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Holiday sweets: Sugar House Review!

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The long-anticipated fifth-anniversary double-issue of Sugar House Review
is HERE!

Receiving my beautiful, brightly-colored contributors' copies of Sugar House Review, issue 10 was the cherry on top of my much-needed holiday break. My Angela Carter poem "Fevvers (Authenticating the Cockney Venus)" is in this jam-packed volume with words from poet-friends like Donna Vorreyer, Laura Madeline Wiseman, and so many talented others. My poem is right across the page from a poem by Sara Eliza Johnson, writer of the 2014 collection Bone Map! I'm so excited to be among such fabulous company. Get your own copy of this gorgeous magazine here.
Happy New Year, friends!

My year in poetry, 2014

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I've spent the past year in the very slow construction of a poetry collection that is only now a quarter of the way to completion. I took a break from submitting to focus on the writing of new work for this manuscript and it has resulted in a whole new writing approach for me: writing as architecture, writing each new poem as a part of some larger work. In this way, writing toward an eventual book feels like a much different process from writing individual poems with no endgame in mind. 

I'm closing the year with a grand total of 14 pieces for my Catechesis manuscript (which is 8 more than I started with). I must admit that over the past months I have been frustrated and impatient with my slow progress, but I am very happy with these new poems in which I am creating a mixed-up kind of folklore with a loose narrative that spans from poem to poem.


Here are a few of them:
"Girl with no Hands" & "Interlude," in The Feminist Wire, June 25, 2014.
"Girl who G…

Experimenting with erasure

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During my poem-a-day challenge for NaNoWriMo 2014, I've given myself the freedom to experiment with some different forms that I've been curious about, but a little too bashful to try before. I know what that sounds like, but different poetic forms, especially some of the more contemporary/experimental ones, can be a little …intimate. Well, very intimate, actually.



I'm still figuring out how I feel about erasure as a poetic form. I'm not sure that I would lump my erasures into the same category that I would my poetry. The hands-on, collage-like process of erasure creates something that, to me, feels more like visual art

You are working with a page from an already printed (and/or bound) text (that was, hopefully, in bad shape before you started tearing pages out). You can erase (i.e. cross out) the words you don't want to use in creating your new text, but you can't add words (even little ones) that aren't already there and you can't rearrange their order…

The Month of Scented Things

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Here's a brief slideshow of the lovely blur that was October and the release of The Book of Scented Things.





It's been an amazing celebration of a month for our beloved anthology and both launch events were such fun. We were joined by contributors, friends, family, and even Chanel! Thank you to everyone who helped make these events so successful and thank you for welcoming The Book of Scented Things into the reading world. 

Some other things that happened in October:
The Book of Scented Things landed an amazing review by poet-perfumista Kathleen Rooney in The Chicago Tribune! It ran in their dedicated books section, Printers Row Journal, on October 16. Jehanne and I attended our first Dodge Poetry Festival from October 24-26! Among the fabulous poets I got to hear read and talk were Rita Dova, Yusef Komunyakaa, Sally Wen Mao, Shara McCallum, Tracy K. Smith and many others. And I got to catch up with Newark poetry friends Bryanna Tidmarsh, Michael VanCalbergh, and Melissa Adamo. Al…

A review to cure the Monday blues

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The Book of Scented Things received a new review today from Grace Cavalieri at the Washington Independent Review of Books. We were singled out for the October edition of her "Poetry Exemplars" column, in which we are lucky enough to appear alongside new books from Michael Collier and Katie Ford, among others. I am also beyond flattered that Cavalieri chose my poem "Elegy with Osage-Orange" to excerpt for her review.


As the least accomplished poet of this intimidating group of powerhouse writers, I understandably have a bit of an inferiority complex about my little poem appearing alongside theirs in our beloved anthology. Thanks, Grace Cavalieri, for helping me feel like my poem has earned its place there. Happy Monday!
P.S. I also found out a week or so ago that Midway Journal has nominated my poems from volume 7, issue 4 for the 2014 Best of the Net! Thanks so much Midway editors!! My fingers are crossed hard.


A new kind of beauty for a new age

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After a year out of circulation and a full redesign, The Lumberyardis back! Issue 11 is brand-new, gorgeous, and has a poem of mine in it. This magazine gives a great deal of attention to design and always has a stunning, letterpress-printed cover. Check it out:


Even the interior is impeccably designed. I'm in love with how they illustrated my poem "from Atomic Age" and laid it out on the page. It's absolutely perfect, this beautifully simple and regal two-page spread.



I am so thrilled to have my poem made into a piece of visual art by designer Larry Buchanan, in this issue curated by editor Lindsey Alexander. In her editor's note, Lindsey said a lot of lovely things about the poems in this issue while meditating on the importance of "Beauty, Age, Goodness, and Size" and the order in which they come.
"The poets in this Lumberyard consider the scope of these adjectives, and in a manner Mme Bunting would approve, put them up front. "What's beaut…

All this time

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First, please let me apologize for my longer than usual absence from this space. It has been an extremely busy month and a half of work with the Literary House Press. But I'll tell you now some of the things I've been up to all this time: 

1. Cherry Tree
On August 15th, Cherry Tree: A National Literary Journal @ Washington College opened for general submissions. As managing editor, it has been my job to sift through the hundreds of electronic packets of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction: sending them to the screeners who will read them first and then moving them up the reading hierarchy. I'm also responsible for handling all of the correspondence with submitters and (when we're lucky) contributors. So all the (unfortunately) form rejections, the (better) encouraging rejections, and the (BEST) acceptance letters for the truly unmistakably fabulous pieces. I prepare and send out the publication contracts for those accepted pieces. I work with the writers to edit those pieces…

Women's Work

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Two weeks ago, I began a collaborative chapbook project with my super talented poet-printer friend, Emma Sovich. We're both letterpress printers—she's actually close to finishing her MFA in Book Arts at the University of Alabama—and as evidenced by our letterpress-centric Asheville vacation a year ago, we're pretty passionate about it. For such an industrial art, the letterpress printing renaissance that we're living right now is also largely populated by women. And all of these awesome women in the print shop has us feeling like the proper granddaughters of Rosie the Riveter—at home amid the smells of lead type and rubber-based ink, working to the hum of the motorized proof or platen press. 


Our collaborative chapbook—tentatively titled Women's Work—will attempt to use the cast-iron imagery of the print shop to create a contrast with the traditional notion of softer, domestic tasks as "women's work." As relatively straightforward as this prompt sounds…

Some summer reading

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Because my friend Michele has requested so especially, I've put together a list of some of my favorites of the small press poetry books I've recently acquired and read.

1. Blood Makes Me Faint But I Go For It, by Natalie Lyalin (Ugly Duckling Presse)

I've loved the decidedly strange, but wondrous poetry of Natalie Lyalin since reading her chapbook from UDP, Try a Little Time Travel back in 2010. There's a distinct voice that leaps from poem to poem, that I trust in its confidence even though it's telling me things I've never heard before. Her new collection delivers on a lot of the same qualities that drew me in with her chapbook. Read more about it in her interview here. She's part of UDP's Eastern European Poets Series.


 2. Her Book, by √Čireann Lorsung (Milkweed Editions)

I picked up √Čireann Lorsung's Her Book last summer at Malaprop's Bookstore when I was on vacation. I read through it in only two nights while still in Asheville because it was su…

Cleaver Magazine: a second review of Imago

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Poetry reviewer Kenna O'Rourke wrote up a really great review of my chapbook Imago for Cleaver Magazine! So exciting! Here are some of my favorite bits: 

"Even if one were to dismiss the conceit of Imago (or interpret it more literally), the chapbook would resonate courtesy of the very elegance of the lines within. Refreshingly sparse and thoughtfully arranged, Lusby's language is what transmutes absurdity into emotion here…"


"Sense is abandoned for the sensory; logic abandoned for mystery. In other words, by Lusby's strange machinations, a reader can't help but look at vegetables a bit differently for a spell."

Thank you so much for your generous words, Kenna! Read the full review here.


P.S.
The Cleaver MagazineTwitter account referred to it as "eggplant-fantasia." And I think I like it. Hah!

Manifesto of a feminist, in brief

**This typically has not been a space in which I air my political views. I try to stay on the topic of poetry, printing, and books. But there are some things I need to say that are central to who I am on the subject of feminism that have steadily bothered me more and more and more. Today, I've reached a breaking point. These are things that seep into every part of my life including the obsessions listed above. Bear with me for this one post, please.**

FIRST OF ALL: I am a proud feminist. 
HOWEVER, from the beginning there has been this ugly underbelly that at some point was given a name: White Feminism. KEEP READING. This is not a name for feminists who are also white. This is a dangerously clueless movement polluting the greater, beautiful cause. That only understands feminism through the lens of the middle-class white woman. This lens has no capability for peripheral vision and, so, the White Feminist cannot understand why women of color still have issues regarding race and class …

Interview: Writers on the Writing Process

Laura E. Davis—poet, editor of Weave Magazine, and founder of Submission Bombers—has posted an interview with me as part of her series "Writers on the Writing Process" over on her blog Dear Outerspace. My "process" feels so jumbled most of the time that talking about it with her (er—writing about it to her, really) made me feel like there actually may be more of a method to it than I'm able to notice much of the time. I am certainly the kind of creature who finds comfort in habit and routine. Read the full interview here.

And some other little things this week:
A copy of my chapbook is hanging in some fine company in Sundress Publications' library at SAFTA, The Wardrobe.That little chapbook of mine also has a listing at Goodreads and LibraryThing, now that I finally took care of some social media housekeeping.And a glowing review (written by Mary Florio) of Fairy Tale Review's Emerald Issue was published on NewPages!

The Feminist Wire

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Today, two new poems of mine were published on The Feminist Wire. "Girl with no Hands" and "Interlude" appeared alongside this very fitting photograph of a tree that looks remarkably like a dancing girl. These two poems are the seeds of a new manuscript project I've been working on for the last year, called Catechesis. And it is growing slowly, but steadily.

I hope you enjoy reading them!

There are birds here

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We are now in the full porch-swing of summer, which means Summer Poetry Salons at my beloved Lit House. In celebration of the second salon of the summer on June 24 (tomorrow!), I was given the unbelievably fun task of designing and printing a letterpress broadside for Jamaal May's poem "There Are Birds Here," a love song for Detroit.



As much I loved this poem on my first reading (and second and third), it was a particularly difficult design challenge. Don't get me wrong—there are so many ways to illustrate this poem because it is so packed with images. But to illustrate it in a way that actually adds to the text, that builds on the complex foundation set down by the poet—that is the challenge to be met. That is the challenge we always aim to meet at the Literary House Press.  

So that means no birds and no buildings. For me, those are the two most obvious, but least important images in this poem. Those details are just the shell around the actual poem. But after playin…

West Chester Poetry Conference, year two

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I've just returned from this year's West Chester Poetry Conference, my second time attending. Although I'm still exhausted from the four-day stretch of poetry workshops and panels and readings (and sleeping in dorms), it was a wonderful, unforgettable time. This year's workshop offerings included an opportunity to work with the amazing Mary Jo Salter—so, obviously, I jumped at the chance. I've loved Mary Jo since I discovered her 1999 collection A Kiss in Space at my favorite local indie bookstore (The Compleat Bookseller) back in my high school days. I read her poem "Hail in Honfleur" while loitering at the neatly-stocked shelves with the classical radio playing over the shop speakers. I will always remember this poem and how I was immediately charmed by Mary Jo's wit and wordplay, which struck me as perfectly, whimsically French. I wanted to live inside that poem.

Mary Jo Salter's workshop—"Line, Sentence, Stanza, Poem"—was a much need…

Tori is my diva

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Recently, a poet-friend of mine asked me a fun little question that has stuck in my head since that night. Who is your diva? His is Cher. Another poet at the table named Stevie Nicks. I knew mine right away: Tori Amos



I don't know that I could explain exactly what it is about her music, her writing, and her person that make her such an invigorating kind of comfort to me. The haunting piano melodies, the whimsical girl-power lyrics that (even as a writer-snob) I am not ashamed to belt out around the house, her powerful and strange vocals. All I know is when my anxiety demons overpower me--leaving me small, ugly, painfully forgettable, and disconnected from all the things and people I love--Tori can bring me back every time. She fills me when I feel emptied out. She makes me brave and fierce when I can't breathe and my hands are shaking. I can't imagine my world without her in it.

We'll see how brave you are. 
We'll see how fast you'll be running. 
We'll see ho…

"Imago" on Hannibal season finale

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While watching the eagerly-awaited season 2 finale of Hannibal (one of my absolute favorite TV shows of the moment), I was happily surprised when a vocabulary lesson emerged mid-conversation between Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham.


— "Do you know what an imago is, Will?"