Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What's TK?

I remember the first time I got back pages from a magazine layout designer, and there was a bunch of blank sections marked "TK." It's one of those codes that doesn't quite make intuitive sense, since the indication is that there is copy "to come"-- so why not "TC?"

In other news of things in the near future, and things that were... I spent February through May living in Paris, which felt and now feels like an absolute dream. When there, I felt fortunate and took in everything, every tiny detail. Now back in the US, it feels like a surreal and liquid time, when the clocks didn't work and the days were really one continuous gray period with interrupting sounds and tastes. Gray because we were there in winter, and the spring was slow to come around. Perhaps the clearest memory I can re-create in my mind is shivering on the tiny balcony while Montmartre was blanked out by snow. Well, that and being proposed to in the Luxembourg gardens by La fontaine Medicis on a rare sunny Sunday afternoon.

Now I'm getting accustomed to life in Denver, and will be giving birth to a daughter in not-so-many weeks. 2013 has been a lovely whirlwind, and there is much TK. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Next Big Thing

Thanks to Christopher Kondrich for tagging me to be a part of The Next Big Thing-- a series of self-interviews that travels from poet to poet. You should read his interview here! For now, here are my thoughts about Slope Move!

What is the working title of the book?

The title of the book is Slope Move. People ask about it all the time. I was running one evening in Chicago (when I badly wanted to leave Chicago) and the phrase "rise over run" kept repeating itself over and over in my head. This happens often when I walk, ride the subway, etc.--some word or grouping of words makes its way in and soundtracks the passing time. I started thinking about the implications of that phrase and also the mathematical idea of the slope formula which defines the slope of a straight line (two points). 

Parallel lines have equal slope. The thing about parallel lines, though, is that they exist on a plane, following the same path, but never intersect. This division is illustrated many times in the poems.

The phrase "slope move" just sort of stuck.

Slope Movement is also a process where gravity acts on a geologic material like soil or rock and moves it downslope--like a landslide. Slopes naturally have a resisting force depending upon 1) their cohesion and 2) the amount of internal friction between material. 

It wasn't until later that I realized that Slope Move could also be an anagram for 'love poems'--which the book really is, in its entirety. 

Where did the idea come from for the book?

All of the sections of the poem are derived from real-life events; they use autobiographical narratives as the basis for communicating what I hope to be more subtle shifts in the way language adds to or complicates loss. For instance, the first section of Slope Move describes what happens emotionally following a car accident/death which deeply impacts the two people who interact throughout the poem. 

"The book" itself was never an idea-- what really happened is that I kept writing essentially the same poem over and over again, and eventually realized it was actually one long poem. I am fixated on separations, deviations. I feel like the conflict they contain or produce creates transformation, in that separations are movements that help us recognize real joy, help us understand and see the strength of connection.  Juliana Spahr generously said--"It is through this motion that SLOPE MOVE is attentive to the quaking that makes everyone in relation to everyone else." 

What genre does your book fall under?

poetry of departure / poetry of internal friction / poetry of the two-body problem / poetry of truth = perception / poetry of getting in the car & driving to the next destination

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

It's hard to imagine the movie version of Slope Move because people are purposefully unnamed and formed only by the events they navigate.

Lake Michigan would play itself.

Someone understated yet powerful could play probably all of the females in the book. Like Sarah Polley.

And some characters would end up on the cutting room floor. 

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

I'm cheating.


How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

There was no second draft, third draft, etc. per se. There are pieces of poems from 2007 that ended up in Slope Move. I'd say that the bulk of the book was written from 2008-2010, so I guess roughly two years. 

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Once, someone perplexed by the quiet of my poetry vs. the dynamism of my personality told me that I was too funny "in real life" to write "such serious" poems. That same person also told me that my work contained too many subtle shifts and asked too much of the reader. I was implored to write funnier, hipper, tougher poems, poems that looked "more like me." 

For a year I tried to write those poems and they looked nothing "like me." I certainly couldn't find the seam that neatly delineated "real life" and "poetry." I kept finding myself indulging my fixations, like a rebellious act, and even began "translating"/re-telling poems that I had already written, hopeful that in the act of recalling, more possibility within the narrative would reveal itself, more splits would emerge. After all, isn't it the narrow miss or the just-by-the-skin-of-our-teeth that often ends up surprising us by showing us something completely different? 

City landscapes and their capacity for movement, mass experience, and solitude inspired the book.

Dreams. Memory. Conversations that, over time when recalled, felt more and more surreal. 

The obsessive lens of Yayoi Kusama. Thalia Field's Point and Line. Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville. My friends. The apartments (6) I lived in while writing this book. 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Not that it is necessarily overt or apparent, but half of this book takes place in Oakland, CA, and the other half in Chicago. 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am lucky to be published by the fantastic Coconut Books. Slope Move was released in December and is available here! 

Next up: Eleni Sikelianos, Richard Siken, Krystal Languell

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The White Album!

Tomorrow at Cake Shop, Polestar Poetry Series presents The White Album--with one poet "reading" each track.  Come hear me read my poem based on Lennon's "Yer Blues",  along with 29 other fantastic poets. See you there!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Will you be prepared for what you / have not said.

I have no idea how to introduce this poem. I needed this poem in my life, and there it was.


June 16, 2000—we heard the echo of a meadowlark.

Let go the meadowlark and the valley in which its song
       repeated itself and the valley in which its song unfolded.

Let go the dream of such clear sound.

Let go the walks, dinners, drinks, talks, senses of beginnings, let go
       the beginnings, we will never begin again.

Let go the still gray sky. It has propped us up long enough.

Let go the nights.

Let go the voice that answered me in earnest in all things I find
       I can no longer imagine it.

Imagine the rents in the driveway cement from the rain that pooled
       and stayed and the way the cement buckled wildly in the years that followed
       and the years that followed in which no one came to the door.

You came to the door and said my name and the whole weathered mess
       glowed beneath the afternoon’s hanging clouds and weeds
       grew in blunt stalks from the cracks.

Who would you change for?

The maples change more in an hour of wind than we change.

The aspens shatter light I have felt the leaves in their wind-glittering
                                                                  strangeness. Let go

the town and its dry river paths the white bellies of the swallows
       under the bridge flashing in the last minutes of dusk and I knew I could not
       continue as I had been nor did I sense a course.

Who are your friends.

What do you care for.

What would you give up if you could give up
        anything. When were you afraid there is no extreme need that is not
                  warped by fear. What does the world

       require of you have you loved the time you have spent here.
                  Was it because of the people with you. Or that the silence

was never silence it was always the fan’s white noise in the window
        at night and below that the new rain on the grass
        and below that the grass as it bends under the water
        and night buried under the water and the town
        at night under rain and grateful for rain in this dry season.


There and not there like the wind in the yard.

There and not there in a smile that is not
        itself but a thought in a far country and a brush
                  of the shoulder that in a single minute means

everything. Everything you have said in support and questioned.
         In support of love that unfolds where one least
                  imagines it for example a year of endings.

A white shirt. A shoelace a razor. A pacing in the hallways at night
        like the steady lines of bicycles fanning across flat green fields.

 The shadow of an airplane over the field or that shadow
        as it ripples over a building through the thick windless
        heat. Are you paying attention
        to what passes through you.

                                Through you
I came to see a better life but cannot
account for why I have not always
       lived it.

A polite vagueness in the Good bye! and Good luck!

Goodbye to the laughter I love I did not keep it close enough.

Goodbye to the mind that moves along walls and roads its un-
      ceasing spirit I wish I were always in its path.

To the boys playing soccer at five in the leafy park goodbye
      their gamesmanship goodbye
              goodbye to the gravel they scattered the ground
              they scuffed the houses they return to, may they always have homes.

Goodbye to the busses and the poppies that flew
             past us behind bus-windows in deep red-orange-dotted-
smudges and the edgeless fields where you
             walked when I wasn’t
             there, with you, in your head,
             where you walked, were you
             alone, were there
             fields, how alone
             were you. How

alone can anyone
stand to be. Any one of us might be
           tapped any one lead away when that day
                  comes will you be
                  ready. Will you be prepared for what you
                  have not said.

Will you know what you love.


To have been alone together is to have been
           alone within an
           illusion. Step into a dream
           of life its tapwater and shoes its
           coffee-cups paper-clips sheets the white light
that backs every curtain every room casually
shared every question will you help me with this I will help you.

Step into a life that is not
        dreamed and try to say now if there are
        remnants of illusion. Is what you say every day real.
Are the lesser estrangements
        deeper and if so how much can you bear and if not
        what will convince you.

Does the sparrow on the t.v. antenna convince you—it is there every day.

Every day the sun hits the red roofs of the village where you lived
        and every evening the swifts dive through the crooked stone streets chasing
        bugs we cannot see. The birds rose
level with our torsos on the terrace and whistled
        their strong eerie whistle I heard it each morning a lone swift
                     veering past our bedroom window.

The rains rose and fell through the winter
and the spring rose and the beating summer
       arrived. The birds arrived
       each night and often we took the stairs
                      to the terrace after dinner to watch their black bodies
in hundreds rise and spike and dive, each in its own private
       depth, sharp hap-
       hazard wing-splitting
                     rolls. As if there were hundreds of separate skies.


So that nothing will ever again be for us what it was.

The long walk to the grocery store in noon-white
       heat. The men standing immobile at boule, murmuring with the toss.

Constant church bells, the apple you set on the counter to eat,
       the shake of a head saying no. Let go

the bistro the woman by the creek the disease.
       Notes, letters, poems strung word-to-word.

Let go the young girl walking toward a building at the end of a long city-
       sidewalk I see she is looking
       toward someone there in the highest window her mother or a tutor
                      watching her child and neither one of them

needs to wave. Had I been able to read the signs, had you been able
       to speak more clearly, had I
       noticed, not
       assumed, had you come to me
       in understanding linking need to
       need, had I
       heard you, had you
       spoken, I heard, as you
       said the words, the harder
       course, you
       insisted, nor
       have you always
       lived it, persist, and cannot any longer
       pass lightly over
       anything. You came to me
                      in understanding and brought with you the need of a whole life,

 having for months looked elsewhere, the streets of the town after midnight,
       a nullity in each livingroom’s blue t.v., letters
       to others, drought
       in the mind drought in the neighborhood
       grass. Certain
       you would always be there.
       Certain you would follow. The night’s

hours in talk and the paths our thoughts took
       together. The dust-choked house and its un-utterable shag carpet
       or the blue house and all the passing cars stranded in its
       snowbanks the bitter arguments sweet reprieves the funny
       Midwestern meals you cooked the mountain ash years without cigarettes
       heaps of sweaters dishes the fire
       in the kitchen the purple
       kitchen. The absurd red car your mother gave us,
       the books we wrote, sentences we took out,
       pencil in the margins your shrinking
       penmanship new shoes your smile the one that
       seizes at what’s
       real. The laundry the prosody. The refusals
       the constant generosities every desperate apology.
       You have to hold it in mind all at once.
       You have to need it enough.


If I let go what will be left. Too hard
       to sort each sorrow from each joy

       and why, instead of answering, we passed into silence.
       Clear, deep green, like a lake we’ve never been to

and stood at its blue edge-grass and felt nothing, like sunlight,
       as it moved across our faces, slow
                   warmth, amber-

white, and when it passed we didn’t
                                 know. But we stayed.

Joanna Klink

Thursday, November 3, 2011

No, Dear Launch Reading next Friday

Hello! Mark yr calendars because on Friday, November 11, No, Dear will release Issue 8, the METAL issue!

Reading poems from the issue:

Hanna Andrews
Julian Brolaski
Iris Cushing
B.C. Edwards
Seth Graves
Austin LaGrone
Gracie Leavitt
Anne Marie Rooney
Paige Taggart
Brian Trimboli
Amber West

Pete's Candy Store, 709 Lorimer, Bklyn. 7pm! Wear yr metal tee, or, y'know, yr chain mail!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New poems in Papirmasse!

I've never met Kirsten McCrea, but I'm pretty much convinced she is one of the most amazing humans ever. Kirsten is a visual artist living in Montreal and she's the art-smarts behind several supercool projects.

First, there's The Hot Topic Project:

... in which Kirsten painted a portrait of every person named in the Le Tigre song "Hot Topic." Be still my heart. Read more about the project here!

And then, there's Papirmasse, a mail-art subscription through which, for $5 per month, you receive work by a different artist/writer pair each month for a year.

I'm happy to be November's poet--two poems from Slope Move plus one poem from a new series, "The Frames", will be featured in the issue. Check out my interview on the Papirmasse blog!