Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Thank you!

Hello there! Some of you I recognize, and others I don't. What I mean is: you follow my blog, read the posts, and continue--even as some of my posts are kinda ordinary.

What I mean is: I want to thank you!

In about a month, my [first] chapbook will be out, The Sum of Two Mothers. You've read my thanks in my posting, read about the cover art, and, now, Ariana of ELJ Publications has said the release date is moved up to December 1--if not sooner!

I'm waiting for my amazing artist-friend to finish her work, then hand it over to Leah to design the cover.

Yesterday, I signed the contract.

So, I am excited, for sure.

If you've read this far, please do me a favor. Will you private message me on facebook your address? I want to send you a copy when it comes out.

Of course, also please identify yourself as a follower of my blog, and your follower-name.

Note: the offer above has expired.

I just want to thank you again!

Here are some blurbs for the chapbook:

Sometimes the most complicated stories of our lives can be put into the shortest of forms. In this small book of poems Dennis Etzel Jr. recounts a fragmented chronology from his childhood to his fatherhood. Living their lives with love and integrity, Etzel's two mothers raised him together despite the status quo resistance they daily faced in Topeka, KS. Now the father of sons, Etzel's poems draw as much from his own memories as they do from the larger social context of marriage equality — and in bridging that gap between the personal and the political with lyrical grace and political conviction, Sum of Two Mothers is a riveting little book that is as much about growing up with two mothers, as it is about becoming a father who is raising his sons with a more inclusive — but equally protected — model of the world.  
—Kristin Prevallet, I Afterlife, Essay in Mourning Time
I love this book, and I wanted to say that first, “in danger / of being / engendered”.  These are the beautiful and percipient poems Minnie Bruce Pratt’s son could have written if the cops hadn’t ripped him from the arms of his two mothers.  Crime Against Nature, meet The Sum of Two Mothers, it’s time we all meet up over here where Dennis Etzel Jr. is making the magic happen for us!  You will hear in him with me the voice of a poet we have been waiting to hear, and glad we finally found him!
—CA Conrad, A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon: New (Soma)tics
Rarely does a poem do as much in as few words as Dennis Etzel Jr.’s Sum of Two Mothers. It is a complete mini-autobiography in verse — but one that leaves ample room for the reader’s imagination. The poem’s supple, continuous syntax, plain-spoken musicality, architectural lines, and ample white space deftly convey both what is said and experienced, as well as what is not said or talked about. Reading Dennis Etzel, Jr.’s work is like reading William Carlos Williams, if Williams had had Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas as mothers.
—Joseph Harrington, Things Come On: An Amneoir
Dennis Etzel Jr’s The Sum of Two Mothers wades open-wounded into the unfriendly waters of a society bent on strangle-holding natural love and motherhood into pat definitions: “she was a mother before I thought of her / as my ‘other mother,’ // or ‘another mother’ because ‘mother’ / for me is hard to define.” In tones questioning, unsure, and ultimately defiant, these poems gather together in representation of the complexity of familial love. The Sum of Two Mothers is an imperative story, and one that is cast in lines intuitive, melodic, and resonant.
Leah Sewell, Birth in Storm

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Cover Art

I have my cover art! As soon as it is painted.

Thanks to Lawrence artist Jessica Phoenix and White Rainbow Studios! Check out her work on facebook:


The funny thing is: I've had to turn down art because it featured two nude women together. Well, if this chapbook is about my mothers, I'd rather not "go there!"

Jessica's preliminary sketch featured nude women. :)

Luckily, she is open to figuring out how to portray them. I don't want to give anything away, but it will be awesome!

Also, last night I received my very first blurb. Ever. From CA Conrad.

I admire him as a poet, an activist, and for having a heart. He really said sweet things about my poems. It's hard to be a writer, especially a poet, when there is a lot of negativity, etc. I'm not talking about the kind of rejection a lit mag sends because your work isn't what they are looking for. I'm thinking petty rejection based on ego, malice, etc.

I crave community. It's something Jessica and I talked about this morning, how being an artist doesn't mean one has the exclusive right in whatever town one is in. It's about collaboration, figuring out even how to sustain a living without being cut throat, excluding others, etc.

Love to you all!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

more people

Miranda Ericsson Kendall
Fran Beier
April Ewing
Susan Jackson-Rodgers
Lisa Tatonetti
Jessica Phoenix

Cover Art

The theme of the poetry is around my memoir--around being raised by two mothers. My mom came out in 1983, then met Sondra after a couple of years. They've been together for almost 30 years now.

As far as what a painting would look like, based on the poems: I picture a white, snowy background, the old Kansas Capitol Building (pre-Ad-Astra, and with its green dome), and two Valkyrie in flight on horses.

This is the cover I originally wanted:
Marvel's gatekeeper wants $2500 for me to use it.

Then I found this:
Wizards of the Coast is without reply.

So this is where I am.

Friday, October 4, 2013

I don't like Tom Petty!

Good news: Subito Press selected My Secret Wars of 1984 as a semi-finalist!

Bad news: Cue Tom Petty. "The wa-a-ait-ing is the hardest part."

Yes, waiting to see if we can bring MSWo1984 into the world.

Don't get me wrong--I am thankful to get the recognition, to meet new poets, and to be part of the community.

It's just that Tom Petty breaks in with his Southern whine.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Just sent the file

I just sent the file to Ariana, the final words I want in the chapbook.

Also, I am close to having the cover art selected.

Very thrilling.

I'm reflecting on the people I will be joining at ELJ. I've also facebook friended a few.

I'm just happy all-around!

December 15, 2013

The release date is set. I'm negotiating art for the cover. All is good.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

With Loving Thanks

With loving thanks to the mothers in my life: Susan & Sondra (familial), Margy (adoptive), and Carrie (spousal). With many thanks to Joe Harrington and Hadara Bar-Nadav for their mentorship, friendship, help with the poems that sparked this collection, and for their endless dedication to people. With grateful thanks to the editors who took in some of these poems: Julia Cohen, Bin Ramke, Jennifer A. Luebbers, Cate Lycurgus, and Deborah Kim. With brotherly thanks to Kevin Rabas, for his letters and support. With friendly thanks to Ben Cartwright, Leslie Von Holten, Jennifer Pacioianu, Melanie Burdick, and Sarah Smarsh. With familial thanks to DeAnn, Tom, Carl, Sarah, Martha, Joy, and Ron. With deepest thanks to the mentors who continue: Tom Averill, Amy Fleury, Li-Young Lee, Elizabeth Dodd, Donna Potts, Susan Jackson-Rogers, and Laura Moriarty. With a poetic thanks to CA Conrad, Kristin Prevallet, Lyn Hejinian, Travis and JenMarie Macdonald, and Sandra Simonds for keeping it real. With collegial thanks to Danny Wade, Sharon Sullivan, the Department of English, and everyone at Washburn University for their support--especially my students who keep me real. With a Topekan thanks to Leah Sewell, Tom Kennedy, Laura Burton, Matt Beneka, Sara O'Keeffe, the great people at PT's at College Hill, Juli's, the YWCA and its Center for Safety and Empowerment, seveneightfive, I DO, XYZ, NOTO, and the other people who keep it real. With a Lawrencian thanks to Judy Roitman, Jim McCrary, Megan Kaminski, Billie Joe Harris, Brian Daldorph, Denise Low-Weso, and the other poets there who keep it real. With a literary thanks to the Woodley Staff, especially Larry and Linda McGurn. With a Kansan thanks to Julie Mulvihill, the board, and everyone at Kansas Humanities Council who help keep the humanities in Kansas alive. With ecstatic thanks to Ariana Den Bleyker for taking in the manuscript, and for all of the work she does in building poetic communities. With warmest thanks to you.