Monday, September 15, 2014

3. GRIDLOCK

‘Gridlock’ has a history—an early draft of the story first appeared back in the early 2000s in the zine Glossolalia. That zine’s creator and publisher, Sarah McCarry, has since gone on to prove herself a publishing virtuoso: the second installment of her All Our Pretty Songs YA trilogy, titled Dirty Wings, came out earlier this year to rave reviews. The ingenious creative nonfiction chapbook series she edits and produces, Guillotine, has brought to light obscure musings from writers ranging from Bojan Louis to Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick to Mimi Thi Nguyen and Golnar Nikpour. And her blog, The Rejectionist, which sprang from her travails as a publishing-industry workhorse, continues to draw a devoted readership.

‘Gridlock’ has evolved a bit since it first appeared in Glossolalia—although its core remains: two women stagnate in a parked car at a gas stationeither one year in the future or one dimension to the left—and perhaps, more than anything else, it’s an erotic tension that keeps them both there. A later version of the story has since been featured in Metazen, and an even further evolved version appears in The Story of How All Animals Are Equal & Other Tales, which you can pre-order HERE.

Meanwhile, enjoy the following two inescapable songs, which lilt forth from the gas station speakers at polarly inopportune times:



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

2. THE TACO GROUP

‘The Taco Group’ relates the tale of a post-apocalyptic kaffeeklatsch dedicated to founding a utopian city on the ashes of the city that came before. Unfortunately, the group devolves into Real Housewives-style infighting, and their often conflicting visions never get off the ground.

According to my artist’s statement, the story was inspired by a bunch of junk: 
... a couple of business cards I’d saved (one for a company that referred to itself as a Group, the other from a man I met in a sauna who asked for help building a virtual city), a book of baby names (the androgynous, melodramatic ones that are now popular), a shredded Styrofoam cup I passed on the street (peeled and cut in a way that resembled the Eye of Horus), the tangible comfort I feel when I see a taco buffet (it’s been too long).
I wrote the artist’s statement to accompany a performance I adapted from the story for the Breaking Ranks Reading & Exhibition held at the Headlands Center for the Arts. In addition to the artist’s statement, I letterpress printed a progress report, assembled a slideshow bordering on rudimentary animation, and handcrafted a taco buffet made of paper, glue, Mylar, and polymer clay.

Click HERE to pre-order The Story of How All Animals Are Equal & Other Tales—a fiction collection that features ‘The Taco Group’ along with 21 other stories.

Friday, September 5, 2014

1. SPIEL

I’ll spend the next couple months posting about the 22 stories featured in my forthcoming fiction collection, The Story of How All Animals Are Equal & Other Tales (which you can pre-order HERE!). 

The first story on deck is called ‘Spiel’, and it first appeared in Wigleaf. I made an accompanying collage that employs the dreaded Comic Sans—the perfect typeface to embody that place where kitsch becomes so sickly, the sugar self-combusts and an unexpected bitterness creeps in. Perfect for a shopkeeper narrator with a cynical relationship to her wares. Read the story here. And stay tuned for more …

Thursday, August 21, 2014

August Readers in Transit

This Tuesday marks the third and final installation of August Readers in Transit, a reading series designed to take advantage of the turnover that happens in Iowa City during the month before the academic year starts. I'll be joining C.S. Ward and Sara Majka, and will be reading stories from The Story of How All Animals Are Equal & Other Tales, my book forthcoming from Brooklyn Arts Press. All this in a twilit back yard: 7 pm at 115 N. Dodge St.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Story of How All Animals Are Equal & Other Tales

Just finished making a web page for my forthcoming fiction collection from Brooklyn Arts Press—the title is now finalized as The Story of How All Animals Are Equal & Other Tales. Many thanks to Carol Guess, Anna Joy Springer, CAConrad, and Kevin Killian for the kind words! Watch this space for more information about the book.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Artist's Books this Saturday at Prairie Lights

I've been lucky to work with an exceptional group of students this semester in my Creative Writing for Book Arts class. They've been working hard on their final projects, artist's books that will be on display this Saturday night from 7 - 9 pm at Prairie Lights. Come see their work, which includes the following intriguing tag lines: 

A look into Plato's cave. An epic take on the lowly shrimp. Eye-test poems. Forty thoughts from a forty-passenger tour bus. Emails from The City of Love. All this and more ...


Monday, April 21, 2014

Material Culture in Print

I presented as part of a panel last weekend at the Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association National Conference in Chicago. The panel, titled Material Culture in Print: Graphics, Books, and Ephemera, explored several print and design-related subjects included in the conference's material culture topic area. My co-panelist Alyssa Anderson (Brown University) looked at Art Spiegelman's articulation of post-9/11 trauma through narrative disorientation in In the Shadow of No Towers. And William Coleman (UC, Berkeley) explored the significance of the racial other in a contemporary downhill skis design that incorporates nineteenth-century works of art. 

My paper looks at two twentieth-century narratives that originally appeared in serialized form—In Cold Blood and Twin Peaks—and the outside texts and material objects they spawned, which sometimes offered insight into questions their original texts left unanswered. The abstract is below:

Serials have traditionally occurred at moments of new media, claims Roger Hagedorn in 'Technology and Economic Exploitation: The Serial as a Form of Narrative Presentation.' Not only do new media use serialization to establish audiences, they often rely on tie-ins with established media formats to win over readers and viewers. This paper will examine two cases of twentieth-century serialized, intertextual narratives that complicate this model: Truman Capote’s novel In Cold Blood and David Lynch and Mark Frost’s TV series Twin Peaks. These two texts first appeared in serialized form in established media formats at moments when their venues were objects of both critical approval and wide public appeal—In Cold Blood in mid-century The New Yorker, and Twin Peaks on ABC at the threshold of the 1990s. Like many serials, they achieved mainstream success in part by appearing in installments that cultivated a sense of anticipation. And despite the lowbrow reputation the serial traditionally has, they were also met with enormous critical success. This essay will examine how their initial presentations were key in this: their publicly eccentric creators both played with generic conventions, and created tension between high and low culture. It will also discuss how the intrigue generated during these texts’ serialization outlived their seeming narrative resolutions (the hanging of the killers and the answer to “Who killed Laura Palmer?”), as both In Cold Blood and Twin Peaks went on to spawn extra-texts—to be supplemented, retold, and re-imagined in various media formats.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Printmaking as claiming space

Amze Emmons has posted a write-up over at Printeresting of the recent Queer Communities in Print portfolio exchange that was exhibited at Adobe Books Backroom Gallery in conjunction with the SGC International conference in San Francisco. Check out the photos! 

Participants included Felipe Baeza, Anima Metalica D.J., BOKA (April Katz and JoAnn Boehmer), Emmy Bright, Ian Cozzens, Jill Fitterer, Thea Gahr/Collectiva Cordyceps, Jennifer Hughes, Graham Kolbeins, Delia Kovac, Jaime Knight, Chucha Marquez, Dutes Miller & Stan Shellabarger, Heidi Ratanavanich & Eileen Shumate, Patrick Reed, Gavin Rouille, Nicholas Shick, Miriam Klein Stahl, Corinne Teed, Mary Tremonte, Lena Wolff, and Meg Turner. You can take a closer look at my piece, 'Socialites', here

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Lament (concerning dimensions)

What is A Lament? It's a unique-edition full-color flexagon zine housed in a Japanese portfolio. Digitally printed on Domestic Etching after a failed attempt at printing on cardstock, it uses collage, handwritten proclamations, and a Wizard-of-Oz color/b&w shift to explore the idea of how 'every other dimension is better than ours except for one.'




The portfolio, which includes a magnetic closure, is covered in black buckram with pastedowns featuring hand-watercoloring and pencil scrawls. The piece's zine-like composition and appearance of haphazard construction contrast with its overbuilt case. I basically wanted it to look like a pile of trash inside a professional shell. Although not practical, it could be editioned, which I might do in the future if there seems to be some unexpected surge of interest.
           

'How dining alone is a masculine act / and how Laura Riding said that "poet" is a lying word (it is a wall that closes & does not)'



'A weird, impenetrable jumble of morning glories & hedge bamboo. / Loss here is a desirable state.'

                                    

'A habitation let down from heaven on golden chains. / The sound of cicadas like a lemon being squeezed.'

A Lament was featured this last January as part of Peripheral Shifts, a UICB-focused group art show at Quad City Arts in Rock City, IL. I'm now trying to figure out how to settle its generic confusion—a non-editioned zine / an underwhelmingly crafted artist's book / a hexagonally-paneled comic / a poem interrupted by texture and color? And that ultimate question: how to make this something that's actually an accessible, readable thing here in this dimension, the one that's worst of all except one?