Happy New Year

I was super excited to receive my contributor's copies of Hayden's Ferry Review the other day. I read in their awesome online reading, which the fantabulous Sam Martone organized, and back then it appeared everyone else had received copies -- aaand mine was back in Tuscaloosa while I was visiting Boston. Whoops.

Also exciting was the arrival of Parcel, right before my winter vacation. (I'd have a picture of Hayden's Ferry Review but a cat is sleeping on my arm and purring really loudly and so I am even typing this one-handed. Later.) Both journals have poems from my thesis... and from the chapbook that is coming out with dancing girl press much later this year.

I'm not a big fan of resolutions. I'm afraid of commitment... or perhaps I'd like to think my efforts to improve myself are more adaptable and more frequently established. But there's something to be said for this weird space at the start of the year, where class and work haven't quite started back up yet... and something to be said for this blog space.

1. I find myself nearly thirty (only a couple more years left to chase the Ruth Lilly fellowships) and ridiculously out of shape, so in 2014 I'll continue to attempt to establish an exercise routine that works for me (eating cookies does not burn enough calories to be helpful, apparently). Good thing I attend a university that has a good gym.

2. I have to finish my creative writing thesis by April 4th of this year, so that might as well be a resolution.Woo.

3. I'll figure out how to afford my final year of gradual school (for book arts), by applying to assistantships, fellowships, and jobs and waiting impatiently for the results. 2013 was the year of establishing in-state residency for tuition purposes, and I succeeded. Woot.

4. Everything else I can think of, I'm already doing, albeit slowly and inconsistently in some cases. I've got an erratic but viable writing schedule which I supplement by using any downtime to send work out to journals. I'm busy but as focused as I realistically can be. I'm taking the time for side projects in both book arts and poetry. I will never achieve the right balance between me time, family time, friend time, and cats time. Let's face it: cat time and me time are the same thing. I'm going to AWP (it'd be nice to read for someone), and I'm going to Bermuda, and I'm going to Ox Bow Michigan. I want to make paper again this year. I will make paper again this year. Am I doing this right?

Thanksgiving, and NOLA Take 2

I always have a temptation when blogging to recap months worth of blog material, since I end up blogging so infrequently. I'll just stick to the last few days, beginning with this:

What's wrong here?  A close-up might help:

My mom and aunt came to Tuscaloosa for Thanksgiving, turning Thanksgiving into a glorious mix of family and friends. We had good food, good company, and lots of turkey (seriously, do you want turkey?). I roasted my first turkey, with a little help from Whole Foods (it was pre-brined and pre-gutted, thank goodness) and Alton Brown.  Sadly, I forgot to get a photo of the whole turkey. It was a bit mottled. I stuffed it with rosemary from the yard and sage and apples and cinnamon. My roommate made adorable ginger cookies, with a pastry cutter instead of the Kitchenaid, which freed up my other roommate to make a vegan, sugar-free pie crust (not pictured, sadly).

I made my uncle's cranberry sauce (and now I have nearly an entire quart of cranberry sauce)... And here's what the final spread looked like, well, most of it. We had whipped chipotle purple Japanese yams (vegan and buttered), chunky mashed potatoes (vegan and buttered), lentil loaf, kale salad with pomegranates among other wonderfulness, curried brussels and cauliflower, vegan sausage stuffing, whipped vegan potatoes, cranberry sauce, chestnut soup, rosemary bread, tofurkey, gravy, and of course the turkey. For dessert, the ginger cookes, plus brownies, two chocolate pudding pies, the apple pie, vegan pumpkin pie, apple cider caramels, ice cream, and I think that's everything?


My plate was so colorful!

My aunt brought me salted chocolate-covered caramels, which I did not share with anyone:

Then my aunt and mom took me the next morning to New Orleans, since they had never been. I made them take us to get beignets, which I didn't share, either:

(...and made a spectacular mess of myself outside a fancy yarn store, so I didn't feel right going in and rubbing my sugary hands all over the yarn).

In my eagerness to share evidence of my gluttony, I skipped the part where we walked around the graveyard, where we sat and chatted around the fireplace, where we did SO MANY DISHES, where we slept well and heavily, where we woke early and drove for four hours, where we ate a few bites of bad Mexican food in Hattiesburg, where we admired the giant bridge into NOLA, where the GPS told me to "caution" for driving 1 (ONE) mph over the speed limit and I wanted to throw it out the window.

NOLA is full of strange sights, like this store of pink things:

And these fine stemware specimens:

We ate of grumpy fish:

We reconsidered buying pralines wrested from the jaws of a giant alligator:

We despaired over poor (yet hilarious) taste in souvenirs:

We rolled some tide at the French Market... well, I chuckled, which is, for me, rolling tide:

A lady was selling individual Lego figurines, some of which she had customized. A guy in a wheelchair bought a Lego guy made to look like him, in a Lego wheelchair.

I fell in love with the woman in this portrait:

Did you know cats love beignets too? Thanks, Cary Chun Lee, for teaching me something new with your art.

The street artists and performers were fantastic. My favorite by far was this guy who... well, see for yourself...

He was a living Transformer! He would be tucked up in a car costume, which he could move around in like a monster truck, with his feet and hands at the wheels. Then, he'd unfold (more so than in the photos, sorry, by the time I got the camera going he was de-costuming) and stomp around as a Transformer! Nice details, too.

I loved this cat in a store display almost as much as she loved being in the window.

I bought some small things as gifts for people, and my mom bought me a foot massage/reflexology so my aunt and I could loosen up after all the walking (and all my Thanksgiving cooking!), but my mom bought the coolest thing by far. She was determined to come away from NOLA with a mask:

I modeled. Perfect?

Also... wtf is up with the van called "weed world candies" handing out creepy lollipops?

Did I mention we got beignets twice?

In other news, NaNoWriMo Poetry Edition (with the lovely Lindsay of Goose Hill blog and Thread Lock Press) is going swimmingly. We're each writing a poem a day and exchanging them. Eggplants and Peter Pan. Vertigo and transformation. I'm going to go write a poem for yesterday (I fell asleep so early) and a poem for today.

Oh, I forgot: Cafe Dumond tried to poison me. Luckily, I have a steel stomach (ahaha, no) which was miraculously unaffected by this milk (see expiration date: Dec 2007!!!!). This cannot possibly be correct.

Always behind, always ahead

I'm really happy to have a poem (poem? prose?) online at Hobart. You may quickly realize that I was in some way influenced by Kathy Acker, among others. I had the most fun writing this poem than I've had writing a poem in a while, so it's nice to see it out there on the intarwubs.



I've already crowed about it on the book of faces, but my very first BWR has arrived, and I love it. I love everything in it. Love love love love. Get you yours here (er, as soon as we can get BWR 39.1 listed for purchase).

And yet! My time as BWR editor has all kinds of threads which are beginning to tie themselves off.  Today was my last poetry meeting. To come: my last feature meeting, my last galleys 1-4, my last blues, my last decisiveness when facing the last gorgeous cover options my design editor offers. I'm happy to continue working with my awesome genre, managing, and design editors right up through the end of the semester. Then the holidays, AWP, and some lasts I'd rather not imagine yet.  It's too early to reminisce, to nostalgize. Vomit. Still, some firsts left, too.


Whenever I have free time, I spend it playing Magic the Gathering with friends, or eating out more than I ought, or traveling three hours each way to see Ann Carson read, or watching the Bama Theater Art House movies every week, or getting ahead in reading for class. Fall is my favorite time of year, and I am finally doing things I always envy others for but never seem to do: waking up "early," going for walks, reading in the sunlight, absorbing myself in crafts. And pumpkin carving. (My friend's was more impressive.)


The binding class I'm taking has absorbed me. I'll be taking the next section of it in the spring. People at the Kentuck Festival of the Arts bought two of my nicest books and a package of two double-pamphlets. I now have cash to pay for the unbound version of the gorgeous Webster's Pictorial Dictionary, which I'll use for a project next semester.

I am in love with boxes and Japanese silk book cloth. I am in love with color matching and paste making. I am in love with structural circles in my stitching.

I am trying to figure out which book to give to my creative writing mentee, who has been brightening my Mondays all semester.


If I seem overly cheery and productive, well, you should know I haven't swept or vacuumed in over a month and I accidentally locked my roommate out of the house, which inconvenienced her by two and a half hours and two miles, after her run. And that's all I'll admit to the internet.

Knee-deep in contest entries

I'm extremely pleased at the high quality of contest entries we received. Although this means deciding upon a winner will be quite difficult. Thank goodness we have contest judges, yeesh.


I'm taking a book binding class in the book arts program, and it's the most satisfying class I've had in a long while. I love workshops and lit classes, but there's something about the immediate utility of bound books that has a similar pull for me as ceramics. (Though I've had difficulty making time to properly investigate the Clay Co-op down the street.)

The repetition and precision and craft of binding are what comfort and thrill me. When it comes to making creative choices (cover choice, varied materials, colors, etc) I bump up against the mental exhaustion that makes writing more of a chore these days. But because the emphasis of this class is craft, is practice, I feel as if I'm somehow strengthening the creative part of my brain. Like when I took Robin's forms class (and before that, in Baltimore, Ed Perlman's forms class).


Kellie Wells's class on Fabulism has single-handedly refreshed my joy in reading and talking about writing.


This weekend, my cousin married his girlfriend of ten years, on their ten-year dating anniversary. I'm ridiculously happy for them, and admire their love, confidence, courage, and downright love of life. I'm also impressed at how perfect a wedding it seemed, simple but beautiful, and highly personalized.