The New Year

First, this post owes a big debt of gratitude to Kelli Russell Agodon. A few months ago, Kelli tweeted about “the old days” when poets blogged widely and regularly. I, too, missed that spirit of community, and in the tweets that followed from others, a movement took back its shape, and many, many poets committed to returning to blogging in 2018.

So, here I am. Here we are.

My first post in this blog was published on August 31, 2004. I was going into the last semester of my MFA program. I was thinking about poetry community and where I might find it. I was thinking about my writing, and I was thinking about LGBTQ voices in poetry. I was reading widely, voraciously, and I wanted to talk about those books. I was constantly inspired.

Through blogging, I found….everything.

Now, with six chapbooks, a full length collection, and a forthcoming second collection, my writing career is a lot different, but my writing life is the same. I still crave community, to talk with poets and share ideas and discuss books. But having rested in my efforts to challenge myself the last few years (for a variety of personal reasons both publicly known and publicly unknown), I started to fall short. Reading less. Seeking community less. Hiding in my house. Working on poems–sometimes.

There’s something about this format I don’t get on social media, and I miss that thing. I can’t wait to read people’s deep dives into the books they’ve just read and the creative questions they’re asking themselves. I hope this blog ends up inspiring people the way blogs have been such an important resource for me.

Here is my 2018 Literary To Do List. I’m trying to get back into the habit of setting good habits.

  • read 1 book per week
  • write 1 book review per month
  • write at least 1 blog post per week
  • submit to 2 publishers per month
  • attend 1 literary event per month

Maybe it’s too small. Maybe it’s too ambitious.

But here we go.

Another reason I love Mary Gaitskill

She was twenty-five. I was thirty-three. She was already editor in chief of a venerable avant-garde press, a veritable circus of caged monsters and their stylish keepers. She spoke with a combination of real confidence and its flimsy counterfeit. Monsterless, I barely knew how to speak at all, and what I could say was timid and unctuous. It didn’t matter. She wore a heavy silver necklace over her white T-shirt, under which her small breasts gave off dark, glandular warmth. Behind the bar, a mountain of green, blue, and gold bottles glimmered before a murky mirror lake. On the television above the bar, a rock star in an elaborate video drew a door in the air with a piece of chalk, smiled, and stepped through it. Jukebox music rose up, making a forest of sound, through which young girls traveled on their way to the bathroom. Above us, the fog traveled, too, laughing and quick. The bathroom door creaked loud and long; slim thighs went past, along with a swinging little wrist loaded with shining jewelry. We were hungry for this, all of this, and for each of us, “this” took form in the other. We ate each other with our eyes and, completely apart from our inconsequential words, our voices said, How delicious. We impulsively kissed, and separated quickly, laughing like people who had accidentally brushed against each other on the sidewalk. Then with a nervous toss of her head, she glided in close again. Soft heat came off her face, and then there was the dark, sucking heat of her mouth. She said, “I’d take you to dinner, but my girlfriend is expecting me.”

Mary Gaitskill, “Today I’m Yours,” Don’t Cry

Bonus points if you can name the video referenced above.

How to Please Me in Just a Few Easy Steps

The start of a new TV season is always a time of reflection for me as I contemplate what my time-wasting needs are and which shows will likely last long enough to earn my unfettered devotion.

I consider several factors when choosing my shows, because I hope we’ll be together for a long time. It’s like choosing a boyfriend. You want him to smell nice, to dress appropriately, to laugh at the right times, and most of all, you want him to look good in your apartment.

This week I’m celebrating the new TV season by cataloguing what I love about shows:

1. The main characters are in high school.
Applicable to: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Veronica Mars, Gossip Girl, 90210, Privileged
Although only my therapist can tell you for sure why I love a good high school show, I’m going to say that in terms of television, high school shows are fun for the way they act as a microcosm of the “adult world,” what with everyone lying, cheating, stealing, plotting, and climbing their way to the top.

2. Competitive “reality” shows
Applicable to: Project Runway, Top Chef, America’s Next Top Model, Top Design, Design Star, American Idol
I honestly love the creativity-based shows, like Runway and Top Chef. I recently received an email asking me to explain my love of Top Model. I can’t necessarily, except to say that I enjoy the high camp factor, I do have an interest in fashion (“As this is a fashion magazine, an interest in fashion is crucial.”) I think, unlike Survivor, the art-based shows are more focused on process than conflict, and I appreciate that too. Although I love a good model throw-down.

Come back for more tomorrow!

I Know What You Did Last Weekend

Last night I paid money to see a Lindsay Lohan movie and I didn’t even regret it.

I Know Who Killed Me seems to want to be your typical revived-sniff film along the lines of the recent Captivity: young girl in trouble, is tortured by an unseen man for his enjoyment, etc. But it takes some strange twists and turns along the way—one of which lands squarely in absurdity—and is done with a fairly masterful cinematic hand.

Lohan’s performance is actually worth mentioning as she creates two unique personalities in the film: one, a red-drenched stripper in a “gentlemen’s club,” the other a seemingly Anne of Green Gables-ish student of creative writing (!) heading to Yale (!).

Although the plot isn’t what I’d call “gripping” (I’d unraveled the mystery halfway through, and I’m a dumb movie watcher, so if I figure it out–wow.), but what is unique about the film is its use of color. The use of blue and turquoise tones throughout the film becomes almost hypnotic in a strange way as I would say a majority of costumes, sets, and props incorporate the color. It does through mise-en-scene what a film like Traffic did in post production, drenching the actual film stock in a bluish tone to create mood. The effect is otherwordly and wonderful here. The two worlds in the film are constrasted using the blue tone and a harsh, seething red tone.

Along with the color saturation, the director has edited this film well, artfully, in fact, by using fades-to-red and fades-to-blues that are actually fairly haunting. The editing is, at times, effectively jarring as well, giving the overall narrative a choppy, truncated…dare I say amputated?…feel.

Although not what I’d consider a classic of cinema, this film was created by someone who is obviously a student of the classics of cinema, taking notes from both Hitchcock and Almodóvar along the way, and this is probably something I’d watch again, and not just because Lohan’s boyfriend is the film is endearingly earnest and cute, although those are both traits I applaud in a man.

You would also enjoy this film if you’ve ever fantasized about torturing Lindsay Lohan.