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Archive for October, 2003

BE BACK SOON!

BE BACK SOON!

Just a quick note to say hello, and that I’ve nipped off to Canada to rendezvous with the Canadian Dyke for a bit, so blogging may be light (or nonexistent) until sometime early next week. I’d planned to drop in earlier and post about my upcoming trip, but had some internet difficulties prior to flying out. At any rate, I will be back soon!

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ALBINO SQUIRREL

ALBINO SQUIRREL

I thought it might be fun/different to try posting some audio blog readings of my poems every once in awhile. This is a poem called Albino Squirrel, and it’s a bit of a Seasonal Affective Disorder poem. In fact, around early November or so each year, like clockwork, I end up writing an annual Seasonal Affective Disorder poem. This particular vintage is from a few years back, though, when I lived in Columbus, Ohio, and worked a particularly hideous and loathsome day job as a legal secretary that no amount of anti-depressants seemed capable of making up for . . . and where I did, in fact, regularly see an albino squirrel on the way to the bus stop.

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P.S. Thanks to everyone who weighed in on the cover art poll below! And yes . . . there does appear to be a nipple lurking next to the goldfish slightly above the knee there. I’m assuming that the nipple is an effect of the tattoo pattern, and not a real one . . . although I’m terrifically fascinated and certainly not opposed to the notion of extra bonus nipples making cameo appearances in unexpected locales.

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COVER ART POLL

COVER ART POLL

The cover art for my new book has been designed, and I got to see it for the first time on Monday. I have to say that I’m just totally fucking ecstatic over the cover!! There are two versions of the design, and apparently I get to break the current voting tie. Personally, I’m leaning toward Version 2, with the image on the top, and the glossy black with title, etc. below. If you’re interested, here’s a sneak peak (as a downloadable PDF file):

Year of the Snake – Cover Art

Any thoughts, votes, personal preferences?

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ARTICHOKE HEART HOUSE RULES

In accordance with the particular quirks and neuroses of the Artichoke Heart House, and in order to avoid, as much as possible, the quagmire of abject self-loathing that accompanies a less-than-stellar writing day, the following Writing Rules are hereby officially posted on the virtual wall of the Artichoke Heart House for immediate implementation. All resident Artichoke Hearts (who know the goddamn rules, having rather painstakingly made them up herself over a number of years, but who nonetheless have an unfortunate penchant for periodically flaking out and ignoring the rules) are hereby held subject and accountable to House Writing Rules, under penalty of self-flagellation with a wet noodle until a crack in the psyche is achieved and full-blown emotional meltdown transpires.

1. Music is key. Upon waking, make sure to start playing music immediately, so that eventually settling down at the laptop and focusing on the work at hand will occur. Failure to play music usually ensures failure to start writing. Do not allow significant lapses in music to occur. When the music stops, writing will eventually stop soon thereafter. Feel free to play CD’s that “work” over and over and over and over again obsessively. Once a CD has betrayed one and no longer “works,” however (a situation not unlike Clothes Betrayal, by which a perfectly good garment in which one used to reliably feel unabhorrent hideously turns on one and reveals itself, in reality, to be unaccountably unflattering beyond all comprehension), immediately change over the CD to another tried-and-true CD and continue playing new tried-and-true CD over and over and over and over again obsessively until the crisis has passed. Remind self that entire last book was written almost in entirety to the soundtrack of Joni Mitchell’s Greatest Hits, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, John Coltrane’s Soul Train, and Dave Brubeck’s Take Five. Yes, your neighbors HATE you. They probably hate you a lot. Just suck it up and get used to it. Current tried-and-true choices: Blame Sally’s If You Tell A Lie, Morphine’s Cure for Pain, Beta Band’s Three EP’s, and Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch.

2. Make sure to move the laptop over to the table immediately upon arising, even if it seems a little tedious and silly to relocate laptop six or seven feet away from where it was. Do not dial-up on the laptop while it’s still in the living room, otherwise one will be tempted to enter the Slacker Dyke Bermuda Triangle of Sloth and Apathy and mainline blogs and DVDs for 8-12 hours straight. The distinction is a fine one, only a matter of a few yards, but nonetheless significant: Living Room = Slacker Dyke Bermuda Triangle of Sloth and Apathy, Kitchen Table = I’m being a Good Doobie and working! (Note to self: Nag landlord about completion of promised second room, so that one actually has a real office again, for fuck’s sake!)

3. Drink two large full mugs of strong coffee. Do not, under any circumstances, however, drink that third large full mug of strong coffee, no matter how much it seems like a good idea at the time, unless one wants to incite a chemically-induced panic attack, wherein one ends up curled up in the fetal position with a too-rapid heartbeat, obsessing about Writer’s Block, in tandem with an in-depth consideration of the various forms of gum disease and tongue cancer that might potentially entail amputation of significant portions of one’s face.

4. Do not call one’s Japanese Mother on the telephone unless one has already put in a solid three-four hours of work, otherwise one might be incapacitated for the rest of the day by a concomitant Self Esteem Crash, thereby inciting a Japanese Mother-induced panic attack, wherein one ends up curled up in the fetal position with a too-rapid heartbeat, obsessing about Writer’s Block, in tandem with an in-depth consideration of the various forms of gum disease and tongue cancer that might potentially entail amputation of significant portions of one’s face.

5. The cats will do practically anything to lure one into taking an extended nap with them. They will curl themselves into blissful croissant-like crescents of snooze, and the combined racket of their snoring and grunting will fill one with overwhelming tidal waves of Sleep Envy. Do not give in to their wily, evil machinations. They are Satan’s Spawn.

6. Do not hesitate to rub the back of the Compassionate Buddha for sympathy and moral support as one contemplates the fact that everything one has written the day before sucks ass. Rub the Compassionate Buddha. Take a deep breath and avoid the panic attack looming on the horizon (see #3 and #4, above). Convince self that perhaps one might be able to make the stuff one wrote the day before suck ass a little bit less today. Rub the Compassionate Buddha. Take a deep breath. Tell self that at least self is working, and that ass-sucking is a significant part of the writerly process. Rub the Compassionate Buddha. Take a deep breath.

7. At the first sign of trouble, don the Good Luck Writing Hat. Don’t fuck around! Don’t mamby pamby about, whinging and mumbling, I don’t like wearing the hat . . . it’s STOO-pid . . . I don’t really NEED the hat. Just put on the motherfucking hat and get on with it, already!!

That is all.

Pics of the Day: The Mint Bar in Sunburst, Montana; The Canadian Dyke at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta; and Waterton Lake at Townsite, Waterton, Alberta.

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BOOK NEWS UPDATE

BOOK NEWS UPDATE

So . . . things with the new boook are zipping right along. The title is Year of the Snake, and it’s scheduled to come out with Southern Illinois University Press in March 2004. In fact, it will be officially “launched” at the AWP (The Association of Writers and Writing Programs) conference in Chicago, where I’ll be giving a panel reading with other Crab Orchard Poety Series poets. I’m very excited!

The people at SIU Press have been fabulous to work with . . . attentive, responsive, professional, kind, funny, and generally just all-around Good Eggs. So far, I’ve done proof-reading on a very early round of proofs in July, and apparently I’ll be able to do the final round of typeset proof-reading sometime in November. The back-cover blurbs have started to come in, and the marketing manager I’ve been working with was kind enough to forward some of them along to me . . . both of the ones I read were exceedingly generous . . . probably make the book sound better than it actually is! Also, I had my heart on using artwork from Richard Chesler’s series of photographs incorporating irezumi — traditional Japanese full body tattoo. In this series, Chesler painted irezumi onto women models, and then made photographs from these images. I recently heard from the Design and Production Manager that permission has been secured from Chesler to use one of the images. Hooray! The cover is now in the process of being designed, and should be ready for me to take a look at sometime this month, probably incorporating one of the more “serpentine” of the Chesler images, such as Dragons of the Heart or Silent Dragon. I can’t wait to see how the cover turns out!

I suppose in many respects, Year of the Snake is ultimately a book about transformation, and the human desire for transformation, as well as the simultaneously dangerous and liberating state of being somewhere in between transformations . . . not quite one thing or the other. This becomes a metaphor for race, gender, place, culture, and stages in one’s life, and I use recurring imagery of snakes and insects molting as part of this metaphor. The poems alternate between more autobiographical poems where I sometimes look back at images of my mother’s garden in Wyoming, and ruminate on the implications of “transplanting” and Japanese-American identity and diaspora, and poems that are dramatic monologues written in the voices of characters from traditional Japanese myths and fairy tales (frequently with a contemporary or feminist twist). . . the idea is that the “I”, the first-person voices, in the book will start to overlap and blur, in the same way that aspects of identity blur, so that it becomes difficult at times to distinguish one from the other, autobiography from myth/fairy tale, fact from fantasy, antiquity from modern-day. And this is one of the reasons why, in addition to their obviously serpentine, or snake-like qualities, I think the Chesler images will be so perfect for the book. The way in which they blend Eastern and Western, contemporary and traditional, and the way they have a bit of trompe l’oeil quality to them, make them images that, I feel, speak to and for the ways in which I would ideally like for the book to be read.

And while cover art certainly doesn’t make or break a book, by any means, writers (particularly poets) aren’t often lucky enough to actually have a voice in the cover design of their book. Having spoken to authors who had no say in their cover design, or, worse yet, who actually even outright loathe the cover of their book (a situation that really is simultaneously heartrending and enraging, it seems), I’m feeling so relieved and happy at this point in time!

In further, unrelated albeit late-breaking news, after the generous input of readers concerning the Snip or Not To Snip conundrum, I had definitely concluded that the tags on my Good Luck Writing Hat were, if not the definitive good-luck generating feature, at least a significantly contributing factor thereof. And so I didn’t snip. But . . . I looked up from dinner this evening to see that my Siamese cat, Yuki, herself an avid blogger (or at least an avid supervisor of blog-related activities) had snatched hold of my Good Luck Writing Hat by the tags with her teeth, and, having absconded with my Good Luck Writing Hat, was making off with it somewhere, post-haste . . . somewhere that suspiciously looked like the general vicinity of the litter box closet!!!

And finally, in what appears to be an ongoing series of Autumnal Humiliations, my other cat, a Persian by the name of Muku, is currently sporting a Lion Cut. (It’s best not to ask.)

Pics of the Day: Orb Weaver Spider – Coalhurst, Alberta; Painted Lady Butterfly – Fort McLeod, Alberta; and Sertoma Butterfly House – Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

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