I do love my beautiful hometown library …

 

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This Saturday, September 29th at 11A, I will be reading at my hometown library in Poland, Ohio. It is nerve-racking to me. I don’t care who you are or who you were in your hometown, but in returning to it after an absence, I think most everyone would feel a sense of wanting to show everyone that you did okay, to be in some sense a part of that town’s pride.

I remember when I was a Brownie and many of our meetings would be on Fridays. But in Poland, Fridays meant something else … waiting in a long line for the Friday deli sale at the Italian grocer, Rulli Bros. I hated this, but always had a book (I still take a book to the grocery store actually) waiting and waiting, complaining of the dried eggplants hanging from the ceiling looking way too much like sleeping bats. Complaining also of the almost-overpowering smell of cheese. Yes, after our Brownie meeting, after my mom taught the other Brownies and I a craft and bought us ice cream cones, she and I would head to Rulli’s despite my usual tirade about the “bats,” the smells and the long line we would have to stand in. But one of those Fridays, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini came in and everyone crowded around him. He had become a huge local celebrity, especially since boxing was as big a commodity in Poland and its surrounding areas as Brier Hill pizza. I didn’t know who he was at that moment but I knew he was someone everyone wanted to see that day … and a respect came too … everyone parting the way for “Boom Boom” to get his order of prosciutto or salami.

I hope to do my best on Saturday and have a good turnout, hoping mostly to make my family feel a “boom boom” kind of pride for me. We shall see.

Published in: on September 27, 2007 at 11:29 pm  Comments (3)  

Paper Trails & Deadlines

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Fall is here now. It is my favorite season but it is potentially my busiest. But busy, I’ve decided, is very good for me … not busy me tends to get a little nutty with my seemingly neverending neurotic thoughts. I have a review due by Saturday, yes, but what keeps me very busy are literary contests. September is a type of holiday for writers trying to attain a reputation, prize money, or even just a proverbial nod by literary magazine editors that your writer’s cramps &/or carpal tunnel are worth it … that your writing is being looked at and appreciated on some level (like by editors whether they loathe it or love it, the note is still nice if they are gracious enough to forego the form letter).

I think most writers (myself included) appreciate the hand-written acceptance and rejection notes. Sometimes they are at least somewhat encouraging like: Please send to us again! Or, Good work but it is not fitting for this issue, and so forth. And of course there is: Not in my lifetime … or … Good luck, crazy! Thankfully I have only had a couple borderline-belligerent rejection notes, but sadly most are form letters asking me to buy a 3 year subscription in the same envelope where my rejection lay.

I worked as an Assistant Editor on a few different literary journals and I became quite obsessed with the hand-written rejection (I was only allowed to deal with rejections in my meager capacity; I was the bearer of bad news). When someone’s work didn’t even make it through the Readers, it was of course not moving on to the Editors. On one of these literary journals I worked on in college I had the tedious job of logging in submissions with the occasional correspondence. When I came across work that maybe wasn’t quite good enough for publication, but was still good and would only get better with some work — I would write a little note of encouragement to go into that ominous envelope every writer waits for … and there it is … the envelope with your own handwriting on it making its way back to you (SASE) … does it bring good news or bad?

I always wonder what the writer thought about my notes which such things as, Very good. These poems just need to be realized more, but you are really on to something. I very much enjoyed your work. Good luck! Send to us again! … and the like. I would especially wonder what they would have thought if they knew these notes were coming from an undergraduate in a tiny room in the basement of a sparsely used university building at all hours.

I was not … I repeat … was not the bearer of this bad news … I think it was before my time on the journal. On our corkboard laden with random things like condom wrappers for shock value (many of the grad students seemed to really need to compensate), a noosed Elvis doll, and one thing that hung among them was this otherwise unremarkable piece of stationary. It was a little faded and something about it seemed interesting to me as I sat a mere 3 feet away (that would be the other side of the office). When I looked closer it was a note from Joyce Carol Oates basically bitching (in a most beautiful, lyrical, and literary way) that we had rejected her work. I was stupefied. Why would we do something so dumb? I thought what could be a better way to help a small and fairly new college literary journal (on a budget I might add) than to publish Joyce Carol Oates? And … it didn’t sound like we had even solicited her for work judging by her note!

But now, as I am older, hopefully wiser, and a little crazier and more than a little mortified by what I see as my constant failures as a writer trying to get her name out there … I respect those guys. If her story sucked (and of course I don’t know this and cannot imagine a J.C.O. story sucking) and they didn’t want to publish it … who cares WHO it is, right? It is admirable if they indeed went with their philosophy and aesthetic and didn’t budge at the mention of a literary star.

So with my living room looking like a corporate paper trail gone to the wolves right now and with this memory again fresh to me in these first months of feverish submissions, I will try again this year.

 My goal: 6 pubs in lit. mags. and to win one contest. We shall see, right Joyce?

 

 

Published in: on September 11, 2007 at 11:35 pm  Comments (2)  

… so I took a walk with Anhedonia

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and we are having a good time of it walking the streets like recently released relics from the cellar of a miser’s fruity stomach lining … we smiled at everyone, especially those who were smileless, especially those who were expressionless.

And I talked to you a lot of about where he is, where he went, if someone plucked him from the West coast and placed him in a curio to blend into the world of unsaid affection and misery. You said I worry too much and I think too much. And I shouldn’t stay up all night anymore because the next day is as bad as the lilting decomposition of rancid meats left unturned, uncooked, alone somewhere dark, damp, and hot, left out all night, up all night.

But still I wonder where he is, finding him invading my thoughts like never before. During the ride to work today, I imagined him in pieces like a puzzle and after my 30 minute commute had ended I had put him back together like millions of little bones.

Someone said crosshairs again in my head and it is a word that has been occupying me since it was first said … not two days ago. Not three. Is it one word or two? I doubt it is hyphenated … it is one word it seems. There is something very much alive in the word but I do not feel targeted.

But that one of mine, who rents out a few corners of my brain … maybe he has went missing because of the curses of crosshairs. Maybe that is why I imagined him a puzzle, put him together, and kept thinking of the strangeness of guns and crosshairs cometh.

But watch …  my poems have been pouring into us like election results.


Published in: on September 6, 2007 at 11:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Take a walk with your depression …”

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Take a walk with your depression. I was told this today. Never heard it quite in that way before, but after my sleepless night of chaotic emotion anything sounds like an option. Walking always makes me feel better and going at it with this annoyance as a companion and not an annoyance may prove to be intriguing. This statement has already spawned a poem … this proverbial walk.

Tonight, I plan on taking this walk and I will let her walk with me. I am aware of the cheesy and psychobabbly and melodramatic characteristics this walk possesses … but it is an interesting exercise in self-reflection if nothing else. This may even be a very good way to reign in the chaos that has been tauntingly poking me the last few days.

I am always happy for happy distractions … but when I do not have them … I must find my own. A helpful sort of distraction like me walking the streets tonight with “her” feeling a little like litter pushed up against a curb … leaving me in a grand position to simply observe.

 

 

 

Published in: on September 5, 2007 at 12:09 am  Leave a Comment