What Happens Behind Boarded Windows…

I forgot to mention this earlier (probably because I haven’t been posting) but right now the best place to read excerpts of my novella The Butterfly Collector and view other images of the corresponding art books is here at the UH Honors College website.

Onto the real news: I got official word yesterday that two of my poems will be appearing in the upcoming Fall/Winter issue of Poet Lore.  The two poems are “House of Cards EP” (which I wrote in 2007 about my sister being carjacked at gunpoint) and “What Happens Behind Boarded Windows” (which I wrote earlier this year about Hurricane Ike).  This will be my first major publication, so I’m fairly excited.  Frankly, I never in my wildest dreams thought that my poetry would be published before my fiction, but I suppose stranger things have happened. 

I made a deal with myself that for every poem or short-short that gets accepted by a publication, I have to write two more (strong) poems/shorts by the time it actually appears in print.  I might have to come up with a different rule for electronic publications and longer stories, but for now that’s what stands.  I hope to send out more poems and get some shorts out by the end of the month.

Thick Skin

Baby, It's Cold Out There (BACK, CLOSED)
Baby, It’s Cold Out There (BACK, CLOSED)

A couple weeks ago, I finally finished a project that has been at least a year or two in the making.  While writing my senior honors thesis (a work of fiction that takes the reader through a girl’s life as she tries to find ways to co-exist with a father who died a couple weeks after her birth), I was thinking about books jackets as literal jackets or layers clothing that someone might put on or take off at any point in their lives.  In this piece, each layer or “jacket” represents one of the 18 years in Lyssa’s life (although I only made jackets for 8 of the more intriguing years, for practical purposes) and each has cutouts that reveal parts of the jacket underneath, or the year before, it: the past is visible in the present, is visible in the future.  This story to me is all about time and our bodies and what we choose to conceal and reveal, both in our heads and outside of them.  At the same time, there is also the idea that you put on a jacket when it’s cold, or take it off when it’s hot.  Lyssa is a character who seems to have very clear associations to temperatures, especially extremes like hot and cold.  And yet, I think there are times when the two blur together.  By the end, it’s a modern “Icarus and Daedalus” story.  To her, the sun is hot and the water is cold, so she thinks: I like the cold, it reminds me of my father, I choose the water.  But you still die.  In both extreme instances, you die.  There has to be some in-between and she has to find that.

A Desire for Mastery

Welcome to my new blog!  For the longest time, I’ve had a hard time organizing my thoughts about my work in a consistent manner, and it’ll still probably take a while before blogging becomes a habit, but now that I’m no longer in school, I’ll try.

Last weekend, I finally finished reading Annie Tremmel Wilcox’s A Degree of Mastery, her memoir about her apprenticeship in Book Arts and restoration at the University of Iowa.  While I don’t think it was the most compelling narrative and wouldn’t really recommend it to people who are not Book Arts practicioners or at least interested in the craft, I was definitely pulled in by her description of process and long hours in the studio.  Jealous, even.  I’ve always been the kind of person who can never figure out what I want–because it changes from year to year or month to month, sometimes even day to day.  I really think I’m ready to dedicate myself to this for the next few years though.  I would love to at least try. 

One thing about the book that I found annoying however: Wilcox hardly talks about her life outside of the studio.  Sure, she mentions teaching rhetoric and pursuing a PhD at the same time as her apprenticeship, but never goes much deeper than that.  And I understand that that’s not what the book is about, that Book Arts in all-consuming in many ways.  But the way I see and approach art, all kinds of art, is with its constant marriage to life.  I don’t understand how one can repair books all day and not have that process bleed into their personal life and vice versa.

As for me, I just finished up designing the jackets for my last thesis art book.  It involves a layering of different book jackets, each representing a different part of the manuscript and a different year.  Right now I’m still going back and forth on what the whole piece should be called.  Thick Skin or Onion or simply, Skin?  I don’t know but I have a lot of time to decide.  I’ll actually get the jackets printed and cut in the next few weeks. 

Projects that are coming up:  After reading about clam-shell boxes, I feel like I should make one for I’m Sorry But We’re Closed, maybe one that allows for it to stand up on display.  I’m also starting a some-what secret project, pictures of which will hopefully be posted once it is finished.  I am excited…  Also, I am still trying to decide whether to apply to graduate programs for Fall 2010 admission.  Classes began again at UH today.  In some ways, I still don’t feel like I’ve graduated.