Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fox flowers, terseness and ugliness observed

Taste: almonds
Sight: fox eyes; The Ghosts in Our Machine; cherry blossoms; bumblebee
Sound:
trickling
Touch:
spring air
Smell:
cherry blossoms; mown grass; chocolate; pipe smoke
Extra: iterate - the many years it takes to write a short story
Grateful for:
flowers

Saturday, March 22, 2014

And with no time left for intellectual pursuits

Taste: banana boysenberry
Sight:
the sky tinged with pale green and deep violet; the sky a brilliant orange; the dark windy road; the stormy bridge a glare of green light
Sound: how quickly he speaks; reading Stray Birds to a dying man
“TRUTH in her dress finds facts too tight. In fiction she moves with ease.” 
"RELEASE me from my unfulfilled past clinging to me from behind making death difficult. LET this be my last word, that I trust in thy love." ― Tagore, Rabindranath
Touch: sobbing, heaving shoulders
Smell:
cinnamon
Extra:
“A book won't move your eyes for you like TV or a movie does. A book won't move your mind unless you give it your mind, or your heart unless you put your heart in it. It won't do the work for you. To read a good novel well is to follow it, to act it, to feel it, to become it—everything short of writing it, in fact. Reading is a collaboration, an act of participation. No wonder not everybody is up to it.” — Ursula K. Le Guin, The Wild Girls
Grateful for: sleep

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Review: AWP Conference, Seattle - Eco-fabulous!

Underwood typewriter on display at Ashland Creek Press.
Seek and ye shall find. I was heartened by how easily I found connections with writers seeking to use their literary powers in fantastic ways as a force for good at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference in Seattle.

This was my first AWP and the conference feels certain to make my best of list for 2014. The event switched me into creative overdrive. Soon I will be planting my magic seeds and watching them grow (thanks Fairy Tale Review!). 

AWP may be the Burning Man of writers conferences. It's a quickly formed community with a packed and varied event schedule. Make of it what you will. Just as Burning Man can be yoga retreat, art festival, extreme outdoor adventure or constant rave; AWP can be about poetry, author events, presses or parties. Go from panel to panel on craft, attend every reading, browse the bookfair or just hang out and hobnob. Find your community of writers, teachers, publishers or critics.

A happy observation: Many authors talked about embracing fantastic elements to tell stories. Call it magic realism, surrealism, speculative or fabulist, a generation of writers seem to be gleefully (and purposefully - see favorite panels) putting the magic back into American books. Hurrah!

"I'm glad to see so many people interested in fairy tale," said Kate Bernheimer, founder of Fairy Tale Review, in a packed New Fairy Tales From the North reading. Me too! I also loved the "Weird Girls" fabulist fiction panel with Christine Vines, Marie-Helen Bertino, Amelia Gray, Karen Thompson Walker and Deb Olin Unferth.

I also greatly enjoyed and appreciated two engaging discussions of how we can write as a force for good — and tell fabulous stories and create engaging literature.
  • Fabulist Fiction for a Hot Planet with Christian Moody, Tessa Mellas, Alexander Lumans, E. Lily Yu and Matt Bell (whose backlist is being picked up by Soho Press if you can wait until 2015 to read Cataclysm Baby) explored eco-consciousness in eco-fabulist fiction.
  • Greening of Literature: Eco-Fiction and Poetry to Enlighten and Inspire with John Yunker, JoeAnn Hart, Mindy Mejia, Ann Pancake and Gretchen Primack. 
"Art's beauty can make a reader yearn for a different kind of reality." — Ann Pancake
"As writers, our most sustainable energy source is creativity, and we should use it freely." — JoeAnn Hart
"What if we erred on the side of respecting other creatures too much?" — Gretchen Primack (on writing fearlessly and empathetically about animals)
"Readers trust you to get the science right regardless of genre." — Mindy Mejia
A disconcerting observation: Especially at a writers' conference, amongst so many delightful books, it felt off to see fanfare and long lines over a few and sparse interest in others. One imagines many hidden treasures and talents in the field — and a lot of luck and chance involved in the disparity.

Post-AWP I'm catching up on reading and looking forward to Seattle Arts and Lectures with George Saunders, March 24, (hope there's discussion of "Fox 8") and Rebecca Solnit, June 5, at Town Hall Seattle.

Highlights:
Post AWP short story reading binge begins (Long live the short story!):
On writing:
John Gardner on the fictional dream, The Art of Fiction No. 73, John Gardner, Paris Review
T.S. Eliot on the objective correlative, Hamlet and His Problems

A few notes on preparation for readings and panels gleaned from AWP. Simple, but key.
  • Prepare.
  • Time it.
  • Short is sweet. One of the best readings was by Marie-Helene Bertino. She read just one fantastic line from each of her stories collected in Safe as Houses.
  • Marketing tip: At both the beginning and end of your presentation say your name, title of work, and where it's published so people can find your work and read it.

Friday, March 7, 2014

He chases dreams of libraries, youth and music

Taste: Earth Balance vegan cheddar kettle chips; raspberry smoothie  
Sight: father, found
Sound: mmms of appreciation; poet Joan Naviyuk Kane reads from "Hyperboreal," stunning language English/Inupiaq
Touch: painful sitting
Smell:
nutty soy sauce and rice
Extra:
 "Everything beckons to us to perceive it,
murmurs at every turn ‘Remember me!’
A day we passed, too busy to receive it,
will yet unlock us all its treasury."
— Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 - 1926)
He dreams of five story libraries with deep collections.
Grateful for:
contentment

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Book love forever as sung in a dream by pink dogs

Taste: chocolate and lime; almond tart
Sight:
Valentine's Day roses; the man crossing the road with the girl with the pink backpack; shadow cat; man playing ball with his dog glow in the dark ball; the lighted trees in Freeway Park  
Sound:
Dear lord, when I get to heaven
Please let me bring my man
When he comes tell me that you'll let him in
Father tell me if you can
Oh that grace, oh that body
Oh that face makes me wanna party
He's my sun, he makes me shine like diamonds
Lana Del Rey, Young and Beautiful
Touch: the heft of a book; flipping through pages  
Smell: Cookie #5 Skydottir 
Extra: attacked by a cougar, scissors and pillows for defense; she was the kind of woman who rolled down the window to greet the neighborhood dogs; the blue room  
Grateful for: Books!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Attending to a world seen through drifting scents

Taste: raspberry oatmeal
Sight:
the golden sun rising on the day after Valentine's
Sound:
barking
Touch:
hand to hand connection—eyes-closed; the fox trot - slow, slow-quick, quick
Smell:
the office smells of roses
Extra:
fantasy language, twists of fate, published in multiple languages
Grateful for:
love

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Fairytale dancing with her comic book heart

Taste: peanut butter powder
Sight: the fairy tale inspired art of Catrin Welz-Stein 
Sound: Jacqueline du Pre - Elgar cello concerto; Virginia Woolf
Touch: claws; freezing temperatures; bending back to roller paint the ceiling; cha-cha, hustle, waltz and fox trot
Smell:
cake batter; paint; kitty litter
Extra:
an industrial bathroom; ballroom dancing
Grateful for:
my hear, a comic book box

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