwaist fabric lying on the floor, which caused the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire nearly one hundred years ago.

Does anyone remember when Ikea opened factories here in America and they didn't offer their sweet Swedish benefits to American workers? Ikea said that they were simple reflecting the working standards of the county the factory was in. Sounds familiar.

DuHigg points out that all are implicated. Until we, as consumers, demand that every Apple product be made in fair working conditions, then the system as we know it will continue. The system is Capitalism, right? The one living, breathing thing that seems to take such good care of itself? If everyone needs a computer, why is that we are not the ones telling Apple what we want? Perhaps there should be a union for consumers? 

In order to update to iCloud, which I didn't want to do, I had to update my operating system, which cost me $30. Then I had to update my Word program because apparently I was running an old version of that (woa, fancy toolbars who knew!), which cost $150. Why is Apple in charge here? Why is Apple setting the standards and telling us what we have to do? They should be doing what I want. AND I DON'T WANT TO BE ON ICLOUD. WHAT I WANT IS FOR WORKERS TO BE TREATED AND PAID FAIRLY.

For a podcast centered around FACTS, I wonder what the This American Life fact checker found in response to Ira Glass's comments, "I don't know that I should feel so bad," and ha ha now I feel bad. Are those facts? Ira Glass may not feel bad anymore. How does he feel about Apple paying no Federal Income Tax? Furthermore, how did the fact checker react to DuHigg's comment that there aren't any factories here in America with these kinds of working conditions. Hello? SLAUGHTERHOUSES?  

Sunday, May 15, 2011

After Glow

Have you ever read a book so good that you read it slowly, to stave off the end? I used to work at a bookstore in Denver and one of my co-workers was reading through Patrick O'Brian's seafaring novels and he slowed it down around book seventeen or something just so he wouldn't finish reading the set during his lifetime. My friend was really let down the day Patrick O'Brian died. (By the way, these books make a nice gift for Father's Day. There are about twenty-one in the set, so your dad will be pretty taken care of for a long time, unless you double-up the books).

I recently slowed down while reading Radioactive by Lauren Redniss. The book is part biography of Marie Curie, the story of radioactivity, and art book. Did you know Curie was from Poland? Her real name was Marya.

You can smell the ink as you turn the pages. You know how it will all end, that Marie Curie changed science forever, that it killed her, that it continues to be dangerous. To tell the story Redniss created a delightful typeface, which gives the book the appearance of being written by hand, a re-telling in a very physical sense. She named the typeface after Eusapia Palladino, who held seances Marie and Pierre Curie attended. The story of someone's life is never a simple one and Redniss elegantly balances many components of Marie Curie's professional and personal history. The one of scientific discovery. Marie Curie: "It was obvious that a new science was in the course of development." The one of love. The one of triumph. (Marie Curie was named the first female professor to teach at the Sorbonne). The one of atomic properties. How they glowed at night. Their poisonous effects.

Throughout the book I was very attached to the idea of a blurred line between science and magic. Because Radium glowed, Marie Curie was awed by it. In the lab, it was something special. Curie wrote, "If a radioactive substance is placed in the dark in the vicinity of the closed eye or of the temple, a sensation of light fills the eye." In this context, seeking atomic energy and creating it, at least for the Curies, was spiritual. Mystical fusion was the thing that sort of kept them going. In Radioactive, Radium has nearly three sides: the mystical glowy side, the toxic side, and the healing one. It's still used as a cure for cancer. Even though exposure to it is so incredibly harmful. Pierre Curie died so young. Marie Curie followed. Her daughter and grandchildren also died of complications related to radiation exposure.

So are we supposed to celebrate the discovery of Radium or not? Are we supposed to answer? Redniss's book delicately and pointedly addresses the art of art, of pursuit, how earthly things seem so unearthly. Non-fiction doesn't have to be boring or terrible and Redniss's unique and investigative technique of conveying biography makes this book sit well with writers such as Dava Sobel, Rick Pearlstein, Lawrence Weschler, and Karen Elizabeth Gordon. I recommend reading this one slowly.

Monday, May 2, 2011

What Could Possibly Happen Next

According to the BBC and TPM, president Obama has said that, due to the death of Osama Bin Laden, the world is now a safer and better place. How does he come by way of this knowledge? For fear of retaliation, I don't feel safe. For wrongfully invading Iraq, I don't feel safe. For the cruel and harsh treatment of detainees, I don't feel safe. For the pillaging of the environment, the world is not a better place. I don't feel safe from toxic waste and harmful chemicals. A for-profit healthcare system does not make me feel I'm receiving better care. As local police budgets are being slashed, I don't feel safer on the streets. As our infrastructure such as bridges and highways are not being properly cared for, I don't feel safe traveling on them. The continuation of drilling for oil and for natural gas via hydraulic fracturing does not lead me to believe that my tap water is always safe to drink. The proliferation of GMO food does not make me feel my food is always safe to eat.

I am deeply troubled by Hillary Clinton's statement to al-Qaeda members: you can make the choice to abandon al-Qaeda and participate in a peaceful political process. Which one is she talking about? The one where the government invests in its people over business interests? Where government diplomats talk to and reconcile with enemies? Is a peaceful political process devoid of secrets?

When I worked on a farm one summer, the farmers said they don't shoot the coyotes at first glance because bigger ones move in and fight for the territory. To the White House complex: job well done. You perpetuate that which former president Bush started. Secrets, blame, torture, hunting people in the night. This is what our government is now. There is no question that I grieve for those who suffered in the attacks on September 11, 2001. I have also lost a family member at the hands of another, but even though I grieve every day of my life, I know that irrational actions will never repair the loss.

Obama says, "Today we are reminded that as a nation there is nothing we can't do." It's true. We sure do know how to kill. It is sad that Obama's patriotism is not generated by having the best education system, by having the cleanest subway cars, by supporting the arts. Do our political leaders know how to invest in energy resources safe for the environment? Do we know how to rehabilitate people who break the law? These things seem to be a bit of a mystery.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Poetry Book Club's Response to The Descent of Alette by Alice Notley

I'll tell ya it's 1986 New York City subways.

Responding to the Vietnam War.

Question of responsibility: killing, having to kill. Fairness. Having never given birth. What do you understand.

Subway v. Metro. AIDS era. Angels in America.

THE QUOTATIONS. Speech weakened. Perpetual overturning of thoughts. Breaks. Makes you pay attention. Storyish, narrative driven but not building. Seeing in dreams and images. Descent of Inanna. To build this book? Cave or Subway? Writing consciousness, a story "told." Unfolding in the process. Space to fill in.

Poems as poems. Descend down them. Each poem is its own unit. Lyric poetry accumulative. Snakelike in form, going forward, looking back. Track those threads: light, birds, form, darkness. Inferno closure is important.

We realize our own strength when we're powerless.

Visuals driving the action. Action v. image. Each encounter, action.

Each subway car is a new world. Levels of consciousness. Feminist revelations.

Chronological or not.

Allegory of the cave.

Catholic/Christian Paradise. Adamless Paradise. Snakes. Enticed by serpents and drugs. Adamless = female snake. DNA helix.

p. 19--embracing the darkness. Darkness as shedding the body, womb, blood, earthiness.

Finding the form The Tyrant doesn't own. The Tyrant isn't a person but a consciousness. Tyrant as history. Masculine ideas of history. Having never given birth. What do you understand. The female Oedipal story.

Fire baby. Vision seeing this happen. Vietnam.

Light Made New. Pound Plug!

Literary Function. Will voice state of affairs. Are we writing answers to questions. Or writing the state of affairs. Is this ending hopeful?!? Triumph over the message. Changing the way we think. Imagination changes the status quo. Works of art v. mapping out the future. Constraints in our existence. Breaking through state of affairs.

Owl: good daddy v. bad daddy.

A Poetry Book Club's Response to Spring and All by William Carlos Williams

In control, out of control. The idea of the thing. The thing itself. Cutting himself off.

What is the experiment. Connection between poetry and prose. Wanting you to connect it to the poetry. Poems and prose working ON you.

Doing nothing. Imagination without emotional connection. Everyday objects. Artist and the farmer. One thing couched in another.

Red Wheelbarrow: shocking "in here." What does depend on it?

What does it mean for poetry to imitate life. Writing a poetry he can't quite write yet. Supreme importance. Nameless spectacle. Moment of cleavage.

Emerson, Nietzstche. Old turning over the new. Romanticism. Something lost. Disorganization principle. Emerson disobedience. Relatedness. Are these the ideas most poets operate.

Personality. Dialectic. In dialogue. Drawing on.

Projects of NOW: v. learning then, pure and puritanism, inclusive, redundancy, completeness. Always now. What is suspense. Dottie Lasky. Marianne Moore.

Excess. Spring... and all!