Fall break.

Spent fall break revising and submitting new work, in between job applications and eating Pilgrims. I feel caught between.  Projects, places, books.   Only a week before I head to AZ to visit with family and friends, so any new routine I start will be disrupted.  Bah!  The spring semester will be here before I can sneeze, though.  I’m teaching and/or TA’ing the entire survey of British Literature between now and July.  This fills me with deep joy, knowing that I’ll be rereading novels/stories/poems/essays I adore for at least the next seven months.  I have no idea what full canon immersion will do to my writing, but my breakthrough/first publication (Brevity) happened during the last semester I TA’d a literature survey course, so I’ll be writing like a mad thing and hoping for osmosis.

On the publication front, I’ve had a piece accepted at Gingerbread House Literary Magazine.  The magazine is a beautiful, serious upstart (less than a year old), and their editors are all poets.  Full of admiration for the weird and wonderful fabulism they selected for issue one. They picked up the title story from my collection, an oddball nighttime logic flashfic — acceptance received on Thanksgiving Day, too.   Something to be thankful for (the list is long).

Happy Thanksgiving/fall break to you.  Have an articulated hand turkey.

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The Account: A Journal of Poetry, Prose, and Thought

The other project that’s been keeping me busy:

This past week, myself and a pile of writer-friends launched this.

I’m absurdly proud of it.  I was mostly working on the prose side of things (although the poetry is absolutely excellent). Liner notes:  I’m very happy we’re part of Davis Schneiderman’s [SIC] project, which pushes on the utility and bounds of copyright law.  Nicole Walker is a mentor and friend, and her microessays are playful critiques of the ascendancy of flash-everything.  Jared Sexton’s story ends on an arresting image that critiques the “white dude has marriage problems” brand of literary fiction.  And Jen Phillis’s criticism engages with both the aesthetics and politics of contemporary poetry to conclude that: “Art, for Bedient and Goldsmith, only has meaning or value once it becomes part of the world. For art to count as art, they believe, the audience must respond to it. That is, they believe that the poem—whether a conceptual poem or a poem of affect—is ultimately defined by the audience, not the poet….In other words, both Bedient and Goldsmith define meaning as if it were a property of the body or of a community of consumers. As such, they cannot simultaneously believe that the art of poetry is an autonomous aesthetic activity. If that’s the case, we can go ahead and do without poems altogether, can’t we?”

Why aren’t you reading the rest already?

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Art by Kelda Martensen.

An old post, never posted. [Annotated to update Sept. to Nov.]

[Post originally written in September.  This is the purest evidence of how thoroughly this semester’s gotten away from me.]

So many happy things to announce that I don’t know where to begin. I won a prize! The complete story will appear in an anthology out from Mixer Publishing this year. I am particularly pleased because I very much like Paul Tremblay’s work, as well as the post-genre aesthetic that Mixer cultivates. 1.

Also, my work will be appearing in the September/October joint issue of Matter.  I’ll post a link as soon as it goes live. 2.

Last night I went to a book launch party 3.,  and the weekend before I went to see Neko case. It’s been (much like this post) one thing after another. I’ve completed one round of physical therapy and am nearly through a second round; I’ve changed pretty much all of my writing routines so as to better protect my body 4. It seems to be working: I’m back to writing and revising consistently, on top of teaching (which is always a joy) 5. I have no idea where I’ll be or what’s I’ll be doing in the next few years, but I love when I get to do now, and maybe that’s enough? 6.

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1.  This really was thrilling.  After exchanging a series of giddy emails, I wound up going out for coffee with one of the editors, Rebekah, and we had a fabulous conversation about the state of creative nonfiction, affirmative culture, and the backstory of how she and Steven Owen started up Mixer.  They are good people.  I’ll likely be giving a reading at AWP Seattle as part of a Mixer lineup.  Can’t wait.

2.  This piece has been out for a while now, and I’m terribly happy it found such a good home.  Thank you to Virginia, Glenn, and Michelle for curating such an excellent and thought-provoking journal.

3.  My friend and colleague Laura Krughoff’s book, My Brother’s Name, came out in September, and she’s been book touring like a mad thing.  The book itself is brilliant.  From a writeup that I posted over on Facebook:  “The two POV characters are the caretakers of a schizophrenic, and the book explores how their lives are shaped by him, for good sometimes, but ultimately mostly for ill. He’s never given a POV of his own. Which is to say, I found the book to be extremely emotionally accurate to my experience. I was a well-intentioned but clueless wannabee caretaker of someone whose mental illness was far beyond my powers to help. I probably made things much much worse, actually. The book’s mostly about what it means to have your identity shaped by a desire to caretake someone who’s desperately ill. It spoke to my experience, and I’m grateful it exists.”

4. I completed two months of physical therapy and now have a rigid routine involving wrist braces, icing, painkillers, and timed breaks.  The pain is mostly managed now, and I’m back to writing consistently.  Three new stories drafted this semester (two of them already run through Luis Urrea’s workshop), plus revisions to older work.  I’m relieved that the new routine seems to be working, and I’m slowly ramping back up to my pre-cubital tunnel rate of production.

5. I’m teaching a fiction workshop, and I’m in love.  My students are phenomenal: hyper-engaged, thoughtful, willing to take risks, but also (and perhaps most importantly) able to offer kind criticism to one another.  I’ve been putting more time in to my teaching than is probably reasonable, but who knows when I’ll get to teach fiction again?  I’m going to savor every second.

6.  I’m on the academic job market, which is a time-consuming endeavor, nevermind the paralyzing fear of the unknown that comes with it.  My writing life has never been anything but a cobbled-together combination of hopes, dreams, fears, a barely livable wage, and a troughful of elbow grease.  This process is just more of same.

Absenteeism.

“I’ve been reluctant to produce much of a net footprint (blog/comment-fielding/interviews, etc.) bc I’m paralytically aware of what good intentions can devolve into on the web, a space, like every other cultural space capital permits and maintains, that’s characterized by brevity and disposability and by the reaction-attributes that accompany brevity and disposability: speed, loudness and, often, aggression, contempt, caricature, branding, etc. It’s not that I don’t think mutual regard and atelic inquiry can happen in the thereless there, they do, but not often enough and not thoroughly enough for me to see it as a peculiarly exciting public space for thinking about poetry with others. And it’s hard for me to risk thought about poetry with such uncertainty about fellowship.”

–Geoffrey G. O’Brien

http://studioonereadingseries.blogspot.com/2009/06/gillian-hamel-interviews-geoffrey-g.html