Saturday, November 29, 2008

Small Triumphs

Why yes, I did just finish writing my extended critical essay - the Spalding MFA version of a master's thesis (though a short one, since the main focus is in the 4th semester on our creative thesis). It has irked the everloving *crap* out of me that all of these folks pursuing a graduate degree were whining and bitching about a 20 to 30 page scholarly-type paper. C'mon,folks. Say it with me: graduate degree. I suppose I'm enough of an academic snob to feel like you shouldn't get one of those for just the creative writing part, especially since a lot of MFA programs can't very well fail you if your stuff is swill, so long as you jump through all of the hoops. A creative writing degree - an academic degree, now - should also imply that you've got training in critical thinking.

Sigh. Anyway, very happy that mine is done, since technically the final draft isn't due til packet 3. (And packet 1? Oh, due December 11. That's right. Nearly 2 weeks from now.) I'm hoping Phil Deaver (mentor for this semester, and all-around lovely poet and fiction writer) will okay this one right off, it's a very polished first draft. So, I may ask to see if I can send packet 1 early and get "The Female Epic Hero: Reclamation of Helen of Troy in H. D.’s Helen in Egypt" out of my hands. Yee haw and full steam ahead.

Oh, and I also completed a full second collection - Arguments Against Sleep is done and sent off to the Cider Press Review for its first crack (and yes, I know all about the shenanegans that went on with last year's competition). A Convocation of Goddesses is rolling, but slowly at this point. But hey, Arguments was written in a grand furnace of two weeks. My muse is a sadistic and demanding bitch. I love her.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Listen for me on WUTC!

A pal of mine from workshop a couple of semesters ago, Mike Miller, has invited me onto our university's radio station for an interview and to read some of my work. I'm excited! I'll be meeting him in the studio on Monday at noon. Here's to hoping I don't completely bomb on-air! (It's about time my low voice was good for something, but I'm afraid I'll end up sounding like a man with a cold. harrumph.)

Post MFA Residency Report

I spent 11/13 through 11/23 at the MFA residency for Spalding University in Louisville. It's been a stressful time with work piling up at the library and the impending move and due dates for graduate classes, but I had a wonderful, wonderful time. As much as I love being a librarian, it was a lovely chance to get into an artist headspace and pretend I was a real, live poet for an extended period. (Not that I'm not a poet, but for a living, eating and breathing the work and the lectures and the teaching.)

Residency was interesting and productive for me, though I question some of the choices that were made this round. Spalding had Patricia Gaines in with her assemblage "Strange Beauty - Blind Genius." (The pdf of the news release is available here.) She was patently unprepared for her presentation, which was disappointing. The graduating student lectures and readings were wonderful, the faculty were warm and helpful, and workshop was excellent this go-round. I got (and, I hope, gave) a lot of great input and suggestions for some pieces I had stalled out on and wanted to salvage, and it was simply a good group with good chemistry and tact, but a willingness to take up the difficult areas of work.

I did a great deal of writing this residency, which I usually don't have time to do. In fact, I've started two new collections, and have each of them about half done. This is great, given that I have to have a whole new book by October 2009, since I won't be able to use God in my Throat for my creative thesis since (hopefully) it will be published by then. And so, in addition to the in-progress collection Gone Things, I'm now also working on Arguments Against Sleep and A Convocation of Goddesses. Convocation was an idea I had quite some time ago but never really made a start with, and Arguments cropped up as an idea after a workshop session. Each of those three titles currently has about 20-25 poems in it, which is not terribly shabby. I prefer to have multiple projects going at once, so if I'm not in the mood to write in one vein, I can move to another. Here's to hoping they turn into something people want.

Finally, a note on the extended critical essay, which comes due for me on 12/11. It's our MFA program's concession to scholarly critical work, but shorter than a regular MA thesis, as it's only to be about 30 pages. The happy news: mine is about half-done, and I know quite a few folks who haven't started theirs. The not-so-happy news is, well, having to finish it. I really should have written it in its entirety earlier, but things have snowballed lately. All in good time, I have until the 11th.

Anyway, it's good to be back on track with writing, and good to be back in Chattanooga. I love the Brown Hotel and my MFA peeps, but I'm a hermit at heart, and I missed being able to crawl away for some solitude.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

AWP Pedagogy Forum: Colleen FTW!

Just got confirmation! My paper, "Poets Rewriting History: Researching for the Authentic Persona Poem," was accepted for presentation at the Pedagogy Forum at the 2009 Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference. Huzzah! This was my attempt to forge my librarianish interests with my creative writing interests, and I do have a particular affinity for the persona poem.

I'm really looking forward to this (though I may well need a place to crash, so if you're going to AWP and have some extra floorspace the night of February 12th, do let me know) - I've heard about AWP but have never been. I also appreciate the ability to expand my presenting into something that is very personal to me. I love librarianship and never plan to leave it, but writing I find personally fulfilling. It's nice to have my personal side validated in addition to my professional side *smile*

Another "Almost" at Black Lawrence Press

I'm thrilled that God in my Throat has found a home with Bellowing Ark Press, and I'm hoping to get on the requested revisions over Thanksgiving. I also just received word that the manuscript came in as a finalist in the Black Lawrence Press 2008 St. Lawrence Book Award competition. I'm a constant finalist over there, between my chapbooks and this collection *grin*. Ah well. I'll have to stick to chapbooks to send to them now, since my first book will be out of the gate next year. I will now be excluded from all "first book" contests. Funny how that doesn't sting at all...

I now have a serious case of the happy and will be setting aside my moodfunk. Also, Alabama poetess Jeanie Thompson has offered to give me ideas and tips on marketing for the upcoming book, and I'm excited to get to talk to her about it at my upcoming residency next week.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Bit of This, A Bit of That

I'm behind on getting my things for the MFA residency together, which is disturbing since I'm driving to Louisville Friday morning. I also just realized that my first draft of our extended critical thesis is due December 11. Eep. I have all of my sources and a good idea of what I want to write...hopefully whatever mentor I get agrees.

Just got notice that the Adirondack Review accepted a second poem - hurrah! The first one they took is out in the Fall 2008 issue, so with the quick turnaround by their staff and their editor Diane Goettel, this one may be in the very next issue.

Looks like God in my Throat is definitely a go! Robert Ward (guru and editor over at Bellowing Ark Press) sent me two titles from his backlist that I'm tucking into right now, and I like both the construction and the content of the books. They're done in simple non-glossy paperback - it's the sort of book that forces the text to speak for it, unhindered (and unhelped) by any flashy cover art. I have zero problem with fun, glossy covers, but I also like minimalist work. And I very much like the stance of Bellowing Ark on what they do and do not publish, and Mr. Ward's superprompt responses to everything I've sent him both via post and via e-mail. I'm really looking forward to learning the publishing process, and am expecting Ward's revision suggestions shortly. I'll keep you posted on how the book moves.