Monday, November 28, 2016

for December ritual in poetry writing

Getting ready to write: December provides an end to the year, a time of resolutions and beginnings. It is actually a countup from 1 to 31. Make a list of things that show radical love. These are things you do or hope to do, a list of things to do.

I want December to not be a countdown to doom, but a countup to radical love, unity, and resistance. I am writing a poem a day to accomplish preparedness and to align myself with you. Are you with me? Develop your ritual for writing. Let's do this!

Sit down with:
facebook posts
an article from the day as political situation
a good memory
someone beloved in mind
dreams collective and individual
a book of poems
the imagination

(some of this list is borrowed from Sandra Simonds's facebook post)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

New bookstore in Emporia

Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore
1101 Commercial
Emporia, KS 66801
620-208-BOOK (2665)

from Litmus Press Writing (US)Americ(k)a(s)

I wish I had a private plane to fly to these readings in!

From Litmus Press:

The country is a fiction, a narrative of legalese, piety, and slaughter.
The country is a positioning, its geographic bounty.
The country is a fingering of continents, a cordillera stitching the western expanse.
The country is the slip of skin on which we write ourselves: the warriors and the wounded, the chained and transported, the subsequent generations of, those who cling to its mythos as if a snail.
—Aja Couchois Duncan
Dear Friends,

We hope you can join us this weekend in celebrating the recent release of Aja Couchois Duncan's Restless Continent, as part of Duncan's cross-country reading series, Writing (US)Americ(k)a(s).

Duncan will be joined in conversation by Youmna Chlala, Maryam Parhizkar, and Simone White in a series of three east coast events devoted to the question of what it means to write (US)Americ(k)a(s). They will discuss ideas of mapping terrain, disembodying language, connecting with ghosts, and constructing alternative ethnography.

Friday, September 30, 8pm: Reading and talk as part of the Poetics Plus Reading series at SUNY-Buffalo. Full details here.

Sunday, October 2, 5:30pm: Book release celebration at Berl's Poetry Shop in Brooklyn, NY with readings by Youmna Chlala (The Paper Camera, Litmus 2017) and Maryam Parhizkar. RSVP on Facebook.

Monday, October 3, 7pm: Reading and discussion with Simone White presented by the Race & Innovative Poetics Working Group at Yale University, moderated by Maryam Parhizkar and Camille Owens. RSVP on Facebook.

Restless Continent communes with a North America that speaks elegiac, celebratory, and melancholic histories human and geological. In this collection, the body of that land and those histories fuse with the body of Duncan’s languagethe body of memory, and the physical body. Intertwining English with Ojibwe, this debut full-length collection of poems ominously holds us in its ethereal sound, bearing sharp witness to the ruptures perpetuated by the violences of humanity—bodies and lands colonizing and colonized, naming and othering, stamping life into disappearance.

"When the earth is mined of all her treasures, the land will be barren. But the sky will be crowded with bodies. When the limp appendages slap against one another, there is a second sound, less percussive. It is her, raptor, this cry."
from Restless Continent

Aja Couchois Duncan is a Bay Area educator, writer and coach of Ojibwe, French and Scottish descent. Her writing has been anthologized in Biting the Error: Writers Explore Narrative (Coach House Press), Bay Poetics (Faux Press), and Love Shook My Heart 2 (Alyson Press). Her most recent chapbook, "Nomenclature, Miigaadiwin, a Forked Tongue" was published by CC Marimbo press. A fictional writer of non-fiction, she has published essays in the North American Review and Chain. In 2005, she was a recipient of the Marin Arts Council Award Grant for Literary Arts, and, in 2013, she received a James D. Phelan Literary Award. She holds an MFA from San Francisco State University and a variety of other degrees to certify her as human.

Youmna Chlala is a writer and an artist born in Beirut & currently based in New York. Her work investigates the relationship between fate and architecture through drawing, video and performance, prose and poetry. She is the Founding Editor of Eleven Eleven {1111} Journal of Literature and Art and the recipient of a Joseph Henry Jackson Award. Her writing appears in Urban Hopes by Steven Holl and in publications such as Guernica, Bespoke, CURA, MIT Journal for Middle Eastern Studies, and XCP: Journal of Cross Cultural Poetics. She is an Associate Professor in the Humanities & Media Studies Department at the Pratt Institute.

Maryam Ivette Parhizkar is a writer, musician, and scholar interested in sound, resonance, migration, family myths, and finding ways to use them to work through the constraints of the English language. She is the author of two chapbooks: Pull: a ballad (The Operating System, 2014) and As For the Future (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, 2016). Recent work can also be found online in The Recluse, Gesture, the The Brooklyn Rail, and Essay Press's chapbook Labor Poetic Labor! She is part of the editorial collective of Litmus Press and a PhD student in African American Studies and American Studies at Yale University.

Simone White is the author of Of Being Dispersed (Futurepoem), Unrest (Ugly Duckling Presse), and House Envy of All the World (Factory School). She is a mother, Program Director at The Poetry Project and currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Literary Studies at The New School. She lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Visiting Writer

I am looking forward to these:

Handling Visiting Writers

My understanding:  claim voucher to Karen S- with address and social security number—she knows that drill.  Same with the Speaking of Kansas fee, $100 for class visit, but only if visitor has a Kansas connection, through birth, education, subject matter, etc.  Library:  Lori Rognlie and Sean Bird usually reserve space, and I still like the 4:00 time.  For book sales, Nikki D- at Ichabod Shop.  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

My Message to Students About AWP

Here is the main page for the conference:

It really is a true experience. There is a Washburn English major who went in 2012 and has gone every year since. I wish I could do that, too, as there are so many ways to make connections with writers and editors, meet people one would never meet otherwise, and be inspired by panels and readings. For the upcoming AWP, there is a tentative list posted here:

A student chooses a mentor she or he has had in a class, so I would be honored to be your accompanying mentor. I am hoping to find at least two or three students to mentor so those women may share a room at the conference hotel. I am planning for the 2019 conference in Portland ahead of time so I may help students prepare with their own work which can lead to finding what panels and readings to attend, as well as which presses, literary magazines, and MFA programs would be best.

Monday, July 18, 2016

From MarMom

Here in Geary County, there are 302 people whose registrations are "suspended", so their votes won't count in the upcoming primaries, thanks to Sec. Kobach. Local elections are often decided by fewer votes than that. Rights aren't something we can ever take for granted. There is always someone trying to take them away!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Real Live Experiment

Physical Barrier

“The wording I chose makes very clear that it must be a physical wall,” Kobach said, explaining that under President George W. Bush, some officials supported the use of electronic sensors at the border instead of a physical wall, an idea he deems insufficient.
“There’s no metaphors. We’re talking an actual, physical barrier,” Kobach said.

Read more here:

birds and butterflies

"As you likely know, birds and butterflies are totemic creatures, having achieved sacred status since the start of human time."

Sunday, July 10, 2016


authorship, identity, I

find articles

in relationship to Leslie S


Even as Carrie and I authored our children, they take on lives of their own.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Project to work on

This Independence Day I will do something different. I will actually embrace the pains and pleasures of what will be a project.

Take a camera, a notebook. A recorder.

meditations on coniunctio oppositorum

Part immersion writing, part memoir, and part appropriated material, I want to face the holiday, not-holiday.

"This is the first I have heard about it," a parent says.

The history of the Collins Park parade. My history. Dale's missing thumb. My sister's comments.

"Honor mom and Aunt Hazel," she says.

My escape to Saint Louis last year. The rush to the animal doctor the year before.

Tom's bagpipes. My sister's bicycle.

My ex showing up. Cousins who hate me showing up.

Dog Rescue Relief Station.

"Neighborhood parades bring out the best of Topeka each year on Independence Day, and Friday was no exception.
The weather was nearly perfect for the Fourth of July, with sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 70s by mid-morning Friday.
Children on bicycles and tricycles with red, white and blue streamers could be found in virtually every Fourth of July Parade, along with marching bands thrown together just for the day, antique cars with their old horns honking and, yes, politicians and their supporters passing out fliers — it is an election year, after all.
Several Fourth of July parades have long-standing traditions in Topeka. Included are those in the Potwin, College Hill and Collins Park neighborhoods."
Watching Independence Day.
“I don’t think you could find anything like this in California,” the elder Casteen said. “It makes you appreciate America and it makes you appreciate your freedom.”
Nationalism, Trump says.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

After Words, About Fast-Food Sonnets

After Words

First, a big thanks to Brian Daldorph and Coal City Press. Brian, you always commented on how you loved the poems I sent you, and I appreciate your words, your presence, and your enthusiasm. Really, you are a big reason for why I continued working on these poems, hoping to get a book-length collection.

I have other people to thank, too, like the editors who published some of the poems in their literary journals: Kevin Rabas, Amy Fleury, Mickey Cesar, Katie Longofono, Mary Stone, and Matt Porubsky.

Also a big thanks to Aldrick Scott for the cover art.

I started on these poems back in 2002, finished in 2015, about a time of my life from 1986 through 1993. It was years in the making on both counts.

Eric Schlosser comments in his 2001 book Fast Food Nation, "Instead of relying upon a small, stable, well-paid, and well-trained workforce, the fast food industry seeks out part-time, unskilled workers who are willing to accept low pay. Teenagers have been the perfect candidates for these jobs, not only because they are less expensive to hire than adults, but also because their youthful inexperience makes them easier to control."

When I asked on Facebook how many poets ever worked fast food, the response was astonishing. I found out that Jon Tribble has a manuscript, too, about his experience working for KFC. I also learned Mark Nowak did during the entire Reagan presidency (1980-1988) at Wendy's in Buffalo. Also, Amy King worked at McDonald’s for years. I did, too.

I certainly wanted these poems to speak to my formative years, to the epiphanies and heartbreaks of feeling trapped in a job. I do not want to make this collection political, but can’t help but think of the work we still need to do. Food, Inc., A Place at the Table, Super Size Me, and all of the documentaries in both film and book form trying to point out the truth in a time of the need for overhauling all systems. Please also check out Chew On This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food. The film Fast Food Nation is the fictional account of what is found in Eric Schlosser’s book and worth viewing, too.

Workers’ rights, the food industry, and big business: Will it take a reshifting of the hierarchy of power into a shared power? Can it be something healthy, local-based, self-sustaining, job-creating, and on the side of everyone’s best interests?

Things I Wasn't Told About My First Book

Now don't get me wrong. My publisher put together a wonderful packet of getting my book through the process of being ready for print, places to send copies for reviews, and such. It was a fine-tuned process, something I admire after being an editor for a small press in Kansas. I thought, "Why didn't I think of that?"

Really, as someone who gets published, the only responsibility of the small press is to publish you.

I was lucky. The editor put together the layout of the cover and inside for me. I know with the press I work for we are all volunteering, so we ask the author to provide the files at her or his own expense.

I've heard of a small press who asked my friend to provide for the layout and pay for the setup, too.

I can safely say Finishing Line Press not only charges a reading fee, but asks for presales, too. This is not uncommon.

Linda Rodriguez has a wonderful blog about what novelists should expect:

If you are like me, writing poetry, chances are a small press will be publishing you. You should really check out Small Press Distribution:

Here comes the nitty-gritty of the game.

Look at this page, the New Poetry:

Click on the first book and look at the publication date. What?! How can they have copies in, but the Publication Date is months ahead?

This is part of the trick. Ask your editor for a Publication Date months in the future, while actually publishing your book ASAP. You can explain this as the reason.

Another reason: Many reading groups, like The Rumpus, want books in hand before being published, too.

This also includes book reviews. An editor told me, just like blurbs, she is not sure if book reviews really sell books. However, do not underestimate the power of a book review in a leading online book review source. Chances are, they, too, will want a book review before the book is published.

Poems About Films

Pre-film watching lists

  • Memories about watching the film
  • What the film meant to you then
  • Why you choose the film to write about now
  • Any remembered plot elements and scenes

Watching the film

  • Note any objects and what they mean
  • Write out of loose trance, stream of unconsciousness
  • Continue writing
  • Don't worry about "making sense," as you will 

After the film

  • Write down any other plot elements or scenes
  • Write themes of the film as a way to approach the poetic nature of "what" you are writing
  • Write as a character of the film


  • Try putting everything in I: For Krull, "I was a disappearing fortress, rematerializing somewhere else." Speaks to my childhood at that time.
  • Assemble sentences into a prose poem. Add connecting sentences via figurative language.
  • Place everything double spaced and go Emily Dickinson on the work, circling intriguing phrases while omitting anything else. This also might work only using the "Watching the film" writing, too.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Bleeding Kansas

As a project, it will be important for me to establish the text first. To get it down, printed, on index cards--then match to the images.

First, text.
Second, print and card.
Third, image collecting.
Fourth, assembling.

How will I code my own Brownback messages?

Hermes Trismegistus!

Healing for Kansas via.

The three: Kansas then, Kansas now, and Hermes Trismegistus.

Images and text, too.

The three: old documents and texts, newspaper articles and quotes from public officials, and the Hermetic Corpus!

interweaving, appropriating, and assembling

I assemble and borrow, as the past and future are at stake.

Leslie S ideas--

as well as Hermes T!

Saturday, June 25, 2016


Amazing article by SIOBHÁN SCARRY

Friday, June 24, 2016


M   Y DI
M      IC
 OB       I
 O Y   ICK
MO  Y    IC
MOIC stands for “multiple on invested capital.”

New Ahab

We are still uncovering things from the depths of Moby Dick.

I wonder if I will do an omission.

It will be a big commitment, maybe during a time of busy-ness?

Along the lines of my John Brown project

John Brown meets Moby Dick

Monday, June 20, 2016

from My Graphic Novel

I am neither super
nor hero. I hope
you fall in life, the teacher
says in gym when I fall
from the bars
after five minutes without
a chin-up. In comic books,
the weak boy swallows
a super-strength serum. For cover,
he holds up his indestructible shield.
I hold up my comic book.

Here is a behind-the-scenes description about my motivation with the poem:

I use Captain America and Steve Rogers as the representation for how I was as a twelve year old. I wasn't strong or athletic, and the event with the gym teacher did happen. He said it, and I was shamed and humiliated in front of the class. 

Having the poem is a means of healing for me, to think of how the comic book store was a retreat and a safe place. Reading comics was a protection, a "super-strength serum," to help me know I wasn't alone. This comes back to Steve Rogers, that all children (and many adults) can relate to being vulnerable and exposed. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Leslie S

Defoe / references to comic books, pages 10,  16, etc.

Dahlia's iris : secret autobiography and fiction / references to sci-fi movies

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Poetry and Psychotherapy

While I have two people in my Writing Poetic Memoir class with Psychology backgrounds, one faculty and one student, I am reminded on how the textbook I am using, the approach I have, and my own writing shows the deep connection between poetic memoir and psychotherapy--including the self.

The two poets I am focusing my reading on, Leslie Scalapino and Maggie Nelson, are true examples of how pschotheraputic poetics truly transforms. The sentence changes the person writing the sentence.

If there is anything about a sentence is that it is never a prison, but a measure to move into another measure of movement.

The fragmented sentence is the anti-Patriarchal response to order, as well as the representation of the fragmented past, as every history is placed down.

When Sondra moved in I became fascinated with how psychology works. I read through books, listened to her discuss, and this all helped shape my understanding for understanding. She would say, "Just remember: you are not a therapist." That is true. My poems are models, though, for understanding, exploration, without any answer.

That is why poems do not have answers. They need to remain sites for resistance, for survival.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

First meeting with M

I am serving as a Director for a Master's thesis of Fiction, but really consider myself an ally. Really, I am looking forward to reading what M comes up with.

Here is our schedule:

TABLE OF CONTENTS based on proposal
 With the the novella “The F---”
· A working journal        
 To plan to expand as a novel, with the goal of a finished Chapter One
·         To include a query letter to agents
·         To plan at least two short stories (one in genre, one in lit) and one flash fiction 
·         To include a cover letter to lit mags, journals, and other publications

To complete a list of agents for the novel
To complete a list of publishers and publications for the short stories / flash fictions

We have also added the Snowflake Method as of today 
and a flash fiction

May 18, 2016, 10:00am: Meet with D in the ML office to go over strategy plans for writing and research
June 1, 2016 Meet with D at PT’s (10am) to discuss drafts with D; submit whatever drafts to D via email
June 8, 2016 Meet with D at PT’s (10am) to discuss drafts with D; submit whatever drafts to D via email
June 15, 2016 Meet with D at PT’s (10am) to discuss drafts with D; submit whatever drafts to D via email
June 22, 2016 Meet with D at PT’s (10am) to discuss what research M has found about agents / publishers; submit whatever drafts to D via email
June 29, 2016 Meet with D at PT’s (10am) to discuss drafts with D; submit whatever drafts to D via email
July 5, 2016 Submit bio to D via email for feedback
July 6, 2016 Submit general query letter for an agent and cover letter for publications to D via email for feedback
July 8, 2016 Send to members of committee for feedback

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Alternate Roots

What do you think of the name Alternate Roots?

Boys growing into men, boys with two grandmothers, boys finding ways to grow while finding "alternate routes."

“When I was a child, comics were relegated to stores that were clearly meant for adult men,” says Bennett. “All the same, I was introduced to the characters through cartoons and feature films, and love of those characters provoked me into finding alternate routes to access comics.

Finding different ways for learning--both in my experience and in my childrens

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Copying the Dictionary

I recently asked on facebook if anyone had to copy the dictionary as punishment. The results were intriguing. Yes, it is still a practice used today, and to me shock, sometimes an entire class will be asked to copy the dictionary based on one person's "misbehaving."

That's right. Instead of a teacher asking a student to talk to him or her after class, etc., there is a shaming practice used, a humiliation to copy TO THE LETTER pages from a dictionary.

A teacher admits she will assign it, but not "that many pages."

Someone confessed they never pulled a chair out after being told to do it.

One person said he would have been in trouble mroe often if he had to do that.

I know it is in fun--in play--that the idea of copying the dictionary would be better than the hum-drum of sitting through class all day. However, why not try it yourself? Go on.

Or pretend I am telling you to know go get a dictionary and spend two hours copying it with a pencil on paper, and I am telling this in front of your peers, and you might not even know why you are being told this, but you will do this because you always do what you are told. You don't want to be in trouble. Yet, somehow you are.

Here is the irony. You want to be a good child, but you are always in trouble. You do what you are told, and yet you somehow don't.

You are labelled by a teacher who won't pay attention to you. The children know how the teacher feels about you, so they stay away to.

It's time to copy the dictionary in the hallway. You might get a chance to go get lunch and take it back to your desk in the hallway. Begin, and I will tell you when you can come back in. I want to see the first fifteen pages.

I will take your work from you. You will never get it back.

Also, I will never tell your parents about this.

Do you think this will encourage you to become a writer? Or to love words?

The carbon from the pencil smudges your hand.

I leave coded messages

My Graphic Novel into the real graphic--a project.

Photos + panels + research + Leslie Scalapino

"The comic book is the self."

I had found the comic book in the garbage. It was my first experience with retrieving what could be lost. I take so many photos. Do you remember me saying that?


Also, Strike Out--converted

Mash-up Project

I can't draw.

I am honest when I write this, yet I know I can draw draw. I just can't draw to get the story right.

What I mean is representation.

I can't draw to represent a human body, even though you will recognize a human body.

It will be my uncanny valley to draw you something, one I can't crawl out of.

Although I've spent my life crawling out with both arms swinging. I need my hands for leverage. I need my hands to draw you a picture.


I have photos. I have drawings.

I can trace.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Poetry and Comic Books

Poetry is about getting to the vulnerable. The comic books I loved featured how the outcasts with "powers" were vulnerable. Still, there was Patriarchy. There is Patriarchy in poetic traditions and continuing poems. There is Patriarchy in poetry criticism. How can my poetry go against Patriarchy? How can it capture how, many times, the comic book characters I read as feminists were read as Patriarchal?

I was reading a book told via Wolverine's viewpoint. He talks about reading the classics: a list of male writers. I dropped the book, agitated. It was a male writing in Wolverine's voice.

What made Wolverine so attractive? He was the tough guy we scrawny, picked-on boys wanted to be in the Eighties.

The graphic novel landscape has changed. However, there are still needs to fixing it--especially with the films and merchandising.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Movies I Hate Admit Liking: Prose Poems on the Male Gaze
Prose Poems on the Masculinity?

Use Film Theory interwoven with Film experiences

Strange Brew
Mortal Combat
Star Trek IV and VI

Movies I didn't realize would become cult classics


Positive masculinity, feminism, and my sons in prose poems reminiscent of MC Hyland's

Monday, May 2, 2016


Thinking of the universities around the country: I know stories of beginning writing students who were hassled and/or asked why they are even trying to take a class by their professors. There are also professors who ignore many students, who even say "eff the students," because academia is one of those rare places you can earn a decent income if you are a writer?

I say, DON'T GIVE UP! I say--if you ever have someone telling you that, don't listen to those fools! KEEP GOING! Stay away from them, and find the true teachers--those in your school, your community, your life.

Friday, April 29, 2016


1. Why did you chose the paragraph formatting that you chose for this chapbook? What does it represent in the poetry?

Actually, the book is a full-length book--not a chapbook. Choosing prose poetry seemed the best approach because I knew ahead of time I wanted to use sentences for the project. The sentences did not lend themselves to the line breaks we find in stanzas well--not in the way conscious choices for line breaks are made when writing free-verse/traditional poems.

The concept came to me after a Ronald Johnson reading group. He appropriated material for his work, so that gave me a "creative license" as they say to do so. The appropriation represents the year I was silenced and going through a lot of pain as a thirteen-fourteen year old. The texts stand in for the time I did not have a voice. On the other hand, there are sentences I wrote--looking back at the year--about what happened.
I knew the sentences should have tension, play with words, etc. to describe my personal story. At the same time, I looked for texts from 1984—texts to reflect what I was reading (comic books, Dungeons & Dragons, Orwell, etc.), as well as what inspires me now (bell hooks, Hejinian). As it was an election year, Ronald Reagan had to work his way in, as he scared me! He truly scared me with his talk about nuclear war, as if he was ready to show those Russians!
Using different texts--the appropriation--along with my sentences to create a collage, I was worried how I could put a stop to my collecting. I figured, 1984 was a leap year, so I would collect 366 sentences. Also, if each sentence was a part of that year, a part of me, then no sentence should be lesser than any other. Based on a poem by Carolyn Forche called "Blue Hour," I realized I could alphabetize the whole thing and that would be that—to mimic what I used to do with my music, comic books, and such.
It took time to locate and read through the texts after I got home. I also included song titles, movies titles, etc. I placed each sentence in an Excel spreadsheet, along with where I found the sentence, if it was my own, etc. in different columns. This allowed me to alphabetize the sentences within moments, but could return back to the original sequence by source (alphabetizing the column of sources).
When I started playing with the idea of stanzas, it truly worked as a book-length piece.
What I love about the collection is that it was fun to write, to collect, to create. The surprise of going from one sentence to another sentence creates its own metaphor—placing two unlike things together to say they can be compared or are the same. Prose Poetry seems to work on that level, from sentence to sentence for enjambment.
            Another thing I love about the collection is it does what I set out to accomplish--to pull off a memoir as text as representation, borderlining the confessional mode. It's hard for me to read confessional poetry anymore, but the experimental mode seems the best way to convey true emotions without pointing the finger or dropping a ton of lead onto someone's foot.

2. Who did the art in the book, is it someone you know, and why did you choose their work?

I know Elaine Rodriguez through her work (since the mid-Nineties) as a professional Barista and Coffee Roaster, and her work with drawing comic book heroes. It seemed the perfect match--her art with my words--so I approached her and was lucky that she said yes.

3. What inspired you to write this book, and would you consider it a continuation of your first book "Sum of Two Mothers"?

It was totally from TSoTM. There is a couplet I was pondering on:

"my mother comes out in 1983 / Sondra moves in in 1985"

In between those two lines, those two years, was the year I was avoiding: 1984. Poetry can be the source for recovery, so I knew in my ongoing therapeutic practices that I needed to write about that year. The concept followed--I would only use texts form that year, etc. 

4. What theme would you give this chapbook, and how did comics play into the writing of it? 

The overall theme, and maybe theme in my writing, is that poetry creates the antidote for venoms, poetry serves as the site for social causes and voice, and poetry helps save lives. Comic books helped save my world in 1984, so they needed to be included in the book. 

5. How long have you been working on this chapbook, and was it made from any poems left out of the first one?

I worked on it during the summer of 2012. A skeptic asked me, "How long did it take you to write that?" It isn't often a question someone asks first when talking about one's poetry. I'm guessing the assumption is that it was easier to write because of the appropriated sentences? Yes--I even used sentences from existing poems that are now in my chapbook My Graphic Novel. Let me say: it was faster for me to write my own sentences than to pour through books for the "right" sentences that would work. With that said, it took longer to submit the poems, get them published in literary magazines, waiting to hear from contests and other presses, until finally getting the book out three years later. It's funny, because people were saying, "Wow--you have been writing a lot lately." I have, but the published work comes from four to six years ago. It can even be longer for some. It shows--don't give up, even when discouraged.


I've noticed that most of your work (or at least the ones I've read) are free verse, with typically no rhyming. Do you think that there is a reason that you tend to write your poetry this way? Do you think it helps better convey your ideas?
I am still trying to find the Modernist poet who said, "All of the words have been rhymed, so there is no need to do it anymore." Don't get me wrong--I am a big fan of form. There is nothing like using traditional forms to convey ideas based in those forms: a sonnet to someone you love, etc. There was even a time when I was writing in sonnet form without realizing it. However, my favorite ideas of rhyme are the subtle kind--like Eric McHenry does--that one feels the rhyme there, but with enjambment.

I see several reasons why I do not use rhyme. First, if the voice is coming out of a time I did not have a voice. There will be strains out of the place where disorder was. If rhymes are about "order", then they do not fit the context of those poems. Second, speaking out of a marginalized position, either struggling with ADHD/PTSD, having two mothers, etc, rhyming does not fit the context. Now that I think about it, even rhyming is a kind of form. Finally, is rhyming a form of Patriarchy? 

Also, you should read my prose poems. *smile*

I've also noticed that your works sometimes tend to focus on the ideas of women's rights, social justices, etc. Why do you feel that these are important to talk about, especially so in poetry?

Adrienne Rich has a wonderful essay turned book: Poetry and Commitment. It is an amazing book! Here is a link to the speech she gave:

Basically, if I choose not to write about the things I see that affect me and the world at large, that also is a political position. I do not want to take the position of being quiet about these issues that continue to oppress others--including non-humans--and the Earth. 

Also, many of the poets I've read use poetry as a site for change. They continue to inspire me.

Other than those aforementioned topics, what other themes do you often tend to see come into your writing?

The environment, exposing racist constructions, my children, and Topeka.

What is a piece of advice you would give an aspiring poet? (That's kind of a typical question, I know.)

It's nice to read these kinds of responses, but if you are aspiring to be a poet, you are already on your way!

Finally, what trait(s) do you think is/are necessary for a "good" poet to have?
To read and write poetry weekly.

Thank you for the interview!