• School’s Out and I’m California Bound

    First things first!

    New poems (REM,” “Magadalene,” and “Drought”) are up over at Neon Literary Magazine! The REM poem coincides with the dream map that I created in Rikki Ducornet’s class back in the day. And “Magdalene” comes from the liturgical poetry series I’ve been writing. 

    Also, I’ve a brand-spanking new article on the glorious work of Michael Rees over at Weird Fiction Review (Of Men and Monsters and the Wondrous Things In Between). Rees’ 3-D animations consist of surreal hybrids that come to creepy life. 

    dress 4

    As of this week, I finished teaching my final full year at the University of Colorado. To celebrate,  dress 2I decided to take a trip up the west coast, first to see my aunt in San Diego.  Then it is on to Los Angeles on the 11/12 to finally meet the most talented Laurie Lipton (after “knowing” each other for years online) and do some gallery hopping for future Weird Fiction Review articles. Sunday night I get to watch an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere with the most awesome John Remy and Tracie Weisler and a whole merry gang of folk.

    There will also be hard-core beach time, of course, as I am from a land-locked state, and need to see the ocean at least once a year. On the 14th, I’ll drive up to San Francisco and finally do some sight seeing (which I didn’t get to do at the last World Fantasy in San Jose). Also, there is the wonderful Jen Heddle to say hi to, Megan Kurashige to grab drinks with, and general carousing to do with David Edison and possibly Blake Charlton.

    On Thursday, it’s off to the Nebula Awards weekend. Hoping to say hi to as many of my writer, art, and ex-student peeps as I can, so let me know if you’re in town! Also, you’ll get to see me in many colorful sundresses, but that is another blog post altogether.

    After the CA trip, I’m going to WisCon (May 23-27), where I’ll read a story at the Oxford Comma Bonfire on Fri, 9-10:15 at Michelangelos. Then I get to deliver a poem at the Open Secrets poetry reading at 2:30pm on Saturday at Senate B. This will be my first Wiscon, and I am excited to be staying with my Wonder Twin Sofia Samatar (whose Stranger in Olondria just came out!). And then, and then—NYC in July! But more on that later. 

    Ah, me it’s looking to be a very exciting summer, no?

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  • Recap: ICFA, the big move, and new adventures

    Valya and I, image by Andy Duncan

    Valya and me, photo by Andy Duncan

    March was a month of traveling madness, first to NYC for the Armory Arts fairs and then to Orlando for the International Conference on the Fantastic in Arts. The first night there, I got to see Amanda Palmer play her ukulele and serenade the bar with Radiohead’s “Creep.” Very decent way to begin a writer’s conference.

    My reading/panel “Transforming Fact into Fiction” with Greg Bechtel lost two members to the flu, but the amazing Valya Lupescu, author of The Silence of the Trees, stepped in as our third panelist. It was only on the plane to the Florida that I suddenly realized I hadn’t told her it was a reading, too. But Valya was amazing, and read from her novel, and we had a great panel, despite the unforgivable hour (8:30 a.m.) on Thursday. The wondrous Sofia Samatar even got up early to hear us talk about about the intersection of memoir/fiction/myth/and history. It was my first time reading my work at a conference, and it was my first time coming as a writer as opposed to a scholar, so it was really a rather special ICFA.

    Sofia Samatar, Valya Lupescu, me and Kat Howard. Photo by Jim Kelly

    Sofia Samatar, Valya Lupescu, me and Kat Howard. Photo by Jim Kelly

    I also heard the lovely Kat Howard read part of the script from her collaborative project with Megan and Shannon Kurashige, “A Thousand Natural Shocks.” And then saw Dora Goss read (no! perform is a more accurate word) an excerpt from her work in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s anthology, Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells.

    I also wore a lot of cute dresses, if you can’t already tell by the pics. I’m an academic. I’m mostly covered in chalk and hidden away in a classroom, but this conference is held in Orlando, and so I worshipped the sun gods as every writer should when they get the chance.

    Sofia and me

    Sofia and me

     

    One of the highlights of this trip was finally meeting Sofia Samatar, author of the forthcoming A Stranger in Olondria, whom I had recently found on Facebook. But I knew I had found soul mate, when, at last call on our second night of the con, she turned to me and was like, “We need to buy a bottle of wine. What is up with this last call nonsense?” We, of course, closed down the bar that night. And the night after, and the night after. We also went to war for S’mores and bought magic rings our last night in town. Conferences such as this are made for adventures. 

    Kat, Maria, me, Sofia at the Saturday night banquet. Photo by Andy Duncan

    Kat, Maria, me, Sofia at the Saturday night banquet. Photo by Andy Duncan

    Speaking of which, included a possible tornado our last day there. Liz Gorinsky, Maria Dahvanna Headley, Dora, Sofia, and Lara Donnelly and I hunkered down in the Tavern (not for drinks, really, but to get away from the windows). The hotel was nice enough to bring us complimentary champagne and chips while the storm blew over. But it was Jeff and Ann VanderMeer, who rescued Sofia and I since they took the Weird Fiction Review team out to dinner in Winter Park. 

    Jeff VanderMeer, me, Sofia, Ann VanderMeer, Edward Gauvin

    Jeff VanderMeer, me, Sofia, Ann VanderMeer, Edward Gauvin

    Lovely dinner with good wine, laughter, excellent port, and snippets of conversation about a possible future conference on the Weird and Grotesque. It was so fabulous finally getting to meet Edward Gauvin, whose articles I have read over the past year. What a wonderful crew to be a part of, and I can’t wait to see what the next year for Weird Fiction Review bringsAnd serious kudos to Jeff for his book and movies deals!

    US!

    Francesca, Valya, me, and Sophia. This was pre-S’more us

    Now, there were all other sorts of glorious people I got to hang out with, including Chris Barzak, who also has a new book and a movie coming out (but this gang totally rocks). It was lovely to see Liz Gorinksy, KeffyKehrli, Liza Trombi, Francesca Myman, Ellen Datlow and a whole gang of folk that I only get to visit with once or twice a year (the NYC folk, a bit more). Hearing Andy Duncan and Neil Gaiman read was nothing short of sublime (oh yeah, did I mention Neil Gaiman was guest of honor there? And that he read from his new novel? Jealous?). So, quite the trip, and I am leaving out all sorts of grotesque stories about possums and placentas. And perhaps you are being quite thankful that I have left them out. 

    house in summer

    One last thing is that I came home and packed up the rest of my beautiful house. I closed on Thursday, and so beautiful house is no longer mine. But I now have the means to go to NYC, starting in July, for about 8 months and write like a motherfucker. What shall I write, you ask? The sequel to Elementarí Rising, for one. A proposal to write a book on the Grotesque, too. I am hopefully going to get more stories and poems published. There are  Weird Fiction Review Articles to write, and art exhibits and KGB reading to attend. We shall then see where this path leads. All I know is that I’ve finally found the rabbit hole. And I’m ready to jump in.

  • Dream Mapping and the Writing Process

    When I took Rikki Ducornet’s poetry class at the University of Denver, I had no idea her workshop would open up such a strange, uncanny world to me. I was, during my stint in grad school, having horrific nightmares as I processed some rather unpleasant memories. These dreams haunted me so much that I felt like I didn’t sleep but instead wandered a shifting surreal landscape that left me exhausted in the morning. Rikki encouraged me to write a poem about this dreamscape, and so during the course of the workshop I finished REM, which was published in Inklings Magazine a long time ago. She liked the poem enough to then challenged me to draw a dream map of my nightmares. So of course I did. The great thing about the map is that it all suddenly became real to me–this underground lair.

    Merea map

    In my fiction workshop with Brian Kiteley, I morphed the landscape of my dreams into a short story called Ophidia, the land underneath. At only 300 words, it wasn’t much of story, but still, it was an eerie, darkish thing. Over the years it grew and developed characters caught in a a game of No Exit. I renamed it Mereá and finally published it Bourbon Penn in 2012. Ophidia, though became a special desert place in my new novel, Elementarí Rising, which housed the the earth spirits. I rather love how my greatest fears and night terrors, once mapped out and seen, became a doorway into the fantastic.

    I now must return to edits for the novel. But if you’re in NYC, I might be headed your way for Armory Arts Week.

     In case you missed it, my poem Jael is up on Strange Horizons and my article on the ever lovely Jessca Joslin is up over at Weird fiction review. 

  • The Slipstream of Word and Image

    I just got back from a razzle dazzle art tour of Europe: Ireland, England, Germany, Italy, and then Spain. Here is a blog wherein you can see the dynamic interplay of art and image, get news on the most delicious exhibits coming to Denver and NYC, and learn a bit more about the incredible rhetorical power of the fantastic, grotesque, and uncanny in art and literature today. Below are pics I took at Boboli Gardens in Florence.