Archive for the ‘Po-Bizzery’ Category

Lady Murasaki wrote in The Tale of Genji that thirty-seven is “a dangerous year” for women. Evoking the styles of Murasaki and other women writers of the Heian-period Japanese court, Lee Ann Roripaugh presents a collection of confessional poems charting the course of that perilous year. Roripaugh, in both an homage to and a dialogue with women writers of the past, explores the trials of women facing the treacherous waters of time while losing none of the grace and decadence of femininity. Often calling upon the passing of the seasons and revelations of nature, these lyrically elegant poems chronicle the dangers and delights of a range of issues facing contemporary women—from bisexuality and biracial culture and identity, to restless nights and lingering memories of the past. The pleasures of the senses collide with parallels of time and the natural world; tangible solitude lies down beside wistful memories of relationships gone by. What is ultimately revealed is both heartbreaking and illuminating. At once provocative, humorous, and bittersweet, On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year is a pillow book for the twenty-first century, providing a candid and whimsical look into the often tumultuous universe of the modern woman.

“The poems in Lee Ann Roripaugh’s intimate pillow book shimmer and glitter, blurring the line between text and image. . . . Moths, spiders, cats, clouds, gumballs, ladybugs and lovers are woven into a vibrant pattern that juxtaposes the delicious with the illicit, the still life with the quick silverfish, the imperious antennae of ants with the furred curve of a peach. . . . Desire, along with its many disguises and tricks, is the hard, fierce center of this gorgeous canticle to earthly love.” —Maura Stanton, author of Immortal Sofa

“Lee Ann Roripaugh’s poems create a true book of seeing. Her poems show us the way toward redemption as they fill these pages with a life of discovery and meaning.” —Ray Gonzalez, author of Consideration of the Guitar: New and Selected Poems

On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year is an especially telling title for Lee Ann Roripaugh’s masterful third collection; the poems again and again return to those transformative moments when acute lyric description gives way to a similarly acute self-appraisal; and where the poet’s argument with the world gives way—momentarily, but always convincingly—to sensual astonishment.” —David Wojahn, author of Interrogation Palace: New and Selected Poems 1982–2004

“Lee Ann Roripaugh’s On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year is a gorgeous, vibrant, and playful collection, filled with keen insights on everything from insect life to human chagrin to the measures of heartbreak. These poems delight and devastate with their incredible range of detail, their intensity, and their compassion.” —Bich Minh Nguyen, author of Stealing Buddha’s Dinner

(Forthcoming Southern Illinois University Press, October 2009.)

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How to crack open this brand new blog space? After such an extended blog hiatus, and a decampment to a new blog platform, it seems as if there is simultaneously much too much, and nearly not enough, to say? Plus, how to redefine/reclaim/recoordinate the blog space in the midst of all my (seemingly) incessant FaceBooking, FaceBook Status Updating, and Tweeting? We are all such virtual warblers, lately!

But for today I’ll keep it simple, and stick to some basic news items:

First of all, and it seems impossible that I’ve neglected to mention this on my blog yet, because it’s over-the-moonish news — d’oh! — but my third book! Is coming out this fall! On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year was selected as an Editor’s Choice selection in the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry, and will be published by the wonderful folks at Southern Illinois University Press, who did such a lovely job with my second book! The pub date is currently set for October 1, and the book is now available for preorder at Amazon, et al. You can also check out the listing in the Southern Illinois University Press Fall/Winter 2009 Catalogue (see page 9).

Also? Here I am as Featured Poet #27, at the marvelous online journal, Anti-.

Also? In April, my short story Prodigies appeared in the (also marvelous!) online journal, Stone’s Throw Magazine.

Also? All the windows to my apartment have been Saran-wrapped shut with some sort of cling-wrappish sheeting while a phalanx of painters hack and scrape and paint. Occasionally, they peel back one of the windows and peer inside at me while on their ladders. I’m not sure, in the sealed-in duskiness of my light-deprived apartment, if I should start entering in 4, 8, 15, 16, 43, 42 EXE every 108 minutes into my laptop or not?

Also? One of the painters? Every so often sporadically bursts into song — loudly, tunelessly. Here’s what he sings: My car’s got nothing to prove. (Then hollering) Earl! Yeah, my car’s got nothing to prove.

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What I Wish I Was Doing this Afternoon:

1. Writing, writing, writing

2. Reading Murakami

3. Confessing all my secrets to the river, and secretly trysting with the sky

4. Sipping absinthe in the bathtub while listening to Thelonious Monk humming in the bright gilded spaces underneath the keys

5. Transgressing

What I Wish I Wasn’t Doing this Afternoon:

1. Preparing an important, but frankly-sort-of-completely-fucking-boring document

2. Grading and commenting, and grading and commenting some more

3. Procrastinating grading and commenting, and grading and commenting some more

4. Self-flagellating in completely tedious/predictable/not-even-vaguely scintillant way re: procrastination of grading and commenting, and grading and commenting some more

5. Resisting transgressing

* * *

Recent Linky-Lou Who’s:

Interview with Superstition Review

Poems in Fall 2008 Issue of diode

Poems in coconut 14

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I spent a very pleasant afternoon yesterday giving a reading and holding a class discussion at the Yankton Federal Prison Camp twenty minutes down the road in Yankton, South Dakota.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but given that the YFPC is a minimum-security institution, I had a feeling that it wasn’t going to be no cable T.V. Oz–replete with shankings, drug deals, open gang warfare, lockdowns, and riots. So I had to ratchet down my feverishly hyperbolic over-imaginings a bit, which was good, as the prison is located at the former Yankton College, with beautiful old academic buildings and exquisite grounds. Apparently, inmates can earn an associate’s degree in horticulture (as well as other offerings).

I visited Jim Reese’s class (Jim’s a writer who teaches at nearby Mount Marty, and edits the literary journal Paddlefish), and they were a terrific group — extremely attentive, receptive, and engaged, with lots of excellent discussion questions following the reading. (Even if, as co-poet and co-discussant Greg Kosmicki pointed out tongue-in-cheekly, they were a captive audience. Har.)

* * *

AH: [During yesterday’s reading.] And there are apparently certain beetles! And inside their bodies they have separate chambers, each housing a different kind of chemical which, when kept separate, are no big deal, but when combined, they become toxic and explosive. So when these beetles are threatened, as a defense mechanism, they combine the two chemicals, and then shoot this toxic, explosive chemical out their ass! Hee! [Pauses, and remembers self.] Um . . . but this poem’s not about that.

* * *

Much of yesterday’s sky indulging in its own hyperbole: all shiny gun-metal blue and moody dark plum, punctuated by sizzling Z’s of lightning and sudden rain. At one point, during dinner with M., an overly-crayoned cartoon stereotype of a rainbow lurched out at us from behind the Post Office. It was so big and intrusive that I almost thought it was going to tip over my glass of Cavit Pinot Noir and fall right into my Zuppa de Mona Lisi.

What can you do with a corny, overly-optimistic rainbow like that?

* * *

Next week I depart for the Land of the Rotary Dial Phone (a.k.a. no internet connectivity) while I visit my Parental Units in Laramie, Wyoming.

I’m in the process of locating Wi Fi hotspots so that I can post bog updates. I’m going to take lots of pictures. Seriously, Oh Blogosphere, you have no idea . . .

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Last night: I drive to the Catholic College 20 minutes down the road and pretend to be my Author-Function.

(And isn’t that really the tricky thing about readings? That one must somehow figure out how (without being too glib about it . . . unless, of course, glibness is one of the perceived or desirable functions of one’s Author-Function, I suppose) to embody and perform one’s own Author-Function? Or, at the very least, how to reconcile one’s physical self with the rather spectral abstract that is one’s Author-Function in such a way that doesn’t come across as sheer psychosis? Or maybe what I’m really confessing is that I’m confused about whether it was really me or my Author-Function that would just as soon have skipped the reading and hung out at the restaurant after the pre-reading dinner, drinking a debaucherous amount of Hurricanes, and dancing with wild abandon all night to the Mardi Gras blues band?)

The nuns will come, I am told over dinner. The Sisters have a Sister Thing going on tonight, but they’re probably going to sneak out of their Sister Thing and come to the reading instead. Suddenly, I love these nuns, these sneaking out of their Sister Thing sisters, and I (or is it my Author-Function?) experience a slight wave of performance anxiety. Suddenly, I even feel a little bit penitent about having threatened, earlier, to one of my friends, to gratuitously read only poems containing sex, absinthe drinking, and masturbation — preferably in tandem.

(So, okay, it’s true, I confess . . . I have a little thing for nuns. No, I’m not saying it’s right, and yes, I’m a complete degenerate. While we’re at it, I have a thing for cops, mail carriers, roller derby queens, superheroes, and debauchable milkmaids. (Particularly debauchable milkmaids. So yeah . . . just call me Angel Clare.) S. says it must be a Uniform Fetish. And there you have it . . . put on a costume for me and I’ll take you down. Just like that.)

Please forgive me.

Which makes better eating? someone asks. A garfish or a paddlefish? Can you even eat a garfish? I heard you have to use tin snips to take off the scales. Both, we are all assured, are very good to eat. The garfish has two strips of filet mignon down either side of the spine that are very tasty, and the secret to the paddlefish is to peel off a mysterious layer of red. They’re just delicious. Well, they’re both prehistoric, says the poet from Nebraska and we all nod wisely, because what could be more delicious than fish that swam with the dinosaurs? I confess, I’m becoming intrigued. What kind of bait do you use? I ask. Small children, says the Cowboy Poet without missing a beat.

The Red Hat Society ladies sweep into the restaurant. I can, at least, say that the costume thing doesn’t seem to hold true in this particular instance and I profess that I have never, at any time, had an overwhelming urge (at least thus far) to debauch a Red Hat Society lady.

When it comes to you, on the other hand . . . ?

Mea culpa.

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Come check out the Asian-American Issue of MiPoesias, edited by Nick Carbo!!

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1. Mug Shots

First things first:

Aerial View of 2006 T-giving Trifle.

Profile Shot of 2006 T-giving Trifle.

You have now officially been trifled with. Because I’m just that kind of a girl.

* * *

2. Bodies, Rest, and Motion

The week before T-giving was exhilarating and crazy. In approximately a ten-day span of time, I drove to Chicago and delivered a paper at a conference, then drove to Forest City, Iowa, to give a reading at Waldorf College, and then a day later flew out to St. Louis to give a reading as part of the River Styx at Duff’s Reading Series.

Chicago provided the opportunity to eat compulsively for three nights in a row at a Thai restaurant (that also served sushi!) just down the street from the Congress Plaza Hotel where I was staying (art deco lobby, and the merest bit seedy/frayed at the edges to garnish it with just the right tinge of squalor . . . in other words, my favorite kind of hotel), and I went to the Chicago Art Institute two days in a row! Day One was devoted primarily to visiting the Thorne Miniatures, with a side tour through mid-century modern design, and (my personal favorite) a lengthy visit to the famous Arthur Rubloff Paperweight Collection, where I was in a veritable froth of paperweight ecstasy! Day Two consisted of a leisurely tour of the Modern and Contemporary galleries, where one can find de Chirico’s The Philosopher’s Conquest, which one might be enamored of for any number of reasons, not least of which are the artichokes.

I was overwhelmed by the kind hospitality at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa, where I spent a lovely day meeting with students and faculty (all of whom were delightful!), giving a reading, and attending a play. The drive out there and back was all sulky, honeyed November light ambering the endless fields of stubble corn, the naked dark lace of bare tree branches filigreeing the horizon, and golden rolled bales of hay punctuating the landscape like enormous jelly roll cakes.

In St. Louis, I stayed in a charming bed and breakfast called Brewer’s House in the old French historic Soulard neighborhood. I got to see our very own Julie Dill (Best! Stalker! Evah!!) and Laine at the reading, getting ready to head out for scintillatingly scandalous misadventures in Georgia. Many, many thanks to Richard Newman and River Styx magazine for bringing me out to read!

* * *

3. Thanks

This Year . . .

I am thankful for my Brat Cats.

I am thankful for the nice birthday weekend in Casper, Wyoming at the Equality State Book Festival with my parental units, where I gave a poetry reading with my dad.

I am thankful for my many, many wonderful friends who are always so good to me, and who I adore beyond measure.

I am thankful for CH, who sent me a sushi clock for my birthday, which made me mad with joy! Mad! With joy! (Aren’t you jealous? You know you are.)

I am thankful for PEP who listens to me obsess (at length) over the phone, even when she has many, many papers to grade.

I am thankful to E, who had me over to her house for T-giving and fed me all sorts of delicious food.

I am thankful for your sweetness, and even your obliviousness . . . for your sweet oblivion.

I am thankful that Poker Alice has a day-after-T-giving gig where I can dance all night with wild abandon.

I am thankful for Appletinis, which come in the most lovely shade of absinthe green.

I am so motherfucking thankful for coffee that it isn’t even funny.

I am thankful for the cool, delicious mists of fog which return unexpectedly, and which are tricky, silvered, and disorienting.

4. Errata Happens

LAR: Are you aware that you misused the word “millinery” several posts below?

AH: Well, I am now.

LAR: Millinery is specifically about sewing hats, not seamstressing in general.

AH: So you keep telling me. But millinery just felt right to me at the time . . . the silvery in and out of the I’s broken up by the smooth, even, satiny stitches of the L’s . . . the evocation of lace, satin ribbons, and maybe even a scrap of tulle?

LAR: That’s so typical of you.

AH: I know.

* * *

5. Coda

What’s that, you say?

There’s a kitten?!?

In my handbag?!?

A very, very happy belated T-giving to all of you out there in the blogosphere from all of us at Artichoke Heart’s House of Wayward Cats & Co.

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I totally enjoyed my jaunt over to MSU-Moorhead to read as part of the Tom McGrath Visiting Writers Series. The students were terrific, and the reading and craft talk very generously attended. I was treated very kindly, and got to stay in a wonderful old B&B. Life was good.

Some things I learned. The twin cities of Fargo and Moorhead are smashed all into one word that you say together really fast: Fargomoorhead if you live on the Fargo side of the river, and Moorheadfargo if you live on the Moorhead side of the river. I was explaining this phenomenon to my friend P. on the phone the other night and I kept flubbing it up and saying Margo-Forehead instead, and then laughing hysterically. And then we both ket yelling MARGO-FOREHEAD(!) on the phone at each other and laughing hysterically some more. And henceforth it will now be officially known as Margo-Forehead, which kind of does have a certain ring to it, don’t you think?

Also, all night long in Margo-Forehead, the Burlington Northern rattles through town, hooking and unhooking its cars, and blowing its whistle. And if you’re late, you just blame it on the train.

Since I’ve been back, I’ve mostly just been rushing around trying to get caught up. I love how familiar and comforting my own bed feels when I come home after being away. And I love how nice it is to see my cats again, up to their same old kooky cat shenanigans. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how lucky I am, and what huge luxuries these comforts really are.

Finally, I will leave you all with The Blog Archive Meme, poached from Farkleberries:

1. Go into your archive.
2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).
3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

I grew up in Wyoming with public-bathroom-phobic parents who would rather suffer a case of hemorrhoids than actually have to initiate any flesh-to-porcelain contact with a non-domestic commode.

(From a post dating back to October 22, 2002, (from my old blog stomping grounds, titled “Indoor/Outdoor Humans.”)

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In the midst of frantically scuttling about like a deranged cockroach while attempting to get ready for an out-of-town reading, I had something kind of blow up in my face this afternoon and snowball in such a way that instead of packing, which I should have been doing, I’ve been alternately obsessing on the phone, on the internets via e-mail, and assuming the foetal position and moaning softly. I think that it’s been mostly straightened out at this point (keeping fingers crossed), but I still feel a little bit disconcerted and sick to my stomach, with way too much adrenaline coursing through my system.

I have an unfortunate tendency to transmogrify into Twitchy, the Tweaked-Out Stress Whore the day before out-of-town readings. This didn’t particularly help.

However, I’m sure that I’ll feel better once I’m actually on the road tomorrow.

I’ll be at MSU-Moorhead for the next few days, doing a workshop visit, craft talk, and reading as part of the Tom McGrath Visiting Writers Series. I’ll probably be off-line for a few days, so ciao for now!

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