Sunday, December 28, 2008

Frank Rich NYT op-ed

Here's a really smart NYT op-ed by Frank Rich on
Obama's error in choosing Rick Warren:

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Seattle reading Jan. 27th, 2009

Details on my upcoming Elliott Bay Book Company
reading with Vancouver, B.C. poet Jen Currin:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Blood On Snow

Last night we trudged through snow and ice to see "Let The Right
One In," a hauntingly beautiful film about sexuality, alienation,
schoolyard bullying, and vampires. Very much a queer film,
in that it shifts the focus of its young male protagonist's desire
from girls to an ambiguously sexed/gendered creature
who only passes as a girl. It also privileges loyalty
and commitment over familial bonds, and asks the viewer to
take most seriously not the vampire's stylized rituals, but the
terrifying violence of quotidian bullying.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tinderbox Lawn and Coming Clean

My beloved Elizabeth has a fantastic story, "Coming Clean,"
in the Fall/Winter 2008 issue of Portland Review.


There's an excellent review of Tinderbox Lawn
in the current issue of Colorado Review. It's also
mentioned in the Seattle Times:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Four Queer Poets read Thursday in Vancouver, BC

I'm reading at Rhizome (317 East Broadway) in Vancouver, BC
on Thursday, November 20th at 7pm (possibly 7:30; I seem to have
two times written down).

I'm lucky to be sharing the bill with Christine Leclerc, Jen Currin,
and Betsy Warland.

We promise delight. Really -- we do.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Church and State: Just Married in CA

Here's Ashton Kutcher, getting all mad about Prop 8.
Political rage can be so sexy:

Elizabeth and I attended the march in Seattle yesterday. My favorite signs:

God hates shrimp.
If I can't marry my boyfriend, I'll marry your daughter.
If Liza can marry a gay man, why can't I?

Less charming were signs that seemed to buy into the Fundie/Mormon's "divide
and conquer" strategy, pitting (white) gays against (straight) people of color.
It's tragic to see minority groups working against each other (and themselves),
believing the lie that justice is a limited resource.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Keith Olbermann on Prop 8

Lyrical, direct, intense -- as political speeches should be.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Reading Friday in Oly with Elizabeth Colen and Kelly Magee

Here are the details:

On Friday, November 14th at 7pm at Orca Books in Olympia, WA
Elizabeth Colen, Carol Guess, and Kelly Magee will read poetry and prose

I've also added a Seattle reading to my list: Jan 27th at Elliott Bay
And more:

Saturday, November 15th nationwide protests against Prop 8

Right now I'm reading Kathleen Rooney's Oneiromance, which
is stunningly beautiful and sexy, and Priscilla Becker's Internal West,
which is elegant and stark.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Knockout Literary Magazine Reginald Shepherd Memorial Poetry Prize

Knockout Literary Magazine announces the 2009 International Reginald Shepherd Memorial Poetry Prize. Final judge: Carl Phillips. Three prizes: $300, $50, and $25 gift certificates to Powell's Books ( and publication of prize-winning poems in Knockout. Submission deadline: 8/1/09. Details and entry guidelines:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Upcoming Readings

Here's a list of my upcoming readings.
Thanks to everyone at Rose Metal Press!

Friday November 14th
reading with Elizabeth Colen and Kelly Magee
Orca Books, Olympia, WA

Thursday November 20th
reading with Christine Leclerc, Jen Currin and Betsy Warland
317 E. Broadway
Vancouver, B.C.

Tuesday, January 27th 2009
Elliott Bay Books
Seattle, WA

Thursday June 25, 2009, 7pm
The Fixx Reading Series
Other readers TBA
The Fixx Coffee Bar at 3053 N. Sheffield
Chicago, IL

Saturday June 27, 2009, 2pm
with Kathleen Rooney and Brandi Homan
Dancing Girl Press Studio Space
410 S Michigan Ave Studio 921
Chicago, IL

Email me if you've got any questions. Hope to see you soon!

Rose Metal Press in the news

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Reginald Shepherd

I'm saddened to learn of Reginald Shepherd's death.
Just this academic year I taught one of
his poems in my literature class. Students
loved it -- felt it -- debated it -- recited it.

On another topic entirely, I really want
to say something about Sarah Palin, but
what to say? It's beyond tragic.
I'm grateful to Gloria Steinem for her sharp,
elegant, and logical op-ed.,0,7915118.story

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Knockout Poetry Contest

My friend Jeremy has alerted me to Knockout's first 
poetry contest:


Knockout, a print literary magazine that publishes a 50-50 mix of work by LGBTQ
and straight authors, announces its first poetry contest. Judge: James
Bertolino. Winner receives $100 gift certificate to Powell's Books (redeemable
online) and publication of their winning poem. All poems submitted considered
for publication in Knockout. Submissions of up to three poems of any length must
be received by August 31, 2008. $5 entry fee per submission. Multiple
submissions allowed. Simultaneous submissions allowed (with prompt notification
if accepted elsewhere). For complete guidelines and for more information about
Knockout, visit

Friday, August 1, 2008

Corporate Folly Claims Another Beloved Venue

Bellingham's beloved Newstand is being forced to close after 18
years of local ownership. Not only is The Newstand a great
place to buy all manner of publications, it's
also famous (at least locally) for fighting, and winning,
a court case involving censorship.

Over the past decade I've sent so many students into the shop
to look at creative writing journals, as well as GLBT
and news magazines. This impacts me as a teacher;
I'm also sad to think my morning coffee run won't involve
stopping by The Newstand to chat with Ira and
look at newspapers from around the globe.

We're lucky to have a number of really solid,
high-quality, locally-owned shops in and around
downtown Bellingham -- but for how long?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New work and book tour ahead

The latest issue of Mid-American Review (Volume XXVIII, No. 2)
includes my short piece "Nebraska."

I was moved by Andrew Grace's prose poems in the same issue.
Lovely work.

Love Is A Map I Must Not Set On Fire (VRZHU Press)
is almost ready to go; should be in print within weeks.
Tinderbox Lawn (Rose Metal Press) will be out in November.
Details to come. Thanks to all involved in the production process.

I'll be doing a book tour in November, December, and January;
dates in Vancouver BC, Chicago, Portland, Seattle, Bellingham, and
elsewhere. I'll post dates here as they're confirmed.

If you know of a bookstore/college/coffee shop within driving
distance of Seattle that would be interested in having me read,
send me an email and I'll try to arrange it:

If you are interested in looking at either text for a class,
I'm happy to chat with you via email about ways of opening
up an electronic discussion with your students. Again, email me...

Happy summer, folks.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Elisa Gabbert and Kathleen Rooney interview

Find it here, on the VRZHU Press blog:

Gabbert and Rooney's new book, That Tiny Insane Voluptuousness, is out from Otoliths.

Speaking of tiny insane, my grades are turned in, and I can finally
get back to your emails (sorry, folks) and my new manuscript-
in-progress (prose poetry, with airplanes and dogs). I'm listening to
The National right now, and feeling grateful to Shannon Minter
and the brave state of California. How are YOU?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Kary Wayson reads in Bellingham at Western Washington University


Western Washington University
Bellingham, WA
This event is free and open to the public.

Kary Wayson's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Nation, FIELD, and The Best American Poetry 2007. Her chapbook, Dog & Me, was published in 2004 by LitRag Press. Kary teaches poetry writing classes at The Richard Hugo House in Seattle.

Find examples of her work on the web here:
(a critical essay on Sylvia Plath)
(a poem in Rivet magazine)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Obsession Exercise

I've got a great class this quarter, a smart group of graduate students willing to take real risks in their writing.

Here's a nifty exercise I concocted just for them, based on two fantastic (and very different) texts: Linda Smukler's Home In Three Days. Don't Wash. and Zachary Schomburg's The Man Suit:

English 502

Home In Three Days. Don't Wash. exercise: This is a book about obsession, and about the difficulty of translating a passionate lived experience into art. I want you to ask yourself (now and over time) where you draw the line between recording emotional intensity (as in a journal, as in a conversation with a friend, as with a therapist, as in your mind) and creating art out of emotional intensity (which involves editing, revision, alterations, a certain degree of detachment, and ultimately the desire to share deep emotion with a wide audience).

I also want you to think about the difference between a text like The Man Suit, which is driven by wordplay, humor, whimsy, history, visual images; and a text like Home In Three Days which is driven by emotion, kinesthetic impulse, hunger, characterization. What does each text do well? What does each text do less well or not at all? What can you learn from each text?

Your exercise for Home In Three Days is to mimic the kind of obsessive drive that lies behind works written in and out of passion. Other examples I happen to like – you can make your own list to share with the class -- include Sylvia Plath's Ariel, Carole Maso's Aureole, Jeanette Winterson's Written On The Body, Heather Lewis' Notice, Rebecca Brown's Excerpts From A Family Medical Dictionary, and Richard Siken's Crush.

Rather than allow you to search your own life for a living (or haunting) muse, I want you to fixate on something invented, something imaginary, and concoct a fictitious obsession.

Your assignment is to find an intriguing inanimate object located in some public place in Bellingham. (Your house and campus are verboten; you must go off-campus for this exercise.) Examples might include: that fantastic spray-painted dinosaur in an alley downtown; a junked car on someone's lawn; the phone booth used by dealers on Railroad Avenue; a painting in the museum; one of the wooden tables at The Temple Bar.

Find an object and become obsessed with the object. Get weird about it. Worry your friends. Do not take the object out of its location (don't take the phone booth home). Worship from afar, or up close but in public. It's fine if this veers into nonfiction (if, say, the phone booth reminds you of your ex-girlfriend, and you end up writing about her indirectly). It's fine if this veers into the fictionally fantastic, or becomes absurd. But there must be an obsessive drive to the writing, a force, a power, the sense that everything is about to get out of control really fast. You want to move your reader with this piece, break some rules, and create discomfort. Think about the contrast between chaos and control; defy the notion that good writing somehow soothes your reader. At the same time, be sure to allow space for revision later – when you revise, try to cut out melodramatic language, clich├ęs, and sentimental dross. Take note, then, of what you cut and what you revise. When is too much just right? When is too much too much? You might want to save your deleted passages on a separate sheet of paper (like the bloopers reel on a DVD), and bring them along to discuss with the class.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Deconstructing Me

Someone in a land far, far away is blogging about
an old essay of mine, "Deconstructing Me."

I still care deeply about these issues, but rarely talk about
them with anyone, so it's exciting to see another academic
feminist's musings.

I'd love to hear more thoughts on this topic.

It seems like ancient history, but I was very afraid to write
that article, much less publish it. I wrote it outside the classroom,
critiquing the very program I was enrolled in. It wasn't so much
a critique of poststructuralist feminism as it was a critique of
my program's absolute refusal to allow me (or any other student)
to question poststructuralist methods of inquiry. I felt silenced,
frustrated, unheard. My essay was met with disdain, for
the most part, and not long after I stopped working on my
PhD dissertation (which was focused on precisely that conflict,
the intersections between radical feminism and poststructuralist
feminism; my attempts to bridge the two).

I'm grateful in a way that I left the PhD track, because I channeled my
energies into creative writing, publishing my first novel while
I was still in graduate school. I found a way to translate the
questions I'd had about various theories into creative texts.
For example, my first novel dealt with a man whose
lover, Dell, was cheating on him with a woman. Dell's slippery
identity, and her own obvious conflicts about sexuality and gender,
worked themselves out nicely in the form of fiction, without
my having to pledge adherence to any specific theoretical party.

Nonetheless when I think back on the ways I was shunned and
silenced in graduate school -- often by queer professors, who saw
my activism and openness as somehow unprofessional or
overly involved in the community, rather than the academy --
I feel angry, and I worry about my own position as a teacher.
It's important to me to teach my students about poststructuralist
thought, and they are often very excited by, say, Judith Butler's
ideas about gender performance. But I don't want to do to them
what was done to me; that is, to squash their excitement about
embracing self-exploration. There was a real sense of shame
and stigma directed at me (and other activists) from our
feminist and queer professors. We weren't pure enough for
them; we weren't sophisticated enough; we were LIVE and
they were, well, tenured.

I have more thoughts on this, as ever, but I'll save them for later.
Suffice it to say I'm glad my essay has made its way across
the water, and I'm glad that I'm primarily, now, a poet,
and don't have to bow to any theorist, or swear on any
particular text-as-Bible. I much prefer making my ideas
into music, and avoiding the jargon that passes for
prose these days, jargon very few academics can use
with any grace or integrity. So much of the theory
coming out of programs now is just cookie-cutter:
take a theorist, apply their primary idea to a cereal
box or Shakespeare, and you've got an article.

I much admire writers like Eve Sedgwick and Michael Warner
who come up with actual ideas, who create paradigm shifts
that allow us all to see the world anew. But deep thinking,
shaking things up, requires the freedom to make mistakes,
to let the mind wander, and to choose for yourself.
I didn't find much of that in graduate school. I want to be
a better teacher, the kind of teacher who allows her students
to risk -- and I want to write poetry that startles and sings.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Censoring Fun

Here's a link to an article about protests over
the use of Alison Bechdel's gorgeous graphic novel,
Fun Home, in the classroom.

I've taught this text several times now, and I'm
happy to say that my students found the book
wise, funny, complex, and beautiful.

But of course, any serious discussion of lesbian
life in all its rich detail -- including sex, yes,
but also washing the dishes and chopping wood
(Bechdel is funny about this on her blog) --
equates to peddling pornography. If simply
describing lesbian life is porn, how can I navigate
the classroom at all?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lorraine Peltz

The cover art for my forthcoming book, Tinderbox Lawn,
comes from Chicago-based artist Lorraine Peltz.

Her work incorporates icons of domesticity into vivid colors
and abstract shapes, creating a landscape both feminine
and subversive.

Check it out:

And watch for updates on new journal publications. Elizabeth
has poems forthcoming in Spoon River Poetry Review, and
I have a short short forthcoming in Mid-American Review.

It's snowing here today, snow and rain all tangled up together.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Bruce, Joshua, and Eli in the Basement of Truth

If you're in Bellingham this weekend, come hear
Bruce Beasley, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, and
Noah Eli Gordon read on Saturday, March 8th,
at 9pm.

The reading will be held in a basement space
below Film Is Truth (the downtown video store).

Directions: Go down West Holly, turn left onto
Commercial, take the first right into the parking lot.
Walk into the alley. The space is #211, below Film
Is Truth.

I'm told the audience should bring money to buy
books and donate to traveling artists.

See you there.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

An interview with Eileen Myles

Here's a link to an interview with Eileen Myles, focused on place, poetry, and community:

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Speechless (without writers)

Folks supporting the writers involved in the current
Hollywood strike have created a wonderful series
of short video clips for the cause. Here's one of my favorites:

And while you're watching, check out "Helvetica," a fascinating
film about obsession, globalization, and art.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Collaboration alert!

I just discovered this website, which brings together artists
from various mediums:

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Calyx Books reading in Bellingham, WA

Calyx is a wonderful feminist press run by a collective
in Corvallis, Oregon. They published both my second novel,
, and my first collection of poetry, Femme's Dictionary.

Two Calyx authors will read from the poetry collection Far Beyond Triage:

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

88 years in the closet

Loraine Barr breaks 88 years of silence: 

Thanks to the magic of the web, Norman Lear learned about Ms. Barr's story, and posted a comment on someone's blog referencing an episode of "All In The Family" with a similar narrative arc. He asked for help locating Barr to send her a copy of the episode. Barr found Lear's post, and passed along her email address.

Looks as if there's going to be a documentary about her story, as well.