Saturday, December 31, 2011

Farewell, 2011!

It's been a pretty fantastic year for Katie the Poet!

And before I get all excited about what next year will bring, I think it is equally important to kind of meditate on what this year meant, what I've accomplished, and what I could have done better as both a writer and as a person.

I remember at the beginning of this year, I was less than enthusiastic. I was feeling terribly nervous about my MFA thesis, and I was just worried about the general uncertainty of my future.

Anyway, let's flashback to January 2010 where I reflected on this:

 What creative projects to work on this year?
Absolutely 100% focus must be directed towards finishing my thesis. All other noise must perish...


Once my thesis is completed, I plan to continue editing it and prepping it for submission to publishers. I'm really hoping to be able to do this by May. That would be nice :-)

Another goal - do more readings! I need to get more involved in the poetry community. Lately I've been letting myself create excuses. No more.



How did I do on this end?

Well, pretty damn good if I may say so myself B-)

My MFA thesis was finished by mid April, and I graduated a month later into the big fancy world of post-MFA. To celebrate my success, I took a trip to West Chester for their annual poetry conference, met a bunch of new friends and decided that my goal for the rest of the year would be to brush up on metrics. Which... I did! :)

As the summer finished, I decided to take another long look at the thesis manuscript. It had sufficently rested, and I had that necessary distance from it. After some polishing and with the addition of my summer writing, I was able to get it into tip top shape and start sending it out to publishers. As you know, it got picked up! I only submitted it to two publishers; it was snapped up remarkably quick.

And how about my "getting more involved in the poetry community"? I did that, too! I mean, going to West Chester was absolutely a step in the right direction there, as it opened up the world beyond just Texas to me. But also, I've kept my roots -- I'm still a Valle Poet and I've been active (but not too active!) in the poetry scene, maintaining about one reading per month. December I slacked, but really, there just wasn't much going on down here in December. I also began participating in Eratosphere, which I should probably do more of come to think of it.

Other than my planned projects, I had a few other creative projects, too. I've had the wonderful opportunity to work as an Assistant Poetry Editor at Fifth Wednesday Journal, to write book reviews for BOXCAR, and how can I forget my NaNoWriMo endeavor??? :) :) :) Creatively, I've been quite the busy bee.

Could I have done better?

Absolutely.

I missed out on a few great opportunities (the first annual Beat Poetry Fest, and Flor de Nopal to name my two biggest regrets), and I think I could have focused a bit more on the actual creation of poetry. Also, I've got so much going on, I think I need to have better "focus" to make sure that nothing, nothing, falls to the wayside.

Next question, please!

What is taking time away from my writing?
Ugh, too many things. I love to blame work, in particular - my 2nd job. I spend so much mental energy preparing for my Saturday classes that it leaves just the scraps for poetry. This is on the chopping block. It might need to go - but not until I've put in a full year.


This I did end up chopping, but it was replaced with a lecturing position at STC. I'm still holding down two jobs, and finding time for my creativity somewhere in between. Somehow, I'm making it work! I don't see quitting either job in the near future. I actually love love love both my jobs :)


World of Warcraft.
Hah! This one went out the window. I'm not playing video games anymore. For relaxation, I've been working on my novel. LOL I've gotten pretty good at "cutting the fat" in this sense.

Exercise - believe it or not - gets in the way of my writing. Running is becoming a new obsession of mine.

Eh. I'm still running. I took a little break during November, but I've since started back up and run about twice per week. It feels good, and I actually think it helps me to clear my mind and refocus on my writing. So this, I plan to keep.

My sickness and the general atmosphere of saddness gets in the way of my writing big time. What to do about this? I'm really not sure :-

I've been really blessed with health this year. Phew!

Who supports you, and who doesn't?
My family supports me, Bruno supports me, my community of writers is great. BUT... sometimes, although it's not intentional, family drama, sadness, depression, ect in other people gets in the way of me writing. How selfish, when someone I love is in pain I only think about how it affects me. But it does. And I don't know what to do about that, either. Move away? Hell, this actually doesn't just get in the way of me writing, but me LIVING, GROWING as a human being. Sometimes I just wish I could run away from everyone, from everything, and just be myself - not a person in relation to others.


While this doesn't BUG me as much as it used to, it's still an issue. As perhaps unhealthy as this sounds (or maybe completely healthy) I'm learning to not be so... tied up in the emotions and lives of others. You're depressed? Ok, I'm here for you -- but I'm going to live my life, too. I think it's particularly difficult for women to do this, but... I'm learning. I have to!


What can I do differently this year?
Geez. Ok, well here goes - my new and improved Katie for 2011.

Katie will regiment her writing. She will write for at least an hour everyday - not including blogging.


I may not have kept up with this EVERYDAY, but I know I AT LEAST have been working on writer related things for an hour a day (most days, though, it's more like 3 hours of working on this type of thing, whether it's editing, musing, writing poetry, working on my novel, commenting on another's work, reading poetry, writing reviews...).

Katie will learn to block out negative feelings and influences, banish them from my thought processes. How will I do this? I don't know. I have a year to figure that out.

I think I kind of have this bit figured out. Anyway, it's a learning process, and I'm getting there :)
Katie has already given up alcohol. It's bad for my health, and I'm beginning to think maybe all of my health problems are related to alcohol.

Heh...heh... heh... no comment on this one. I have my health back!

So that was 2011. 2012? I'll outline my goals for you tomorrow!

Goodbye 2011! Thanks for all the fun. It was a wild wild wild ride.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Never Ask a Woman How Much She Weighs...

And never ask a writer how many times they've been rejected B-)


Though, to give you a teaser -- both will be revealed by the end of this blog post.

Ah Facebook -- colossal waste of time?

Well, today a post on facebook by my good friend ire'ne lara silva , a poet I admire, got me thinking about 2011 and beyond.

As writers, we're always quick to celebrate our successes, share them with our friends and family to gain encouragement and for those oh so valuable "congratulations." I thrive on that sort of thing :) :) :)

But what about the rejections? Those I usually tuck away in the back of my mind. Somewhere along the road, I've thickened up my writerly skin and have decided to not let them get to me, really. I mean, as a poet, you really do indeed have to be that way. Otherwise, well... you won't last very long!

So anyway, let's get back to ire'ne -- she was brave enough to tally up her rejection/acceptance stats for the year and share them on her facebook page, which I found absolutely commendable. How could she make them so public? I didn't even want to know my own stats, to go through the pain of counting up rejections... much less share them on facebook? My poet friends will see me for what I am -- a loser.

But, but... while munching away at my veggie sub, I started thinking about it. Why the stigma? Everyone gets rejections. It's just something we don't talk about, because, as much as we don't want it to, it always hurts. I've become pretty numb to the pain over the years, but ah... it still pricks everytime I open up my mailbox and see that ominous envelop, everytime my email dings and I see "Re: Katherine Hoerth Poetry Submission" in the subject line.

So I decided, in the spirit of ire'ne's amazing courage, that I, too, would tally up my rejections and share them with the world. Perhaps we could get a little laugh, right? I pop into duotrope, and go to my tracker. And, here are my 2011 stats:

92 rejections, 9 acceptances. (if we count book submissions, it ticks up to 11/92)

Wow. LOL! 92 Rejections? How did I NOT kill myself after 92 rejections?

A few days ago, I thought I would do an "end of the year" Katie triumph post about all of my achievements. But you know what? I think the greatest achievement I've made this year is surviving those rejections -- not letting them get to me.

How about my 2010 stats, you ask?

7/21 -- though, let's be honest, I wasn't submitting to pie in the sky places like AGNI, or Tin House.

So there they are... I feel so utterly naked. My stats... it's almost as embarrassing as sharing my true weight (in the spirit of full disclosure, I weigh 124).

Oh my.

So how do you feel about your rejections? Are they dirty little secrets, or badges of courage?

Since the New Year is just around the corner, I'll start off with one of my many resolutions.

May 2012 be the year I break out into triple digit rejections :)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Book Contract!!

On the eve of Christmas Eve (hah!), I got an early Christmas present.

I signed my book contract with Slough Press!

Woohoo!

Now I had always imagined contract signing to be a very... mmm... scary ordeal. Someone is out to screw someone, right? And it's legally binding and and you have to negotiate and such, right?

But this experience was nothing of the sort. Editor and I met at Starbucks for coffee, chit chatted a bit, and he explained to me what was in the contract. I had done a bit of reading on what to expect from a book contract (on the poets and writers website).

So everything sounds good to me, and I am feeling very comfortable and confident about the project. One reassuring aspect of this process is the fact that my editor and I are both active participants in our local poetry scene -- which means that we know each other already! Phew, so having my precious project in the hands of someone I know and trust? Well, that makes a big difference.

I am very happy to report that my book will be available of course on Amazon, and at Barnes and Nobles stores across the country (likely by special order only, but still -- super cool!). Editor also tells me to clear summer schedule for possible book tour around Texas. Aye.

And what's the next step? I ask. Let's get back to reality, and think short term goals.

Nothing! He says, you just sit back and let me do the hard work. I can totally do that :) Especially since I've already begun working on my second book
.
In a few weeks, I will be expecting some "requested revisions" and edits. I told editor that I'm actually pretty open to suggestions. For some reason (and I think it's because I've already begun work on next book) I'm ready to relinquish creative control of my book, and let someone with fresh eyes take a look at it. I wasn't feeling this way a few weeks ago, but I've had a bit of a change of heart.

And beyond that? Well, next up comes the task of requesting blurbs and possibly an introduction, looking for cover art and and and...

LOL. Ok, so I've got some hard work ahead of me, too. But for now -- please let me sleep off my Christmas hangover, and get to eating some of BruBru's delicious delicious Swedish pancakes.

Oh, and a lunch date with another poet this afternoon to discuss all things musing.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Putting Together a Poetry Manuscript

I was recently asked by a good friend of mine for some assistance with assembling her poetry manuscript. Apparently, she's heard that I'm pretty decent at it. Where she heard that? I haven't a clue!

But it got me to thinking -- how does it all come together?

It's kind of a mysterious process, but it doesn't have to be so mysterious! Anyway, I thought it might be helpful to share MY process. Maybe it'll work for you, too?

So for my first poetry manuscript, The Garden, Uprooted, was actually a real challenge to assemble. I had a pile of poems on my lap. And they were precious poems to me, they were really all I had as a writer. You see, when you put together your first poetry manuscript, you're pouring in years of learning the craft. These are the poems I grew with, learned from... they are the ones who chronicle my journey from wannabe to... well poet!

Luckily, I had a lot of support when it came to pulling it all together. This manuscript was actually my thesis for my MFA. I had my thesis adviser holding my hand through the process, teaching me what he'd, too, learned through years and years of being a poet. He was actually very helpful, reading through my countless drafts. My adviser never told me HOW to do it, but he did help me to understand what was working, what wasn't, and even more importantly, he was there to kind of "talk" things through with me. He'd ask me -- "Katie, why did you put this poem/section first?" and I'd have to explain. So a lot of thought went into the process, which I think is essential. Each decision you make needs to be for a reason, a purpose.

So that leads me to piece of advice #1:

Have a reader, other than your mom.

For me, I was fortunate enough to have a little team of readers (my thesis committee!). Now, The Garden, Uprooted, isn't an exact replica of my thesis manuscript (which, actually, carried a different title). Some of what my profs told me I followed in my thesis, but then when the manuscript was in my hands only, went back and changed. For example, adviser told me he didn't like particular poem. Fine. It's out of the thesis, no biggie. But guess what? In The Garden, Uprooted, it's going to be there! Unless, of course, editor shares the same opinion as adviser....

Other changes include many added poems (this summer, I worked a lot in meter, so I included a metrical element throughout the script) revisions of poems, and I ended up taking out some poems, too, that no longer had a place. 

Having a reader isn't everything, though. You're going to have order your own storm, to borrow a metaphor here. No one else can do it for you.

My next piece of advice:

Study the first books of poets you admire

Before I started assembling my manuscript, I went on an amazon shopping spree ordering other poet's manuscripts. One in particular I read over and over again was Anna Journey's If Birds Gather in Your Hair for Nesting. I think that book taught me a lot :-)

Try to disect their work -- how does each poem speak to one another? What works, and what doesn't? How are they sectioned off, if at all?

Now as a reviewer, I'm reading a lot of first books. Some of them work, some don't. But I think this teaches me a lot more than any MFA could!

Which brings me to my next piece of advice.


Print out your poems, feel them in your hands, and spread them across your living room floor.

You will, indeed, look like a maniac in front of your family. That's ok -- your family should be well aware already that you're a maniac if you're this far along in putting together a manuscript. Poets have strange habits, and families learn to deal :)

This is what I did -- I laid all my poems out on my (actually office) floor, and stared at them for awhile. When they were all spread out, I could piece poems together that I knew were related, spoke to each other. I started by grouping them by common themes/images/tones/obsessions.

Now how do you do that?

Good question, glad you asked!

I would jot down little notes on the corners of the pages, central images and themes. For example, reading through my poems, I noticed a good chunk of them were about fairy tales. Fine. I write fairy tales on the corner, or more specifically, red riding hood, or Repunzel, or the frog prince, or whatever. With these poems, then, I found an overarching similarity -- they were all about the complex relationship between innocence and sexuality. Great. This later became a section -- Germination, along with other poems (non fairy tale related) that were still meditations on this theme.

My other sections included my "eve" poems, my "procreation" poems, and my "feeling out of place" poems. That's of course way oversimplifying things, but you get the general idea, I hope.

Once grouped, then it would be easier to order them. I started thinking of the individual sections as chapbooks, about 20 pages in length each. This was really helpful for me. I'd try to begin each section with a strong poem, and end with a strong poem, too. The first poem had to really stick with the "theme" of the section, to help the reader get the idea behind my madness, to introduce everything. And what goes in between? I don't know... I tried to tell some sort of a narrative. Let's look back to my "fairy tale" section.

Here, I started off with a very clear poem that referenced little red riding hood (actually, you can read it here.)

My next poem, while not clearly adhering to the fairy tale/red riding hood theme, did, instead echo similar images, and the theme of innocence lost. So it kind of opened up the section, in a sense. Throughout the section, there are more fairy tale poems, they're pretty evenly spread out, so my reader will not forget. The last poem of the section speaks very significantly to the first poem -- it's about red riding hood overcoming the wolf, and becoming a being of the forest, a being of her own woman, comfortable in her bare feet, her strength. In the end of the poem, she rushes off into the forest, the dark forest -- which becomes a metaphor, actually, for the next section!

So you see? Direction. No choice can be made haphazardly!


Are you starting to notice a theme? I am. Assembling a manuscript requires a very intimate understanding of your own work. Without that, you won't get very far.

So let's recap Katie's "expert" (ahem) advice on assembling your first poetry manuscript.

1. Have a reader, or several, that you trust. Works best if this person doesn't love you :) You need for them to be honest, and love has a way of making liars out of even the most honest of men.
2. Study the first books of poets you admire.
2. Gain an intimate understanding of your work. This takes time,and simply cannot be rushed.
3. Group your poems into groups, either by theme/tone/image... something needs to bind them centrally. You might learn that you don't want to have sections at all, and that's ok. But explore this, it will make your manuscript that much stronger.
4. Choose the order of your sections -- make sure there is a method to your madness
5. Order the poems within your sections. Make your first poems strong and introductory in some manner, setting up your reader's expectations. And choose your last poems just as wisely. Leave your reader with something to ponder and meditate on.
6. Understand that these things take time. And that you will go through many many drafts. And that's ok. My first manuscript was five years in the making. That was a lot of years of writing, but I've been in the "assembling" stage for at least a year and a half. And you know what? I was constantly poking at it, changing it, making it into the beautiful beast it is today.
7. I'm told that your 2nd manuscript is much easier to assemble :) So let's hold out hope together, ok?

I've just begun work on my "2nd born" myself. She's coming along quite nicely, if I may say so. This time, I'm starting out with the big picture in mind. I'll let you know how that turns out for me :)


So there, my two cents. Of course, there is some required reading and places you can read and learn from people who probably know a lot more about this than I do.


http://www.awpwriter.org/careers/jlevine01.htmhttp://www.awpwriter.org/careers/jlevine01.htm

This article from AWP was very helpful to me.

Ordering the Storm is another good resource, I've heard, though I've never read the book myself. Maybe you should read it, and let me know how that goes for you :) :) :)

So go forth, and make your poems sparkle!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Poetry Community... How Important is it?

So, I had a pretty lovely weekend.

My new editor (oh how I love typing this... not that I don't absolutely love old editor, who isn't old at all... who is actually still my editor, but now I have two... oh man this is wild) invited me to his home this weekend for a poet's dinner. I had such a wonderful time! I wish I had taken pictures, but I didn't want to be, you know, that tacky girl at the end of the table throwing peace signs and giggling on about Facebook y mas.
Anyway, I mean, it's not a big deal, right? Getting together with a small group of friends, sharing a meal -- it all sounds pretty standard. But... you know, there's something magical that happens when a bunch of poets get together and talk, and... er... drink. Our discussion topics started off pretty prim and proper, but quickly got into the nitty gritty silliness about maracas, naked Saturdays, and tequila. It was really nice to get together, to get to know some of the poets in my local community, and to feel free to just talk.

Poets, I think, tend to be pretty social beings. I mean, some of us are. We have to be! We go out and do readings, we have to promote our books, build relationships with editors/publishers/reviewers/etc. And many of us are teachers, too -- so our lives are filled with conversation. I know it's an essential part of the "job," but sometimes, I feel horribly socially awkward.

But you know what helps?

Belonging to a community of poets who are doing the same thing alongside you.

Anyway, as a poet, I think I've really benefited from belonging to this "valley" poetry scene here. It's pretty modest, sure, but through word of mouth and just the friendliness and willingness of the poets in this community to reach out is making all the differenec in the world. I've made a lot of friends along the way, and I think I've come a long way since the shy girl I used to be before I started reading out in public. Sometimes, I feel like an absolute hermit, sure. And when it's been too long since I've done a reading, my poet buddies will remind me, encourage me, ask about my writing...

and really, I think that's made all the difference in the world, especially now post MFA.

Ok now I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.

But anyway... do you participate in your local poetry scene?

When do we make the leap from colleagues, fellow poets -- to friends?

I think it's after you share a lovely glass of wine ;)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Maybe It's the Weather

But today I was having one of those days.

You know the type -- when you have an exuberant amount of crushing self doubt? It happened to me today as I was driving home for lunch. You see, I'm working on this poem, and... I started thinking to myself -- ugh, I'm nothing but a big ugly ball of cliches. And when I write poems, I'm doing nothing but piling up a big ol' skein of words that have already been written, and regurgitating them, Katie style.

How utterly depressing, right?

And then I started thinking about my NaNo manuscript. Who would ever want to read it? It's pathetic, and stupid, and also a bunch of plot cliches all wrapped up together and spit out mixed with my very acidic stomach fluid. I wanted to throw my USB drive in the toliet in one big emo temper tantrum.

Ack. Self doubt. I hate it.

But I'm working through it.

How about a sexy tidbit about trees? You know you love it:

But even trees rejoice the snow’s

arrival, leaves of oaks fall to
the ground like satin lingerie.

Let’s stand like January trees
and celebrate the naked limbs

Oh my... oh my oh my oh my.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wrapping Up My First Semester Teaching

Ok, so it's not completely my first semester TEACHING, but teaching college students.

Tomorrow's my last day with the kiddos -- they're turning in their final writing portfolios and it will definitely prove to be bittersweet.On the one hand, yay, I did it! And I feel amazingly proud of what I've accomplished. I came into this semester slightly unsure of myself. I was nervous, mainly because I've been working so hard to get to this point, to be a college instructor. And what if I hated it? What if it was hard, and horrible, and what if the students were awful and mean to me and made me cry?

But... in the end, I had a wonderful semester. I got to know my students, and I hope they learned a thing or two from me! But perhaps moreso, I learned from them. I learned that I am capable of doing this, and that teaching is something I'm good at -- something that makes me feel alive. I love being in a classroom. I'm an attention whore -- all eyes on me please! :-)

And I love constructing lessons -- bringing my creativity into the classroom to try and get my points across. I mean, this semester I kept it pretty basic just because I was still getting the hang of things, but planning my lectures was actually something I looked forward to.

So after tomorrow, my students will be Katieless, out in the world, hopefully better able to articulate their thoughts into beautiful little tidbits called essays. And I will miss them -- but you know what? Next semester, I do it all over again with an even bigger course load. I'm looking forward to that!

Today I was browsing The Chronicle, feeling excited about all the opportunities out there in the world. I can't wait to have a few more years under my proverbial belt, and to someday (someday) be able to teach creative writing to a classroom full of students who need their talent brought out and encouraged. I'm excited -- this life is going to be one Hell of a ride :-) And it all has to start somewhere!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Big News!

Today there was cause for dancing in my office...

I have just received word that Slough Press will be publishing my first full manuscript of poems!

I had to read the email about fifty million times before the news sank in.

And then, I couldn't breathe :)

Tenetively, it's titled The Garden, Uprooted. I'm not married to the title, so let's see what editor has to say.

Oh my I'm just so unbelievably excited!

But you know what else I feel?

Suspiciously empty.

This manuscript's been in the works since 2007... that's four years of writing, crafting, editing, musing, loving, and hating. I've gone through about a million zillion drafts... And now... it's off in the hands of a very able editor... but it's out of my hands...

I'm having some type of... seperation anxiety from my poems!

I totally need to get over it.

Back to the happy dancing! :D

You know there will be many more details to come!

Friday, December 2, 2011

NaNoWriMo VICTORY!

Victory! Victory! It tastes so unbelievably sweet :-)

Ahhh... so I did the mad dash to 50K words, and my novel isn't done. Here are a few things I learned from NaNoWriMo:

1. Writing a novel is very, very different from a poetry manuscript

How so? Ugh... writing a novel is all about consistancy, about keeping the creative energy flowing.

Poetry, on the other hand, is about bursts of brilliance, and then expanding on them. When I was working on my novel, I never had that frustrating "writer's block" I get with poetry. I'd just meditate on my novel's central images, and the words would keep flowing.

2. Noveling is like writing poetry!

LOL don't you love the way I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself ;)

No, but in all seriousness, at times I would treat my prose like poetry, and that's when the magic would happen. I think poets can make great novelists. I'm a poet, but certainly not a "great novelist," yet anyway. Which brings me to my next point:

3. Noveling takes a butt load of time

And I mean, a butt load.

But you know what? It feels so damn good to write, that I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

4. You can fall in love with your characters.

I had to kill off my MC's wife just because I was jealous of her. Benjamin Brutus is so unbelievably dreamy... :-)

5. It is utterly impossible to write a novel in a month

LOL!

But it was one hell of a journey. Will I be back? You betcha!

I've learned a lot about myself along the way, and produced a manuscript that, yeah, needs a lot of work, but someday, someday, I'll be damn proud of it.

So, back to poetry? Or do I keep going with this novel?

Isn't it wonderful to have choices :-)



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Few Quick Announcements Before I Get Back to Typing!!

First and foremost:

I will be a featured reader at Carino's Italian on November 18th (which is close to my birthday, just sayin', in case you want to like, buy me a tiramisu?). Excitedness!


Poetry Pasta, and Vino -- Otto

Time Friday, November 18 · 7:30pm - 10:30pm




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Location Carino's Italian

421 E. Nolana Loop

McAllen, TX



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Created By Edward Vidaurre



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More Info Pasta, Poetry & Vino Otto!



Carino's Italian and Barrio Poet Edward Vidaurre welcome you back to the 8th Pasta, Poetry, Vino & Arts Dinner event.



We welcome back as Master of Ceremonies: Brenda Nettles Riojas along with the benefactor of this event: The Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center.



The Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center is an organization dedicated to the preservation, promotion and development of the rich and cultural heritage of the Mexicano community. This heritage includes the visual arts, music, theater, dance and literary works.



Mark your calendars and don't miss out on a night of poetry, music, visual art, and delicious Italian cuisine.



For more information call Edward at 956-789-9905





Featuring me! Yes, me! Me me me me me :D
 
 
 
Oh, other news:
 
I am participating in NaNoWriMu this year! So hence -- my lack of blogging. Why not throw another random distraction on the fire to keep me from my poetry manuscript? Let the incessant typing... COMMENCE!
 
Follow me! I'm KatiePoet
 
14,289 words... and definitely counting

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Life gets complicated, and other sad depressing things

So where to begin?

I've been really down about a few things. I think I'll begin by listing those:

1. My car. It's sick. My beloved Cabrio.

Now you might be asking, what on earth does this have to do with poetry?

It does, be patient.

I was really looking forward to this weekend's first annual Beat poetry festival in Bryan, TX for a few reasons. First of all, let's just be honest and say that Beat poetry is kind of cool. And I was seriously hoping some of that coolness would rub off on me and my dorkiness.


And second -- I kind of wanted to check out Bryan/College Station. Because... well, A&M kind of has a Creative Writing PhD and I'm kind of looking into their program. So what a great excuse, huh?

Ok back to my sick Cabrio...

It's not going to be able to make the trip. Unless, unless, my beloved Bruno is able to fix it in time. But... but... he's so unbelievably swamped with work lately that he's just not going to be able to do it. I even asked my little bro to take me, but alas, no no, it's not going to happen :(

So I'm rideless, and stranded in this God forsaken Valle! LOL, Ok, melodrama to the max but you get the point. I can't go. And I'm sad.

2. I have a job

How can I complain about this? I have two jobs! And I actually love them both.

But, but... here's the thing.

They're totally getting in the way of my poetry funk.

Or should I say, my poetry is seriously getting in the way of my jobs? Either way you look at it, I've got a serious conflict of interest going on in my life.

There's two sides of me -- Career Woman Katie and Poet Katie. Which one wins out? Eh. Today, Career Woman Katie.

See, I've also been really looking forward to the Flor de Nopal Literary Festival coming up right around the corner. My dear friend ire'ne lara silva is hosting the festival, and I was really excited to make the trek up to Austin and join her. Oh oh oh it's going to be great! Even my publisher is on the schedule to be there...

But, but... at my university, THAT SAME STINKIN' WEEKEND, we have a new student orientation and I'm giving presentations and meeting with the new kiddos. So sad... so while I'm explaining to bright eyed and bushy tailed kiddos why English is the greatest major ever (which, let's face it, it is), I'll long to be in Austin, listening to all the wonderful poetriness around me. :(

3. I haven't written a poem -- and it's completely my fault.

What ever happened to prioritizing? Well, it didn't. And again, I'm sad.


So what am I going to do about all of this pathetic Katiness?

I am going to fix it.

Somehow, someway, someday.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Poet: A Full Time Job

If only, right?

Yikes, life's gotten busy and complicated and beautiful. Who knew?

So it's been about three weeks now since I've had time to put pen to paper and write. The quiet white page awaits, but my mind's simply been occupied. With? Teaching, readings, working, editing...

Is it a coincidence that I've also successfully loaded a PSX emulator on my netbook and am replaying old RPGs? Oh, no no no... that has nothing to do with my most recent poetry failures... lol.

So I think I need to get back to prioritizing. It's a constant struggle, but one that is oh so worthwhile :)

In other more cheery news:

I have some readings lined up!

Tonight I will be participating in this:

Sin Fronteras Virtual Poetry Reading

Time Friday, October 14 · 8:30pm - 10:30pm




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Location Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum Distance Learning Center



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Created By The Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum



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More Info Time is based on EST zone. 8:30 EST.



Smithsonian LVM in collaboration with Mouthfeel Press presents a virtual poetry read featuring:



Laura Cesarco Eglin (Llamar al agua por su nombre)

Elisa A. Garza (Fronteras)

Nancy Lorenza Green (Crucified River)

Katherine Hoerth (Among the Mariposas)

ire'ne lara silva (furia)

Cassandra Love (Swagger is a Woman)

Amalio Madueño Cuyamungue)

Juan Manuel Portillo (passwords_)





The stage will be open to writers of all genres after the presentation.



To participate please go to http://latino.si.edu/education/LVM_Main.htm.



You will need an avatar and headset/microphone. For more information contact: (202) 633-1240, or Maria Miranda Maloney at (915)261-8502.



Visit www.latinovirtual.blogspot.com, for author information.


And many many more events soon to come. More updates coming soon. I've got work to do :::elongated sigh:::

Monday, October 3, 2011

Reading at Jitterz Coming Up!

I'll be busy getting my poems ready :-)

Hope to see you there!

Here's all the details (but, they've been hanging out on my sidebar for awhile now.. ahem):


Time Saturday, October 8 · 8:00pm - 11:00pm




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Location Jitterz Coffee Bar

1625 N. Conway Ave.

Mission, Texas



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Created By Daniel Garcia Ordaz



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



More Info October 8: Featured Readers: Katie Hoerth, award-winning author ofAmong The Mariposas and Wikki Writers. Featured Musician: Kim Snyder. M.C. Daniel García Ordaz, author of You Know What I'm Sayin'?.



Art That Heals, Inc. is gearing up for a new (9th) season of Coffee Talk Series @ Jitterz Coffee Bar in Mission, Texas monthly on Second Saturdays from 8 to 10:30 p.m.. Coffee Talk Series was started in 2002 in Rio Grande City at T...he Art Shop as a program of Art That Heals, Inc., a nonprofit organization. The mission of Art That Heals is to encourage cultural literacy in the Rio Grande Valley by promoting the arts and to use art to help end the AIDS pandemic.



Emcees and entertainers/musicians are still needed. All sorts of writing genres encouraged. This is a family establishment and no cursing or inappropriate language is allowed. Please respect the policy.



For information about Coffee Talk Series contact Daniel at poetmariachi@hotmail.com



For information about Jitterz Coffee Bar visit www.jitterzcoffeebar.com



Overflow parking @ bank next door.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cool New Stuff

Just in case you missed the flash mob poetry event, Sunfish Records was kind enough to get a video of me!

Katie's On YouTube!

Now I officially feel cool.

The flash mob event also got international media coverage (harharhar)

Ok, so a journalist from Reynosa was there and wrote an article in La Manana. But the best part? My picture is there! Would you like to check it out? Of course you would!

Read about Katie in Spanish

So now I'm feeling cool. Why don't I leave you with a beautiful picture of the talented poet Kamala Platt, who also read at the event.


Kamala Platt at 100,000 Poets for a Change


There's a lot coming up. This is exactly why I love the fall. Keep an eye out for future announcements on all the exciting poetry stuff I've got planned :) Well, to me it's exciting anyway.

I'm off to think of new ways to torture my students (as if hammering MLA into their little heads wasn't enough).

Adios!

Monday, September 26, 2011

The 100,000 Poets for a Change Reading in El Valle

Well, there weren't 100,000 poets at the McAllen event....

but! That didn't mean we didn't enjoy ourselves.

Here's Daniel's write up on the event. I'll share, since, well, I'm lazy to do my own.

Readings for the first-ever 100 Thousand Poets For Change (www.100TPC.org)--a global event focused on social change--were held on Sept. 24, 2011 at over 700 events in 95 countries. This event set a world record as the largest poetry reading in history. In the coming days we'll be uploading documents--such as photos, fliers, and poems--that will be archived by Stanford University, in recognition of significant Web-based events; i.e., Stanford archives important Web sites for posterity.








The Rio Grande Valley focused on environmental issues and protesting the proposed expansion to the Border Wall. We had a cozy crowd, but it allowed us to make new friendships, make new connections, and start conversations about future collaborations between artists, activists, organizers, teachers, and advocates.







Our readers included Katie Hoerth, Kate McSwain, Kamala Platt, Tiffany Anderson, Erika Said, Jose A. Cardenas, Rossy Lima, Monica Ramirez, and Daniel Garcia Ordaz--local event organizer.







We met at the McAllen Creative Incubator. The audienc also included Chris Pauley, a metal sculptor from Washington State now in the Valley, Rachel Udow, Kenton White, Lynn Brezosky, Gerald Padilla, Michael Gerleman, Sandra Cano, Cheli Sierra, and Alan Padilla, among others. Lady Mariposa was also with us, in spirit, along with several other poets who weren't able to make it due to previous committments or other issues. We will definitely be back again next year!







Special thanks to Jamie Tabak and Sunfish Records for your support.







Michael Rothenberg, global event creator, has already decided to begin planning to make this an annual event. Join us!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Poetry Flash Mob

Booya!

Ok NOW I feel cool to finally be a part of a FLASH MOB!


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE





The Rio Grande Valley will be one of the hosts and participants of the global event, "100 Thousand Poets For Change," being held simultaneously on Sept. 24 in 350 cities and 70 countries as part of the largest poetry reading in history to promote environmental, social, and political change.





A "flash mob poetry reading" is planned for 8 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24, at the McAllen Creative Incubator (1001 S. 16th St., McAllen, Texas.)





Poets reading in the Valley will be focusing on local environmental issues and speaking against the proposed expansion of the Border Wall, which is cutting off access to ecotourism for the region as well as cutting off access to water for ocelots and other felines and other mammals, cactus wrens and other birds, such as chachalacas.





Amalia Ortiz, Katie Hoerth, Kamala Platt, Kim Snyder, Ray Perez, Francisco Pina, Katy L. Martin, Julie Corpus, and Daniel García Ordaz are among the many invited poets and entertainers scheduled to appear.





For more information, contact Valley event coordinator Daniel García Ordaz at poetmariachi@hotmail.com.





* * *





The official release from the global organizer is attached and copy/pasted below:





FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Michael Rothenberg, Founder

100 Thousand Poets for Change

P.O. Box 870

Guerneville, Ca 95446

Phone: 305-753-4569

http://www.100TPC.org

walterblue@bigbridge.org

Poets Worldwide Unite for the Truly Historic "100 Thousand Poets for Change" Event

Poets in 350 cities representing 70 countries are currently organizing the largest poetry reading in history

with over 400 individual events scheduled to take place simultaneously on September 24th to promote

environmental, social, and political change.

Poets, writers, artists, and humanitarians will create, perform, educate and demonstrate, in their individual

communities, and decide their own specific area of focus for change within the overall framework of

peace and sustainability, which founder Michael Rothenberg stated, “…is a major concern worldwide and

the guiding principle for this global event.”

Bob Holman and Margery Snyder, in a recent article on About.com said, “the beauty of the concept of 100

Thousand Poets for Change is that it is completely decentralized and completely inclusive.”

The events range from a poetry and peace gathering in strife-torn Jalalabad, Afghanistan, to poets in

Nogales, Mexico and Nogales, Arizona reading poems to each other across the border fence. There are

13 events in Mexico City alone, 24 events planned in India and 7 in Nigeria. Poetry demonstrations are

also being organized in political hotspots such as Cairo, Egypt and Madison, Wisconsin. Along the Platte

River near Omaha, Nebraska poets will be demonstrating against TransCanada’s planned Keystone XL

tar sands pipeline.

More examples of events can be easily accessed on the home page of the 100 Thousand Poets for

Change website at www.100TPC.org.

All those involved are hoping, through their actions and events, to seize and redirect the political and

social dialogue of the day and turn the narrative of civilization towards peace and sustainability.

Each city organizer and their community has an individual Event Location blog page on the main website

for posting written material, poetry, artwork, photos, and video to document this global mega-event across

national borders.

Immediately following September 24th all documentation on the 100TPC.org website will be preserved by

Stanford University in California, which has recognized 100 Thousand Poets for Change as an historical

event, the largest poetry reading in history. They will archive the complete contents of the website,

100TPC.org, as part of their digital archiving program LOCKSS.

Founder Michael Rothenberg is a widely known poet, songwriter, editor of the online literary magazine

Bigbridge.org and an environmental activist based in Northern California.

For information contact: http://www.100TPC.org

Contact: walterblue@bigbridge.org

Phone: 305-753-4569

All Apologies

LOL, I heard a story this morning on Kurt Cobain on NPR. It brought be back to my teenage years, listening to Nirvana, thinking I was so unbelievably cool B-)

But now I'm a poet, and so much cooler.

Ok anyway, I know I've been a terrible blogger lately. I really wanted to hit this blog with a fantastic post outlining my goals. And then it hit me -- what are my goals?

You know, in the past I've always been so goal oriented, and now, here I am, achieving them one by one... and it leaves me feeling, I don't know, mysteriously empty.

So for the past few weeks I've been doing a bit of, oh I'll just throw this cliche out there, "soul searching," and I think I've come to a good place in my life.

My goals? Are to be the greatest person I can be. And, however that materializes, well, I know I can handle it.

So anyway, I took my GRE last week and it went well. It's another step towards applying the the PhD programs I've outlined, so that feels good. But, is that what I really want? I'm not sure... in this very moment anyway. I mean, I know I'll get there, sooner or later. But for now -- I just need to enjoy being content.

With?

My job! I am completely loving my teaching position at STC. I look forward to my evening classes, to planning my lectures, and yes -- in some twisted way, to grading. I'm absorbed, obsessed, and totally into this, just as I feared :D

Other than that? Well, with GRE craziness I took a bit of a hiatus on the writing thing, but this week I've gotten that groove back. I wrote another poem which started in free verse but has become metrical and... I'm pretty happy with it. Being workshopless, it's hard for me to be completely self aware of my work BUT, I'm getting there.

And what else? Oh, readings. Of course. I'm excited about an upcoming reading, which will be discussed in my next post.

The goal of this post (hah!), was to say -- my apologies for not blogging, that I'm still here alive and well, and that I am still very much filled with poetry.

As shall always be, amen!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Year 2 of Blogging

And so today marks the end of Blog Year II!

Let's blast to the past - this time last year
and... two years ago (almost)

I love it!

So this blog is pretty much all about me, my struggles to become a better writer and professional.

Its been a great journey. This year was super eventful for Poet Katie. I remember feeling uber resolved to finish my MFA, publish publish publish, and.... ::drum roll please:: teach!

I did it, I did it all :-)

What a fantastic year! And now, here I am today, wide eyed, bushy tailed, and ready for my next adventures.

Here's a few favorite highlights:

9/14: "I've never stripped. Nor do I have a scar riding across my abdomon from a tummy tuck or c-section. Nor do my boobs sag (promise)"

10/22: Chocolate Sundae published in McAllen Monitor

11/11: "So I totally didn't control myself and I totally had to hug everyone. I'm a dork, a complete valley girl but that's ok I've come to terms with myself." (When I presented at El Mundo Zurdo and met my Mouthfeel Press mujeres!)

12/15: I was at the library yesterday, browsing through thesis manuscripts in the special collections area. I come across a manuscript that says "Hoerth". My heart skips a beat. Did my thesis finish itself? It's a UTPA miracle! I open up the black book, and no... no indeed it is not my thesis. It was my daddy's thesis. At that moment, I imagined mine, completed, sitting next to his on the shelf. That's where it'll be come April. It must be done. Yeah, some of that motivation to finish finish finish that thesis!!

1/21: So as I had hinted at before, I'm working on my second chapbook. My publisher requested I send her a new manuscript ASAP (ahh!) and well one certainly cannot pass up such an opportunity. Can't wait! :-D Still real excited about this one

2/28: as much as I loved NACCs, I'm glad its finally over. My the time I left my book signing, I was exhausted, poetryed out, and ready for some respite NACCS! It just was exhausting...

3/16: Nuff said.

4/14: Oh oh oh, the biggest news? I passed my defense! The Ripening of Mangos is a go go, and I will be graduating with the MFA next month... WOOHOO!

Plus! La Pulga Beauties Published in Front Porch!

5/2: Did I ever mention about me applying for a scholarship with West Chester University's poetry conference/workshop?


Well, I applied - plus submitted to participate in Dana Gioia's juried poetry workshop. I got notification today that YES, I was selected to participate in Gioia's workshop and information on scholarship will come in the next few days!!!

6/16: Dana Gioia makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside: So I wave him down, and we head into an empty classroom. The first thing I ask him is, did you bring me into your workshop by some tragic mistake? Because... I'm not really a metrical poet....
and he laughs. "No no, my dear," he answers...  "You've got real promise kid"

7/27:  Today, I got an email from none other than Molly Peacock! If you've read my West Chester Saga, you'll know the story: Girl decides to wear six inch heals, Girl gets caught in Philadelphia rain, Girl meets poet, Poet offers girl ride, girl feels giddy and talks poet's ear off, etc etc...
Well long story short, Molly wanted to read my thesis. A few weeks ago (After taking an nth glance at it myself) I send it her way. And she got back to me today with some very encouraging comments.


8/15: Conte featured South Texas Lawn Song

8/3: Today I received an email from AWP informing me that my panel, Border Bodies: Womanhood in Verse, has been accepted for inclusion in the 2012 conference. Happy dance!!

8/25: I'm excited. I just got the news that I'll be teaching an English 1301 course at South Texas College this fall.

Super year long story short:

Girl blogs about goals, girl works real hard, girl meets goals.

And now that I've met them, whatever could be next?!

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Welcome Fall 2011!

Yesterday marked the beginning of Fall 2011, the first day back for many college students.

And, I'm not a college student anymore. How strange does this feel? Very, indeed, very.

My adult life has always been centered around the university. I started college as a wide eyed and bushy tailed 17 year old, and I've never left the university enviornment. It sure is cozy here... I think I'll stick around! :-D

But this fall, I'm done. No more classes to take, no more degree plans to follow, no more academic goals in mind. And it feels awfully strange.

I had seriously thought about taking a graduate English course this fall, but then with my new teaching assignment, I figured I kind of needed to focuse. Plus, I've still got my PhD apps to work on, though, that future is looking a bit cloudy at the moment. Its so hard to figure out life!

LOL. I'm really happy where I'm at right now. I'm writing, I'm publishing, I'm teaching (and so far I LOVE it), I have a great day job, a beautiful house, and life is... well... pretty darn close to perfect. And I want to get it all messy applying to PhD programs, moving to God knows where, making peanuts for money and and and...

But isn't that how life get's beautiful? Anyway, I've got some big questions to answer about myself, my future goals, and who I am. I think the next few months will require some soul searching, and some cliched poetic deepness. I mean, I know PhD is in the future for me, and I'm going to keep working towards it. But now that I'm teaching, it just doesn't seem to have the same priority it had before. I don't know. I'll figure it out. But for the time being, it's time to go and work on a poem.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

That's Professor Hoerth to You, Punk!

:-D

I'm excited. I just got the news that I'll be teaching an English 1301 course at South Texas College this fall.

I'm really fortunate to have this opportunity, and not to mention... did I mention? I'm excited about it! If you've read this blog, you'll know that this was probably my biggest and loftiest goal for the year -- to teach a college level class.

This will be my first experience teaching post-secondary education, I mean, I've been a teacher before, but with college students? And at night? That means that probably, the majority of my students will be older than me... (I'm still in the under 25 club, ahem).

Ah I'm up for the challenge!

So now, I shall be busy with syllabus, going over my text book, and come Monday, meeting my oh so lucky students.

Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!

My main worry is keeping my motivation up for other things. Typically, when I teach, I kind of get absorbed into it. I live/breath/eat teaching. So my challenge for the upcoming fall will be to continue my PhD apps, keep at my poetry, study for the GRE, advise advise advise, publish, and... work at being a damn good professor. Oh, and don't forget keeping my eager blog readers informed!

Can I juggle it all?

I've so got this.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Conte 7.1

Check out the latest issue of Conte: A Journal of Narrative Writing here!

You may especially be interested in my poem :-D South Texas Lawn Song.

So happy to see it up on the site.

So check it out, ok?

More exciting things to come!

Monday, August 15, 2011

On the Other Side of the Desk...

Well well well...

I've always wondered what it was like to read poetry slush... what thoughts editors might have while going through "the stack," what makes them pull one poem aside for that ever illusive "maybe pile".

Well... I'm about to find out!

That's right folks! I'm reading poetry submissions for Fifth Wednesday Journal!

Today I read my first set of submissions. Its a bit... well... strange, to be on the other side of the desk. I certainly don't profess to know everything there is to know about poetry. My aesthetic is just that, an aesthetic. So, I'm a little nervous to maybe "not get" a poem and chuck it to the "no" pile, just because something's too obsure, or or or overly confessional, or my own bad mood.

LOL.

But that's how the editorial process is, isn't it?

And there's something (I think anyway) inherently magical about "good poetry," that makes the toes curl. Whatever the style, there's some special quality and texture to something that's "good," and I hope hope hope I can find it in the submissions I'm assigned.

Anyway, I'm thankful that my say is indeed very small with FWJ. I'm just one of many eyes that goes over a poem. So if I chuck out a gem, well, it won't be entirely my fault.

So YaY! I'm excited for this opportunity!

Onward! ;)

Friday, August 5, 2011

If at first you don't suceed...

Today I received an email from AWP informing me that my panel, Border Bodies: Womanhood in Verse, has been accepted for inclusion in the 2012 conference.

For me, this is a moment to savor. A year ago today, I was down and out about my AWP rejection. But I've always remained positive that my year was coming. Here I am today, making plans to head off to Chicago to present among some of the most talented poets and writers of our time.

I'm trying not to be so giddy about the whole thing, trying to compose myself with the professionalism I'm supposed to have... but it's soooo damn hard :-D :-D :-D

Ok here goes!! ::HAPPY DANCE::

I just can't believe how far I've come in a year... how everything is just coming together, and how all the hard work is paying off.

So here's a note to my future self: If at first you don't suceed, keep on trying. Eventually (and sometimes sooner than later) you'll get what you're working for.

Oh happy happy day :-)

Will I see you there?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Catch Me Again at Poetry Pasta and Vino!

I'll be back ;)

Here's all the juicy details of my next reading:


Time Wednesday, August 24 · 7:30pm - 10:00pm




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Location Carino's Italian

421 E. Nolana Loop

McAllen, TX



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Created By Edward Vidaurre



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



More Info It's back!



"Pasta, Poetry & Vino"



Some of the proceeds from this event will help the non-profit organization

...

The McAllen Arts Council.



The McAllen Arts Council is an organization comprised of local artists representing various artistic disciplines. It meets monthly, and oversees several projects:



ArtE Magazine



Published quarterly, ArtE covers the arts in McAllen. Staff oversees the editorial, sales, layout, printing and distributing of the magazine.



McAllen Arts Grants



The MAC offers grants annually to local artists and arts organizations. With matching funding from Texas Commission on the Arts, the arts program has offered up to $16,000 in grants per year. Staff oversees the application, grants panel selection and follow-up processes.



Fine Arts Exhibition



The MAC also sponsors a fine arts exhibition each year at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. The committee sets the parameters of the exhibition, extends the invitations to exhibit, oversees the set-up and dismantling of the exhibition, and promotes the event.



Website



The MAC also maintains a website to promote the arts and individual artists in the City.



Hosted by: Carino's Italian, The McAllen Chamber of Commerce & Barrio Poet Edward Vidaurre.



If you have not been to this event in particular, come and enjoy a night of great food, music, art, and the Rio Grande Valley's best in poetry.



For more info on booking a spot on the readers list of poets please contact Edward at 956.789.9905.



Featured Musician: Ray Perez



A born and bred Valley Local, Ray Perez picked up a guitar,learned a few chords, and started a rock band in high school called Brio. They performed all the grunge rock standards: Nirvana covers, Fugazi, Porno for Pyros, but mainly were known for playing their original music. After performing local keggers and festivals, Ray moved to San Marcos for a short time before finding himself in Austin, TX, all the while continuing to write and record his original material. In 2004, saw the rise of the social media craze and Perez did not hesitate to jump in head first, finding every blog and website that would feature his music. He garnered attention by offering original songs and cd's for free to anyone that wanted them. Receiving responses from New Zealand, Belgium, Canada, and the UK, as well as requests from all over the States. Ray found himself at the right time in the right place through the power of the internet. When websites began to host MP3's for upload and download, he again took advantage of the medium and broadened his already expanded fan base. After returning to the Valley in late 2007 and continuing efforts as a web based troubadour, Ray finally found a means of offering up his free songs to benefit charity, yet another passion of the singer/songwriter. Now sponsored with Sun Fish Records as a Sun Fish Artist he is able to continue to do so, but at a much higher quality of recording then his past attempts. So make sure to keep an eye out on Ray Perez as he continues to grow and give you music as he believes it should always be...100% Free.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The San Juan Spruce

So remember a few days back, when I received a wonderfully encouraging rejection letter from COR?

Well, at the end of the note, the editor invited me to submit to the next issue. The issue I submitted to originally was "The American South".

I have a complicated relationship with the "American South." I live, as you know, in deep south Texas, which really isn't considered a part of "the south" proper. But we're kind of south? I mean, you don't really get more geographically south than say, south Texas. And not only that, but... I'm not from here. I just have to open my mouth and people know I'm not from here. Whenever anyone asks, "where you from?" and I answer, "south Texas," I always get a smile -- "yes, but where are you ORIGINALLY from." I always get that.

So I think me considering myself a southerner is irrelevant. I'm not one. My voice gives it away -- the way I say "about" and "bag," the fact that once in awhile I let the word "bubbler" slip, and "pop."

The next issue of COR is a special issue on "The Great American North." My initial thought? No way in hell, I'm from the south, what can I have to say about the north??

But actually...

I'm also a girl from the north, The Great North Woods, to be exact! I mean, not since I was like ten years old, but still! And last week I started thinking, what could I possibly write about the north? I only have traces of memory of it. But on the other hand, I'd really like to submit more work...

And then it hit me! And the poems have exploded. I've been musing musing musing, and over the past week I've written FIVE (yes, FIVE) pages of metrical poetry about the San Juan Spruce, but really, about feeling displaced, and coming to accept and celebrate the fact that the world migrates, and with the world, our bodies, too, move.

So, thanks, COR, for inspiring me. That rejection letter... gosh, its the gift that keeps on giving. I haven't written this much in such a short time... er... ever?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Encouraging Emails Make Me Feel All Warm and Fuzzy Inside

:-D

Today, I got an email from none other than Molly Peacock!

If you've read my West Chester Saga, you'll know the story: Girl decides to wear six inch heals, Girl gets caught in Philadelphia rain, Girl meets poet, Poet offers girl ride, girl feels giddy and talks poet's ear off, etc etc...

Well long story short, Molly wanted to read my thesis. A few weeks ago (After taking an nth glance at it myself) I send it her way. And she got back to me today with some very encouraging comments.

:-D

Molly's pretty much my poetic idol. I've loved her poetry for... er... ever? And then when I met her, I was so unbelievably impressed with her as a person, too. Ok, so I have a poetry crush. Get over it. No, I can't get over it.

Anyway, this made my day. In other slightly less interesting news, I've received two rejection letters today and I really don't care.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rejection that Doesn't Hurt Too Too Bad


Yes, this rejection letter went up on the fridge. 

It came in the mail yesterday, from Crab Orchard Review.

I sent in my submission back in the dinosaur days when I still bought stamps, oh, 250 days ago. (note to self: buy stamps again)

The first sentence: "Though your poems weren't selected for publication" and I stopped reading there, folded up the paper, and set it down near the trashcan. I didn't need to read the rest, I didn't get in... what else matters?

Well, a few hours later, after I'd "gotten over it" and perhaps cracked open a certain beverage, I returned to the letter and proceeded to read it in its entirity. Afterall, I had met the editor, Allison Joseph, at West Chester a few months ago. If I loved her poetry and personality, maybe her rejection letters aren't all that bad.

Turns out, its a personal rejection, encouraging me to submit again, and letting me know that I made it to the final round of consideration (hence, the 250 day wait for a response, because it was in that ever illusive "maybe pile"). It also mentioned congrats on my recent pubs.

From a fantastic journal like COR, a tiered/personal rejection is something to celebrate. So celebrate I did, and put it up on my fridgie reminding me that I'm getting closer to where I want to be. I just have to keep chugga luggin'.


Friday, July 15, 2011

A Few Pics from Carinos

As promised!


Ileana Garcia-Spitz once again took some great photos of the event. Love love love the way she does it!

 Me!


Brenda Nettles Riojas

Edward Vidaurre, the man who put is all together.

Me, again.

Ed Clint, the talented guitarist, songwriter, poet.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Conte

Ok so my life's once again filled with poems.

First, I'll begin with the best news. Conte will be publishing my poem, "South Texas Lawn Song." Conte's actually the only place I sent the piece, since it was so new! I've never had a poem accepted on its first run, so this is super encouraging. This summer, my poetic style is kind of morphing, and I think this is a sign that its morphing in a good direction. "South Texas Lawn Song" is different from my other poems, and took forrreverrr to get perfect. But now its perfect, and will be in a wonderful journal :-) The best part is that Conte is an ejournal, so you'll be able to read it right when it comes out. Yay!

In other good news: I'm going to be interviewed! That's right, Brenda Nettles Riojas, the voice of Corozon Bilingue on our local public radio station, KMBH 88.1, asked me if I'd be willing to appear on her show sometime in the near future. I'll have details to come. But meantime, check out their website here! Brenda's interviewed a host of great poets, including Amalia Ortiz, Viola Canales, and Kamala Platt.

And in other news? Ah. Last night!

Twas a great success at Carinos. Again, I've been reading my new poetry as opposed to my older stuff, and I think its going over well. I mean, my new poems aren't so much spoken word type pieces, and I feel a bit out of place reading them... but... that's what I'm passionate about right now! So that's what I read, actually, "South Texas Lawn Song," a new metrical piece (gasp), and one old poem, "Original Sin" which you can check out on Writers of the Rio Grande. I had to leave the reading a bit early (since my parents were with me and were getting antsy), but for me, the highlight of the night was hearing Ed Clint play his original music, Narco Train. It was awesome!! But you can hear him here.

So once I find some pictures, I'll post. I'm pretty sure someone took pictures, and I'll be checking Facebook.

Was a great 24 hours for the poet Katie. Can't wait to see what's next ;)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Breakwater Review Issue is Live!

So now you have another place to access my lovely work on the net! Check out Breakwater Review Issue 5. Please do it right now I promise you won't regret it.

And if that's not enough Katie poetry for you, may I also send you here: to the Writers of the Rio Grande website, where they've reprinted Chocolate Sundae. That's one of my favorites to read, since its about ice cream and other delicious things (like boys). 

In other Katie news, I'm going to be reading at the next Carino's Cares event! Here's all the juicy details:


Time
Wednesday, July 13 · 7:00pm - 10:00pm

Location
Carino's Italian
421 E. Nolana Loop
McAllen, TX




More Info
Enjoy an incredible night of Poetry paired with Pasta & Vino.

Our MC for this special engagement is:

Brenda Nettles-Riojas

Brenda Nettles Riojas is the author of La Primera Voz Que Oí. She is working on her MFA in creative writing through the University of New Orleans and has completed residencies in Spain, México, and Italy. She is a founder of the Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival.

The non-profit benefiting from this special night is RGV Educational Broadcasting, Inc. It is a nonprofit corporation, which operates KMBH-DT38, KMBH-FM 88.9, KHID-FM 88.1 - the Rio Grande Valley's PBS and NPR affiliates and provides a variety of educational programming and services.



And if you're looking for something to do tomorrow, Dr. Jose Rodriguez, a fancy poet from SUNY, will be here in El Valle reading at the McAllen Barnes and Noble on Nolana at 4pm. Go. You won't regret it. I read with Jose before he was Dr.and before he had a book to his name. He was pretty much awesome back in the day, and I'm pretty sure now he's exponentially more awesome.


 In perhaps slightly less interesting news: My attempts to break my coffee addiction have failed miserably. Out of concern for my stomach ulcers, I went coffeeless today, up until about ten minutes ago. I feel like a person again. Bruno says maybe I can still drink coffee, just add milk to balance the acid. So now I'm taking my coffee with a touch of skim. Not bad. It tastes almost just as good as before.


The poetry and ulcer saga will continue... hold on to your seats.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Let's See How Far We've Come...

I had a nice long weekend. Ok, backtrack -- I had a crappy long weekend. I've been sick to my stomach again, so much of my glorious time off was spent in bed. When I was up and about, I was either cleaning the house, or shopping for Bruno's birthday present.

I promise, long winded story will have some significance, ok? I'm even going to quote Anzaldua. So be patient.

On Friday eve, Bruno was feeling a bit antsy having been home with me the entire day. And he suggested we go to the movies. "Fine." I conceed. Whatever, I'm thinking to myself. I'm either about to vomit here, or about to vomit at the theater. What's the diff? He asks me what I want to see, and I tell him it doesn't matter. Whatever he wants. Next time, I'll choose!

Bruno, being a man, wants to see Transformers III. Under normal circumstances, I would have wildly protested. But, eh, fine. Let's go.

So off we go to the movies! $25 later we're in seated in the theater, making sure to choose two seats where you can get rid of that pesky arm rest in the middle. After ages of commercials for movies I'll never want to see, Transformers III begins. And guess what the lovely opening scene is?

A woman's butt. Yeah. In tiny panties. Her butt is in 3D. I laugh. This is going to be a long night. I vow to watch the remainder of the movie very carefully, through a feminist lense. This will keep me awake!

The movie was God-awful. I think it was written by a post-modernist with a brain cell deficiency, a post-modernist who, mind you, doubles as a misogynist and has no exposure to ethnic minorities other than what he sees in B rated movies. I almost vomit twice, thanks to the absolutely nausiating dialogue.

Anyway, the next day I'm left with this horrible taste in my mouth. I live in the world of books. I'm the first to admit it. Its a "la la land" of theory, stories, and poetics. And in my own little world, women are multi-dimensional in a very different sense than in Transformers III.

So I'm feeling a bit sad. In a post-feminist world, post-colonial world, we, as a people, have access to so much knowledge. We've got Julia Kristeva, Judith Butler, Gloria Anzaldua. And on the surface, there's equality for all. But all you have to do is step out of your world of ideas, into the everyday, and the ugliness is there. Women are sex objects, passive, meek, and useless for anything other than their bodies. And how about African Americans? Why, they're the meat and muscle behind the white boy's brains. At least, that's the world depicted in Transfermers III, and it made me sick.

Anyway, so today I'm reading up for my south Texas lit class. And I'm reading Anzaldua, and come across this passage from Borderlands:
 "...the white culture emphasizes that we are all equal, men and women. However, underneath all that there is this violence against women, all this negative stuff about women. So if you can see through that illusion, through those cracks, you can see to that reality."
So yeah, you tell it, Gloria. Remind us that we have so much farther to go. And really, all this poetry, art, theory, philosophy, literature, how far has it taken us? How many more people will watch these movies than read your books, or Bhaba's or Said's or Butler's or Foucault's? It's a sad reality, and welcome to it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Good News!

Another one of my poems will be featured in the summer 2011 issue of Breakwater Review.

Hooray! Hooray!

This particular poem, "The Cornfields," has gone through so many revisions... so I'm excited to see the final version in print. It was originally a poem written about one of my students as a teaching in Santa Rosa, but its morphed into... something else...

Of course, link will promptly be posted here on mi blogita once its published.

Alongside "The Cornfields" will be "What They Told the Girl with Bite Marks on Her Lips," another poem that began as me writing about a student and morphed into... something else... slightly more sinister.

What's my problem? LOL. I think I need to go back into teaching public school. I got some good material there, and then grad school morphed my brain into an organ that thinks rather strangely.

On a lighter note:

I gave a presentation yesterday on Caballero. But I got so caught up in the romance and drama of the book, I think I forgot to mention more important things (like my post colonial reading of it, and a Marxist POV). I love the sensational. I read with my uterus first. Got a problem?

LOL. Like I said, grad school gave me some strange thoughts. And then I'm kind enough to share them with YOU :-D

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Caballero and Feeding the Birds

Yesterday I finished reading Jovita Gonzalez's Caballero.

Wahhh

It was a great book, great great great indeed I would have been sad to finish it, were it not assigned reading.

Over the past few years, I've read a lot of books (ok, so not ENOUGH but still I'm always reading...something). I'm noticing a trend...

My favorite books are either

A. Historical Fiction or

B. Romantic

No, not romance, romantic, BIG difference (as I discussed with my younger brother recently).

And some are both. And that was Caballero.

Wahhh....

I think I cried twice while reading the book, it was just so good...

Which brings me to my next point - good books make me cry. They do, I know its stereotypically sentimental woman of me but whatever. That's who I am and I'm ok with it.

Anyway, there's much more to Caballero than just romance, though. It's about colonializm, class, feminism, machismo... there's war and there's death and there's life and birth, its vivid and colorful and I just love the way Gonzalez describes everything. The characters are dynamic and you can't help but fall in love with them.

So, read the book, ok? Especially if you're like me and live in the Rio Grande Valley. I'm estimating Rancho de Palma (where the story takes place) was like, right where my house is. Ok, its fiction so it didn't really exist, but still.

Anyway, I'll leave you with this thought. In the eyes of this highly educated feminist, I still love romantic books that make me cry. Ok, there, I said it. I'm a sentimental sap. And there's nothing nothing nothing wrong with that.

Go read the book. Now.

Or, read this poem, which gets me to thinking about my grandma, who recently passed away.



Letters from a Father


by Mona Van Duyn





I



Ulcerated tooth keeps me awake, there is

such pain, would have to go to the hospital to have

it pulled or would bleed to death from the blood thinners,

but can't leave Mother, she falls and forgets her salve

and her tranquilizers, her ankles swell so and her bowels

are so bad, she almost had a stoppage and sometimes

what she passes is green as grass. There are big holes

in my thigh where my leg brace buckles the size of dimes.

My head pounds from the high pressure. It is awful

not to be able to get out, and I fell in the bathroom

and the girl could hardly get me up at all.

Sure thought my back was broken, it will be next time.

Prostate is bad and heart has given out,

feel bloated after supper. Have made my peace

because am just plain done for and have no doubt

that the Lord will come any day with my release.

You say you enjoy your feeder, I don't see why

you want to spend good money on grain for birds

and you say you have a hundred sparrows, I'd buy

poison and get rid of their diseases and turds.





II



We enjoyed your visit, it was nice of you to bring

the feeder but a terrible waste of your money

for that big bag of feed since we won't be living

more than a few weeks long. We can see

them good from where we sit, big ones and little ones

but you know when I farmed I used to like to hunt

and we had many a good meal from pigeons

and quail and pheasant but these birds won't

be good for nothing and are dirty to have so near

the house. Mother likes the redbirds though.

My bad knee is so sore and I can't hardly hear

and Mother says she is hoarse from yelling but I know

it's too late for a hearing aid. I belch up all the time

and have a sour mouth and of course with my heart

it's no use to go to a doctor. Mother is the same.

Has a scab she thinks is going to turn to a wart.





III



The birds are eating and fighting, Ha! Ha! All shapes

and colors and sizes coming out of our woods

but we don't know what they are. Your Mother hopes

you can send us a kind of book that tells about birds.

There is one the folks called snowbirds, they eat on the ground,

we had the girl sprinkle extra there, but say,

they eat something awful. I sent the girl to town

to buy some more feed, she had to go anyway.







IV



Almost called you on the telephone

but it costs so much to call thought better write.

Say, the funniest thing is happening, one

day we had so many birds and they fight

and get excited at their feed you know

and it's really something to watch and two or three

flew right at us and crashed into our window

and bang, poor little things knocked themselves silly.

They come to after while on the ground and flew away.

And they been doing that. We felt awful

and didn't know what to do but the other day

a lady from our Church drove out to call

and a little bird knocked itself out while she sat

and she bought it in her hands right into the house,

it looked like dead. It had a kind of hat

of feathers sticking up on its head, kind of rose

or pinky color, don't know what it was,

and I petted it and it come to life right there

in her hands and she took it out and it flew. She says

they think the window is the sky on a fair

day, she feeds birds too but hasn't got

so many. She says to hang strips of aluminum foil

in the window so we'll do that. She raved about

our birds. P.S. The book just come in the mail.







V



Say, that book is sure good, I study

in it every day and enjoy our birds.

Some of them I can't identify

for sure, I guess they're females, the Latin words



I just skip over. Bet you'd never guess

the sparrow I've got here, House Sparrow you wrote,

but I have Fox Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Vesper Sparrows,

Pine Woods and Tree and Chipping and White Throat

and White Crowned Sparrows. I have six Cardinals,

three pairs, they come at early morning and night,

the males at the feeder and on the ground the females.

Juncos, maybe 25, they fight

for the ground, that's what they used to call snowbirds. I miss

the Bluebirds since the weather warmed. Their breast

is the color of a good ripe muskmelon. Tufted Titmouse

is sort of blue with a little tiny crest.

And I have Flicker and Red-Bellied and Red-

Headed Woodpeckers, you would die laughing

to see Red-Bellied, he hangs on with his head

flat on the board, his tail braced up under,

wing out. And Dickcissel and Ruby Crowned Kinglet

and Nuthatch stands on his head and Veery on top

the color of a bird dog and Hermit Thrush with spot

on breast, Blue Jay so funny, he will hop

right on the backs of the other birds to get the grain.

We bought some sunflower seeds just for him.

And Purple Finch I bet you never seen,

color of a watermelon, sits on the rim

of the feeder with his streaky wife, and the squirrels,

you know, they are cute too, they sit tall

and eat with their little hands, they eat bucketfuls.

I pulled my own tooth, it didn't bleed at all.







VI



It's sure a surprise how well Mother is doing,

she forgets her laxative but bowels move fine.

Now that windows are open she says our birds sing

all day. The girl took a Book of Knowledge on loan

from the library and I am reading up

on the habits of birds, did you know some males have three

wives, some migrate some don't. I am going to keep

feeding all spring, maybe summer, you can see

they expect it. Will need thistle seed for Goldfinch and Pine

Siskin next winter. Some folks are going to come see us

from Church, some bird watchers, pretty soon.

They have birds in town but nothing to equal this.





So the world woos its children back for an evening kiss.


Geez that ending is fantastic. How come I can't close em like that?

Anyway, the little things in life, like feeding the birds, make it worthwhile. Bruno recently bought a bird feeder, and he religously feeds them. When he was grieving about a year back, he really took comfort in gardening and tending to the yard. It's beautiful, because of his grief. Eh. That's another poem, for another day.