Tuesday, August 31, 2010

So I've been at this thing for awhile now...

You know what?

I've been blogging almost an entire year! Yayy!!

As of tomorrow, my blog will be one year old. I've done a lot in a year. Ok, so the past few summer months have been rather uneventful. But right now I'm going to rewind a bit, and revel in the successes and struggles that the past year has brought me. And because I'm so damn goal oriented (to a fault, remember...) I might even set some goals for year two of blogging.

I started this blog last September as a means to keep myself accountable. What do you mean, Katie?

Well - I figured that if I blogged and posted my tidbits of writing, that it would be a motivation for me to show the world (mainly myself I'm my most avid reader) that I am actually writing and actively participating in the poetry world. This blog was going to be my publicly poetic face, with its pimples and all! :) Aww...

And then the blog started evolving a little. Instead of posting my writing exercises, I started blogging about my activities, my submissions, my successes, struggles, and failures. Now its a way for me to keep track, to look back and say - look how far I've come. To study all my mistakes. To make them all over again.

So this time last year, I was an M.F.A student vowing to take this writing life a little more seriously. I made promises on my blog, saying I would submit to the Nuestra Voz competetion, that I would submit to Borderlands, to Denver Quarterly (which I never got around too... oops!).

So since beginning blogging, I have had the following successes:

Published two poems in Reflections (In... October I think?)
Published Among the Mariposas (Mouthfeel Press, 2010). I was notified last December. I still remember that day. I was at the gym, and people were staring at me while I jumped for joy while speaking with editor on phone.
Published a poem in Borderlands
Published three poems on Clean Sheets
Presented at the Wild Tongues Conference
Proposal Accepted for El Mundo Zurdo Conference
Began work on thesis
Received the Nuestra Voz prize, and an Outstanding Achievement award through my university
Did numerous readings and book signings, was featured at a book fair, and made many friends along the way :) :) :)

But has it been all shits and giggles? Certainly not. In the spirit of honesty, I've hit my roadbumps too. I've accumulated a pretty nice collection of rejection slips, my first shipment of books were sent to the wrong address (completely my fault), and my fragile feelings have been hurt by fellow poets and professors. Yes, I cried.

But through it all, I think I've had a successful year. I put myself out there, I climbed out on that shakey limb and held on for dear life. And I'm hanging in there! I will continue to do so, regardless of the struggles that are ahead of me within this next coming year.

This time last year, I would have never DREAMED that I would be fairing so well right now. I thank my friends for their encouragement, my family for their support, my editor and publisher for believing in me (you are the greatest :), my professors for pushing me forward, my collegues for their great criticism, and of course - my biggest fan, I thank Bruno :) He doesn't read this blog (or know of its existance) but he is what keeps me pressing on. You're one sexy geek, Bruno.

So this coming year - what do I plan on doing?

Well -I hope to publish publish publish in journals.

I want a good portion of my thesis manuscript published in good quality journals so that I can start considering publishing it as a whole. But this is going to take so much work, and even more luck. Aye.

I want to present at more conferences. I still dream of AWP 2011.
I want to finish my thesis
I want to graduate
I want to begin working. I pray to God that this time next year I will be teaching. I don't care if its remedial writing! But I need experience desperately. And this is what terrifies me the most.

Last year was great, awesome, productive, and filled with so much joy. These next twelve or so months are going to be a whole new struggle. I just hope that I can get out of this little funk I'm in, and start adding to the CV again until it bestows upon me the title - Professor Katie. Real Poet Katie. Good Wife Katie. Skinny Katie. Beautiful Katie. Sexy Katie.

So my CV won't be able to make me sexy... lol. But a girl sure can dream...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Blonde Moment...

Doh!

Another one of my shining moments...

Remember that poetry contest I entered on Friday? For Ante Review? Ok, well... on Saturday I got an email from them.

Editor wanted my poem, because I FORGOT TO ATTACH IT TO EMAIL.

Ok, so that was a serious brain fart. But at least they were kind enough to request it again. I am grateful (though I look like a serious goof. But I am a serious goof.).

Other news? Today's the first day of class at UTPA. Ah yes, traffic was at a crawl, parking was a battle, and the campus is alive with wide eyed students. I'm taking one poetry workshop class, and I'm starting my thesis hours. I briefly talked with my professor last week at the college convocation, and I'm feeling pretty good about 'things' so far.

I know the next 8 or so months are going to be a bit of a struggle, but I'll get through them and thrive. That's what I do best! Well... that and making airheaded mistakes.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Entered a Contest

Yay!

Ante Review is holding a prose poetry contest. I only have one prose poem, but I submitted it anyway because I love that poem :)

Maybe I'll be $75 richer! But then again... maybe not.

No other news today. Phew! So glad its Friday

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Am My Own Writer's Block.

Its so true, too.

You see, I've been having a beautifully productive week this week. I've written TWO poems in two days. They've come out pretty good too, needing only a little editing here and there but for the most part they were born in one good piece. Yay!

So I was really looking forward to coming into the office today and sitting down at my keyboard to type out number 3. And a little thought snuck into my head, "Katie," it said, "you've already passed your goal for the week!"

And I thought to myself, huh... yeah I have haven't I?

Since then, I haven't been able to write.

You see, I'm so goal oriented. Who ever heard of being too goal oriented? But that's me, I do it to a fault.

I do everything to a fault. Geez. No wonder I haven't had any pubs lately.

But in better news~ I HAVE been arranging my thesis! I've been adding my latest poems, thinking of names for my sections, ect. Its very exciting work. Right now maybe my mind is more in an editing mode? Ah, enough with your excuses you pathetic excuse for a poet.

:-P

By the way - I'm my own worst critic too.

(and my biggest fan) wait... my only fan :D

Monday, August 23, 2010

Baptism

Today I've been thinking of Baptism. I regret never getting Baptised as a child. Wait, let's rewind a little and I'll give you a (very brief!) story on my 'spiritual journey'.

I come from a completely non-religious home. Bunch of heathens! Nah - I had a pretty privledged childhood but it was devoid of religion. But I've always been drawn to Christianity, since as far back as I can remember I've 'talked to God'. I'm weird. I know.

So when I was about... oh... eight years old I started going to church with a Mexican family. I didn't (and still really don't) know much Spanish. But they wanted to take me to church (their youngest girl and I were best of friends) and I was grateful, so I'd sit through the Spanish services and listen as best I could. The mom, I still remember her vividly, was Carmen. And one day she took me into the pastor's office and asked me if I'd like to acceptamos Jesus Cristo into my heart. And of course I excitedly nodded yes.

So the pastor and Carmen took my little trembling hands and prayed over me, and then I repeated as best I could a Spanish prayer and we said "Amen!" together. I opened my eyes and felt hugely satisfied with myself. I did it! I was saved! Carmen and her family took me out for lunch that Sunday afternoon, and it was a joyous affair.

The next few weeks Carmen wanted to get me Baptized. She asked my parents, who weren't against the idea and said to go ahead. So Carmen took me to a few Baptism ceremonies so I could observe (so I wouldn't be afraid... you know... to an eight year old girl it IS a little scary), and I chickened out. I told Carmen I wasn't ready to be Baptized. She told me not to worry, that Jesus had already saved me and loved me very much no matter what I did. She told me to keep praying.

And so I was thinking about that Baptism. How would my life be different if I HAD gone ahead and gotten Baptized? So I wrote about it, naturally. That and my feeling of complete otherness while in the church, an otherness I shrugged off and eventually learned to embrace.

Its a cute poem I guess, nothing super deep. Just, if I had been Baptized, I think I would have been Baptized into more than just a religion. Now, looking back, it probably would have been a cultural Baptism, too. And I would have become more apart of a foreign community.

I loved that little church. Maybe one day I'll go back, attend a Spanish service, and be Baptized in El Nombre de Jesus Cristo. Not all of us are so lucky to have Carmens to guide us.

Here's the last stanza of my poem, anyway:

and in El Nombre de Jesus Christo, I breathed in the thick water –
emerged with hungry lungs, hiding my blue eyes
behind squinted eyelids. Somewhere in the water
floated a blurred image, the little girl trembling,
wrapped tight in a auburn towel and the dark arms
of a preacher who kissed my forehead clean.


Ok so I promise the rest of my posts won't be so... pious. Anyway, in other news...

I'm still struggling with that newspaper submission. Bruno (the all wise computer engineer lover) advised me not to submit my very best work, to be optimistic that it will get placed elsewhere and to submit something new/previously unsubmitted. So ok, I'm taking his advice.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Overthinking another submission

So... I'm being a complete doof, I know.

But I just can't seem to decide which pieces to submit to a local newspaper. Part of me (the pessimist) is saying, "Submit your very best work, because you're not going to find another place for it and its the only way to even get published in this newspaper" and the optimist in me is saying, "Don't submit your best work! It will probably be accepted by a reputable journal and then what are you going to do!?"

So, now I'm stressing over it. I sure do think a whole lot more than I write or submit. No wonder I have so few pubs...

I think I need to sleep on this one.. maybe ask bruno what to do. He knows nothing about poetry, but somehow always has the best advice.

Submitted to Waccamaw!

Yesterday, another plunge.

Submitted to Waccamaw~ took very little time, and I was way overthinking it. I had been going to the website with the intention of submitting just about every day. And yesterday - I finally did it. Phew~! Let's hope for a response soon :) :) :)

Other news? Not so much. I don't know I've been feeling pretty dry poetically lately. I saw a dog get run over yesterday and it disturbed me a great deal. Whenever I sat down to write yesterday I couldn't get the gruesome picture out of my head. Why did I have to slow down and look? Because I'm weird like that. Ugh.

But then I was thinking - this image is haunting me for a reason. Maybe the only way THROUGH it is to write about it. And then I can move on to better things. Maybe? Maybe.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pantoums and Pain and Other Stuff

So I'm reading Ordinary Genius, right?

My goal was to get through the book and do the writing exercises this summer, but I had taken some time off because - well - sometimes I don't feel all that inspired. Actually, this summer I've been pretty sick and I know that's not an excuse but I'll use it as one.

Today I was feeling pretty inspired (still not feeling WELL though, so see, there's proof that its not an excuse), and picked up the book. Low and behold - a chapter on... Pain! Perfect! :)

The exercise was to write a pantoum about your pain body, to invision it as an object and write about it. Cool! I don't know why, but I always picture my pain as a black olive. I LOVE to eat olives, but I'm always afraid of the little pits. So I buy them shredded or sliced, even though really I enjoy eating them whole.

I've tried to write pantoums in the past but I always give up frustrated. But this time I saw it through, and actually... it's pretty ok! I'll post a little excerpt:

My pain would come on an olive branch
Shining black in the Grecian sun
But instead I pick it up at HEB
Canned and in a salty broth.

Shining black in the Grecian sun
Pain, ah, I know you so well
Now canned and in this salty broth
I’ll use you in a salad, I think.


And of course it goes on and on and in the end I have to swallow it whole to - maybe - digest another day. Do pits digest in the stomach? Who knows.

Anyway, one thing I do know - my stomach is feeling a bit better. So maybe I should continue writing? Nah, I have actual work to do~ Hah!

Oh - in other news... I submitted to Memoir and... last week. According to Duotrope, though, it has a really low acceptance rate. So I'm not getting my hopes up.

And I've been wondering, how often do most poets submit to journals? I aim for once a week, but usually its more like twice a month. I know its more important to write than to submit, but I just wonder how often others submit. Hmm...

Ok for real this time - off to do some real work.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Let the Thesis Hours Commence!

So yesterday I took the giant leap and registered for my thesis hours.

Its real. Its finally happening. I'm actually seeing the light at the end of this MFA tunnel...

Nine months or so from now, if all goes according to plan - I'll get my masters degree.

And so what does this mean? For me, loads of stress. I'm freaking out. First of all, thesis horror stories. Gwahh... I hope everything goes smoothly for me. But already its been a little rocky. Boo.

And secondly - I'm really afraid that my work won't be taken seriously. I mean, is it really MFA quality? I'm not so sure sometimes.

And then there's this... ok so I graduated, now what? In case you haven't noticed by now, unknowns make me REALLY nervous. I mean REALLY nervous. And this is one big fat unknown.

Ah well... its ok. I just need a little luck and some faith things will turn out.. right?!!?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pictures from Ambrosia's Open Mic



Pictures as promised from the Ambrosia Poetry Reading, August 5th 2010. What a wonderful night! Here's me showing off Among the Mariposas







AC or not, we enjoyed ourselves. There's me, reading my poem "Upon Hearing Bruno Speak Spanish". I tried to embarress him by calling him out, but it didn't work. I forgot how much Bruno likes attention.












Here's Lady Mariposa, friend and fellow MFA student at Panam. I like this picture because you can see my brother, Poops. He's the big white guy in the back. Hah! Next next to him is my good friend and upcoming poet, Nallely. Also pictured is Daniel (Poet Mariachi!) up in the front, and Laura (another MFAer).











Here I am reading That Sort of Woman, a poem about me trying to add power steering fluid to my car. Yes, I'm making a ridiculous face but a girl's gotta annunciate.












My supportive fam! There's Bruno, me next to him (you can barely see me), my daddy-o, my mom (can't see her hardly either since she's so short) and my lil bro, poops.


























































Open Mic at Ambrosia

Ok, so last night was pretty neat.

I convinced Bruno at accompany me to Ambrosia last night for the open mic. I brought with me some new poems, had in my belly a delicious homemade dinner and glass of good old fashioned courage ;-) That always makes readings a little bit easier.

We got there a little late. My uber supportive parental units were there already. Aww :) Unfortunately, the AC wasn't working in the coffee shop and well, that coupled with south texas heat and my mom... they don't mix. They had to leave before I got to the mic. I was one of the last poets to read, anyway.

La erika introduced me, and... she made me sound all badass! :-D She mentioned my book and my award, and made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

I read That Sort of Woman, a new poem Eros, and Upon Hearing Bruno Speak Spanish. I even embarressed Bruno a little bit, calling him out to the crowd. But he likes it ;-)

I like ambrosia because it's small and intimate. I didnt' feel real nervous going up there, with so many familiar faces in the crowd. It was the usual crew, a great and supportive group of poets. You know, it really makes a big difference being a part of a poetry community.

I'll post pics up later. I have a new biggest fan, my brubru :) He kept raving about my car poem, and my Spanish. Aww... que romantica.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

100 Blog Postings!

Hurray!

I've reached 100 posts!

Where does my 100th post find me? Why, doing what I do very best. Wasting time :-D

I had a major breakthrough yesterday on thesis quest. I've tenetively structured my mess of poems around three major themes - tasting womanhood, tasting love, tasting pleasure, and tasting language/culture. I know, they're so cliche. Ugh. Whatever.

Maybe it's the story of the body, how it grows, tangles roots, reaches for the sun, and digs deep into the earth. Maybe. Something like that.

I have a lot of work to do. Open mic tonight? Maybe so. I need to read a few of these new poems, see how they are received.

But happy 100 posts!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Reading to Become a Better Writer

So pretty much every creative writing teacher will tell you that you need to READ in order to improve your writing. Study the modern poetry world! Read collections, subscribe to literary magazines, emerse yourself and become inspired.

It's true, I know I know... and I simply do not do enough of it myself.

So last week I got on amazon and ordered a few new poetry releases. I ordered Addonizio's latest book, Lucifer at Starlight (something like that), Laux's latest release, Facts About the Moon, and Anna Journey's (newish) book, If Birds Gather in Your Hair for Nesting.

I thought Journey's would be the most helpful to me, in my current state. I need to read someone who is doing what I NEED to be be doing, publishing their first full collection of poems and working on a PhD (maybe she finished her's already, but while she was writing the book she was in the program).

So I've been reading it today, yesterday, and such. The poems are so unbelievably rich in imagary, and dense in content. She'll weave two stories into one poem, tie them together with a common image, wild! I have to read her poems several times to really 'get' them (no I'm not very smart, I'm actually a pretty slow reader), and it seems like on every read through I discover something deeper, more magical, about the words. Ah...

And looking back at my own writing, how can I... ehm.... be more like her? I mean, if only I could, right? That's not really the idea when you read and admire someone else's work, but I think it's only natural to somewhat emulate them. And it's a good thing. I can feel her writing influencing my freewrites. I'm trying to make my language more dense now, more rich in color, feeling, story. And she'll use an image more than once, like expand on it in a different poem. I like that. I hate the idea that once I use an image it's gone, like a little packet of cream. Boo.

So anyway, my freewriting session today was preceeded by reading some Journey, some Addonizio, and I think my writing is really benefiting from the experience. Here's a portion of my writing from today:

.... All I knew

is that your skin made mine tingle – and my peeking curves
made your eyes burst to life like peony, underneath a blanket

of heavy rain. And so you came in - a barrage
of sunbeams, Barefoot wine, trembling tongue. Never

mind the ash that dripped from the tip of your cigarette.
Never mind how it rested in a fine nest of my blonde hair.


Right? Getting more FULL. Yay.

So lesson for today, go buy a collection of poems. Especially from a poet who is relatively new.

Another good thing - my copy of If Birds Gather in Your Hair for Nesting was signed my Anna herself :) :) :) What a treat.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

So Maybe Yesterday WASN'T the Worst Day of My Life

Ok,

so yesterday morning I was bummed out about that AWP thing.

I opened the email (it had been filtered by my spam filter thingie), and I already knew before having to read it that we didn't get in. But I was still wild hopeful, scanning the message, and then - sure enough, there was the most hated word in the entire dictionary, "unfortunately".

And after reading that, I closed the email. Damn!

But you know what?

I wasn't all that bothered! I mean, initially, yes. But I got over it remarkably quickly. You know what I think it is? I'm already moving on to the next thing. I've got my mind on PhD's and the job market. I'm getting nervous for thesis/graduation. I'm trying to work out every little detail in my head. Somewhere during the summer, my gears have shifted a bit. I'm no longer so focused on publishing (although, let's face it, I always will be) and conferences, but now I'm feeling the itch to make the next professional step.

And it is scaring the living daylights out of me. I know it will be 10 months before I walk that line at graduation (and in those ten months I must slap together a thesis!), so there are so many unknowns there. And let's say that everything goes smoothly, thesis gets defended, and I graduate. Then what?

Job? Am I going to be able to be a professor? How about a lecturer? CAN I at least adjunct in the evenings to build up some experience? Will I have to apply again at public high schools (which, wouldn't be that bad because I could make some mad cash with a master's degree)???

And let's say that THAT goes smoothly. Let's say I do get a job. Then what? The next step is to work on getting that PhD, which would mean moving, which would mean another job search for me AND brubru, and and and buy a new house, and leave my family behind and buy cat carriers to move all of my cats and and and and and that's IF I even get accepted somewhere... and what about Texas Tech online and and and and

see. there's so much what if's and maybes, so many unknowns coming up in the next ten months. Decision time and grow up time is just around the corner, Katie. And can I afford to let AWP get me down? No. I need to keep pushing on.


OH... so why was yesterday NOT the worst day of my life? Well, I got my contributor copy of Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review in the mail. YAY! The mag is really beautiful, and it looks uber professional. I feel honored to be a part of it. I'm probably the biggest loser published there, but that's ok. I'm only 23. (someday my age will no longer be an excuse for my loserdome, but whatever, let's worry about that when it comes.)

Monday, August 2, 2010

AWP Rejection

This one's a real blow.

Got notification from AWP today that our proposal was not accepted. This seriously sucks.

So, maybe I'm being too ambitious, right? AWP seriously was a long shot. I think it is mostly for writers who are more well known, have carved out a place in the literary world for themselves. I'm just beginning, and AWP would have been wonderful, but it is a no go.

BOOO!

So today, I will try not to think about it. I need to focus on what is next. Which is... well... that part I still need to figure out.

The thesis. Yep. My priority MUST be the thesis.