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Showing posts from 2016

2016, A Recap

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Well there she is, my 2016 in publications.
Let me begin by saying that I KNOW 2016 sucked for so many individuals. Right now, I think the everyone is kind of collectively giving the year the finger, for various reasons, including a slough of celebrity deaths, a crazy election, and of course war.
I get that. I really do. But personally, 2016 has been a wonderful year and I am so grateful to have lived through it. I'm the same person I was in 2015, though perhaps a little wiser. Maybe turning thirty does that to a person. I actually see the value in the cumulative lessons life has taught me so far, and I feel excited, enthusiastic, and dare I say optimistic, looking forward to the new year.
Ok, enough of that. Let's talk about poetry. Above, you'll see a few publications. I started the tradition a few years back of taking a photo of my writerly accomplishments and posting them here and on facebook as a kind of chronicle of my journey. It helps me reflect on what the year h…

Updates from the Katie Sphere!

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Oh man oh man oh man...
It's been awhile since my last update. Of course, semester busy-ness happened. Teaching. Conferences. Grading.
And uhhh... I turned 30.
And I ran a marathon.
And I applied to five different PhD programs.
And yet another health scare.
And Christmas.

And now here I am, on the other side of the madness, surviving and thriving and finally getting back into a writing routine. Fall was a good semester, I must admit. Here's a little run-down on what happened since I last left off:

So, toward the end of August, just as the semester was firing up again, I got some wonderful news: I was awarded a writing residency! I was named the Langdon Review Writer in Residence, and I'll be completing my residency next August in SCOTLAND. That's right. SCOTLAND. I was so excited to get the news and I'm very excited to embark on this new adventure. It's right around the corner!

Then, in September, I had to head up to Granbury for their annual Langdon Review Week…

Back at work!

So, today was my first day back at work for the fall 2016 semester.

It was a little bittersweet. Ok, more bitter than sweet. It's going to take a bit of an adjustment to get back into the swing of things, apparently. Even though it was just for a meeting/professional development, the day felt crazy long for my body. Ugh. Maybe it's because last night I ran six miles. Maybe it's because I'm not used to getting out of bed before 10am. Maybe it's because today I had to sit for about five hours, which I'm not used to, which means my back gets achy. Anyway, whatever. I'm wiped out.

This isn't exactly an ideal start to the semester, but hopefully by the time my actual classes begin on Monday, I'll be used to it again. I figure now's as good as a time as any to set up some goals for the semester.

1. Perhaps most importantly, I want to keep up my routine of writing. I want to be able to produce something every week, to make measurable progress. I think …

Summertime Reflection

Ah, yes, it's about that time of the year...

My work email is bustling once again, the school buses wind through my cul-du-sac every morning and afternoon, and I'm digging out my syllabi with a mixture of elation and dread. Yesterday, while revamping my Rhetoric and Composition syllabus, I had some sort of a mini-panic attack as I pieced together my semester. Yikes.

Before moving onto the next phase, it's important for me to reflect on the season that's passing. As a writing teacher, I'm always stressing the importance of self-reflection. So, it's time for me to practice what I preach, although, really, this blog is like one big enormous public self-reflection on my writing self. 

This summer began a bit rocky, but in the end, I think it's been my best, most productive, most fulfilling (creatively... and let's face it, otherwise too) yet. I eased into a routine of daily writing. I learned that inspiration is a habit, a muscle. I wrote like a madwoman, spen…

Collaborations and Ekphrasis

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This summer has been amazingly fruitful. Amazingly.

I'm not really sure how or why, but I've just been on a roll lately in terms of inspiration and a simple will to write. It's been insane. Seriously. I feel like I have a little idea generator going on inside me and I can't shut it off. Not that I'd want to, of course. It's so easy to chalk it all up to magic, some external muse that keeps me going and going, but I think it's a little more complex than that.

First of all, of course, I had a clear(ish) direction of my manuscript in the beginning of these summer months and a real desire to wrap it up. That motivation carried me through all of May, June and the second half of July. When I finally handed it off and declared it done, though, I wasn't really left with that "now what?" feeling.

I think the reason is quite serendipitous, actually. As I was finishing up my summer class, I received a curious email from an artist who was working on her …

Summertime Submission Tally

Well, one of my goals this summer was to send out more submissions. I wanted to submit to at least 20 venues. Let's see how I did. Here are the venues I submitted to from May 1st through today!

1. Cimarron Review (Rejected)
2. Codex (pending)
3. Switchgrass Review (Accepted!)
4. FRiGG (Rejected)
5. Hermeneutric (Rejected)
6. Southwestern Review (pending)
7. Rattle (pending)
8. Summerset (Pending)
9. Blue Earth Review (pending)
10. Bat City (rejected)
11. Panoply (rejected)
12. Lunch Ticket (pending)
13. Collagist (Pending)
14. Autumn Sky (rejected)
15. Adriot (rejected)
16. TAB (pending)
17. Waccamaw (pending)
18. Alyss (Accepted!)
19. Poetry South (pending)
20. New Yorker (dreaming)
21. Poetry (dreaming)
22. Concho River Review (Accepted)
23. Rust Moth (rejected)
24. Indianola (Accepted!)
25. Barcopa (Rejected)
26. The Journal (rejected)
27. Redactions (pending)
28. Swamp Ape (pending)
29. Account (pending)
30. Qu (pending)
31. Southern Poetry Review (pending)
32. Thrush (reject)

Edward's Book Release Party

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What a blast of an evening!
Last Wednesday, August 3rd, I had the pleasure of throwing my good friend, Edward Vidaurre, a book release party. We'd been planning this sucker for a little over a month now, and it was so wonderful to see it all come to fruition. Numerous special guests took the stage, including PW Covington, Brian Allen Carr, Odilia Galvan Rodriguez, Julieta Corpus, Cesar De Leon and Daniel Garcia Ordaz. We had about fifty or so people in attendance.
Edward, of course, gave an amazing reading as per always.
We also had a wonderful musical guest, Mr. Jose Sanchez, perform for us. 
I was the M.C! Or the G.C -- I hate the word "mistress" of ceremonies, so I'm changing it to Goddess of ceremonies.
Anyway, I don't think there was a better way to spend a summer evening than on the patio, drinking good beer, in the best company imaginable. Was it a lot of work? You betcha it was. Will I do it again? Of course. My next event is already in the works! Likely…

FORTHCOMING: The Lost Chronicles of Slue Foot Sue

So it's official(ish!) 
My next manuscript, The Lost Chronicles of Slue Foot Sue, has been accepted for publication by Lamar University Literary Press and is slated for release in early 2017. 
Commence the happy dancing!
I'm incredibly proud of of this manuscript. Truly. 
The book revisions tales from Texas folklore from a contemporary feminist perspective and provides some much needed context to the women of legend in the state. I know I've been yapping on and on about the book over here on the blog as it's gone from little idea to full fledged manuscript and all spaces in between, but it really has been an incredible, educational, and downright enjoyable journey for me. I'm confident in this book, and I'm excited to see what the world thinks of it.
I last left off at the point of restructuring the order of my poems, which I spent a couple of days doing. The result was a four chapter piece, each chapter concentrating on a separate legend. The new structure, I …

Gemini Ink, Malvern Books, and Other Adventures

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Let me just begin this post by saying how incredibly blessed I am to 1. have such amazing writer friends and 2. have the ability to travel and see said friends. How fortunate am I to have found a home here in the Texas literary community? Very.

The past week was a testament to that. I've been on the road reading, learning, and exploring, and it's been so refreshing. Let me give you a quick rundown of my literary excursion with some pictures.

Last Thursday, Bruno and I left our humble little abode for the wide and open road. I had a few things on my "to do" list, and some spare time for, well, let's call it inspired travel. We spent Thursday on the road, heading up to San Antonio from Edinburg. On Friday morning, I was scheduled to speak on a panel at the Gemini Ink writer's conference, so I was a little nervous.

Friday morning comes around and I arrive at the Tropicana Hotel on the San Antonio Riverwalk. The first thing on my agenda is to get settled in and c…

Manuscript Update

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There's my manuscript. There she is in all her neat and pretty glory. Oh, oh, oh, she is a deceptive little turd. I made this image using word cloud, a neat little website that makes a design out of a word or pdf file. I decided, what the heck, I'll pop my manuscript in there, maybe it'll take my mind off the craziness it's become. And it spits out this pretty little neat thing that looks so simple.

Chaos. That's what she is. Chaos!

I spent today futzing with the book again, the order and the structure, and, well, I think I broke it.

And I'm having this crisis as I'm gathering my notes for a talk I'm giving in San Antonio on how to put together a manuscript. I'm going to walk into the conference room and be all like, hey everyone, I have no idea what I'm doing, but here's some advice

:)

Actually, this is a perfect opportunity for me to reflect on the process of putting together a book. This latest collection has posed a few challenges for m…

In the Works! A Book Release Party!

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I'm excited (And a little nervous) to announce that I'll be putting together a book release party for my good friend, Edward Vidaurre, in early August at Schneider's Gasthaus. My neighbors recently purchased the restaurant from the previous owner (who also allowed me to host readings there from time to time), and have been asking me to put together an event with the local poets since day one. Being a little preoccupied with life, I'd been putting it off, until a couple of weeks ago, while sitting on the Gasthaus patio enjoying a beer, the owner approached me again with a frown on his face. "You ever going to bring your poet friends, Katie?"
...
Ok, ok, ok, you twisted my arm, not that it really needed much twisting.
Depending on how this reading and release party goes, I'm toying with the idea of making this a semi-regular thing. Maybe a Books and Beer quarterly reading, celebrating new books released by local authors. Dunno. I get super busy and during …

Laughs with Friends

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On Saturday, I was fortunate enough to attend a little gathering with two poet friends, Julieta Corpus and Rodney Gomez, to write and chat about humorous verse. These are two poets whose work I admire greatly, and it was a wonderful opportunity to just chat, write, and maybe most importantly, laugh together.

Our discussions got me thinking a little bit on the idea of humorous verse, so I'll share some thoughts here just for the sake of recording them. First of all, Julieta, who organized the little get together, said that, in her little research for our workshop, she'd found that there was really a dearth of humorous poetry written for adults. A lot of the silly poetry was written for a younger audience. Secondly, humorous poetry tended to be more formal in that it adhered to conventions of rhyme and meter more strictly than more serious poetry, in general of course.

Julieta was left wondering -- why don't more poets write silly poetry, get in touch with their silly side?…

Open Mics... Keepin' it Real

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A couple of days ago, I had the pleasure of attending an open mic poetry event in Harlingen at The Prelude. This venue was totally new to me, and in the end, I'm really glad I took the plunge and headed out.
I typically don't do open mics -- they often are an odd assortment of readers, and you never know what kind of tone or environment you're stepping into as a poet. The opposite of an open mic, I suppose, is a curated poetry reading with poets invited by a specific host who sets the tone, theme, and mood. Open mics are a mixed bag, a chance, but the result can be really wonderful (or really shitty for that matter).
This event, though, was far more on the wonderful side of the scale. It was hosted by Julieta Corpus, who is a good friend of mine from back in my MFA days. I was feeling pretty lousy that day -- I know this is becoming a constant on my blog, but I'd been struggling with some health issues again this week. Harlingen is also about an hour drive from where …

Journals that Pay for Poetry Book Reviews

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Aside from being a poet, I also write book reviews. I think reviewing poetry collections has helped me to see how they work, how they come together, what makes them gel and maybe not gel. So it makes me better at what I do.

In the past, I've written reviews for Inside Higher Ed, and it was a paying gig. That's kind of dried up, but I've continued writing book reviews for free, mostly to just finish up any commitments I'd made to review certain books. And plus, I read a lot anyway, so this practice of reviewing helps me to not only plow through books, but also reflect on them. It slows me down.
And plus, it's good literary citizenship. And maybe I get karma points?
Anyway, aside from all of this, it's time consuming. To think about what a book DOES and how it works doesn't just happen. I'm not that smart, people (I know, I know, big shock right?). To write a decent review, I typically have to read a book at least twice, and I have to mull it over, agoni…

Manuscript Musings

I have to say, I've been enjoying my summer vacation so far. 
I know, I know, I'm only about a week in, but so far, so good! I've been writing everyday. Every. single. day. I get up, make coffee, write. And everyday that writing has been fruitful. What an amazing feeling! Most of what I've been doing is sifting through and cleaning up my Napowrimo poems from last month, but also generating some new material along the way. For the past two days, I've been working on a new mini series of poems about Lobo Girl, the feral child legend of southwest Texas. I think her narrative will fit nicely into my Slue Foot Sue narrative, braided together so to speak. They're both feminist reimaginings of masculinized folklore, that celebrate "wild" women who defy the rules. 
Speaking of my book... this week I've also taken a critical look at it, reorganized it, and trimmed it back a bit. I like its new shape. I decided to take out the "body" themed poems …

Summer Starts... Today!

Oh summer vacation, you couldn't come soon enough :)

Today was my first "official" day of summer vacation. Yesterday, I spent the entire day (literally) finishing up grades and posting them. I went to bed so exhausted, so spent and grouchy that when I awoke this morning, I didn't quite realize what that all meant -- that I'm now totally obligation free for the next month.

Whaat?

It really hasn't sunk in. Maybe on Monday morning I'll wake up and feel free...

So what do I have going on this summer?

A few things.

Actually, tomorrow I'm really excited to visit my old high school and serve as their "keynote" poet for their poetry night. It's kinda special to me, actually, because, like so many youngsters, I did my very first poetry reading at this same poetry night in 2003... that's... too many years ago to count. Lately, I've actually begun really ENJOYING school visits. In the past, I really hadn't and only did them because it&#…

Napowrimo 30

I think this is the first time I've ever successfully completed NAPOWRIMO! Woot woot!

The Goddess Washes Dishes
She washes them by hand – she wants to feel This quintessential part of life, this scrubbing away Of assemblages of coal, garlic, potato skin, the peeling of of gossamers of grease, this unraveling of everything that baked inside the bottom of the pan, refused to let go. She scrapes it all away, she lets it soak, she hums along with the tintinnabulation of water meeting water, pooling redolent, scented with the dulcet smell of pomegranate soap.
She breathes it in, finds peace in this dance Of hands and sponge and dinner plate, And salad bowl. She sighs with satisfaction As the flip on the garbage disposal swallowing everything that ever ailed her
Down its hatch with a mellifluous groan.

I can't say I'm incredibly proud of any of my poems, but some do show promise. Let May be the month of picking up the pieces, of finding something beautiful in these shards.

Napowrimo 29

Today's task, the day 30 prompt, was to translate a poem. I've always been afraid of translating, but I took a swing at it today.

The Rainy Day
At least that was the story, shit. The headlights and fender were torn off – Clean. The adjuster came, two hours Later – the Other, Arrived. What shit, what money, these things of life create -- The deductible, the rain and the train, when I would go to yoga with serene karma, a Tibetan monk
The rain, days of rain-soaked plumage, What is it going to create? A café, three readings, receptions, Concentrating on the money coming and going between buses that stops
Books, breath
Rain of grammatical indulgence, Snug, Breathing, Words that fall closer To the adjuster that faces the headlights
What a defense

Napowrimo 28

This is in response to the backwards story. Whenever I'm at a loss for words, I write about Eve. She never fails to inspire me. Here's her story, backwards. It might be interesting to play with this further.
Returning to Eden
She never looked back. She regretted nothing, knew it had to end this way as her bare feet stepped from carpet grass to brambles. She felt pleasure blossom in her heart as it fluttered. Her lips stained with mauve, She licked them clean. Juice dribbled from mouth to chin, Down her chest, marking her beautiful To herself. She brought the fruit To her lips, a plum, a pomegranate, An apple, a pear, the details Depend on who’s doing the telling, But always it was juicy, always It was sweet, always it was red Red, the color of fire and flame, Desire. She plucked it from the tree In a single tug. It fit perfectly In her palm, designed for her. The color red flashed against the green, So much green, so little of anything else. She could smell the ripened fles…

Napowrimo 27

Will I get caught up?! Maybe! My weekend looks pretty free :)

Today's prompt was to write a poem about something you remember.
I remember as a kid my dad always had cut fruit ready for snacking on the kitchen counters. Always. Without fail. I'm a fruitaholic, though I'm also a very lazy person. This typically results in me wanting fruit but not wanting to go through the work of washing, slicing, and storing. I know, how ridiculous, right? So I thought of that this afternoon while prepping a melon.

Slicing a Melon One Spring Afternoon
I remember eating melon as a child, How miraculous the slices appeared On the kitchen table, the color of sunset, The color of meadow, the color of blush.
Always fruit on the table. How did it get there? My father, standing at the kitchen counter, Always chopping. How blissful to live In this land of plenty. I remember this today,
As I stand at my kitchen counter, Halving the world of a musk melon Along its meridian.
There is a part of me tha…

Napowrimo 25 and an update

Life. It's got me again.

I've had some health issues again this week that have got me sidetracked, more mentally than anything else.

On Sunday evening, I had the strangest experience. For about fifteen minutes, I lost my ability to speak in full sentences, my ability to see out of one eye, and then the feeling on the same side of my face and arm. It was incredibly scary. The feeling passed and I was ok (I'm still ok) but it scared the crap out of me.

If you know me, you know I hate going to the doctor, so I went home and hoped I'd feel normal in the morning. And I did, only, I was really worried and scared, and I couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong with me. I put off going to the doctor until Tuesday morning and went to my family doctor, who scared the bejeezus out of me by telling me I'd had a stroke. A mini-stroke. He didn't want to alarm me, he said, but it is very serious. He said if anything, anything like that ever happens again, it…