case sensitive: get it here
$650 apartment for $650
He was formal with visitors, but haltingly, increasingly talkative: "They want to bury you. Even while they're saying nice to meet you, they dump a little dirt onto your shoe." (Stop. Each word an island.) "What makes you think you can 'win' at life? I've got a third question too."
How has your first book changed your life?
35. Eve Grubin
My manuscript went through hundreds of incarnations before it reached The Sheep Meadow Press. Over a period of about five years I got in the habit of sending it out regularly to first book contests. I sent it out even when I sensed that it probably wasn't ready yet. Something about the process of sending it out pushed me to keep working on it. Also, the more I sent it out the more I got used to rejection, which transformed rejection into a kind of normal part of life. I began to expect it, and I even kind of looked forward to it, so I could file away the note or letter that sometimes came with a personal comment, and then I would get ready to send out my new version of the manuscript. The sending out and the being said no to process was like a predictable wave washing in and out, in and out, and with each wave the manuscript grew. The only down side was that it was expensive to print out and Xerox so much paper and to pay the submission fees. But the financial commitment may have helped with a larger internal investment in the Freudian sense--if you don't pay the therapist, you are not invested in growth.
Towards the end, I became more confident about the manuscript and started sending it to publishers directly. The book continued to be rejected, but I received a number of thoughtful and helpful letters, and I was encouraged. Stanley Moss, the editor of Sheep Meadow, had seen my poems and sometimes positioned himself as a kind of mentor and would give me advice about revisions although he never offered to publish the book. He asked me to meet with him after I had sent him my manuscript in 2004, and I thought it was just going to be another mentor-student discussion about my poetry. Stanley has been known to be generous with his time to emerging poets, and we had met like that once or twice before.
We sat for about an hour with the El Grecos and Goyas looming over us in his Riverdale house (Stanley is also an art dealer, specializing in the old masters). In the middle of a comment on one of my poems he suddenly stopped and looked down at me and said, "You know I want to publish this book, don't you?" That was it. Just like that. Out of the blue. The faces from the Goya painting were emerging from a brown fog behind his head.
What do you remember about the day when you saw your finished book for the first time?
Seeing the final book was also a process so it wasn't a big sudden shock. First I sent a bunch of ideas for images, which was tricky since Stanley Moss is an art dealer and has strong opinions about design, paintings, and book covers. I knew I wanted something subtle, restrained, and not literal. I was excited about a painting I came across, The Slippers, by a Dutch painter, a contemporary of Vermeer. And Stanley was impressed. But it didn't look quite right. Then I sent him a few abstract Diebenkorns from the Ocean Park series. Many of my poems deal with Jewish and religious themes, and I was terrified of a literal cover that spoke too directly to these issues. It would look cheesy to have a cover with two hands praying, for instance (my book is called Morning Prayer), so I was really going for abstract. Miraculously, Stanley liked the Diebenkorns and chose one. We went back and forth a little about the design and in the end I was content although nervous for no particular reason. I had no experience with book design and didn't know how it would turn out.
So first I saw the cover over email, then a print out was mailed to me, and I saw versions with different color lettering and then the final one and then the back with the blurbs. By the time I got the real thing, I felt as if I had seen it already although boy was it something to hold a real book in my hand. It was real and made and solid. And done. I felt like an adult.
Before your book came out, did you imagine your life would change because of it?
Yes. I didn't know how but I felt that my life would change.
How has your life been different since?
The book has helped me professionally in terms of getting some teaching gigs and readings (and this interview!) that I might not have gotten without the book.
Having this book out has also created a more solid foundation for me to stand on in the public world. It does produce confidence to have a book published, but I learned a surprising and complicated lesson: publishing does not necessarily change your inner life, your emotions, your personal life. It took publishing this book for me to realize how hard I want to work on other more private areas of my life.
What have you been doing to promote the book, and what are those experiences like for you?
Readings. A couple of interviews. These experiences have mostly been clarifying and calming. They give me a chance to articulate my thoughts about the poems and to present them in a formal way, which is soothing for me.
What advice do you wish someone had given you before your book came out?
I wish someone had said, "Just keep writing, reading, and sending out poems, and don't worry." I figured this out myself, but it would have been easier if someone had said it to me regularly.
What influence has the book's publication had on your subsequent writing?
I have taken a breather and haven't "finished" many new poems, but I have a sense of what the next book will look like and have fragments that are slowly turning into made things. I feel a combination of confidence and fear. Confidence because I wrote a book and know I can do it again, fear that I won't be able to do it again! I have become interested in prose and have done a lot of prose writing since the book came out. An essay of mine is appearing in the forthcoming The Veil: Women Writers on its History, Folklore, and Politics (University of California Press, 2007).
I was boosted when Publisher's Weekly gave the book a positive review. PW gives almost everyone positive reviews, but it still meant something to me. Since then, I have been reviewed mostly in Jewish publications, which is fine, but I don't want to be pigeon-holed as a "Jewish poet."
Are there things you plan to do differently when you have a second book published?
I can't see into the future, but I think I want to include prose in the book and images and maybe passages from other poets and writers. As far as publishing goes, I have not thought that far ahead yet. I have to write the book first.
Do you want your life to change?
Is there something you're doing now that you think will bring about a change that you seek?
I hope so.
Do you believe that poetry can create change in the world?
Yes, but the change will be slow, and no one will notice it at first, and it will take tremendous effort on behalf of the poets and the readers of poetry. The change will sneak up on us. We won't see it coming.
Does the head covering open
The painter conceals the color--Eve emerging
The willow, down-turned and silent, incites
The clothed body as knowledge.
When love is gone
The subway heaved forward
and the hand of the man I was with
for less than one second lightly he touched
each tight light to a rupture
The Torah is the body we clothe
How is this longing a longing
What I don't speak you will know.
Is the hidden more blessed than the revealed?
Why is the holy ark covered? As a woman
I can't remember
. . .
an interview with Shin Yu Pai
I started publishing poems when I was a graduate student at the Naropa Institute in 1997. DIY publishing was encouraged and several classmates trained in the Harry Smith letterpress workshop on campus and started small publishing projects. I published poems early on through these little projects and Jerry Tumlinson, a poetics student and classmate in Anselm Hollo's translation workshop who started Third Ear Books, asked me for a manuscript of Chinese translations. He published my first chapbook, which I worked on with my father, Ten Thousand Miles of Mountains and Rivers, released in Summer 1998. Keith Abbott did the calligraphy, which was made into a plate that Brad O'Sullivan of Smokeproof Press used to letterpress the covers.
I was really grateful to Jerry for the respect and care he showed to the work--he involved me in all aspects of the design from end papers to binding. Because we felt it was important to present the work in a bilingual edition, he also found a printer who could print Chinese characters in San Francisco that he actually flew out to work with in person, as long-distance communication wasn't getting the job done. That book was produced in a limited-edition run of about 125 copies.
I published Equivalence in 2003 with La Alameda Press. Up to that point, I had published in small journals and began putting together a manuscript after finishing grad school in Chicago in 1999. I was sidetracked with work for a few years and got together a rough draft of Equivalence which I started sending out in 2001. Like a lot of poets, I started out by sending to contests. In retrospect, I would have bypassed that process and saved myself hundreds of dollars in reading fees--but I did not have a strong understanding of the publishing landscape at that time and didn't know my options.
In Spring 2002, I asked the advice of writers who had been meaningful to me at Naropa. Joanne Kyger suggested that I write to JB Bryan of La Alameda Press. La Alameda produces beautiful books within a certain literary and spiritual aesthetic--they had published many of my teachers at Naropa--Joanne, Andrew Schelling, and Anselm Hollo, alongside amazing New Mexico writers like Lisa Gill and Carol Moldaw. I sent the manuscript to La Alameda and a few months later, JB responded with a large package which included a sampling of La Alameda's titles and a warm and generous two-page letter accepting the work. I was deeply touched by his reading and attention to the work, and throughout my publishing experiences, my work and relationship with JB and his wife Cirrelda, has remained the gold standard.
What was also meaningful--during that waiting period to hear about the manuscript, I had spoken to my mentor and friend Andrew Schelling about the project. Andrew was working on production for his book Wild Form, Savage Grammar with La Alameda and offered to put in a good word with JB about my work. I received JB's acceptance that same week, but before my old friend had occasion to speak to JB. The decision had already been made on the merit of the work.
The process of working on Equivalence was a very collaborative one. I suggested the artwork for the cover, a painting by Boston artist Walker Buckner. Walker's a dear friend who I've known since my early 20s. By total random chance, JB knew of Walker's work, having read an article about his painting in an art magazine published several years earlier. All the synchronicities were great. JB also included one of my abstract black-and-white photographs of a Japanese chozubachi as the frontispiece for the collection.
Andrew consulted on the final sequence of the book, after I removed the section breaks at JB's suggestion to make the collection more seamless. We did a print run of 1,000, and of that original run, less than 100 copies remain.
I published my next chap, Unnecessary Roughness, in Spring 2005 with xPress(ed), a small publisher of experimental literature based in Finland, which has a strong internet presence. The press had been producing PDF e-books as downloads, but moving into the realm of printed matter. I was offered the option of producing the collection as a POD through Lulu. The cover artwork is a photo/text piece by NY artist Ferenc Suto, a friend and collaborator, and the only deliberate design choice that went into creating the book.
I'm not sure that I would do POD publishing again in the future--less than 50 copies of the book sold and there were no comp/author's copies offered as part of the publishing agreement. I purchased copies to send out for review and promotion when I discovered that there were few reviewers who were willing to work with a digital PDF of the book. POD pretty much eliminates your upfront production costs, but I was disheartened by the production quality--ink color and quality, mild pixelation on cover, paper weight, cover stock, etc. Nevertheless, the process was educational.
At the moment I'm in the final stages of working with Press Lorentz and with Convivio Bookworks on two separate projects. Press Lorentz is producing my Love Hotel Poems as a limited edition artist book, pairing my work with Danish paper artist Peter Callesen. We chose a hand-stitched binding for the book that mirrored the bindings used to bind together ledger books found in traditional Japanese inns.
Convivio Bookworks is doing a letterpress concertina-bound book of my Works on Paper--literally poems on the theme of paper--bound in boards that are wrapped in persimmon-dyed paper.
The project with Convivio was initiated in 2003--I've learned that making beautiful books can take a lot of time, and it's definitely worth it. I've been going back to working more closely with my publishers to create a more integrated vision. I care about the work too much to rush it anymore, and I believe that good design matters.
Also in production is Sightings: Selected Works (2000-2005) with Ahadada Books. I've been working on the concept with San Antonio designer Roland Murillo of Murillo Design. Roland's book designs came to my attention through poet Anthony Flores. I will be hand-carving into the covers with an exacto knife, cutting holes that will allow the reader to see through to the text on the title page. Through the whole design process, I've learned a great deal about getting a book printed. With future projects, I would like to continue to work directly with a chosen designer and manage the production process from start to finish. I'm not sure what that would look like, but I'm very interested at this time in moving to a cooperative publishing model--what's being done by groups like Tres Chicas.
In 2007, Tupelo Press is bringing out my Nutritional Feed project with painter David Lukowski. That's been a hands-off process so far. The press was awarded some NEA funding to help produce the collection. We'll see what develops.
How and why did you hook up with Tupelo for the Nutritional Feed project? Will they design and produce the book without your direct involvement?
In late Spring of 2004, I posted a query on the WOMPO list asking for recommendations for publishers with an interest in collaborative manuscripts, and/or works bringing together the visual and the textual. The founder and publisher of Tupelo Press backchanneled me and asked me to submit the two projects that I was working on to the press, independent of the contests that Tupelo runs. A few months later, he accepted Nutritional Feed. Because the costs of printing and producing a book with full-color art plates can be quite costly, and frankly, prohibitive for the budgets of the average small press, the press put the project on hold until it could explore funding opportunities. As of last month, I am told that the book will be scheduled for a Fall 2007 release.
I visited face-to-face with the publisher in Connecticut when I was on the East Coast for a UCONN reading in 2004. At that time, I had the opportunity to see a large number of the books that the press had produced. Tupelo makes a very beautiful book--high-quality paper and cover stocks, unique designs and varied formats, and signature French flaps--Barbara Tran's book and Anna Rabinowitz's Darkling particularly stood out to me. In speaking to the publisher, I came away with the sense that creating beautiful books and promoting emerging talent was central to their mission and that it could be a meaningful partnership.
Production hasn't yet begun, and it's difficult to say how the process will evolve. The press has asked for my feedback on what I'd like to see on the cover, but reserve the right to create something completely different. I have faith that the project will eventually come together--the press did a fine job with Mong Lan's recent book Why is the Edge Always Windy? which incorporated the poet's drawings into a larger-format book design, consistent with her first book. With the process of my three other projects currently in production, largely I'm grateful to have the process of this fourth project managed by a press that has a track record of producing attractive books.
Is your interest in independent publishing such that you consider publishing others?
I've contemplated it more than once. There are a handful of Naropa poets I've followed over the years whose work I am very committed to, whose work I would really love to see in the world. Publishing that work would take, of course, resources, and partnerships--because I'm not an expert in Quark or InDesign, and my personal passion has been poetry and marketing it, not book design. I don't have a lot of disposable income to do the kinds of things I would like to do for my own work right now, let alone for others. However, a step in that direction has been curating readings and inviting poets to submit work for small projects that I edit. There are many ways in which we can advocate and honor the work of those we admire and support--publishing being only one aspect of that gift economy. I do think that poets should take greater ownership of getting their work published and invest the efforts and energy into their own work to produce, on their own terms, beautiful books that they are directly involved in creating. There are alternative options out there to the mainstream and the established, and one need only become familiar with those options.
This Spring, I was on residency in Taipei and interviewed a number of contemporary poets for a special upcoming issue of Tony Tost's Fascicle. One thing that was interesting about getting to know the poetry publishing industry in Taiwan is that many poets "self-publish" their own work thru getting a first-book grant from the Council for Cultural Affairs and hand-picking a design firm to work with on the conceptualization of the book. The designers manage the production and printing. The poets then work with a separate agency to market the book and to get it into bookstores. That model makes sense to me. It's not that publishers of poetry in Taiwan don't exist, it's that they don't always provide the right form/container for the work. I'd say the same goes in American small press publishing. As far as I can tell, there is no stigma attached to self-publishing in Taiwan. Ye Mimi's self-published debut collection even won the Golden Butterfly Award for book design from the Taipei Book Foundation two years ago. Making a beautiful book in a cooperative spirit seems most important.
Though you've taken a less-traveled road with your books, you'll be reading at the Dodge Festival this month--a pretty mainstream gig. What are your feelings about the so-called mainstream?
The invitation to present my work at the Dodge Festival came as an unexpected surprise and I consider the opportunity a great gift. I'm looking forward to hearing Ko Un, Brian Turner, Natasha Trethewey, and Sholeh Wolpe at the Festival and presenting my own work to new audiences. [Shin Yu is scheduled to appear twice at the Dodge Festival, giving a talk on Thursday morning, September 28th, from 11:30 to 12:30, and reading on Sunday, October 1st, at 11.00 a.m.]
I don't know where my work fits within the "mainstream"--I think the poems of my early work Equivalence have a more accessible mainstream intellectual and aesthetic appeal. The book helped me get several speaking engagements at universities. But the Love Hotel series and sports poems of Unnecessary Roughness are much edgier and more in an anthropological tradition. Over 10 years ago, I worked for Agni, a very mainstream lit magazine, when I studied at B.U. That taught me a lot about what is and isn't getting published and what interests me. I don't generally spend time reading mainstream poetry or publications--Poetry Magazine or APR--although I do enjoy the work of Billy Collins, and I find the work of Robert Hass very beautiful.
Are you originally from Texas?
I was born in the Mid-West and grew up in the Inland Empire of So Cal. This is my second time living in Texas. I have been here since 2004, when I was offered a residency at the University of Texas at Dallas at Southside on Lamar that subsidized my living costs for a year and provided me with time to write. My husband is originally from the area and we have a small community here of healers and artists. I consider myself a Californian and that is where I locate "home," though I've spent most of my adult life living in Boston and other big cities. The west is the heart, and the mind is the East. I'm grateful to have known both.
Do you have something like an ordinary work day? On a Thursday, say, what do you do?
As of very recently, I've paid the bills by working as a freelance copyeditor/writer for a major daily newspaper in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. On a Thursday, I would be shoving real estate pages for weekend publication, cleaning up headlines, fixing widows, and fine-tuning real estate bloat by sending text through the "blander" to conform to AP and general style guidelines. Much is to be found in the happy accidents of real estate copy: "homes near the connivances (conveniences) of the city" and "family-friendly outings on FagpoleHill" (Flagpole Hill just happens to be a gay district). I don't know if anyone other than a word person would find these things amusing.
In one of your recent blog posts, you closed with "How much poetry remains a part of my long-term future remains to be seen." Does this reflect a desire to focus on other areas of expression?
I've given a lot of public readings and taught many workshops since publishing Equivalence in 2003. I am ready to take a break from finishing up old projects and shepherding them into the world. I am interested at this time in the clarification of intent and working towards something greater, which may or may not involve poetry as a central focus.
I'm starting a one-year yoga training program with my husband in November, through a local studio where I very much respect the work being done. I'm interested in the intersection between the healing arts and the literary/creative arts. There are connections and I'm starting to learn of healers who combine their work in poetry and yoga--among them artists like Karen X and Jeff Davis. My husband is an acupuncturist and we're interested in finding ways to bring our lives closer together. Other long-term opportunities for growth and learning are also on the horizon--I've wanted to go back to school for a long time to study anthropology formally, within an art school setting specifically. A very rare and exciting opportunity has been extended to me and I am contemplating what's possible.
How far is Wendell from where you are?
And what are you doing on Monday night around 7:15?
Amie Keddy (co-editor of FRAME) and I will be reading on Monday around 8 pm at the Deja Brew Pub in Wendell, home to the all small caps reading series hosted by Jess Mynes. We'll be preceded by an open mic. Come early and sign up or just come and listen. See you there!
I'm really looking forward to meeting Jess finally and to taping a conversation with him about various aspects of his work, including his press, Fewer & Further. (His latest, the beautiful Landscape Odes, can still be had for a mere 3 bucks.)
This interview with Jess is one of several I have in mind for the coming months (as the first-book series comes to a close) with poets who help other poets by publishing books or journals or by hosting readings. I'll also be talking with a few poets at various stages of their careers about the different publishing paths they've taken. The first of those will appear here day after tomorrow, an interview with Shin Yu Pai.
A number of people have asked me when I'm going to answer my own first-book questions, and some have offered to interview me at their blogs. Thank you, comrades!
I think that when the last first-book interview has appeared, I'll mark the conclusion by putting my name at the top of the stack of interviewees, leaving mine black (unlinked) until, at some point during "the case sensitive tour" (that's catchy, right?), I'm sitting in a motel room and feel ready to describe the ways that my first book has changed my life. Then I'll interview myself.
Michael Sikkema's Code Over Code, the newest Lame House Press release--have you seen it (ordered it) yet? (That's a detail of the great cover, by Dietmar Krumrey, above.) I loved Hazel McClure's Nothing Moving (now sold out)--interestingly, Michael Sikkema is her husband. What a team! I'm very behind on my reading, finally got to Code After Code last night.
"Had torn back a section of curtain revealing more curtain.
One last thing, Saint Elizabeth Street #4 is just up, with new work from Rob McClennan, Joe Massey, Elizabeth Robinson, Bruce Covey, Catherine Daly, me, and a host of others. I'd like to say more but I have to stop typing now--lots to do before we head north tomorrow morning.
That's the Deja Brew, seen from space.
How has your first book changed your life?
The first time I submitted Wide slumber for lepidopterists to a small press was November 2004, when an editor from Coach House Books asked to see it. From 2000 to 2004, I shared the work-in-progress with many lovely friends. Prior to its acceptance at Coach House, excerpts were published in Alterran Poetry Assemblage, ARRAS 5, Literary Review of Canada, Pissing Ice: An Anthology of 'New' Canadian Poetry, Psychic Rotunda, and Queen Street Quarterly. Through my once-in-a-blue-moon things like press, I published excerpts from Wide slumber in 2002 and 2003 as limited-edition chapbooks made from vellum and cloth-like paper affixed with miniature clothespins, thread, and steel binder rings. Calgary's housepress also published a dollop of slumberish text in pins in ings if.
What do you remember about the day when you saw your finished book for the first time?
Calm before the calm. Electric enthusiasm.
In Canada, there are three small presses--Coach House (Toronto, ON), Gaspereau Press (Kentville, NS), and Porcupine's Quill (Erin, ON)--where both the pre-production (acquisitions, editing, design, promotion, etc.) and the production (printing, binding, cutting) are completed in the same building. As a current Toronto resident, it was a wee dream to pop by the press during the book's sojourn through Coach House Printing.
During my first visit, unfolded sixteen-page signatures were stacked in large, cream-coloured rectangles throughout the printing room. Tony Glenesk (printing) spoke with me about his choice to add a blue tint to the black ink, softening the text's and images' visual impact. I rooted through discarded, unfolded signatures (saved for later mischief). On my second visit, Nicky Drumbolis (bindery) snuck me extra covers. Coach House has a gritty charm, and I wholeheartedly recommend a tour when you're next in Toronto.
Through my work with The Mercury Press and Sumach Press, I've seen enough books through pre-production that I'm no stranger to the electricity and flutters that accompany the first time I see a book in its bound format. With Shift & Switch: New Canadian Poetry (an anthology I'd co-edited and co-designed through Mercury in 2005), the book's physical presence was a clean, crisp sentence with no flashy punctuation or multi-syllable words (a sentence akin to the matter-of-factness of, say, "There it is.").
Not so with Wide slumber.
The day I learned that Wide slumber was done, I invited two friends, Conor Green and Katherine Parrish, to meet me at the press. Their enthusiasm mediated my prone-to-hyperactivity self; so much so that when I first met Wide slumber in her new look, I felt a quiet and peace inside I would not have anticipated. Over the last five years, I knew the text intimately on the computer screen and its print counterpart on an 8.5" x 11" white page. I knew its excerpts in magazines and as chapbooks. To see it compact, on zephyr laid, disoriented me. Wide slumber had grown miles long, sky-high--gargantuan and uncontainable--and here it was, bound.
Consider the difference in hearing "Lithium" by Nirvana recorded professionally, performed live in concert, bootlegged, covered by another musician; each incarnation impacts your interpretation and experience of the song. In a similar way, Wide slumber's spined incarnation estranged me from the text I knew so well; she entered the room in an impossible corset. Wolf-whistle.
I remember the day I met the book: text sucked and pressed into a tidy rectangle. I flattened; I tailspun. Wide slumber pinned at a moment of the text's metamorphosis, snapshot. Objectified, multiplied.
That night, we warily made eye contact. Raccoons watched from rooftops.
Matt Ceolin's art feels integral to the book as it is now. Did you plan to have art in the finished book when you were writing the manuscript?
The initial poem grew out of enthusiasm to collaborate with Matt, a close friend from high school in Northern Ontario. I spent a feverish weekend in 2000 writing a five-page poem, to which Matt responded with treated photographs of insects and bottles. At the time, neither of us anticipated our project expanding to fill a trade book.
A year later, Matt, who also amazes me for his incredible bookbinding and design through his corosae vespes press, proposed we build a chapbook maquette (twenty pages in length) incorporating our initial material. In 2004, a second maquette featured heavily revised text and images. Neither maquette extended to print runs, though they were solid stepping-stones to envision the project. When Coach House inquired about Wide slumber's progress, they did so with the knowledge that Matt's images were an integral sister to the text.
Wide slumber's text was finalized in January 2006. Bill Kennedy (editor and designer) and I sat down for an amazing eight-hour typesetting expedition, the highlight of which included placing Matt's images in the book. The images clicked into spot with little resistance, magnetic attraction.
Before your book came out, did you imagine your life would change because of it?
"Who knows what's going to happen--lottery or car crash or you'll join a cult?"--"Possibly Maybe," Björk
The biggest shift is that I'm no longer writing Wide slumber (though I've had moments where I brainstorm edits or additions). Instead, with an ad-hoc group of brilliant performing artists, I've begun the process of translating the text's content, structure, and white space into choreography, sound score, light plots, set for Toronto events at Nuit Blanche and Harbourfront Centre's Hatch: Emerging Performance Projects. Project collaborators include Matt, who's developing the set, props, and wardrobe. It's an invigorating way to bend the mind, and I'm glad to not yet leave the bewitching company of sleep and moths.
Were there things you thought would happen that didn't? Surprises?
In my experience working for presses, it often takes time for Canadian media to write up a first book of poetry, if they do so at all. I anticipated a few friends writing me privately to say they'd read the book, and otherwise radio silence for four to six months proceeded by one or two reviews. The immediate media response to Wide slumber was a surprise.
What did you do/are you doing to promote the book, and what were/are those experiences like for you?
Coach House Books has been monumentally supportive and creative with the book's promotion. They created and distributed wearable ephemera (cut-out butterfly shapes adorned with poetry, pin included), and launched the book in Toronto, Hamilton (ON), Ottawa (ON), Montreal (QC), Calgary (AB), and Winnipeg (MB). I'll visit New York City [Oct. 10 at belladonna* and Oct. 11 at Poets House] and Philadelphia (PA) this October for readings.
Otherwise, I've saved and scraped my pennies to travel. Pre-launch, I read in several provinces and two states, including British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Otherworldly. It's such an adrenaline rush to feel words burrow to the very star of me and then breathe/weave their peculiar magic into a soundscape. Out-of-body.
All my energy is focused on sprouting wings so I can travel to distant places in 2007.
What was the best advice you got?
"You should not show you can read."--"Forest Families," The Knife
What influence has the book's publication had on your subsequent writing?
Emerging from deep immersion in text, I've craved a palette cleanser some fierce. My tonic? Re-acquaint myself with sound and movement, both in research and in practice. I'm knee-deep in developing performance strategy to suit the text, and wholly appreciate every opportunity offered to work with others and share text with an audience. For the Toronto launch, Ciara Adams and Alexis Milligan (interdisciplinary performers) joined me for a three-minute sound poem. Jill Hartman (poet) and I had a blast working through fifteen minutes of Wide slumber at a Calgary event. For two Scream Literary Festival events this summer, Ciara and I paired with Lori Nancy Kalamanski and Conor Green (performers) to power through twelve minutes of text and sound. At each incarnation, words pop and honey, erupt, seethe; neologisms tumble between tongue and teeth.
How do you feel about the critical response and has it had any effect on your writing?
I love constructive feedback, as an outside eye can redirect focus, alter course, challenge, bring to light dirty little writing habits. I've benefited greatly from private feedback, and am still acclimatizing to public feedback. Of magazine and newspaper reviews, I often find them insightful into the reviewer's reading practices.
After publication, I discovered two excerpts from Wide slumber have been translated into Icelandic and Spanish. Unfamiliar languages appeal to my sensibilities with their musicality and coded logic. The translations encouraged close readings of the foreign languages, comparing their English counterparts, and further investigation into Chilean and Icelandic poetries.
There's a danger in internalizing and magnifying negative vitriol; pervasive sexism can encourage a self-censor, a thing I've recently had to confront post-book. At the end of the day, I'd rather give a hug than throw a punch, no matter how seductive an expletive-laden response can be.
Constantly; not at all; it does so without my vigilance. I don't know what I seek; yes, I do; yes, a change will come based on what I do. Frenetic Saturniidae's wingbeats create typhoons. Unknown and known repercussions for our dreaming. Metamorphosis, processing, procession, regeneration. What is meant by change, by world? What do I mean? I mean
from Wide slumber for lepidopterists by a.rawlings
We descend on a field by a lake. a hoosh The lupin, sleep, the fog. a ha Fireflies, silent moths. We bury our legs in sand. Sound through sand is dormant. We desire sleep to enter, virginal.
We stretch our feelers toward the warm body. a a Slowly, hands fog-damp spin plants, form air-filled hollows, breath cocooned, fur soft and blurred, heavy even heavenly. hoosh Soft like quiet. ha
Soft like we quiver.
Slow light touch of hand on wing, scales brush off like butterfly kisses, hand on brow, eyelash dew and fog, breath and fur our entrance and we caress the dulled wet passage, the flicker of soft quiet like sound or sand, when larva eats its eggshell and become pupa a hoosh
we tongue our shell, our conch, we smell the honeysuckle sweat heavily in the night air. Heave. a hoosh The fragrance a push of belly against abdomen, tongue buried deep in the suckle the honey and the brush-foots wake and crowd, thrust or pulse, spastic praxis, massive pulse out of sync. This is not what this is no, we intended, we thought sleep and none came we come. ha a a ha Horned caterpillars epilepse, wood nymphs spin and hang crude cocoons
we hold our slow high flight
we are taut while we thrust against the inner wall. Sleep is bruised or screams or none comes but we desire, we feel the full hot flesh of our wing swipe grass, scrape sand, we push ourselves out of ourselves, into our sound our hand our sweet wet hot our path, mourn, rake, master or muster. Glisten swell come and the story's arousal, twenty eyes unblink when the sun's awake and even when it's not the brain speaks, screams, swells
and huge battened eyes of a hundred hungry mouths, no moths, wait this will move. Will move to sleep not yet. Diurnal motion a heavenly body a soft steel wool. Diurnal panic or we come and the sweet hot full the electricity of our shelled wholes, our steeled wools, shocks us, lightning through our hole, up into the sand, we roll away from ourselves, breathless. a hoosh a ha We have five seconds of lightning and love like
laid in plant tissues or in narrow slits or crevices. Soft innocent curving.
Laid in soft theta tissues or in narrow row innocents.
Laid in narrow tissues or in in soft theta curving of the innocence
laid in soft narrow curves of innocents, of issue,
. . .