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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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TABULA RASA

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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MiPo

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

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