Thursday, December 4, 2014

Slate: Overlooked Books of 2014

When is it nice to be overlooked? When being overlooked means you make it onto Slate's "Overlooked Books" list for 2014. It's such an honor to be reviewed by Stephen Burt, who captures the mood of How to Feel Confident With Your Special Talents, my prose poetry collaboration with Daniela Olszewska:

Presented as prose poems (which might be why you haven’t heard of it), this fizzy, sparkly, sometimes sarcastic collection is also a set of very funny, Twitter-worthy jokes about the way we live now, disguised as page after page of bizarre instructions for all-too-common situations: “How to Reset Your Password,” for example. (“Remember that computer generated passwords make you look fat.”) Some titles are wry poems in themselves: “How to Choose a Wedding Cake, or How to Practice Non-Attachment.” Others introduce sad, wise advice: “The real you should always be present at birthdays.” Guess and Olszewska’s step-by-step directions, invitations, triple meanings, and ironic affirmations also tell exasperated moderns how playing with language can help us face illness, fight sexism, or just get through a tough day: “Let’s go about whistleblowing while we work.”  --Stephen Burt

And while you're reading poetry, be sure to read Stephen's essay on the brilliant poetry anthology Troubling the Line, an essay housed in the Los Angeles Review of Books under the title "The Body of the Poem: On Transgender Poetry."

Finally, I've been watching Orphan Black and I'm in love. I've always wanted to be different people (of course, as a fiction writer I am different people, at least on the page). The show says so much about identification, sexuality, and desire; about bonds between women and the bullying that divides them; about heteronormative violence, the politics of birth//control, and Big Pharma; about the distinction between reproduction as a form of creativity and reproduction as a form of misogyny; and about anti-assimilationist queer community outside the boundaries of post-DOMA picket fences. It's literally a show about kinship and figuratively a show about identity theft. Hello Helena. I heart your crazy feral claws. 


Friday, November 21, 2014

Stars

All my students are shining stars. This quarter there's so much talent in our classroom that I'm awestruck each and every day. I asked my students if I could blog about their binders -- an art project where they create binders or boxes or discs or websites or videos reflecting their artistic ambitions, struggles, and accomplishments. Every single project was brilliant! Here are a few glimpses of the energy in our room. I wish I could share every project on this page. 


Thursday, November 6, 2014

How To Review How To

How do you review a book that riffs off an online instruction manual? Ask Kelsie Hahn, whose charmingly witty review of How To Feel Confident with Your Special Talents is up right now at Heavy Feather Review.  Also, my walk looked like this today:


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Winners abound!

Today I'm grateful for dear ones
and deer in the yard
and the sudden beauty of the unexpected.
Also, the end of the Aloha Motel
and Theo, who gets stranger looking every day,
and Cally Maude, who gets more and more beautiful.
Also, winners! Winners abound. I was honored to serve as the judge of the 2014 Indiana Review 1/2K contest. The finalists were all amazing, but first prize went to Amy Woolard for "The Girl Next Door to the Girl Next Door." Here's my blurb for the winning piece: “The sounds in this poem lured me into the story -- repetition and rhyme in service to character and scene. I love the juxtaposition between sweet and staccato, and the way the tone shifts from delicate details to harsh colloquialisms. The narrator’s a mystery to me, which I like, but the girl isn’t a mystery at all -- she’s true to this town and time. It’s nice to start with a girl who’s alive, for a change, and to let the girl’s escape be the truth of the story.”


“The Girl Next Door to the Girl Next Door” Amy Woolard

Runners-Up:
“Weekend” by Shane Kowalski
“The Alexandria Story” by Corinne Schneider
“The Golden Rule” by Lo Kwa Mei-en
“How to Walk Backwards Into a Black & White House” by Amy Woolard

Finalists:
“The Fable” by Gary Leising
“Untitled” by Don Judson
“Killing Time” by A.B. Francis
“Instructions for Womanhood” & “Conspiracy to Commit Larceny” by Jennifer Militello
“The Stone Cold Rule” by Lo Kwa Mei-en

Congrats to all of these fabulous writers! I look forward to reading more work in the future.


Stay Tuned!

Stay tuned for new work. I'm writing again --

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Forthcoming books and an update

I've neglected you, Dear Reader. Please accept my apology. I've been contemplating the origins of candy cigarettes and staring at paintings like this:
and this:

and this:
-- paintings by Terry Leness, a Seattle-based artist whose work captures the melancholy streets of post-suburban, pre-yuppie Ballard, where I lived for several years. I'm haunted by houses that haven't lost hope but have lost the feeling of home, which white America often associates with material possessions and structured leisure time ("vacations," "shopping," "roadside attractions"). I'm grateful to Terry for allowing me to use "Red Stripe" on the cover of Instructions for Staging, my second collaboration with Kristina Marie Darling. Here's a description of the book, out any day now from Patasola Press:
This second collaborative book by Kristina Marie Darling and Carol Guess depicts the ruins of what once was a marriage.  A husband and wife divide what had always been shared, and prepare to sell their house---haunted by past affairs, strange artifacts, and snowy owls---to unsuspecting buyers.  As the narrative unfolds, Darling and Guess make use of a wide range of literary forms, which include flash fictions, footnotes, and self-erasures, creating a hybrid text that is both polyphonic and thematically unified.  Wildly imaginative and lively in its descriptions, Instructions for Staging asks the reader to consider exactly what betrayals their realtor is capable of, who would ever fake a business trip to Wichita, and what you will find in a room you once thought was empty.
In addition to Instructions for Staging, you can look forward to two collaborative books co-written with Kelly Magee. The first, With Animal, is a short story collection forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in 2015 with cover art by Todd Horton. The second, The Reckless Remainder, is a prose poetry collection forthcoming from Noctuary Press in 2016, with cover art by Corinne Botz.
Todd Horton, "Together"
Meanwhile, I've started two new projects, inspired by trees, Steven Wise, Choir of Young Believers, and Thom Yorke. The first is a short story collection co-written with Elizabeth J. Colen. After writing the initial story, I could see the collection laid out like a map of lined streets. Other than interlinked characters, the only connection is a pack of candy cigarettes, but sometimes that's enough, isn't it? And I've also just started a single author poetry collection inspired by Terry Leness's strange motels and the eerie architecture here in Bellingham. Also, the rain is back. I like it best -- everyone's quiet and private.  Everyone goes indoors and stops messing with lawn mowers and leaf blowers. Their secrets grow inside and the hot summer sun that makes everyone interested in "having fun" and "parties" draws a circle around itself. Fades out over the water. It's gray and blue and steel here, the colors of my Swedish people, something I know by blood. And this is the season when I miss my father the most. I go looking for lost things in new work and sometimes I find them.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

American Microreviews: An Interview

Thanks to Kristina Marie Darling for interviewing me about F IN at American Microreviews. You can read our Q&A here
Today I'm sitting with two dogs and a laptop, trying to remember how to use line breaks, and counting words for a new project that involves both line breaks and word restraints (gasp!). To that end I've read Joe Massey's "Listening to Joseph Ceravolo's Home Recordings" about 25 times today, and I just might read it again right now: 

LISTENING TO JOSEPH CERAVOLO'S HOME RECORDINGS

In the room
of a memory

of a room.
Static

brackets each
syllable.

Afternoon
effaces the floor

while the
pills take

effect.
All I will

amount to:
the hours

these walls
enclose

as song.

* * *
Joseph Massey. Poem from Areas of Fog (Shearsman Books, 2009). Reprinted with the permission of the author. All Rights Reserved.