Anne Bean

I make delicious words. // I make words delicious.

Tag: Poetry

Shufflepoems!

We’re in a brief respite from Stock Photo Hell, which will continue in its icy glory on Monday. Meanwhile!

 

Shufflepoems back of cards RGB

rad art by Blue Sparks

Imagine a book that was not really a book. A book of poetry designed to be read randomly, the stanzas mixed up and read in a different order each time for different effects and influences. This book would be like a beach, with agates and dead jellyfish being washed ashore, tumbled, resorted by the sea. This book would be like going to a poetry reading in Seattle and watching Lydia Swartz shuffle up her stack of 3×5″ index cards and read them in a different order every time. This book would, in fact, be a deck of cards.

Just like this one.

We’ve taken four of Lydia’s poems and created a deck of 100 cards, that’s 25 cards in four “suits.” They can be read individually or together, and they’re delightfully non-sequitur, witty, thoughtful, beautiful, and intriguing. Lydia is a poet, a dancer, a performer, and a hard-core zen practitioner. (I’m not sure if she’d call it hard-core zen. I’d call it hard core. Multi-day sesshin counts as hard-core in my book.)

If you’re intrigued, please check out our Kickstarter, which is functioning like a good physical-media-Kickstarter should, as a de facto preorder with other exciting prizes as well. So if you think you might want a copy anyway, um, why not back us?! Also if you back our project, you can see a truly ridiculous video of me showing the casual viewer how to Odalisque in your own home (although I am wearing clothes at the time, unlike most Odalisquers).

So in case it was not obvious from the preceding:

I’m the Associate Editor for Minor Arcana Press, a small press out of Seattle, WA.

logo designed and painted by Sergio Coya

logo designed and painted by Sergio Coya

For those of  you unfamiliar with a small press, here’s the run-down. (My parents, adorably, were like “where’s the press?” and I was like “um, there are books in my basement?!”) Between one and ten people work together to solicit content, edit books, design books, and find printing and distribution for said books. My focus is mostly the “design” and “find printing and distribution” bits. Our Editor-In-Chief, Evan J. Peterson, does more of the “solicit content” and “edit books” end of things, although we also print rad anthologies with guest editors like Drawn to Marvel: Poems From the Comic Books. There’s also a whole bunch of stuff that’s less romantic and exciting, like “run a small business,” “figure out taxes,” “fulfill orders,” “do accounts,” and “publicize your books so that people know they exist and stuff.” Thankfully, the press is not entirely Evan and I; we have many rad volunteers, interns, and board members who do everything from consulting about business practices to writing and sending press releases.

Small presses! They sure are small businesses. If you want a sweet deck of poetry, hit up the Kickstarter. Otherwise, we’ll return to your regular infernal programming on Monday.

Con Report: AWP 2014

This past Thursday through Saturday was the annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs convention, a.k.a. AWP. I come from a background of comics and video game conventions, so it was interesting to see what this writer con was all about. The closest thing I’d been to AWP was Wordstock in Portland. I was tabling at AWP for Minor Arcana Press, where I am the Associate Editor.

Anne and Evan at the Minor Arcana Press Booth

Me and Evan J. Peterson, Editor in Chief, at the Minor Arcana Press booth.

 

The first thing I noticed about the con was that everyone was dressing and acting their Writer Persona, myself included. “Everyone here is cosplaying as a writer,” I joked on Twitter, but it was true. There was a lot of tweed and bow ties and classy shoes and red lipstick. The networking aspect of AWP is huge. Sometimes by “networking,” I mean meeting the amazing amount of poets and poetry publishers that are associated with Minor Arcana Press, as well as chatting with artists who are interested in submitting to Minor Arcana Press’ forthcoming journal, Monster Fancy. But I also got to see a great deal of lovely Goddard people and writers I know and love and haven’t seen in far too long.

Some of my dear Goddard pals.

Some of my dear Goddard pals.

Technically I see this fierce poet all the time, but hey, still exciting to see each other at AWP.

Technically I see this fierce poet all the time, but hey, still exciting to see each other at AWP.

Networking and table-minioning is mostly what I ended up doing for the three days of the con; this included giving people single-card Tarot readings, which was a lot of fun. There was a long lovely list of panels and workshops, but sadly I only made it out to one. Still, it was a great panel, and a rousing defense of genre fiction. It was funny going to a con where genre fiction was a thing to be defended rather than a default. It felt good to be repping a huge book of speculative poetry.

Getcher comic book poetry! Get it while it's ekphrastic!

Getcher comic book poetry! Get it while it’s ekphrastic!

Minor Arcana Press’ flagship product at AWP was our brand-spankin’-new book of poems inspired by comic books and superheroes, Drawn to Marvel: Poems From the Comic Books. It was a truly triumphant launch for the book; people ate ’em up. Many of the poets and one of the editors, Bryan D. Dietrich, were on hand to sign. Drawn to Marvel is a honkin’ book. At 139 poets and something like 300 poems, it’s a force to be reckoned with. It spans nearly five decades of people writing poetry about superheroes and comics, everything from Popeye to Storm to Batman. It everyone from epic names in the poetry world to wee poetry padawans like me. Some of my favorite poems include “Oya Invites Storm to Tea” by Tara Betts, “Luke Cage Tells It Like It Is” by Gary Jackson, “Sex Life of the Fantastic Four” by Michael Martone, and “Haikus from Supervillains to the People They Love” by Ryan Bradley.

four poets at AWP

Poet Stephen Burt, poet/editor Bryan D. Dietrich, poet Gary Jackson, and poet/EIC Evan J. Peterson

At the Drawn to Marvel launch event at the local geek hangout Raygun Lounge, I read my li’l Swamp Thing poem (“The Decomposition of Alec Holland”) next to Michael Arnzen, Stephen Burt, Jeannine Hall Gailey, Tara Betts, and more. Swoon!

 

Really, for a book release, AWP made all of my wildest dreams come true. The poetry industry is a weird place, and it was great to sink deeper into the weirdness. My secret hope is that projects like Drawn to Marvel advance the cause of speculative poetry and encourage people to look at the connections between poetry and popular culture.

 

 

 

Short version of the story: Minor Arcana Press is so hot right now. Be sure to keep up with us on our website, and submit to Monster Fancy*, ya weirdos.

Mugatu says: "That Minor Arcana Pres...So hot right now."

Although I was working, that didn’t stop me from getting out and spending a tad more money than I should have on shiny books and journals.

books! so many books.

Swaaaaaag.

One of my favorites was Spork Press, which has beautiful, bizarre hand-bound books. I got “Saturn,” which is basically the most satisfying David Bowie fan fiction possible. They’re beautiful and well-designed products; I’m a huge sucker for sexy book design, thus my torrid love affair with Wave Books. I also really enjoy Two Sylvias Press. Aside from carrying two of Jeannine Hall Gailey’s poetry books, they also print the Poet’s Tarot, which is a fun tarot deck with poets as the major arcana and court cards.

In conclusion, an AWP well-spent. Yesterday I hunkered in my fortress of introversion, read a lot of comics**, and I’m ready now to return those emails and continue this lovely mad writing life.

the Minor Arcana Press table at AWP

 

*Monster Fancy: A journal of high-brow, low-brow, and no-brow art and writing for the discerning monster enthusiast.

 

**Finally read Locke & Key: Alpha and Omega by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, cue all the feels oh god read that whole series at once

Seven of Words

All of my mistypings today are truer than the words I meant to type.  I tried to type “Seven of Swords,” viz. the Tarot card I pulled when trying to figure out some shape for this blog post to be in. I typed “seven of words.”

I want to write about school shootings. I wrote about them, coincidentally, on Tuesday, before this latest one happened. I type up what I wrote then. I try to type “fact.” I type “face” or “fire.” The facts slide and shift in time: I remember first and last names. I forget whole swaths of time, key details, faces until the moment I see them in a photograph.

Seven of Swords from The Vertigo Tarot

One:

Sixth period English class, April 20th, 1999. For the first of two times in my high school career, the TV comes on automatically, showing the news. Two assailants with guns have opened fire at Columbine High School. They have not yet been identified. The school is surrounded by police and mostly evacuated. The shooters are suspected to be dead. The kids in class react with something like a bemused disdain: there are a few mocking comments about footage of a boy who is in tears, looking for his girlfriend. We have been trained to take nothing seriously. We have been trained to think things on TV are not real. It is not real for me until I go home and find my mother crying.

 

Two:

In college I have this friend who went to Columbine. She’s a poet. A year after we meet, she tells me that she dyes her hair blonde because it is actually white. It turned white after the shooting, she says. All in one go. Her senior year she celebrates because it’s growing in blonde again, five full years after the shooting.

 

Three:

I do a lot of crying in AmeriCorps because it’s hard and I have a lot to process. Normally I cry on Friday nights. But I cry on a weekday morning in 2007 when I hear news of the crazed man who took six girls prisoner at Platte Canyon High School. Conifer High School, where I attended, is about halfway between Platte Canyon and Columbine.

 

Four:

At some point I have had the conversation with my brother: Statistically speaking, we are likely to be crazed mass shooters. We are white. We are intelligent. We have been bullied in the past. We are from Jefferson County, Colorado. He is male, so he’s rather more likely than me. But still. Odd to think of how much of the profile I fit. I was in speech and debate. I had arguments with teachers sometimes.

 

Five:

I wrote a longer piece at the Louisa Cafe last Tuesday. It has more of the layers, of the unresolvable memories, laid out like bones in a display case. It’s paleontology, what poet Nikky Finney refers to as the Palentology of Poetry. Tracking the timeline of your life with the timeline of your community with the timeline of your world. Patterns emerge and I don’t know what they mean.

Arapahoe High School is about forty-five minutes from Conifer High School.

 

Six:

The other time the news came on automatically during high school was in calculus class on the morning of September 11th, 2001.

 

Seven:

This is a poem from Jocelyn Heckler’s 2005 chapbook, “The Half-Lit Room”:

The Broom Closet

(in Columbine High School)
The door slams
and it is
too dark
in here.
I am inside
your trench coat
and feel
the lining
close me in.

You hold me tightly:
I listen
to heavy breathing
and feel
you turn cold steel,
hard
and clenched
like a gun barrel
I’ve been in here
for hours.

When your coat
finally opens and
I step into the long
stretch of hallway,
all I see
are shoes.
I wonder where
all the people
who belong
inside of them are.
And where are you?
And why can’t
I hear
you breathe?

Better know a crazy person of the day

In the late 1700s, a poet named Christopher Smart was put in the looney bin. Why? Because his religious zeal had increased to the point where he was not only praying, frequently and loudly, in the street, but he was forcing random other people to pray with him. They decided to give him a nice room aaaaall by himself with pen, paper, and apparently his cat, Jeoffrey.

And he wrote poetry. He wrote one line a day, so the story goes, of this enormously long poem. Sections of the poem have been preserved and are AMAZING. I’m sure it was considered completely crazy in the day, but I think it’s, well, hilarious for one, but also pretty brilliant. David Wagoner calls this “the first draft of HOWL”.

Here are the first few lines:

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
For is this done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For first he looks upon his fore-paws to see if they are clean.
For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the fore-paws extended.
For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
For fifthly he washes himself.
For Sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For Seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
For Eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
For Ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
For Tenthly he goes in quest of food.
For having consider’d God and himself he will consider his neighbour.
For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.

…and it goes for some time in that vein, finally ending with:

For God has blessed him in the variety of his movements.
For, though he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.
For his motions upon the face of the earth are more than any other quadrupede.
For he can tread to all the measures upon the musick.
For he can swim for life.
For he can creep.

“He can tread to all the measures upon the musick?” I KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS! This poem was destined for internet fame:

…I could go on. But instead, I think you should go read Smart’s poem.

Fall Fever

Firstly, generic apologies for not posting for ninteen days. Sheesh. Blogs are funny things, much like gardens: ignore them for a few weeks and they’ve all gone to seed. Or spam, as it were.

Anyway. Fall is in full swing in Seattle, and it’s the delicious part where days of pouring rain altrenate with days of wonderful sunshine and crisp air.

Some people have spring fever; I have fall lust. I lust after the smell of the air and the fall colors on the plants; I take absurd pleasure in the abundance of fall farmer’s markets and the sound of crunching leaves under my feet.

Of course, I also get fall booklust. I am not and will not ever be a true Summer Reader. You know, the person who has the tote bag of books in the summer and somehow manages to catch up on their reading while on vacation or on long summer evenings. These people can often pull off really floppy hats and really impractical sandals. I wear hiking boots in the summer and usually don’t make time to read. I’m all about reading during the fall afternoons, when the light is drawing to a close and the nip in the air is getting cold enough to warrant putting on a fire in the evenings. Nothing makes me happier than a blanket, a cuppa tea, a comfy couch, and a delicious book. This fall I’m tackling some books about writing: 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel by Janet Smiley is on the current list, and I’m meaning to check out On Writing by Stephen King. Otherwise I’m cruising the science fiction section mainly…more Octavia Butler and Samuel R. Delany, perhaps delving into other classic science fiction that I haven’t read yet, because goodness knows I have more books on my shelf than I have time or even inclination to read. So. I hope to write about what I actually do get around to reading this fall.

In other news, I’m going to get roped into NaNoWriMo again…with a sequel to the one I’m working on currently (the novel formerly known as “Changeling”). NaNoWriMo, for those of you not in the know, is a race to write 50,000 words of prose during the month of November. Considering how completely crap November is in Seattle, there’s little wonder that the greater Seattle area has the highest worldwide participation. Hooray.

In other other news, I’m taking some excellent classes at the Richard Hugo House this fall. Currently I’m in a poetry class with the inestimable David Wagoner. My assignment this week: Write a slow poem. “You owe it to yourself to try this,” DW says. It’s scary and hard, and that’s delicious, too. I will post results tomorrow.

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