Thursday, November 29, 2007

Happy Sunshine Blond Girl of Death

The conversation over at Nicholas Manning's blog is interesting. Lately all I've been doing in my notebook is recording things. I was going to type up an example of how I am just recording things, except now that I've looked, I'm not sure what I'm recording: "I don't want to tell you how I made it. Throw up. Am you solvent? You know, SOLVENT. Like that." Recently there are a lot of recorded vocabulary explanations that the ESL teacher in the next room gives his students. I listen to him when I'm giving my students exams. It feels like a cheap shot to use the explanations, though. I'd be a very different sort of person if I were a man in my mid-30s.

My students want me to come surfing with them and take them to bars. I said no. Obviously. They are men in their 20s so no one will speak to them when they go out. I'm really a jerk when it comes to giving advice about how to meet people.

I'm reminded of a Janet Song from, I don't know, maybe five years ago (back when I was still taking, ahem, hip hop dance classes on a regular basis), called "Someone to call my lover." Here's the chorus:

Maybe we'll meet at a bar
He'll drive a funky car
Maybe we'll meet at a club
And fall so deeply in love
He'll tell me I'm the one
And we'll have so much fun
I'll be the girl of his dreams

These lyrics irk me in so many ways. I guess people do meet at clubs and bars and fall in love. I wonder where people in North County meet each other. At school, work, at bars, on the beach, in malls. "Maybe." Yeah, good luck with that. See, I told you, I'm a jerk about it.

I pained my nails then messed them up. Really, what is the point? I ride a bike every day. I type all day. I use my teeth and nails to open things--my parents might have told me not to use my teeth, but only half-heartedly.

I am debating about whether or not to send manuscripts to Fence and Futurepoem Books. Deadlines are tomorrow. I don't really think that either one of them will publish my work. Of course they won't if I don't send it. I don't want to not send work just to justify my own alienation.

I will send work to Futurepoem, which has no contest or reading fee. I actually don't have a real problem with reading and contest fees, but I don't have extra money now and didn't plan well, and Fence is even less likely to publish me more than Futurepoem.

I should write more love poems, or love poems that don't become gruesome, although I'm not sure I could. After my first reading in New York someone said to me, "you're a little sicko, aren't you?"


Jessica Smith said...

send to futurepoem.

would you even send to fence? i mean, besides the reading fee and the track record of aesthetic mediocrity... FENCE?


K. Lorraine Graham said...

Indeed. Except for Catherine Wagner. Her books are good.

Jessica Smith said...

augh. ok. i've calmed down slightly.

yes, ok, Fence has published a couple of good books in their track history. i guess that's what makes them mediocre-- the averaging of a few good and a lot of ridiculous.

it's interesting to get riled up about something. i haven't felt this much negative passion in awhile. but Fence really pushes my buttons. and not the tender ones.

K. Lorraine Graham said...

I'm all for negative passion. Yee Haw!

Fence is irksome. The three books that they've published that I like I like a lot (not going to bother inserting commas in that sentence). Which makes it even more aggravating. If they didn't publish anyone I liked then I think I'd be happy to let them go about their business of being a slick, market-savvy, a bit-to-hip press in New York. A lot of the books they publish are mediocre, but that's true of a lot of presses, unfortunately. Not even O Books and Subpress publish consistently great stuff.

Every year the deadline Fence contests comes around, and every year I think: I would like someone to pay me a lot of money for my poetry. Then I hem and haw and don't think about it again until next year.

I'm only half serious, understand, but psychologically I think it would be good for me to waste my money and send them a manuscript, just so I can have it rejected. That would be wonderful and validating!

Jessica Smith said...

Yes, it would say, "sorry, your book is not mediocre enough for us."

Futurepoem does a pretty good job. LIke the other presses you mention, it does sometimes fall prey to the "I have a press, I'm going to publish my friends instead of learning about other good poetry going on in the world and having a spine about the quality of work i put out" disease, but in general it's a winner.

Fence is on the fence. Maybe that's what makes it so aggravating to me. It wants to have things both ways. It wants to run a contest for womens' poetry, but it also wants to publish an issue with a suicide girl on the cover. It wants to publish "experimental" poetry but its magazine is totally middle-road and its books are, too, most of the time. It's hard to blame people for wanting to run a press that makes a profit, but...

Ryan W. said...

interesting post and thread. I did drink a caffeinated coffee but don't think that's why. the post is more non sequitur-y than most KLG posts, methinks.
and the conversation about publishing somehow reads more like a private exchange than public exchanges about publishing usually do. which is very good.

I'm sometimes very comfortable approaching strangers in rock clubs, so I can understand why that idea is loose in the world, about meeting people in those settings. tho I appreciate and am interested in skepticism about those sorts of scenarios... you know, things that must happen, that seem like a part of the uhhhh popular consciousness about what goes on, but do those things actually go on? I guess they must. and it seems somewhat plausible. I think what it is for me is there is a built-in commonality about the experience. everyone is surrounded by a common thing -- the music the band is playing. so there's a feeling like you can talk to people. I'm obviously not thinking about "clubs" like the sort of faux fashion dance-y types of clubs where everything is contrived exclusivity, etc

honestly I would think publishers would be falling all over themselves to get at KLG poems... reeely. I mean, regardless of their track record publishing other people's work. I think to submit to magazines, etc, which I don't do often enough, I almost have to have the attitude that I'm trying to help improve the magazine/press. like I'm being magnanimous. it's just a trick I play on myself sometimes that seems to make it more palatable to submit things.

K. Lorraine Graham said...

Hi Ryan,

I think that talking to a stranger at a club where the music (or DJ) creates a common, shared space makes sense. I think that a lot of spaces in SD lack a meaningful built-in commonality like the one you described. But, as I've said many times, I'm a jerk. Maybe the mall is enough of a built-in commonality: it's not that easy to get to a bar around here.

Thanks for your comments about my poems. I'm crossing my fingers. And researching self-publishing options.