2004 - 2009
Today was Gideon's Halloween party at preschool. I was in charge of organizing it. Over the weekend, we had dinner at Al's and I told him about the gift bags Gideon and I were putting together. We decorated orange bags with ghosts, pumpkins, black cats, glitter -- and filled them with stickers, spider rings and candy. Gideon and I had a lot of fun doing it. Al didn't think it sounded very fun. Al thinks I've become really lame. Al alluded to a time when he believed I once hated children. Al thinks I was much more fun when I was all god damn kids this and that. Then Al took me upstairs to show me his new industrial sewing machine, complete with oil pan.
In the last 24 hours I dreamed of a disagreement over nail polish, poetry books not selling, a home invasion, a dragon who wanted to talk about one of my books, a brain in a jar, violent unrest in Washington DC, me getting shot in the hip, a strange man answering Chris' phone and telling me he's not available, a cab driver who accepted $2, some foreign coins and strange carved tablets as fare then turned into a frightening woman involved with Chris' disappearance -- and lastly, being woken by a dream (in my dream) in my dorm room at the AWP conference (which I don't want to attend in the "waking" dimension).
Rigoberto Gonzalez interviews Rebecca Loudon:
My ideal reader is a person who has suffered, who feels apart, who has known trauma, and who is capable of honestly engaging with the lot they've been handed. Everyone has suffered, but some people are willing to embrace the forest that surrounds us, some are not. Many readers prefer the tranquil, the pastoral, the serene. These are not usually my readers. The groundbreaking photographer Diane Arbus once wrote of her work, "There's a quality of legend about freaks. Like a person in a fairy tale who stops you and demands that you answer a riddle. Most people go through life dreading they'll have a traumatic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma. They've already passed their test in life. They're aristocrats." (From Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph). I think perhaps Diane's aristocrats are my ideal readers.
Every few weeks or so random poets will ask me to suggest presses to send their manuscripts. I try to think of suitable publishers, refer them to places like Press Press Press where they can peruse the latest titles from a number of small presses they may be unfamiliar with. I understand the frustration of "breaking in," many presses are not open to unsolicited submissions or charge considerable reading or contest fees. As I stated here a number of times, presses do this because they don't sell enough books and have to come up with additional ways to generate income. Go back to August 2008 on this blog if you missed my discussion on this subject. I understand why contests exist -- but I think they're a really poor solution to this problem. A few people took my statements to be attacks on them as poets and human beings, somehow identifying themselves personally with the contest system that I criticized. I found this bizarre and disconcerting -- almost as if certain people were part of a group identifying as "contest poets" and considered my criticisms on a system to be attacks on their identities or lifestyles or . . . To be honest, I'm not really sure because it came across that so much of this response was something totally different projected on what I said. It was impossible to have a discussion that didn't result in a lot of rage sent back my way. I'm a not interested in delving into that abyss, I don't have the psychological training. If you love contests or just think they're the right thing for you, go on with your bad self. I have NO problem with you.
Chris and Gideon carved a pumpkin this afternoon. Gideon insisted on a happy face. A happy face is much better, he says. Chris unintentionally wore the same shirt he wore last year. Or at least he claims it was unintentional. He owns 50 t-shirts, at least. What are the statistics on that, Sam?
People keep asking about you, Sam. But don't worry, I'm not gonna tell them about the time you fried all those pens in your skillet. That was a long time ago and you're a professional now.
Remember that time we threw the "Welcome Back Ivan" party at your place and I cooked a turkey dinner? Remember how Ivan watched the pay-per-view boxing match instead? Remember how upset I got that the party sucked and nobody showed any appreciation for the turkey dinner? And how I left early and went back to my apartment? Do you know what happened after that? Chris, Al and Herb showed up an hour later and said they ordered a Dominos pizza. I thought they were joking. That was just a year after I marched on Washington carrying a "Nobody Likes Dominos" sign. Mere months after my domestic terrorism against Dominos on campus. But no, they weren't joking, they truly ordered Dominos to be delivered to MY home. Do you know how hurt I was? It was like Chris and Al didn't know me. I put my soul into a turkey dinner which they accepted and consumed and . . . absolutely nothing. To them it was just another tasty meal on par with a Dominos fucking pizza. I yelled, "How dare you fuckers bring right-wing Dominos into MY home. GET OUT!" Rarely a day goes by when I don't experience that same twinge of disbelief and pain. You think I'm still talking about Dominos, don't you?
As I follow your liveblogging of the presidential debate, I'm reminded of the time in college when we were mistakenly invited to the White House Universal Healthcare pitch to talk radio people during the early days of the Clinton administration. I'm not thinking about the second day when Tom Brokaw rubbed my back or our rude brush with Mr. WOLF who-the-fuck-ever-blitzer. I'm thinking about what we were wearing on the first day. I was wearing a pea-soup green and black houndstooth blazer two sizes too big that my grandmother gave me. You didn't own a tie and I said I'd get one from one of my ex or current boyfriends, but forgot. B was there too and I don't remember what she was wearing, but she was a college Republican so surely she owned a plethora of suitable outfits. When we got to DC we bought you a tie off the street. When we got to DC we discovered none of us knew how to tie a tie. Well, you said you did, but it would take an hour to knot it. When we got to DC we stood in the security line outside of the Old Executive Building with all the other talk show hosts as you held your tie in your hand slowly making your knot. B snapped, "Either put that tie on or put it away, you look ridiculous." Inside the Old Executive Building we heard from a lot of top level officials and learned that Tipper Gore loved to roller blade and when she roller bladed she listened to the RADIO. Inside the Old Executive Building, a talk show host implied President Bill Clinton had a venereal disease during the Q&A with Donna Shalala. Then he got into a shouting match with another host and told him to go to hell. Then Donna Shalala, who was standing on a box so she could reach the microphone, told them both to sit down and shut up. While we waited a really long time for President Bill Clinton to appear, the talk show hosts yelled they wanted lunch. While we waited a really long time for President Bill Clinton to appear, B kept telling the other talk show hosts that we were college talk radio hosts. I snapped, "Shut up B, we can fool these assholes."
I don't just dream of poets and presidential candidates. I dream of you too. That means there's a part of my psyche that assigns you to be its symbol. Probably my fact-obsessed, irritating, graph-making part. Oh, I take that back, sort of, well partially, I'm enjoying your electoral college graphs.
Yeah, I never painted a pumpkin with you either, etc. You see where this is going.
Hey, Bruce Covey wrote about me at the Best American Poetry blog. You should check it out and learn all about my wonderfulness.
Today my father bought Gideon a Mister Roger's Neighborhood train set. The train man said the reason Mister Rogers always wore long sleeves was because his arms were covered in tattoos. He said Mister Rogers was a marine in the special forces and killed a bunch of people. The train man said Mister Rogers became a born again Christian after that. The train man also made a big deal about the trains being made in the USA (it's not like we asked) but when we got home we noticed the boxes all said "Made in China." Sometimes people lie for no good reason at all. As a busy mom in these tough times, it's difficult to trust.
This morning we went to a train and toy show at the Monroeville ExpoMart. I never took you to the ExpoMart either. Did you know the ExpoMart is closing? They're building a new one where the Wicks Furniture used to be.
I followed the sound,
the trail of steam.
“Choo choo, you useless slut” cracked the train.
I ate bread crumbs from the ground.
“Choo choo, you’ll never survive on your own.”
I found home,
never realizing the tracks were so close.
“Choo choo, go back to your husband.”
I hope you derail and all your passengers die! I cried.
Today we took Gideon to the Carnegie Science Center. It occurred to me that we never took you to the Carnegie Science Center when we went in college. I should have taken you on that submarine and read poems about 100 men sharing one bathroom. It all could have been so different.
Have you eaten your pets yet? We haven't hit bottom until we've eaten our pets -- oops I mistyped "pets" and typed "poets" by mistake. I fixed it cause I don't want to give you corporate types any ideas. Please don't eat your poets. Even though this is mostly the poets' fault for not writing perfect poems. I'd try writing that perfect poem to transcend your dread, but fear if I did you would eat me. Remember when we were in college and we'd take turns buying one another dinner and you always paid with a credit card? Even though you had thousands of dollars of debt and no way to pay it off? I think it all began there. Instead of going out to dinner I should have bought a bag of Funyuns to share and invited you to my place so I could read poems to you. I'm sorry I didn't write you poems when I had the chance. I wrote a poem for Randy, but not for you. How fucking elitist of me. Now you work for Amazon and it's too late. How did this come to be? Weren't you supposed to grow up and become a physicist?
Trouble and Honey reviewed at Bookslut
Jilly Dybka is a generous poet. I know this because she gives her work away on Lulu.com, as do Bill Knott and others. Poet-editor-blogger Timothy Green claims that Lulu is losing some of its stigma. I don’t know why it should carry any stigma at all. There’s more poetry being written now -- more good poetry -- than foundations can support, presses and webzines can publish, or readers can read. If a writer wants to join the game under such circumstances, self-publishing seems like a fine way to do it. It’s true there is no editor or prize judge acting as a gatekeeper, but this just means that poets and readers must become more attentive
I changed my mind, I am suing. In this economy, I could really use my cut of the $150,000. Preschool ain't cheap.
I am a very powerful poet. I know people. I am connected. My sister, brother-in-law and sister-in-law are lawyers and my husband works for Google which basically means I can file lawsuits all day long and make anyone "virtually" disappear. Snap. Just like that. While it is well within my realm to obliterate certain editors who intentionally attributed a poem that I did not write to my sacred name, I have decided to show mercy to those punks who didn't know who the fuck they were dealing with, Reb Fucking Livingston, that's who!
I don't really know anything about NetGalley, but Lytton Smith writes about what sounds like an unnecessary $400 fee here.
Ok, I will confess, last night I went to the NKOTB concert with Tender Buttons. I was never a fan of the group, by the time they hit the scene I had breasts and didn't have to imagine what it would be like to have a boyfriend. At that time TB didn't have breasts, but once she did get them she didn't need NKOTB either. But they were an important part of her adolescence so when they announced the reunion concert, she became nostalgic and asked if I'd go with her. I became nostalgic for the times I could easily and without effort tease her mercilessly about Donnie. It was a nostalgia event for the both of us . . .
Update: On the way to school this morning Gideon said I could come to the picnic if I brought sandwiches. Yay, he loves me, he really loves me!
Today is the preschool family picnic. We're going even though Gideon specifically told us that he doesn't want us to, that he wants to eat lunch "all by himself."
which means the No Tell Motel reading period is open for the month.
Just a note regarding yesterday's post about the Facebook translator -- a few folks posted or wrote concerned that I was getting too entangled with him. First, thanks to everyone looking out for me -- maybe I overstated the situation, but I haven't invested much time into it. I will e-mail my poems to pretty much anybody who asks, Charlie Manson, Sarah Palin . . . and that's all I did. I get approached by editors on a regular basis, occasionally in strange ways that turn out to be for perfectly legitimate projects. Since I'm used to dealing with this strangeness from poets, I tend to give people more benefit of the doubt than they deserve -- as in this case -- meaning a chance to clarify. But that's all -- and there was no clarification so that's done. No more contact. I might be an asshole, but I'm not a fool. My point which I seem to have poorly demonstrated in that post is that sloppy, lazy correspondence can easily get lumped into this kind of shady correspondence (which I certainly recognized as shady). This is a note to "real" editors, poets and other folks -- don't send requests or official business correspondences to my Facebook (or Goodreads) accounts. You're coming off a lot like that guy -- even if your intent is good. And I am tiring of giving people the benefit of the doubt which means if you don't approach me properly I am gonna disregard your communication.